February 27, 2012

smoke on the water..........


(Click on picture to enlarge)

Today, at the seafront, we had what's called here "orkanski bura", a wind that blows in gusts of about 200 km. = > 11 bft.
A truck on its side, trees broken, tricky stuff so to say, but fantastic to have a look and take some pictures.

Much of the weather is typical, due to the structure of the land here.
With mountain rigs from north to south (Rijeka to Dubrovnik) close to the seaside, much of the winds are blocked, coming from inland or sea (creating that great sheltered summer weather).
In these mountains however there are openings on many places, like in our neighborhood where the Cetina river flows through its canyon into the Adriatic.

A bit further away, close to Biokovo Mountains, there is a wide and deep gap, where I love to go when the weather is not so stormy.
The landscape there is rough and alpine, and rocks and trees are shaped by the furious winds that can blow there.

If you happen to visit this area, drive from Omis to Makarska along the coast and take the road up to Zadvarje, turn left to Slime, and take the very first narrow road left (ignoring the old sign there), and go up the mountain till you think its enough (It's a great walk as well).
The scenery there is truly beautiful, with specific local herbs, trees and flowers, and the view is JUST FANTASTIC.
(Do this in the later afternoon, take your picnic stuff with you, and wait till the sun goes down !!!!).

But forget it when this orkanski bura is blowing, as than you may end at the foot of the mountains, in the sea deep below you, or even, much quicker in heaven than you ever thought possible.
As than the wind there is as dangerous as hell !!!, reason why most of the trees there are smaller than a dwarf.

I stayed on the low side today, still (a bit) tricky, but hey, you want to see special pictures, so I just had to deliver the stuff (and for my own pleasure of course :-).

In some of the coming messages I'll tell you a bit about an other danger here.
Snakes, especially a type called poskok, better known as nose horned viper.
NOT the biggest danger, still something to be aware of.

A small joke:
I call the police here poskok, as like those snakes, they seek the side of the asphalt when the sun is shining.
And yes, when you ignore them, they also bite :-) !

If any question or remark, mail me, see header of this blog, with X = @.
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February 25, 2012

a remarkable discovery

How strange can things be ! In my previous item about a strange concrete ship in the middle of the fields driving from Omis to Trilj, I was was looking for the proper spelling of the word "stecci". Those ancient grave stones brought via Google to a Slavic forum, full of information about many Slavic countries, among which Croatia/Dalmatia. And much to my surprise I stumbled over an item about Dalmatian soldiers fighting in the American Civil War. Truly amazing stuff, see for yourself (please copy/paste the line):
Even more surprising to me, as I earlier wrote about a "confederate" in Svinisce. He nor me have known the true story behind this coincidental little item I wrote because of the cap Jordan got from his sailor son as just a funny present to him. Some quotes from this amazing discovery:
During the American Civil War, many Croatians served as individuals and in organized Croatian companies. They fought for the South. Their service was not unusual or accidental, as they were a part of the South in numbers since the 1760's. They were in Mobile, Alabama; Pascaguala, Mississippi; Harrison Co., Mississippi; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Plaquemine Parish, Louisiana. A Dalmatian, Juan Matulich, was selling guns and whiskey to the Indians in the 1760's; another, Marco Givanovich, owned a pre-Civil War plantation worth over $400,000. Documents indicate they were known as Slavonians, and the majority came from Dalmatia in Croatia. George Petrovich Gettysburg, July 2, 1863 At 8 a.m. on July 2, 1863, practically the whole of both armies was upon the field at Gettysburg. The Confederate Army lost 28,063 men as killed, wounded and missing; the Federals 23,049. Some were Croatian. Corporal George Petrovich volunteered on July 22, 1861, at Camp Moore, Louisiana, for Company D, 10th Louisiana Infantry. (The New Orleans Business Directory for 1860 lists George Petrovich at 111 Chartres Street, with a fruit store.) His enlistment papers state his residence at New Orleans.
Of course I know many Croats live all over the world, not only in Germany or the Netherlands, but many of them in Australia, America, Canada and elsewhere. Just recently one of them from a neighbor village , Theo Brstilo with wife and kids, flew over the ocean to find himself and his kids a better future. For that is still a big problem over here, with good education and well motivated people, but mainly/only jobs in the tourist season, and that is not only a pity, but a shame as well. Most of the earlier industry in the coastal area has disappeared and much of the initiative is blocked in early stage by an overkill of rules and paperwork. I hope I will live to see the change in the current situation, somehow boosted by the membership of the European Union. So Ikea, Volkswagen, Philips, Unilever, Canon, Suzuki, Caterpillar, Bayer, Beneton and lookalikes, don't only sell your goods here, but start some production units too. People here want to work, not only in the tourist season, but all year round !!! (Still, it's amazing to see that Croats did not only move to find a better life, but even lived to die in the American Civil War).

