December 29, 2011

a new year, a million years !


Another year coming, a million years of geological history in a single cave gone by.
The name of the cave: SPILJA VRANJACA, and trust me, it's a beauty !

About half an hours drive from Split, and a bit more from our area.
The cave is worth a visit for sure, and even worth more on a hot summer day, as temperature in it is at a steady 15 C. during all year.
Formed over many, many thousands of years (and still growing with every drop that falls) this picture only shows one of the numerous pictures you'll see.

And if the owner, called Marco, has the time for it, he'll shwo you around with many details he only knows to share with you.

The cave itself is a beauty, entering and walking around in pure delight is easy to every person, young or old, and should there be somebody in your group that does not dare to enter the cave, the surroundings are fantastic too.
Any lover of nature and anybody wanting to experience a "wow feeling" deep below the surface, just go for it, even if you rather lay on the beach.

And apart from the cave and its surroundings, Marco Punda, the owner, is a most friendly person who loves to share his love for this special place and it's unspoiled natural atmosphere.
And he might offer you a small drink, a so called domaci orachovic, a strong drink made from rakia, green wallnuts, some orange and many more various things, as everybody has his own way of making it.
His however is special, with a surprising green color and a charming taste (however still strong).

Happy newyear, another year for the cave to grow, drop after drop.
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December 24, 2011

flying in or out


Santa almost knocking on the door, newyear coming soon.
Even the longest night in the northern hemisphere has been again.
So, let's go, heading for another year after the christmas diner has been joyed.

For me these last days of the year are even more "special" than expected.
I fell from a small roof and broke six ribs.
Another experience to write about ?
No..........I want to forget it as soon as possible.

Let's celebrate Christmas, as believers or just because it's finally quiet and peacfull for a moment.And than, let's start a new year, with lots of great moments. Flying in or Flying out, it's all just a matter of looking at it.

Till next, and all the best to all of you, pozdravi iz Svinisce, Sretan Bozic i Novi Godina.
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December 11, 2011

just a door

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Just a simple door, but the more you look, the more you see. I took this picture one day at the foothills of Mosor Mountains, in a deserted small town called Skocebi (hope I say it well). The place is reachable by car and foot, and worth an hours walk to see and feel a bit of it's history, however it's without inhabitants today. During the industrial revolution many people were invited to move to the coast, where the former socialist government had planned and built factories. Clever indeed, they offered modern housing, with tap water and electricity, a giant improvement for those who were used to catch the rainwater whenever they could. Not to mention electricity or heating in cold seasons. Life up there was harsh in those days, with no other transport than feet or donkeys, and whatever needed had to be grown, harvested and preserved in and around the house. Still today it's a regular habit for many people around us to be as self supporting as possible, growing their own vegetables, grapes for wine and olives for oil. Having chickens is a normal thing, mostly for the eggs, sometimes for their meat, and many (not all) keep pigs from autumn to winter. Just yesterday at many homes around us the pigs were slaughtered and the meat prepared for excellent pancetta and prsut (the delicious smoked dried ham). But today that's more a good tradition than a must. And don't forget that many (if not most) places today have good roads, electricity, telephone, internet and tap water. Many times when walking or driving around I am impressed by all signs in the landscape from those days when people worked all those small patches of land, higher on the slopes, moving stones, building walls, carrying water when needed, to grow whatever was needed to feed the family. And again, those slopes are pretty hot during summer days, and cold as ice during winter season. To me it's all beautiful to see, great to look around, discovering details you might not even think of. A simple wooden door it is, but look a bit better to see that little cross carved in the wood. Think back for a moment, to when some man (I guess) carved it, to ask for a blessing for his family. Just a door indeed. Just ???? (click on the picture to enlarge it)

December 05, 2011

not yet !


The weather overhere has been mild and pleasent untill now.
Hardly any rain, with day temparatures up to sixteen degrees celcius and more in the sun.
(In the shade it was rather fresh, but who wants sit in the shade on days like these).

Today started with a drizzle, still with views for miles and miles, clearly showing the cloud capped mountaintops around us.
And at the very moment I write this, the rain increesed and some thunder from far away sounds.

Thunder here can be pretty impressive when it's nearby.
As we're living between mountainrigs and slopes, thunder not only stays a bit longer, it echoes tremendously, all together making it to Dante's hell for a while, but even than, it's a fantastic experience.

The picture shows what has to come still, snow, and however the current weather is far from cold, it can be pretty cold overhere, with real snow for a couple of days, making a drive down to town a tricky expedition.
No problem, we are prepared for a couple of days on our own, with rice, beans, wine, meat and canned vegetables for "just in case".

And even better, when snow coveres our valley, most people stay home from their jobs (impossible to take the trip), and go out into nature, having a fantastic time out in a winter wonderland.

Snow here never stays long, and as soon as it's gone, it's time to drive down to the coast for a cup of espresso between the palms at the beach.
Yes, that's one of the great things here, the diversity of weather and micro climates.
And still, after "our"snow has gone, it's less than half an hours drive, to go up Biokovo Mountain, where the snow stays most of winter, and not just those centimeters we enjoy here.

