Saturday, 10 November 2012

A sandwich girl on board :)

“Would you like to sail with us?” a colleague of mine surprised me with her question one day.

“Who, me?” I answered, shocked, looking around, presuming she had obviously directed her question to somebody else.

“Yes, you!” she replied decisively.

“Well…I could try…” I  responded timidly, recalling instantly my childish fears, all the tears and cries for help directed to my father who adored sailing and countless situations in which I made him suffer from identity crises as I seemed to have been born somewhere far far away from the sea, since the boat appeared to be everything but my natural environment.
Nonetheless, despite my personal fears, I decided to try my hand at the adventure called sailing. If something went wrong, I thought, I knew how to swim (forgetting how cold the sea could get during the winter, and how practically impossible would be to swim with all the clothes on!).


Now, though, three years later, I have to admit that the decision to take up sailing is still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Fortunately, the weather conditions on the first few regattas were ideal (for me – not for the others, as quiet and calm weather is not quite cherished by the sailors) so I was given the opportunity to fall in love with sailing little by little. Clueless and clumsy as I am, I was assigned to a perfectly suited position – a sandwich girl! I enjoyed everything on the boat. I even started to look forward to wind!


Something truly magical happens when you sail towards the wind, enjoying the salty smell of the sea and its sounds: the waves, the birds, the wind… no noise… almost a perfect blend of men and nature…

( posted by my great friend, a sandwich girl in charge, Sara Bujas )





Friday, 19 October 2012

A click from the other part of the world

There's nothing better than having someone do your job (for free!), on account of which you end up collecting likes. Good old copy-paste! I bet someone from inland Croatia would call me a typical Dalmatian right now. You see, they think we're all lazy, and I say it's not laziness , it's just 'fjaka', and they're just jealous.  ;)
The word 'fjaka' could be explained as psycho-physical condition which occurs in perfect surroundings of coastal areas, where life feels so good it makes you want to lie down, enjoy the beauty, and not move a finger.
But back to my topic. This summer I had the pleasure of hosting my dear friends, Morana and Terii, with whom I not only spent incredible couple of days, but who have sent me these lovely photos, as well.

Thanks Morana Paj & Terii Bazley!   

Thursday, 4 October 2012

A working summer in the Mecca of festivals!!!

As I was handing in approximately the 99th document I needed in order to open a tourist agency, in our small but rather bureaucratic country, filled with the kind of enthusiasm you see in every optimist drunken with the idea of trying to create something special through his own business, a frightening idea crossed my mind - I will be missing only the best time of the year - summer in Šibenik!

Maybe I should've done what most of my clever colleagues from the Faculty of Philosophy had done, get a job at school, teaching kids a little about Weber and Marx, a little about passato prossimo and the prepositions, enjoying my three-months vacation on one of amazing islands of Šibenik Archipelago , activating granny-service and visiting all those festivals that make Šibenik more famous each year (OK, maybe the title ''Mecca of festivals'' is a bit too pretentious, but if you multiply the top lists of prestigious magazines on which some of those festivals are placed with years of tradition some of those festivals have, and divide it with the number of enthusiasts in Šibenik, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about). But no, I decided to spend the very best part of the year working like a horse, playing a doorkeeper, translator, psychologist, manager, cleaning lady...      

My mother's comment, and she's the biggest rationalist I've ever met, was: ''Don't waste your time. Deciding to be your own boss in the time of recession is simply bad timing... ''
But then it hit me! I would be a really bad promoter of tourism if I didn't have at least a small bite of what Šibenik has to offer, sharing it afterwards with all those sceptics who still think Šibenik is only a drive-through destination on your way to the beauties of Krka and Kornati.    One may think that the offer is always the same, but Šibenik offers something new and promising every year. Therefore I decided to mix business with pleasure through the form of my blog.