wanna cruise ?

Just a funny, surprising, weird photo taken on the road to Trilj.
Trilj by the way, used to be an important stronghold in the Roman days.
With Solin near Split (Salona and Spalatum in those days)as a very important Roman town and later on the growth of Split, with the well known palace of Diocletianus still remaining in all it's glory.
Salona however was the most important Roman town in those days, with more than 20.000 inhabitants.
It had everthing we know Roman cities of, including a large amphitheater and a still visible aquaduct.
Much of it all disappeared over time, especially when the Ottomans came close to the coast overhere.

For people interested in archaeology this is a absolute goal for some holiday excursions, as in Solin for instance still a tremendous lot is to be seen and visualised, and various museums in Split show splendid collections.

Back to Trilj than, which was as I said a stronghold for some Roman legions in their quest for deeper and further penetration of the surrouding land.
One good reason was that gold and silver were mined in what's now Herzegovina, and of course the nice climate made it possible to enjoy Dalmatian wines, olives and fish.
For those interested there is a book available that describes all known and hardly known locations and sites where still a lot is undiscovered (due to lack of the money to do extensive archaeological research).
See the header of this blog for my email address, in which X = @, and I'll gladly send you the details how to get that book (in English).

Now, what about that strange ship in the middle of a field, left from the road.
On the road to Trilj, there is a group of "stecci", ancient grave stones with remarkable inscriptions.
The stones show a variety of pictured people, hunting, dancing, working.
Here is only one spot they can be seen, on many other places a lot more can be seen.

Now will I tell about this crazy concrete "Costa Concordia" or not !
Ok, don't twist my arm, I will, I will.
I don't know who built it, or why or when, but it used to be a dancing, a party boat if you wish, where from all around youngsters used to go to dance, party, and kiss.
For some reason it lost it's glory (like more cruisers do), making it into a completely desolated monstrum in the middle of the land, falling apart slowly.
Somehow those old Romans were much better builders, using pure stone, brilliant techniques and less chemistry.

Not being a journalist nor scientist, I will use the next spring to check out some of those hardly known archeological sites, as it keeps me amazed how much there is to be discovered in Dalmatia for those who not only come for a suntan.
So this will not be my last item about archeology, hoping you are interested as much as I am.

Do mail me if you have any questions or remarks, I'll gladly answer them whenever I can.
As all I want is to show a bit more about all hidden treasures of Dalmatia, Croatia.

February 24, 2012

the very last snowy picture


Trust me, this is the very last picture with snow in it, as I (and you) have seen enough of it.
With today a temperature of 17 degrees C. there's hardly any snow left, and the first insects are buzzing around so why write about snow ?

The answer is simple, I was scrolling through my pictures, and decided to ad this item, because one of our (very helpfull)friends is on it.
The friend, Lero Tafra, lives in the nearby village, and was so kind to dig out some fire wood from deep under the snow.
To me, digging (with my six healing broken ribs) is still a no no, so he decided to dig a while, as somewhere under this load of snow was my well isolated stock of dry fire wood.
It took him a while, but in the end, we loaded our garden house with enough wood to heat our bones during colder nights.