What can one wish, with all these pleasures around ?
Nothing, as far as I know !
Yep, that's Dalmatia, also in wintertime a great place to be.
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hvala bogu, it works again

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For some silly reason the functions between Picasa and Blogger did not do what I wanted them to do. Hvala bogu (thank God) it works again, so here's a tiny update of life in our hidden valley. Life goes as it's meant to be here for us, slowly and in total peace. Yesterday I prepared a delicious meal for our best friends/neighbors, with a roast of young pig, a potato dish from the oven, cream and cheese to make it rich and tasty, traditional pears from holland (stoofpeertjes we call them), a dish of mushrooms and bacon, salad, and for desert a pie called "tarte tatin". All of it was fantastic, and we shared a delicious meal together, seated around the kitchen table, while the woodstove heated our bodies. Life is great overhere, social life even greater !! And however today it's raining, who cares, as we've got loads of books to read, and always something to do. We installed a washing machine, a dryer, a freezer, and next job is to create some space to get some of the many boxes from their storage in a garage in Omis. But first I have to finish a "little" job I am working on, building some extra storage behind our gardenhouse. Never did that before, but with some advise from friends and neighbors I'm perfectly pleased by the result so far. With no experience as a carpenter, nor in welding, nor in building jobs, I can tell you, you never know until you try ! And I do know now, with some good thinking in advance and no fear for beginners mistakes, you can do ANYTHING. (The kitchen on the picture above is history, as it's now a perfect place to enjoy my cooking skills).

November 05, 2011

SORRY, some failure in blogger blocks new entries

At last, time to (re-)start blogging again about our small life in a small valley.
For those of you who missed new entries, sorry but everything has a reason.

So sorry, but new entries in this blog are impossible at the moment. Due to some failure trying to upload new pictures and writing small tales to them is impossible. When uploading a picture from Picasa to Blogger (both Google products), there appears a message saying: "memcache is null for FormRestoration", what ever that may be. I posted a question to Google's brilliant Einstein clones (and many other people have the same problem, but until now no reply came. This message I cleverly entered by editing my most recent post (hope it works so you're informed), new posts however have to wait till some one in the Google offices gets away from the coffe corner and does what I and those many others need, a perfect connection between two Google products. In the near future I truly hope to enter some new stuff to "Svinisce, the hidden treasure". Till that moment it will be the perfectly hidden treasure. If anybody has a clue how to solve this problem (I tried various tricks already) please mail at my address in the header of this blog. Have a great day, wherever you may live, life is good, and good feelings are worth sharing !!! By the way, we finally moved to Dalmatia, and believe me, the last two/three month we had a hell of a job !
Moving from tulips (and wooden shoes) to olives and the Adriatic takes a bit more action than just packing for a holiday.
All of our belongings were put into a large (and I mean large truck)and after it arrived in Croatia we had to somehow put it all away in our small house, the garden house and even a rented garage.
And still we are trying to get things arranged a bit, to make some sort of "normal" life possible.

Won't bother you with the load of things to arrange, our visa checked over here, everything cleared by the customs people, pay for this and that (and some extra as this still is Croatia) and a lot more.
I even refuse to tell much about the nice weather here, except that day we had to empty the truck and found that rain here means RAIN !!!
Enough to say we had a lot of friendly help, packing in Holland, unloading in Croatia, and lucky us, wetter than wet that day, we dried up already that evening, getting wet inside together with friends, and next day, sitting in the sun again, all that wetness was forgotten.

And slowly our "new" life here gets going, with many great friends around us, and a (n)ever changing view on the mountains all around us.
Even on a lesser day it's a joy to sit outside for a moment and look at the continuously changing panorama of a never changing Mosor Mountain.

We people may change, world economy may change rapidly, even life may change, but life over here, in our hidden valley hardly changes, with core values that come from ages ago and are worth to preserve into the future.
We have the intention to take part in life here, in a small social community, till it's time to say thanks, over and out.
Let's hope that moment is still far away, as we still have a lot to like and love.

I will absolutely keep you informed through this blog in the weeks, months and years to come, not only to give you an inside view on our personal life here, but also to inspire you a bit with what makes life worth living here in Dalmatia.
As this is far more than (just) a great country to have a fantastic holiday, and in case you come on holidays, plan to at least once take a trip into all those small valleys and small places where in my opinion) the REAL feel of Croatia is felt.

Thanks for your patience over the last couple of months, and keep following my little stories.
And anybody wanting to be in touch, feel free to drop me a line at
Till next.

August 07, 2011

a confederate in Svinisce

Jordan is the name, and no, I am not a relative of that other Jordan (Michael).

If live a bit above the author of this blog, overlooking their piece of land, and I used to be (and never forgot) a welder and ironworker.
So whenever somebody needs some job done in steel, I am the man to call for, as whatever the job, I'll create a solution that not only looks perfect but is perfect, lasting for ages.

Together with wife and sons I live an easy going retired life on one of the higher slopes of this valley called Modris (part of Svinisce).
And lucky us, we see a bit more of the sun, even in wintertime, but that's the benefit of living a bit higher on the ladder :-)

One of my sons serves as a waiter on a cruiseship, which brought him to the States once, where he bought me this confederate cap, and being a present of my son, I proudly wear it !
(And I could'nt care less about north or south, east or west, it's just a great cap and a great gift).

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put on your singing shoes and sing !!!

Yesterday we visited our best friends in Podstrana, a village between Split and Omis.