Because of my hobby, I had the chance to travel a lot and visit so many beautiful countries, and I was always surprised how some countries, with a lot of work and enthusiasm, simply know the right way to use and sell what they've got. Šibenik definitely has a lot to offer, and it seems that others have finally realized it.
The amazing beauty of the untouched islands in Šibenik Archipelago, numerous festivals, including Terraneo, the International Children's Festival, The Garden Tisno, Chansone, Regius, Off jazz&blues festival,.... There's also the brand new city beach ''Banj'' from which you can enjoy one of the best views of St James Cathedral, and let us not forget the amazing apartments which definitely don't fit into the old fashioned idea - OK, I've got 4 walls, why don't I furnish them with the old things from my place, and buy some new furniture for myself.
You'll find so many gorgeous apartments, some of which hide real historical legends, art work and details which will thrill you with its inventiveness and love that was put into their decoration.
Art apartments

Penthouse Happy bird

There are also some new cool places to visit, like the wine bar Vino&Ino, which offers many incredible vines, with the priority of those from Šibenik region, and where you'll also find designer brands, all made in Croatia. It's placed at Mala Loža, an amazing location near St Ivan Church.
To my great joy, my acquaintance Ana Bujas opened a store which, in my opinion, should be obligatory in every tourist place. In this charming little store called ''Galerijana'', placed inside an old stone house at Gorica, you won't find any typical 'made-in-China' souvenirs that you can see at the majority of souvenir stands in our tourist places. Unique pieces of clothes straight from the hands of renown Croatian designer and sculptress Ivana Popović, hand made leather handbags, ''Sapunoteka'' natural cosmetics, sailors with inspiring messages by famous Croatian academic painter Ana Kolega, and so much more!


But, let's get back to my summer. I've managed to take my friends out to ''Pelegrini'' and taste their tuna sausages, white fish fillet with lemon potato purée, and their well-known carob cake. It's no surprise that the specialties from Rudi's kitchen have been chosen to represent Croatia on Croatia Airlines international and internal flights, within ''Taste of Croatia'' project. That way visitors can enjoy exquisite vines and one of the best Croatian restaurant's specialties, thousands of meters above the ground. As expected, my friends were thrilled with Rudi's cuisine, and the looks on their faces showed that they were even a bit surprised that Šibenik has such excellent offer
Morana and her boyfriend Terii were simply enchanted by the beauties of Šibenik. Terii, who comes from New Zealand and lives and works in Florida, was so ecstatic about Šibenik, that in one moment (I'll skip all of the adjectives he used, to make the story short), he declared that he felt like walking through the Bible itself. I know, some will say I'm exaggerating, but believe me,  I'm just quoting his own words.    

I found time to go and see a lovely puppet-show about Pinocchio, the legendary wooden puppet, in interpretation of French Theatre ''Compagnie Jean-Pierre Lescot'', at the Summer Stage of the International Children's Festival, and see the face of my favorite three-year-old after watching his very first fireworks at the opening of the 52nd International Festival, describing it with these words: ''This is the most beautiful thing I've seen in my whole life!''. By the way, when I was a kid, that same fireworks and all the little joys about the Festival's opening, where something we used to wait for the whole year, and wouldn't miss for the world!
At the time of the festival, the city becomes a revelation of children's imagination and creativity, and this year was no exception. The colorfulness and children's imprecision fit perfectly in the Medieval face of the old part of Šibenik.  Every morning, after grabbing the best coffee in town on my way to office, I had a chance to witness the incredible music workshop led by Bill Connor, just steps away from my office window. Even now I can hum you the melody which was making me smile for 10 days.

Maša :)

No matter how busy I thought I would be, I knew that Terraneo was something I had to visit this year as well, and thank God, I managed to spare two nights! Couple of years ago I went to Exit Festival in Novi Sad, and it was absolutely perfect, but Terraneo, regardless of how young a festival it still is, has nothing to be ashamed of in comparison to other, older festivals. Apart from all the big names that attract over 45000 people each year, the next thing to mention is definitely the relaxed Terraneo atmosphere. Where else could you wake up in the morning, go to the beach only a kilometer away and refresh yourself in clear blue sea, later go to one of the National Parks here, and finally enjoy, on festival grounds, a glass of exquisite vine, thanks to the wine bar ''Vino&Ino'', or chose between a fried Monkfish and a shark sandwich in local fast food ''Šešula''....yummy!
Just follow our example, cause nobody knows best places to eat better than the locals do. Visit one of our finest restaurants, such as Uzorita, with a 100-year-old tradition, and indulge your taste buds with sheepshead bream carpaccio, black truffles and capers, followed with a glass of some great vine from their rich vine offer. 

