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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May 08, 2011

future is endless

Like in this picture (I showed it before), the horizon and the future are endless.
Still this picture is my absolute favorite, as every time I look at it, I adore it more.

The story behind it was sad, as the old man died a short time later, but the little girl is growing up, day by day, living in the USA nowadays.
And I am sure that mother and father will always remember dida, his father, pictured at a unique moment, walking with his grandchild between grapes and olives.

People come, people go, and so do the grapes and olives, year after year, in an endless system we call nature.
To be sure each newborn kid can grow up and enjoy this unique natural country, it's worth to take care of it.

For the sake of nature, views like this, and the future !
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May 07, 2011


Writing for the sake of writing, like eating when hungry, that's what I do in this blog.
I like to show people by doing so, about the life behind the touristic curtains of the Adriatic coast, with a picture and a couple of words.
Neither artist nor writer, just for the fun of it.

Tourists come to Croatia and go again, one week, ten days, some even for three weeks, their color changed, camera stuffed and pockets empty they leave for home, for another year till next holiday, next country, next sunburn.

With the intension to inform, entertain and sometimes touch people's heart, I fill my pages with words, English words, as being a Dutchman my Croatian is just to little, and as the world does hardly understand Dutch, I prefer to use English (because my Spanish and Chinese, the two other world languages are zero to none).

Having said so, I once in a while get reactions from around the world, from people that are somehow connected to Croatia.
A holiday, familyties, even some other Dutch that decided like us to live in this fantastic (pure) country.

Recently I started to stuff the blog again after receiving a mail from Romania.
"What's up in Croatia, with no news, no new blogs, no simple stories".
Well folks,, we simply where busy in Holland (The Netherlands, Nizozemska, Pays Bas), preparing to finally live permanently in Dalmacija, and so we had to pack, organise and fill out a mountain of papers to become legal inhabitants of Croatia.

Just two weeks ago we returned, and in the middle of boxes, had to get things organised overhere, and even much more important, had to plant potatoes and lots of other stuff, to have the very best food later on from our own garden.

So, because of the warning :-) I got from Romania, I sat down again, to write my little things about little life.
Not being my writingcorner (we don't smoke inside our small house), and besides, I use modern technic stuffed in a laptop, I took the liberty to show you a REAL writers table, with vitamins, sigarets, coffee and genuin ink and pen.

Some do it professionally, for the sake of literature, I am just a pebble on the beach, the gigantic Internet Beach, visited by all virtual tourists around the world.
Between them all, I have my little peace of land, just like the peace of land we have in Dalmacija, near Omis, half an hour from Split, in Croatia.
"Ja volim Hrvatska", that's all, no less, much more.
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May 06, 2011

you never get a second chance

One never get's a second chance to make a first impression.

As far as confrontations with bears go, I hope that's not the truth.
Well, I might just try, as the rumour goes one has been spotted in our neighbourhood.

In Podaspilje, a small village just five kilometers away, it says a bear (medo in Croatian) was seen.
And then, asking about it, one of our hunting neighbours told me, also two others were observed near Zadvarje, a small town about fifteen minutes away.

A stunning idea, on the other hand, I hope I get a chance to take a picture when I happen to meet one, as apart from dancing bears (horrible thing from the past in the country *), bears are other than snakes, as with snakes I know how to do (watch and take some extra steps around them).

Still the rumour is a rumour, and since our cats are masters catching mice, it better be a rumour, cause it's nice to see a cat show up with a mouse, but in case of a bear, you never know who's gonna show up with what.

With Biokovo and Mosor Mountains nearby, and even Omiska Dinara large and wild enough, I would'nt be surprised to read about it in the "reliable" newspaper here, Slobodna Dalmacija.
And as there are three protection programs in Croatia, for wolves, linx and bears, it just might happen to be true.

Being the worst dancer you can imagine, I hope that in case of a confrontation the bear still thinks it takes two to tango.
At least than I have a chance to say "no thanks", or in Croatian "ne hvala", as I don't know what language bears speak.

In the past some people in some Balkancountries mistreated bears by teaching them to dance.
Ring through the nose, a hot plate burning the feet, that sure makes you dance after a while.
Never ever give those terrible people money or take pictures, as after you have your picture taken, they take your money !!!!!
And apart from that, it's a bad habit that must stop, the sooner the better.

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dalmatians, the singing people

One Dalmatian working on his land sings, two Dalmatians have a glass of wine, beer or rakia, and sing, three have a glass, something to eat, and sing.
And when they gather for some reason, Dalmatians sing even more !

Singing is in their blood, its a tradition going back ages and ages, some of it very crude, with hardly a melody, more the type of speaking-singing, where the lyrics tell a story (like newspapers and internet today).

And than there is klapa, a famous type of singing, sang by groups of people, at any moment, a feast or even a competition.
Omis, our shopping town is famous for its klapa festival in summer, a very serious and high quality gathering of many groups, with each and everyone performing at it's very best.

The songs are mainly romantic, about fisherman, seagulls and the sun over the Adriatic, and of course about girls, romance, lost loves and waiting ones.

This picture was taken at the baptising of our best friends son Josiph.
And of course, here was singing too, and great food, drinks and good company.

Stop talking, start singing !!!
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some cats stay, others go

Not only for cats this title goes.

We left Holland two weeks ago, after a pile of paperwork to get a residence permit for Croatia.
And yes, after three visits to the Croatian Embassy in The Hague with loads of papershit, stamps, translations (and a lot of stress) all those papers where finally accepted, and sent to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.

Now we must wait, with great confidence, for the very moment our documents are accepted, and we can call ourselves residents of this great young country.
Still we will be Dutch, with cheese in our blood, with Dutch passports, as we are Europeans, and Croatia will be part of Europe soon (I truly hope for Croatia).

When we left last autumn, we took care that the cats around our place where taken care of.
Being straycats, they give us a lot of joy, so a bit of care in return is the least to be done.

We left a load of catfood at our best friends place, and asked him to feed and care of them, which he did excellently.
Nevertheless some cats went away like we did, some stayed, and being f*ck*ng cats, two of them are now with young kittens.

Part of our rural life around our place, we once again will take care of our regular visitors, those staying are welcome (if they behave), the others are fully free to leave to whatever place or country they like.
In return they take care of a mouse once in a while and if a snake should occur, well you (mostly non venomous) sliding nonlegged creatures, BEWARE of the CATS !!!!

And for us, after some Dutch friends visited us during their spring holidays, we started to get ready, planting potatoes, and putting many different seeds into little containers to be planted as soon as they show worth the treatment from sun and soil.
And we will happily harvest and share whatever grows, all of it pure vegetables and fruits with marvelous taste.

Feel free to visit us here, and if hungry, just walk into our garden and pick some of it !
Good life is shared life, as goes for cats as well as friendly humans.

And to those who had to wait this long to read about our daily life, sorry folks, sh*t happens, but from now on, between cutting gras and reading a book, I'll keep you posted about Svinisce, the hidden treasure.

ps. Just today I learned that the name Svinisce, comes from S vinisce, meaning " from the wine fields", my neighbour told me, and as far as I understood it, the story sounded well enough to believe, and than we drank a glass.
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