Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Discovering bodacious Croatia + stacked Blondies

Here are a few pictures of Croatia, as promised. We visited it in July when the temperatures were high and the wind was dry. Needless to say, I spent most of the days in the shade where possible.

For a week, we rented a sailing boat with a couple of friends and their two teenagers. That was the first time I've 'sailed' in my life. Learnt the meaning of tacking - when the crew shifted the front sail (jib) to the left or right, and the boat would tip strongly to the left or right. It was always interesting to hear the crockery in the galley shifting audibly. Then I understood why the gas stove is on hinges - so it could remain horizontal, more or less. ^_^

(Above) Omis in the daytime and after sunset. That rocky mountain sure is imposing, huh?

Being a visitor in Croatia is kind of expensive. The hotels are about the same prices as those in Italy and Germany but their standards are not as high or consistent. It's a better bet to rent one of the many apartmani (apartments) offered along the coastal road. We often saw an oldish 'auntie' seated in a chair at the roadside in the sunshine offering brochures or information about some apartment-for-rent.

The Croatians, generally, are friendly, helpful and courteous. They speak pretty good English, at least those in the tourism and service industry. The young women are long-legged and gorgeous, togged in all kinds of fashionable clothing. The outdoor cafe culture there is great for people-watching. It is not an uncommon thing to see families with four or five young children.

Our recommendation would be to visit during the cooler months, say, in September or May.

Ice-cream is a must for those sultry hot days, strolling about the ancient parts of small or big towns. It's five kuna for a scoop of one flavour. (Seven kunas to a euro.)

The beaches are only so-so - gravel and pebble beaches mostly - but the seawater away from main harbours is clear and beautifully blue or aquamarine. Those of us who come from South-East Asia and Australia are spoiled by the soft sandy beaches. So if you intend to visit Croatian beaches, bring a pair of rubbery beach shoes - to protect your feet against sharp pebbles and especially sea urchins in the water.

As for Croatian cuisine, alas! I've no pics for you. The most outstanding was the octopus salad and the fresh-from-the-Adriatic-Sea array of seafood. Yum, yum, yum!

One last note: Parking in Croatia can be rather costly. Don't be surprised to find fee collectors at a small desk under a tree at some remote beachside parking lot or halfway up to an ancient, picturesque chapel.

The view from a hill of a cove we anchored in. Yep, that's our rented boat with its sails furled. (Above right) The boats all docked neatly at Rogoznica at dusk.

And, for those who asked, "Where's the food?", here's the pic I took of a stack of Blondies (use Mr Oliver's recipe; just sub the dark choc for white and lessen the butter) beribboned with a cut napkin strip:


gRaCe said...

i love the blue seas... sigh... i'm wishing for my holiday now.. hopefully if all goes well, i'll get to go to the beach by this mth end.. ;o)

Argus Lou said...

Hi, Gracie! Long time no see, ya?
Which beach are you going to? Lucky you.

My Food Safari said...

Wow, my kind of holiday. Relax and lots of seafood. Not all beaches in Oz is sandy. The ones near the Great Barrier Reef are not.

Argus Lou said...

Not entirely relaxing, YS. People facetiously call sailing "moments of terror punctuated by hours of boredom". Can be quite tense, what with pulling or winching the right ropes at the right time. Docking the boat into a narrow space between other boats provides the moments of terror.

The far eastern side of Australia has this very long beach of soft pale sand and hardly anyone - heavenly!

Life for Beginners | Kenny Mah said...

Me wants them BLUE seas and WHITE beaches too! I'm in a tropical paradise but I don't seem to get any... :(

But back to your sweet vacation and enough of my ranting. Sailing's definitely something I wanna try too. :)


Argus Lou said...

Go to the East coast islands, Kenny, before the monsoons come again. Perhentian is really nice.

Am supposed to write a Croatia travel story for one of the papers but feel sluggish. Inspire me, Kenny the prolific and engaging writer!

WokandSpoon said...

Oooo, exotic holiday! Looks lovely and sunny!

Argus Lou said...

Thanks, WokandSpoon. A little too sunny at times, yes. ;-)

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

What amazing photos. I love the ones with the reflection in the water. Holidays are always nice. I can't wait for my bit of sea and sunshine. (coming soon)

Argus Lou said...

Thanks, LemonyGrasskirt. Looking forward to munching something delish with you, the 'poodle' and the rest on Aug 25...

Tunku Halim said...

Argus - Looks like a super stunning holiday. I envy you going out sailing on that lovely water with the wind in your hair and the creaking of the yacht as it slips into the wind. Beautiful!

Argus Lou said...

Ah, TH, now you've reminded me of the creaking. The first two nights I could hardly fall asleep on the boat as it was rocking and creaking, and when we were anchored, the anchor chain was gently knocking against the hull where our cabin was next to. :-P

gRaCe said...

yup yup.. long time no see.. i'll see u soon when u come back. ;o)

i'm dreaming of lang tengah at Terengganu.. but no one seems to be up for it. hahaha... i'm persuading my friend or cousins to go with me. hehe.. =P

Argus Lou said...

Lang Tengah island is lovely. The water around it was beautifully clear when I was there five or six years ago.

gRaCe said...

one of my friend went there recently.. and from the looks of the photos she took... the water is still remarkably clear and blue. that's wht made me think of going.. if not i would've opted for penang. hehe..

but all talk.. no action yet. hmmpphh!

oh, btw.. ur blondies look delicious! me hungry ady.. hehe

wonda said...

Those shots make lovely postcards. I supposed you got tanned, no?

Argus Lou said...

Thanks, Spiffy. Try making blondies - they're really easy. But you'll hafta search for my old adjusted recipe from Jamie Oliver, or find it at his website at the right-hand column, which could be easier (!).

Wonda, thanks. Strangely most of our pics don't contain people, at least not close-up. (I'm shy about possibly overstepping boundaries of strangers, I guess. But I really think faces are so interesting.)

Lianne said...

Hi! My boyfriend had just returned from Opatija Croatia last night, and had so much of great review about that place. We hope to return together soon. Your photo looks good! Too bad that its kinda pricey .. guess, gotta budget a bit before travelling.

Argus Lou said...

Hi, Liane. Thanks for visiting.
Croatia is beautiful. Yes, it's better to book an apartment as opposed to an expensive but maybe sub-standard hotel.
Or just go and stop at the many apartments for rent and pick one that appeals.

My old living-room

My old living-room
In Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

A cherished dream

A cherished dream
To live on a pale beach by a crystal clear sea. (This was taken on the east coast of Johor state, Malaysia.)