Lero lives in a place called Gornje Tafra meaning upper Tafra, as many places overhere are named after the earliest families that lived and still live here.
With about twenty houses, however he is the last of the "mohicans" there, as almost everbody today is just a "weekend inhabitant" except him.
They all have some house at the seaside now, where jobs and schools are near.

As soon as work in the fields is calling, many people here come to their weekend places, to take care of the grapes, cherries and olives and to plant a lot of potatoes and a variety of vegetables, as the soil here is excellent and the growing season long and wealthy.
And of course they also come over for the weekend just to enjoy country life in their old family property.

A good thing is that slowly people are returning today, when duty is not calling anymore, or te kids are studying elsewhere.
For us and them, the easy going peacefull life here, with good roads, tap water and internet :-) is like living in heaven after many years at the coast, with its noise, cars, and :-( in summer season large crowds of holiday visitors.
Still, it's just a five minutes drive down to the Cetina Canyon, and another five to town (for shopping) and the gorgeous Adriatic beaches.
We call this an excellent example of having best of both worlds, and it is !

Enjoying the first true (early) spring time, this will be my last item about a unbelievable winter period, unprecedented to all, even to the oldest among us.

I would like to know how and why you got connected to this blog, so if you have the time, do write me a short message to my address shown in the header of this blog (with of course X = @).

Have a great time wherever in the world you are living, and keep following our life in our hidden valley in Svinisce.
Next item will be as sunny as possible, that's a promise !
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February 20, 2012

when the snow disappears...........


When the snow disappears, the bears wake up.
Just kidding, we don't have bears around, not even far away, and even harsh winters are unusual in this Adriatic climate.
If you want to meet bears, you'll have to go inland, to the Lika district.

Wolves and lynx there seem to be, but heavily protected and very seldom seen, boars there are a lot more, still not easy to be found, but we wouldn't have hunters if there weren't boars.
And of course, in the area of Biokovo Mountains the chance of spotting various wildlife is common.
The bear on the picture however, that came out of hibernation, is now living in the USA.

The story behind it is charming.
Two years ago we were walking on the beach, and found it floating ashore.
It looked terrible, but I said to my wife it came swimming all the way from Italy (visible on a very clear day).
I picked it up, cleaned it when arriving at home, and from that moment on, it followed me on every business trip or holiday.

And (funny me), I took pictures on the most uncommon locations, resulting in a load of bearpics and the story to them.
(Which this is a result of as you can see).

One day I met a friend in Split with her young daughter, and when the little girl saw the bear, she fell in love with it like young girls do.
I couldn't resist her asking eyes, so the bear stepped away from me, and even further than I thought possible, as the family went back to the USA, due to the lack of workable jobs in Croatia (which still is a big problem today *).

So the bear is now living in the USA, but I still have the pictures, making it possible to me to write a little story, about winter leaving, temperature rising, snow disappearing, and bears getting up.

To investors, company people, producers and dealers: DO KNOW this country is truly a great chance to start a factory or sales office today, as it soon will enter the European Union, it's people are well educated workers (and still a bargain), the infrastructure is good, making Split with it's deep water harbour an excellent location to penetrate the Balkan markets and beyond.
Many companies already discovered this emerging market, so wake up, as only bears sleep during winter season !!
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February 18, 2012

nothing beats "domaci"


"Domaci", or home made, is a much used word in Croatia while "polako" (take it easy)is second best.
Wine, olive oil, pancetta, prsut, that delicious home made dry ham, and many more things are made at home by people who not only learned it from parents and grandparents, but take pride in the art of it, and of course the taste !!!

Still a novice myself on many items, I always was and still am a fairly good cook, but baking my own bread, cookies and such was a bit behind my horizon.
Recent snowy times gave me the possibility to go for it, so I asked a neighbor to teach me the art of home made bread.