I saved the best for last, my favorite place in the world - the island of Kaprije. Trust me, you won't be sorry if you spare a few days in September and visit this oasis of peace, still undiscovered by tourists, under lower prices in this period, of course. A perfect place to put your mind at ease.
Thanks to Mario and his tractor, we didn't have to drag our luggage up the hill to our apartment. Yes, you heard it right - a tractor! All of the islands in Šibenik Archipelago (with the exception of Žirije) are car free and completely without traffic, which is another plus if you're planning to spend your vacation with kids.
We had coffee and took of to Margita's place. Our nice apartment owner welcomed us with 'rakija', which is still a kind of enigma for us, since nobody's really sure what it is made of. Walnuts, honey, carob, whatever it is, one thing is undeniable - Margy's rakija is incredible!  She showed us our apartment which was simply adorable, and only few minutes walking distance to the beach and the centre, and some 10 minutes to Plitka Polokva Beach. It's fascinating to see what Margy managed to fit into only 30 m2, especially because she did it all by herself. The place is really nice and tastefully decorated, inside an old stone house, and its look fits perfectly into the idyllic scenery of Kaprije. In my oppinion, it's a perfect place for a young couple.
We had our morning routine, coffee at one of the local bars, a visit to  Zrinka and Nino's Liberty Beach Bar for the perfect Mojito, afterwards climbing the wild roads to Mala Nozdra Bay for the incredible lunch and another glass of good vine (funny, but from this perception, someone might think that we spent the summer getting drunk :) !  What a life!!
Mario transfer

sailer Bepo :)

Little Margy's home

Beach bar Liberty

on our way to Nozdra

Oh, I almost forgot, I managed to catch the first night of Regius Festival, too, and had a great time listening to Marčelo, Superhiks and my favourite band - Let 3!
And there's still so much more I wanted to visit, events like Murter Rock Fest, Salsa Fest, Vodice's hot night life, Skradin's rich gastro offer, Garden Fest, Medieval Fare in Šibenik... But don't worry! Remember those clever colleagues of mine I mentioned earlier, from the Faculty of Philosophy? Well, they had three lazy summer months, and they'll share some of their stories with you in some of our next blogs.
Šibenik has got nothing to offer?? That's the biggest delusion I've ever heard! Maybe that's how it used to be, but those times are behind us. We have finally opened our eyes, realized what we've got, and we're going to get better every year!! :)

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Thursday, 28 June 2012

Kaprije – perfect alibi for a serene vacation

While looking at the old photographs, I’m counting and calculating. This is the forth summer we have been spending on Kaprije. In a row! I’m getting that strange feeling of disbelief, familiar to people in long (and happy) relationships. That fatal number, rounding up the period of time spent together never seems real. In one moment it looks as if the time had flown by, and in another one, as if there had never been life before “you”, that “you” have always existed and that you will last forever (the feeling that one usually lacks in an argument).

In any case, it took two people to do this hard mathematical calculation, to put everything into one equation: two different apartments, discounts we’ve had as regular customers, newly opened bars and restaurants, people we’ve met, cameras we’ve changed; and we realised that, already after the first year, we stopped making our minds about the location where we planned to spend twenty precious days off, about the place that will be our home away from home, that is Rijeka. The decision in this case is not at all rational.

Despite our own property in Dalmatia, summerhouse in attractive tourist village of Petrčane, and my own family house in Šibenik, we, on everyone’s surprise, decide to rent accommodation on the island we have no connections with (at least according to the general opinion). So, really, what is it that brings us back exactly? Why do we, especially I, see Kaprije as Prozac during the year, when I feel overwhelmed by my working obligations? Let’s just go back to family and family reunions I’ve mentioned earlier. Don’t take me in a wrong way, family reunions are fantastic. Doctors should be prescribing them, in limited amount and number of days to spend together, I’d add. Family houses and summerhouses are burdened with investments, maintenance, repairs, demolitions… An extra problem is if they are situated on the mainland, because it means that we are easily within reach for all eventual urgencies and obligations that might unpredictably come up at work.