They had their summerparty there, with lots of people, lots of food and drinks, lots of music, sining and dancing.

These gatherings take place in any vivid town or village each year, specially in summer, when the weather is fine.

Podstrana is somehow a special thing, as the town is divided in two pieces, one along the coastal road, more up to date, with lots of appartmenthouses, lots of tourism, lots of modern life, noisy and busy.

The other part of Podstrana, high up the mountainside, is the original settlement, going back centuries, and even in the old days part of the very first documented republic in this area.
The Repuplik Poljica was founded hundreds of years ago and managed to stay untouched by invasions from all sides, among which the Ottomans, one of the strongest invasions in the Balkan in history (but there where many more).

Each and every group manifested on this gathering, the fishers, the hunters, the youthclubs and the elderly folks, and they had a great night together, while the skies where clear, temperature just perfect (for another cold beer) and the food truly perfect (not for tourists but themselves, so it was excellent).

The traditional shoes in the picture where on the feet of a traditional singinggroup that performed that night.
Times change, even in Podstrana, but traditions are not forgotten here, as they are on the basis of this and every society.
Even when Croatia enters the European Union, because respect for traditions is what makes life here unique, even in modern times.
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August 06, 2011

put it in the ground and take it out (after a while)

One of the small delights of living in Croatia is growing your own organic food.
Anything you put in the ground here, after a while (and some tlc) gives a nice harvest.

Not being experienced in agriculture at all, I sometimes ask my neighbours how and waht to do, the rest is just "wait and see".

Were we already eating our own cucumbers, tomaties and melons, this seems to be the right time to take the potatoes I planted out again.
A bit late in the planting season while we arrived a bit later than planned, there are a lot of smaller ones, but also an excellent amount of bigger potatoes, and the smaller ones will be eaten as well, either by us or by the pigs of our neighbours.

Nothing gets thrown away, everything has its value.

Already the ground is being prepared to plant cabbage, so even the winterseason will provide us with genuin quality vegetables, and still the sugarcorn, carrots and lots of fresh kitchenherbs are growing and rewarding us for their daily splash of water.
Chemical stuff is hardly used (not because I am anti), just in case it looks some additional help is needed to kill the coloradobeetles, I help mother nature a bit with some minimal cropprotection.

Not a farmer, I am (we are) pleased to see things pop up out of nothing, kissed by the sun we also like, so while the plants are growing, we drive down to the beach or the borders of the river, to jump in either warm seawater or nice clear cool riverwater.

Living up here in our hidden valley behind the mountains, I keep repeating over and over, is just fantastic.
Our air is clean, our skies are wide, our only noise is from crickets and birds, we see foxes and rabbits (not many), and still we are within reach of anything we like or need from outside our hidden paradise.

Advise to anyone planning to visit Dalmatia:
rent something on the backside of the coastal mountains, and enjoy this unique country at the Adriatic from both sides.
You won't regret it, trust me !!!!!

(Anyone in need of some additional information, see my mailaddress in the header of this blog)
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July 24, 2011

once a year, they all smile

Even pigs smile on what's called "Dan selo Svinisce".
On that day in july all people that live or used to live in our village gather for the village party.

Being one of them now, of course I went up to the village centre to celebrate the connection to this quiet lovely and lively valley with all others.
And however the weather was a bit unusual, less warm after a rainy day, a footballmatch on tv between Hajduk Split and Barcelona, still a lot of people came up our little mountain to where the cafe, balotteclub and church are.

There, in the centre of the cluster of small villages that form Svinisce, we joined for drinks, food, music, singing and dancing, and most of all, to meet old and new friends, all connected to Svinisce.

And once more, this party proved that however small, Svinisce is alive and kicking.
Did many people in the recent past leave to find a job at the coast or even in other countries, many of them return to join, and many return to live a quiet quality life up here after a busy life.

And right they are, as here there is no stress, the air is clean, the views fantastic and the homegrown vegetables, wine, oliveoil and meat make life a party, day after day.

Ten minutes from the Adriatic, with the Cetina River five minutes below us (both out of sight), this is an increadible place to enjoy life.
For the residents, but also for tourists, as these surroundings offer the excellent combination of total peace and action, with evenings that are far better than those at the coast, as here the air cools down in the evening, while at the seaside the heat sticks to your allready sunburned skin.

Croatia is fine, Dalmatija is fantastic, but there always is a champion, a number one, and that is Svinisce, where even the pigs smile, at least once a year :-).

To see more pictures (not all as good I am sorry to say), click here:
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July 17, 2011

hi, my name is Katarina

Here's me and my grandfather, my name is Katarina and his is Andelco.

I am the youngest daughter of his son in law, and my grandfather is not only a great grandfather but the best friend you can have !

He used to be a sailor, but came home to start a family and take over the responsibility for the family land.
Not only he makes a great red wine, but also excellent prsut-ham, and his own olive oil.
And if that was all, he and his wife Susana take care of many jobs in the garden and on the land, as almost everything the family eats comes from own harvest.

Still that ain't all as Susana has a day job in a textile firm, and Andelco runs his own business, repairing all electric tools used in the building industry.

So lots of work, from early in the morning till late in the evening, making long days with hardly a private moment.

But it's all worth it, as you can see in this picture, taken at one sunday when all of the family gathered to share a great meal.
If you know how to keep in touch with these values of life, you're lucky !