She showed me how to start a fire in the (large) fireplace, how to check the heat of the floor, and of course how to work ingredients into a fantastic bread.
And it smelled and tasted like a thousand angels were..............

One thing leads to another, so on the picture you see a traditional Dutch roll, stuffed with spiced minced pork meat, which by the way I baked in my more familiar electric stove.
For this type of rolls using a real fire in the fireplace is a bit to tricky for the novice I am.

The name in dutch of these rolls is "worstebrood", I have no idea what name they have in english, and as it's new for Svinisce, I call them "lovacki kruh", meaning hunters rolls.

Anyone interested to make them, see my address in the header of this blog, with of course X = @ (against spammers) and I'll gladly send you instructions to get going yourselve.
Still a lot to learn about wine, sausages, olives, but a lot of the good old knowledge still is available to me.
You don't have to be a conservative to appreciate traditions !
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February 14, 2012

happiness is.........


Happiness is.....sitting around the table with good friends while the woodstove is heating your bones, with a bottle on the table and a glass in your hands.
And what if everybody is having fun, trying to steal your bottle ?

Well, for every problem there is a solution, also in this matter.
You take a rope, tie it to the bottle and put it around your neck.

And boy did we have a great afternoon, still with a lot of snow outside, but temperature on the sunny side of the wall rising to a pleasant +15 degrees C.

Our friends/neighbors, came over to dig out some of our fire wood, while I still can't do that due to my earlier broken six ribs.
And having done so, with nothing else to do as all land is still covered with a thick layer of snow, we joined inside, where temperature was even better than on that sunny outside wall, with like I said, a bottle on the table and some food to accompany the drinks.

So, even while Dalmatija still looks like the Alps, we sat together sipping some (just some) results of last years sun.
Sun, grapes, wine, a perfect combination to celebrate Dalmatija's wealth, even when economy is still in a bad mood.
As you can see, we're not in a bad mood, not at all.
Cheers !

The bottle contained a delicious Traminac wine, a highly advisable white.
Croatia grows an ever increasing lot of treasures, from a wide range of known and unknown grapes.
Ask for them, or even better, come and get it as soon as the snow disappears.

Nicola, Mate for his friends, the guy on the picture, is a great character.
Even though he lost one arm from some WW2 shit in his younger years, it never stopped him to live life to the max, but that's worth another story some day.
Hvala Mate, ja te volim.
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February 13, 2012

this could be the last time


The Stones sang it "this could be the last time".
Maybe the last time I don't knowhoooo.
(For those loving good old songs from those golden days of rock 'n roll, check youtube).

Today temperature is finaly rising, and so this could be the last time we'll see Mosor Mountains this white.
Because this type of weather seems to happen only once in fifty years, I might not live to see it again.
Great, as however I wish to live to be a hundred years overhere, this was once but rather not again.
And all those people in Montenegro, Serbia and Croatia just might wish the same, covered in tons of snow, isolated from everything that makes life livable.

Whatever the outcome of weather reports for the next week, let it be at least everyday some sun and melting snow.
The Alps should be white, Everest too, and well MontBlanc would'nt be MontBlanc if not a white mountain.
Great for all those high peaks, but this is Dalmatia, with the highest peak about 1800 meters high.

Our nearest high mountains are on Biokovo (Nature Park), and yes, that's covered in thick snow during winter many times.
And yes, I love to drive up that mountain and stop where a nice walk in thick snow starts through stunning nature.
Driving however these days is only for die hards with chains round their tires, brains and feet.
For me, loving to look around a bit in Dalmatia's fantastic nature, these are conditions I rather not test my driving skills.

Soon I hope to get out again, to enjoy the variety of nature around us.
Pictures and stories will follow, as I guess you want to see a bit more than snow, snow and more snow.
Anyone wanting to mail me, see the header of this blog for my address.

Let the sunshine in, as this is Dalmacija/Dalmatia, with green nature, grey rocks, a blue sea and a golden sun !!!
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I'm dreaming of a................