The internet connection at Kaprije is slower than the life on the island, which is in slow- motion itself. That fact, with several photos of natural beauties, inspired the head office of T-Mobile in Austria. And, not to fix the conditions, but to escape to an oasis of peace where it is possible to read e-mails and surf a little, but any kind of serious work connected with upload or download is out of the question. You can also claim that you were out of reach to those whose call you don’t want to take, even if the signal is btw ok, but you know, you can always say that you were on a boat, on the hill or something like that, where that wouldn’t be a lie.

The best thing is that the mainland is difficult to reach. There are several regular lines and simply, whoever wants to reach you or call on you, needs to think about it early enough. It’s the perfect alibi for vacation.

Let’s also mention that there are no motor vehicles of any kind on the island, apart from a motor cultivator that can be used only in specified time of the day.

The island is rather undiscovered by the tourists, and that’s why I’m worried about writing in superlatives, because it would be wonderful (and totally selfish, I know) that it stays like that.

The prices of the apartments for rent very convenient compared to some more popular tourist destinations.

Fresh fish is easy to find on one of many fishing boats and you can grill it every day if it pleases you. If not, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from, from pizza to fresh fish. The sea is, of course, perfect, with cute and carefully designed little beaches in front of little houses by the sea.

Kaprije is not an island for younger people eager for action and parties, but it’s perfect for us (khm) young and older ones, who long for hedonistic delight, to everyone who wants to combine complete isolation with good company, simple to find on the island.

If you want to spend your day with the best Mojito (the way we spent most of our summer vacations) you will settle in Liberty. You can grab a quick, tasty bite (reasonably charged) in the restaurant bar Neptun, where you can also say hello and goodbye to guests, and if you dream of exotic combinations in your own arrangement you need two days of (passive) exploration and research – you will discover everything, meet everyone and go everywhere.

Five days later, you start to behave somewhat like the locals, you soon become one of them yourself, and already in the first week of vacation, you’ll forget the stress, the work, the crowd and the noise… And instead of travelling anywhere else, instead of changing islands and destinations, instead of exploring something new, we don’t have any doubts. Kaprije is the only place where we spend our summer vacation and everything there seems like home already, it is actually our summer home. The only certain vacation. (Petković)

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New Yorker who discovered Sibenik for me