And lucky we are, living in our hidden valley, in a small village called Modris, part of Svinisce, part of Omis, part of Dalmacija, part of Croatia, soon to be part of Europe.
AND.......lucky to have friends like Andelco and Susana, like family to us !

And however important for Croatia to become the next member of the European Union, let's stick to those basic values, almost more important than progress in a healthy European economy, with a better future for small children like Katarina.
As money can't pay for these golden moments, not even the Euro !

This is not me, it's our neighbour and best friend Andelco with his granddaughter Katarina.

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SHARE, that's the golden word

Today the whole family of our best friends here gathered around the table to join in a feast of good food.

And while writing this, from at least to spots in our valley sounds singing, so they where not the only ones !

The gathering started around twelve in the day, first having homemade prsut (typical dalmatian ham, a true delicacy), cheese, homemade pickles and salad from own garden.
Some bread, some drinks, and good company to share it all with.

After the first dish came a soup, also homemade, and after the soup the meat that made the soup.
Here it's usual to first cook the soup, with large chunks of good meat and lots of vergetables picked from the garden, and after serving the soup, the meat is served as a separate dish.

Was that all, sorry to say as I am not a stuffer but an enjoyer, but thank God, we had a break, to enjoy the peacefull day in our hidden valley, drinking, chatting and relaxing.

After a while, we were invited to join around the table again, as the roast lamb was served, togehter with green salad, marvelous tomatoes and cucumbers, all of it again from own harvest.
The pleasure went on and on and on, I was getting to feel like a stuffed turkey already, but no, there was a variety of homemade strudle (applepie), cookies and coffee.
And had that been it, I would have said thanks a million, but of course there was homemade brandy to finish it all.

The young folks played basketball, the elder ones (like me) just sat down, trying to keep breathing, while the sun went down in our peacefull hidden valley in Dalmacija, where sharing is the magic word !

Tomorrow we'll have an off day, with a sandwich I guess.
And the day after tomorrow we share again, this time to harvest the potatoes together, as that is shared too.
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how to become addicted ?

Try one of them wines, from and you're addicted.
Especially their white wines have got me by the balls, (and I love it !!)

Living in Croatia (Dalmacija) aint hard for me, loving the good things of life after a rather busy working life. And once you know where to go, everything you want to eat or drink is pure, well tasting and truly a pleasure to share in this blog, so you know it too.
Sure, Croatia is great for holidays, but there are so many secrets to share with visitors that come to this fantastic country, you might never discover if you keep your dark sunglasses on, lying on your back.

So here's another one you should know and try before you leave (to come back).
Of course drinking in this warm country is a normal thing, being Jamnica sparkling water, a cold Karlovacko beer or a glass of wine.
Slowly discovering the wines produced by each and everyone around us (EVERYBODY here makes his own), I also had to try a couple from the local stores and supermarkets.
Local red wines here are mostly nice to excellent, white wines however come from slightly cooler parts of Croatia, especially from Slavonija, the north-eastern part near the Hungarian border.

First drinking a Grasevina from various cellars, I got a newsletter fron a wine expert called Cliff Rames of "wines of croatia".
Wanting to know as much as possible about this country, his newsletter gave me a good introduction to Croatian wine industry.
One moment he was writing about a famous wine maker called Krauthaker, so I decided to try theirs too.

Bang............wham..........thanks Cliff, as that's waht I call excellent white wine !
From the very first glass on, I was (and am) impressed, addicted, in love.
Their various Grasevinas are outstanding, and if you don't try it you'll never understand why I keep writing this blog, sharing small secrets about the true face of Croatia.

Still reading, well than read on, as I payed a visit to their website, and was surprised by the range of wines they harvest and pamper.
Once I knew what to look for, I went shopping for their Grasevina and got me a Pinot Sivi too, and OH LORD, another Godgiven discovery !
Not being a specialist on wines, just a lover of good stuff, you'll have to go to that blog by Cliff or the Krauthaker website, as they'll give you all those details specialists (and snobs) love so much.

I am just the pianoplayer, the guy in the middle, the secret enjoyer of life as it is here, and gladly sharing it with a couple of followers on this blog.
So now you know why you must see Croatia from another angle.
The beaches are great, so is the food, people are most friendly and nature is stunning, as are towns like Split, Trogir, Dubrovnik (however crowded in summer) and many more.
BUT......and still a thousand more reasons to come to Croatia, ......those Krauthaker wines might just pull you over the line.

And if not ever for some reason a visitor of this lovely country, go to your local wine seller and ask, no order !! them to get some of those fantastic wines !
After tasting those, you might just have another good reason to not go to New York, London or Bali.
Croatia, soon to become a member of the European Union, thousand islands, thousand discoveries !
And by reading this post, you just discovered one of them.
Cheers !

When the weather is hotter than hot, do like the locals do, mix your wine with some mineral water.
Don't look so shocked please, it still tastes great and refreshes a lot better without getting tipsy to quick.
(And the pleasure is twice as long for the same price: less than seven euros or ten us-dollars a bottle).

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July 13, 2011

oh that beautiful Cetina river

Not even that far a drive inland, this section of the Cetina river shows its true beauty.
Drive direction Sinj, or even better, follow the signs directly to Blato na Cetina.
For sure there will be a moment to have to cross the river over a higher bridge.
STOP THERE, and don't forget your camera.
(Click on this picture to enlarge it).

