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 www.krauthaker.com 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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