You'll never admire the place where you spent most of you life, no matter how wonderful it may be, as when you take your camera and go sightseeing, while being a host and a tour-guide to a foreign friend. It is the town you live in, the town where you went to school in, where you had so many crazy nights out with your high-school friends, with that hidden street where someone stole your first kiss, with the recently closed cute little shop where you bought that amazing dress which makes you look 5 kg thinner, the square where you finally dated the guy you've been secretly looking at for the last 5 years, right at the moment when the blabbermouth friend of you suspicious mom ran into you. I was a traveler myself, for so many times, wondering the streets of Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Milan, Vienna, Cape Town, always with my out-dated camera (it was never easy to spare some extra money for a new camera when there's the new collection fresh in stores, and when that polyester shirt, which, by the way, will be 80% on sale in a month, would go perfectly with the skirt I managed to dig out on the last year's sales) trying to capture at least a fragment of the surreal atmosphere, thinking sadly '...why wasn't I born here..'
However, thanks to my friend Michelle, a born New Yorker with Croatian roots (I'm not sure if you've noticed, but if we would add the number of people with 'Croatian roots' worldwide, to the 4.5 million Croats, God only knows what the number would be. I just love it how Croatian journalists continuously find new stars who somehow always turn out to have a grandpa who left Croatia long ago...that must be the reason all those stars are so successful) and her desire to walk the paths that her pa and gramps used to cross, I had the opportunity to see my home town from a new perspective.
One day Jere, Michelle and myself, this time with Michelle's super modern camera, started an adventure called 'let's meet the old part of town'. Michelle kept cheering non-stop! She was ecstatic about Gorica, which is, in my opinion, the most picturesque part of town. She tried to touch every stone, wondering what monument could that be, trying to capture the genuine Dalmatian atmosphere by taking pictures of old stone houses, staircases, green wooden window sheds, entrance halls, niches, old house-to-house drying ropes, repeating again and again how amazing it was and how she couldn't believe people actually lived there. My only thought was -
'Hellooo, you live in New York, what's all the fuss about?! ' Just like most tourists, Michelle was surprised by the number of stairs around the old city centre. There's an interesting fact how last year, tourist guides in Šibenik, inspired by continuous tourist questions about the exact number of stairs, decided to count them all up. They came down to 2851 stairs, a number that made Šibenik the city with the biggest number of stair in Mediterranean. However, Dubrovnik tourist guides though it was simply impossible for Šibenik to have more stairs than Dubrovnik, and decided to do the same thing, counting 5423 stairs in the old part of town (the story is a great example of our character, as well). Back to our mission. We walked with Michelle along Jurja Dalmatinca Street and found ourselves in front of 'Četiri bunara' (The Four Wells). There you'll find one of the best restaurants in Šibenik - Pelegrini (my own personal favorite, and judging by the comments on some of the most renown web pages - a large number of tourist's favorite, too). Genuine groceries prepared in an imaginative and innovative way, will definitely be an exciting new touch for your demanding taste buds. Add a glass of supreme wine, sitting 'face-to-face' with St James' Cathedral, being served by hospitable waiters.... mmmm!!
Četiri bunara are also the location where this year's Off Jazz&Blues Festival takes place. Remarkable atmosphere and renown names of jazz and blues scene are surely something you must visit! The festival takes place at the end of July and lasts for 3 days. It's a definite must see!
We finally arrived to St James' Cathedral, which was enlisted on World Cultural Heritage List by UNESCO in 2000. You can only start imagining Michelle's facial expressions.
I could write pages and pages about this architectonic beauty, which still leaves me breathless (despite the fact I see it on daily basis) - it simply cannot be ignored, but I'm going to let the experts tell the story. The Cathedral is situated on the Republic of Croatia Square, next to the City Hall, the Duke's and the Bishop's Pallace, and traditionally it has been the stage for the opening of the International Children's Festival for so many years. People in Šibenik have a special bond with the Festival. It must be the fact that most of us personally took part in creating this story through numerous art, drama and music workshops and plays. It also was a perfect excuse for parents, because of Festival's educational function. The Festival starts at the end of June and lasts for two weeks. It's the time when the entire old part of town, including Gorica, Medulić, Dobrić, becomes a big stage for the children from all around the world.
After few hours of sight-seeing we decided to have something to eat, and as true hosts we took our guest to a genuine Dalmatian tavern 'Marenda'. It is not one of those luxury restaurants, it has the interior of a real old tavern, and it's the perfect place to enjoy homemade Dalmatian meals with a glass of good home made wine. You know what they say, when in Rome... Later we walked down Zagrebačka Street (rich in sacral heritage of Šibenik), where you'll find Uspenie Bogomatere Church, which used to be a monastery for Benedictines, but only those from noble families. There was no place for poor girls there. They had to go to St Luca monastery. With the arrival of Napoleon, the monastery was closed, and the church was given to the episcopacy of Serbian Orthodox Church. Just across to the church you'll find Giro espresso caffe bar, with the best coffee in town. At the end of our journey we left Jere to watch a football match enjoying his beer, and decided to finish our adventure with shopping, just like most women would. On Dobrić Square you'll find an amazing boutique, owned by the famous Croatian designer from Šibenik, Loredana Bahorić . After a glass of good wine we needed a good rest, and promised Michelle to take her to one of the most beautiful beaches in the area. She wasn't disappointed! The island of Zlarin turned out to be the perfect choice!
That is how my New York friend helped me to realize just how special my home town is, how I would always recommend it to anyone, and how proud I felt for being a small part of this grand story.

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