Looking upstream the river is slowly flowing through a "french" landscape, already a fantastic view, with trouts straight below you hunting for insects swimming over shallow water, as clear as a bottle of mineral water (which it is).

Than turn your head to the downstream side of the bridge, where this picture was taken.
Here the river speeds down, with a large sandy beach on the right.
To me an amazing and fantastic location, reason to share it with you.
You will see underwater parts of ancient bridging, and even you'll realise that this very spot was once in use by Roman legions, entering the land from the seaside.
The whole place here breathes history, and no surprise, an archeological researchteam discovered a stunning treasure of historicaly important artefacts going back to Illyrian times, before and after, which can be seen in any museum in Dalmatia.
(Trilj, for instance, the town you passed on your way to Grab, once was the settlement of two large Roman Legions, still visible in the landscape, however much was destroyed by Ottoman and other invasions long ago).

For those wanting to see more of this fantastic river, drive towards Grab, a small village at the smaller river called Grab (yes indeed, river and village are called the same).
The place is special as the Grab river pops up from a spring directly from under the rocky slopes of the mountains all around.

However small the spring in summer, it rapidly fills the river, and soon the river flows thorugh a troutfarm (yes you can buy some there) and next it drives an ancient watermill, still milling today.
That spot is a MUST see, and again, take your camera as the owner gladly shows you the inside ande the milling proces.

After the watermill the river Grab flows on, entering the river Ruda, which after a little while enters the Cetina River.
If still eager to see more of the Cetina, drive up, keeping the right upstream side, between the high mountains of Dinara (border to Bosnia) and the river.
Through an ever changing landscape, all of it unspoiled and beautifull, sometimes over gravel roads, you can drive all the way to the very beginning of the Cetina, passing the artificial lake Perusco Jezero, born to supply you and me of electric power for our airco and tv set.
The spring of it is unique, a large intense blue and clear deep hole where a continuous flow of pure clean water rises from hundreds of meters deep.

Take your time to walk around a bit, do even take a walk on the ancient graveyard, have a look at those old restingplaces, or even better, the oldest known church in Croatia (details available on the church).

Driving back "home" you can speed up a bit, as following the river downstream, you can take the normal road other traffic uses too.
And in about one and a half hours drive you're back in Omis, where the river ends in the Adriatc Sea.
Hope you do follow my invitation to explore the hinterland (called Zagora here), as Croatia's beauty is found for fourty percent at the Adriatic, the other sixty percent are hidden for the blind.
And you're not blind anymore now.
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June 25, 2011

fire jumps "sveti ivan"

Sveti Ivan (Saint Ivan or in Dutch Sint Vitus) is a moment to tell a bit about.
Celebrating this saint, one of the so many in catholic church that are all celebrated here in Croatia, is mixed with an old tradition to create a large fire to jump over it.
The jumps must be done three times, and everytime one has to shout out an old phrase:
od ivana do ivana
gre gre gre
da me ruke, noge i glava
nikada ne zabole.

The meaning of it all is to "ask" this saint to protect you from breaking your legs, arms, head, but as far as I can remember I did three jumps, I shouted out loud those words, but still today I had a gigantic headache (in modern medicine called a true hangover).

Since we have a lot of open land, it's safe to start a fire here, still being carefull not to start a wildfire !!, and enough space to seat all friends and neighbours be
                                          invited, as jumping over a fire may be nice (or usefull), it's even better to roast
                                          some meat, and join in an open air party (25 degrees C. at night), with of course
                                          enough alcoholic "wetties" to keep you totally numb the next day (me at least).

And of course, as this is DALMACIJA, there is lot of singing, every song sang along by everyone, accompanied by an accordeon, and each and every song with a longer if not long history.
The country may be getting ready to join the European Union (which is a good thing in my opinion), it still holds a tight connection to its values and traditions.
And that is also something that is of the highest importance !!
Let's move into a new era, where a vital economy can help people to make a
                                          good living, still, hold on tight to those fantastic traditions that make Croatia
                                          unique and worth to be living in.
Thanks to all our neighbours and friends in Svinisce, who joined the party and added to it with some bottles and more important, with their best mood and a lot of songs.

(ps. this text is a bit "out of control", next one will be edited as usual).
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June 23, 2011

another little secret to share

Dried figs, just dried figs.

Forget it, as these figs, locally picked and dried are not on the market.
Each neighbour here produces a lot of private food and drinks, all of it grown on their own land, carefully taken care of and as little artificial additives as possible (why kill yourselve ?).

These figs, growing all around here, cultivated or in the wild, are handpicked, dried carefully in the sun, turning them upside down day after day.
When the sun goes down or when rain is expected they stay inside, waiting for another day in the sun.

After some time they are ready for the next step, dipping them three times rapidly in salty Adriatic seawater.
Three times, no more, no less, and back into the sun again.

When perfectly dry (it takes a skilled eye), they are packed in thick paper bags (no plastic, it must be brown paper), with between every portion some leaves of laurel, also growing here like "asphalt in a city".

The result is absolutely fantastic, sweet with a memory of salt in it, riche an delicate, nutricious and an excellent cure for those who have a "bathroom-problem".

Commonly the day here is started with a couple of these, a glass of travarica (homemade booze with herbs), and believe me, there are lesser ways to start your day.

Life's great, when you live in Svinisce, Dalmacija, Hrvastka !
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May 30, 2011

biokovo, biokovo, go to biokovo !

One of the amazing mountains in our direct neighbourhood is called Biokovo Nature Park.

Any other country would call it a National Park, but Croatia already has a lot of National Parks, so it created a second and a third category.
Top type are the National Parks, like Krka waterfalls, Plitvice likewise, the Kornati islands and many more.

Second category parcs like Biokovo are stunning areas of immense nature like Biokovo, pure, wild, rough and of excellent quality.

And than there's a third and even more categories, as Croatia loves its nature, has a lot of it, and (most of the time) conserves and protects it all very well.
(Not always, as H.S.-Hrvatski Sume-Croatian Woods, the national organisation sometimes is a bit to much a lumberjack in stead of protector).
Having said so, most Croatian nature is pristine and as natural as nature can be.

OK, so Biokovo, the wide, rough mountainridge going as high as 1800 mtrs. above sealevel, offers a fantastic day or even many days to those visiting Dalmacija.
If staying between lets say Split and Makarska, plan at least a day to visit this mountain.
There is a good narrow road going up, but don't make the mistake most visitors make, driving all the way to the top, as you'll discover it's crowded there, and to tell you the truth, just half way up it's much more impressive than all the way up.
(And however the road going up is of good quality, you might wet your pants once in a while, especially when an other driver comes from opposite direction, just at a steep vertical scary section).

Driving half way up, you can choose to start a hike going many directions, going south or north or northeast, where south takes you towards the coast, with a fantastic view over the Adriatic deep below you, or north-east into the truly rough nature, where you might have the luck to encounter a bear (hardly, if any), a boar/wild pig (fair chance), a jackal (lucky you) or a chamotte or wild mountain goat (go early, you'll see one or two).
And than there are small groups of "wild" horses, like those on the picture, a fantastic view indeed.

Much more nature is around you at every moment, going from birds to reptiles and a broad range of flowers and plants, some endemic alpine specimens, all of it marvelous to see and enjoy.

Be aware when stepping into nature here, as this is true NATURE !!!!
Take at least half a liter of water per person, some sunprotection to cover your head, a mobile phone, and check the weatherforcast before you go (change comes quick here).

Prepare to have a fantastic day, you'll love Biokovo as much as I do.
And if as lucky as me (living nearby), try to come back out of season, let's say somewhere between october and march, when thick snow covers the tops and slopes.
Than have an espresso between the palmtrees at the seaside of Makarska, look up to those snowtopped summits, get going and finish your day with a grilled fish or a pizza when the sun goes down over the Adriatic.
Have a great time in Dalmatia/Dalmacija, and discover it's hiding many treasures.
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a bit to close for comfort

I wrote about it before, it\s pure nature around us.

Even while it's only ten minutes down to the more civilised coast, where we do our daily shopping, here, up the mountain, into our little valley, it's truly nature.

To prove this statement (who believes me anyhow), here's wat just a day ago was a wild living jackal, that came a bit to close for comfort.

Hunters here are truly excellent hunters, they know their surroundings very well and the ones I know don't need binoculars to see details I will never ever see.

Our friend Pero, about daily checks around in the fields, the woods and on the slopes of the mountainridge (Omiska Dinara) between us and the sea.

And however it's known that jackals live in Croatia (on Peljesac for instance), it's rather uncommon to see them here, as it may be nature all around here, there are people living here too in small villages, so some disturbance occurs.

Nevertheless recently a bear seems to have been spotted (extremely unusual here), but our area is connected to larger areas like Biokovo and Mosor, and even the hinterland is interconnected, so anything can migrate into our area and "try to make a living".

Some however, are not welcome, as bears and jackals are risky and a problem to farm animals and even humans.
Bears, wolves and lynx are protected by law, jackals and foxes lack that protection.

Being an expat from the Netherlands where nature is less than nothing, I truly like to know these animals occur in the wild, but than, I am a romantic guy who loves nature in every aspect, being snake, bird, fish or flower.

So to me a dead jackal is a sad thing, but I can imagine people here don't want nature to be to close.
We call that NIMBY (not in my back yard), and used to shout that to those politicians who wanted to "protect" us with atomic bombs.

Still, it's a dead animal and I rather see them alive, but better to protect yourselve with a simple selective bullit than with an atomic bomb, or those horrible landmines that are still threatening many innocent people on the Balkan today (in parts of Croatia and Bosnia).
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May 29, 2011

it's a small world (in a big one)

Look, and look again !
Here, in the centre of Europe, between the mountains, lives a small society.
Not a big deal, you may say, but believe  me, it IS !!!!

Today, everybody knows how to use Google Earth, still an amazing thing for sure, and I use it frequently too.
But to really know, I mean REALLY know, you must try to imagine what it's like to live here, between nature, mountains and a small group of people.

Google can give you an impression, I can give you my words in this post to tell you a bit about life here, from hour to hour and day to day, still, the best is to come over to be in it.

With a little hangover :-( after yesterday evening, I can tell you it's most fantastic to live here, down in the middle of this picture.

Yesterday was saturday, the day that everybody here uses to work his garden to take care of potatoes, melons, onions, tomatoes, olives and grapes.

All around us, our small valley is full of voices and birds singing, and under the mediterranian sun the day slowly passes untill it's about five a clock.
That's the moment I, we, everybody, put down the tools, closes waterpipes and sits down to overlook the results of another day well spent in the garden.
And THAT's the moment we gather to drink a beer (cold), talk a bit, eat some fresh roasted almonds (warm crunchy and salty), and share the energy and happiness of life here.

Later that evening our friends came over to join for dinner with us, so I prepared some salad straight from the land, made pommes frites also direct out of the ground into the fryingpan, put some well marinated chicken and pork on the grill and started to dig in.
And, as some of our neighbours stayed till the sun went down, we put some extra dishes on the table, as shared fun is still the very best.

One of the neighbours that had to leave after the shared happy hour, sent his son the bring us a bottle of his own wine, as a small gift to us sitting around the table for the meal.

Friendship, shared dinner, the sound of crickets and nightingales, a couple more glasses (stupid me), it became eleven, twelve, half past twelve and maybe a bit later, we lived, we enjoyed, we slept, and look !!!!!, another day in paradise just started it all over again.

Lucky me, as sunday is still sunday here, nobody works, no noise of tractors or grasscutters, birds and silence is all I need today, and it could'nt be better than it is, a small world in a big one.

Relax a bit, go for a simple walk, might even find the energy to hop into my canoo to slowly discover a bit of the Cetina river (five minutes down below us), or go to the beach with a book and put one foot into the water to check the temperature.
A drink today ?
No thanks, coffee will do !!!!
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May 24, 2011

right of way

Traffic in Croatia sometimes seems a bit extraordinary (and it is).

Don't shoot me for telling the truth (my truth), and sorry for all those perfectly normal drivers that fill cars and roads.
They are absolutely normal, sure, and most of them drive like any other person in any other country (except people from Amsterdam, who drive like idiots from the day they are born).

There is however in Croatia a category you may call outlaws, and the difficulty is that they may be in a car, on a motorbike or a scooter, so it aint easy to recognise them on sight.
Even a sticker "beba u auto" does not help you devide the normal ones from the complete idiots.

Don't worry however, you'll find out soon, as those testosteron loaded supermachos drive like idiots.
Left, right, rules, what rules, speedlimits, come on, machines are made to kill, if not somebody else, than at least yourselve.

The closer you come to a big city like Split, the stronger the feeling that there is something completely wrong in the air there, and during weekends the problem spreads to the coastal road called Magistrale, where you romantic visitors like to slowly drive along the Adriatic.
"Ahhhh, did you see that delightfull gar......." WHIEEEEUUUWWWwwww, as at that moment some supermacho on a Kawasaki or Suzuki comes screaming through your world, heading for heaven behind the next corner.

Please do enjoy this beautifull coast, it is worth a trip, but be aware that there are some cowboys on the roads, and it's better that I tell you, than you discovering it the hard way.

Since gunfights are a typical American thing (the pictured traffic sign is just because we have many blind hunters :-), young macho drivers here use machines in stead of machineguns.
Still scary, still dangerous as hell, but now I warned you, you don't have to be afraid anymore.

Drive carefully, use your seatbelts, don't drink, use your airco, be alert at all times and enjoy the scenery, as it's FANTASTIC !

Driving machos are not a typical Croatian thing of course,
only there are many of them here, so be aware, also for blind hunters.
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May 22, 2011

this land is my land

Yes folks, it's been a while since Triny Lopez sang this song.
(Guess I am getting old).

It just came to my mind when I was walking a bit in total sunday silence over our land here, traditionally the day that people don't work (catholics).
And "hvala bogu" (thank god), being a non believer, that also goes for me.

What you see is a part of our land here, fully planted with potatoes, melons, tomatoes, onions and a lot more.
And........the best strawberries you'll ever taste, straight from the plant into the mouth.

It took a lot of work to prepare all this, but lucky me, this section is now taken care of by our neighbours/best friends.
Now it's a matter of keeping it all under control, especially the amount of water, as here tomatoes, salad and such need a daily gift of water for sure.
Potatoes grow on another regime, they like a splash every week, but cucumbers for instance, are heavy drinkers.

Water used to be a problem here in old times, taken from the well by hand, later by motorpump, but for me, coming from the twentyfirst century, I like to just open a valve, so I do.
As today we have asphalt, not much but enough for cars going up and down the mountain, we have a regular watersystem, there is electric power and of course internet, mobile phones, washing machines and aircos.
Heating however in wintertime is still done with a woodstove, so each and everyone organises his seven cubics of excellent wood to keep the fire burning on cold winterdays.

And cold it can be up here, but that's another story.

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May 14, 2011

sick of the adriatic ??? TRY THIS !!!!!

Bosnia Herzegovina folks, about less than hours drive, that's all !!

Sick of palmtrees, sun, blue sea, pizza's and beer ?
Have a car, or even better a motorbike ?

Than drive up to BiH, the country that was arranged in Dayton (sick).

It's worth the trip, believe me, as in less than an hour's drive to Tomislavgrad you'll be in the middle of God given nature, high up, between snowcovered mountains.

I love it there, it's pure, it's original, it's ...........all you should like (if you like this blog) !
And by the way, lunch is cheaper than cheap, and for the smokers among us (smokers die happy), a pack of Marlboro costs you ONE euro and sixty cents (for twenty joysticks).

GO GO GO, if not to Mostar, even better !!!!
And after all, war was good for at least something, it kept nature pure (sick again, but true).
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how many do you need to sleep

I try :-) to mix working and fun (they call it "slobodan dan" here, meaning a day off).
So today I worked my nuts of, as vegetables grow easily but not by them selves.

Yesterday howver, I took my "slobodan dan", and drove into Bosnia.
For those who never went there, you're either concrete freaks or just unaware of what beauty looks like.

So for those lucky ones who come to spend their holidays in Dalmacija, please do take a trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina (for God's sake DO IT).
It's less than an hours drive either to Livno or Tomislavgrad (the old kings town), and I prefer to turn right, to Tomislavgrad.

The trip is fully worth it, passing Busko Jezero, a large lake where hardly anything else happens than water hiding fish (where are those people creating a fantastic campsite at the borders of that lake).

For me however, just enjoying the scenery, I could'nt care less, as it's just fantastic !
Green meadows, loads of sheep, small rivers, and yes, total peace.

Went to Tomislavgrad (not very specail as far as I am concerned), but oh dear, that scenery, those panoramic views, with snowtopped mountains ahead, driving mostly on good new roads, and some peaces of fair macadam.

And each moment is a new impression, getting up to about 1700 meters high, true alpine circumstances, and as cherry on the cake BLIDINJE, the national park high up, where a lake surrounded by mountains amazes as it's high, pure, and YES, snowcovered mountains around !
Typical alpine plants allover, among which my favorite:gentian, a perfectly deep blue little thing (and many more).

Had a twohundred kilometers drive (less is no problem, but I kept going), and came home with a great feeling.
So, next time you visit Croatia (Dalmacija), DO GO TO BOSNIA TOO !!!!).
Mostar, Medjugorje, Sarajevo, Livno ot Tomislavgrad, and all scenic country between them, they are fully worth the visit.

One sheep, two, ten, a hundred, more and more, but had to write this, today was a busy one, it's late, nightingales are singing here (I am sitting outside with my little laptop), and I am gonna count them all.
Thank you, you little knitting animals, for being around in that amazing country.

Thousand one, -ten, -hundred, laku noc (sleep well).
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May 11, 2011

benkovac bazar, anything you need (and more)

Had to write another little story about yesterday.
Don't worry, I have fifteefour pictures, but I won't use them all.

This picture shows a bit of the amount of articles for sale, in case you don't need a cow or an olivetree.

Guess the salesman took all shit from a wide circle around his house, went to the garbage container to find some more, cleaned the sides of the road while driving up to Benkovac and than made a nice display of everything a man can need or want to find in an open air shop.

I am sure he does not have a website where he is presenting his busines, however, he does have a cellphone to stay connected to the trends on the market worldwide, or at least to his many friends.

Buy, buy, BUY, oprosti (pardon), I mean sell, sell, SELL, oil is up, gold is down, go for next years coffee or even better, buy Antonov, Google, NO, Microsoft, as they just got hold of Skype.

Mad, mad world, where all businessmen are chasing for some more wealth, to do some new investments, to even earn some more money.
For the sake of ?????

I guess this salesman is perfectly happy, unemployed but happy, in his old little Peugeot, covered with old shit for sale.
He went to Benkovac, met some friends there, joined some food and drinks, earned enough to drive home, and finished his day (or started the next one), taking care of his chickens, the olivetrees and the potatoes in his field.

Donald Trump, you're a complete idiot (just ask this collegue of yours in Benkovac) !!!!
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it's a dogs life

Went to Benkovac Bazar today.
Drove about hundred and fifty kilometers, from Omis to Benkovac, and the good thing is that the highway is super !
Some speeding in no problem here, as long as you stay alert, and besides, there was'nt much traffic.

Me and four neighbours/friends, talking in loud voices, of which I don't understand a bit, as my Croatian still is like hopping from one word to another.
And they speek LOUD !!!!!!

Got up early, 05.30 I hate that, we arrived at Benkovac, a large open air market shows, where one can buy anything from chickens to tractors, tools and plants, clothes and second hand shit (who needs a WWII German helmet ?).

However the trip was heavy, my ears jammed with noise, the offer so extensive (shall a buy a Ferrari red tractor or not for 3000,- euro's), I got back with a kilo of almonds to use in my kitchen, a plumtree and an early ready figtree.

Did'nt take beautifull cherries, deliciously smelling strawberries nor cheese from Livno.
I rather wait till ours are ready, and well, for that Livno cheese I'll go to Livno, another trip, another story, and another company in the car ( ALONE or with my wife).

And the dog in the Petit Biscuitsbox, well I guess it found a new place anyway, growing up in a pure country with loads of nature and wildlife.
Polako mali, you'll get out of your box some day too, remembering the smell of those biscuits in your young happy days.

Is this famous market a MUST DO, my answer is no !
If staying near Omis or Split or Makarska, better go to Zadvarje on tuesdaymorning.
Less driving, still most of it for sale there too, and enough to see and smell for two hours or so.
(And do get some of that delicious roasted young pig they sell at the terrace near the market).

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