NO, I am not dreaming of a.........white Christmas, hell no ! For those who are as "old" as I am, I want you oldies to remember that famous Woodstock Festival film, in which there was a rainy moment and all in the crowd shouted "rain go away" to some rhythm. (Am I that old, yes, that old !!!). So in my mind I shouted like thousands of people those days "snow go away" and tapped the rhythm with my feet. It seems to work, as of tomorrow temperature is rising again, but it will take at least a week to remove all of our snow, as on average it's fifty centimetres thick, but on many places more than the triple of that. Statistics say the average day temperature for Split is about eleven degrees C. on the right side of the line. And as always, statistics say what people put in it and want to see come from it. Bloody liars, that's what they are, well paid bloody liars :-). As you can see, I am fed up with this snow. I did not choose to live in Dalmacija to meet Heidi, nor do I like those purple cows from Milka running up and down the slopes. If I want to ski (and I love to ski), I rather drive two hours into Bosnia, and return to sunny Dalmacija as soon as my temperature drops. I like my meat from the grill, I like to enjoy my glass of wine outside, and I love the smell of herbs and the sound of crickets around me. Sorry to all people who live in "winter wonder land", but their winters are a bit to long for me. I prefer one or two days of snow, max. 20 centimetres, than some sunny days, followed by a bit of rain, followed by more sun, and most of all, I like the variety of landscapes Dalmacija has to offer in such an amount on such close distance. Snow’s nice, but when it covers the whole world around you, it gets to be like a painting with no paint on. (For the snow blinds, look, and look again at the picture above, with only some white in the ducks, and a variety of greens, greys, browns, orange and even some blue). That's how a nice painting should look, not the all white version I see for already ten days in a row. Snow's great, sure, white and pure, but too much and too long makes me dream of.........Spring........and not of Christmas !
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February 09, 2012

simply bread


Simply bread, oh no, there's nothing as delicate and precious as home made bread, so there is'nt such a thing as "simply bread".
Sure, the white spongy stuff everybody can get from stores is named bread, and I guess they use the same basic ingredients, but there are so many additives in it, to increase it's color, smell and "freshness".
There's a whole industry producing hundreds of additional materials with loads of E-numbers in it, to make life of the baker a bit easier.

But do you get a tasty nutritious bread from it ?

We already have the pleasure to once in a while get one of our neighbor's home made breads, traditionally baked on a stone floor heated by a wood fire.
And believe me, that's the very best bread you'll ever taste.

Due to the slippery snowy conditions we "suffer" nowadays, I started to bake my own bread like she does, and today I both baked a bread and twenty "worstebroodjes", a traditional meat stuffed roll from the Netherlands.

All of it was a true delight to do, working the dough by hand, preparing the stuffing for those rolls, and than, the ultimate moment of delight, the smell from the oven (as baking on woodfire is still a bridge to far for me).

Problem however is, that those twenty rolls were quickly reduced to less than ten, as everybody visiting wanted to try them, and so did we of course.

With more snow coming the next couple of days, I can increase my baking skills, and as soon as possible I'll drive to the small town called Grab, where a traditional miller using waterpower, makes the very best flour.

Snow in Dalmatia, in this amount still is a pain in the (ass), but it gives me lots of time to become my own baker.
And THAT is one of the many benefits of life in the Zagora (the hinterland) as here people still know how to be fully self supporting, and I gladly learn from them to be that way too.

Should you plan to enjoy your holidays in Dalmatia (and right you are)a visit to the Zagora is a MUST DO.
As here, and nowhere else you get the real feel of Dalmacija !!! And should you want to bake your own bread, send me an email (see header of this blog for my address) and I'll most gladly email you some tips and recipes.
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February 08, 2012

liberation day !


Yes folks, it was Liberation Day today in the Republika Modris !
Today a huge machine came to connect us to the world again.

Away the isolation, away the risk of hundreds of dead chickens in the nearby chickenfarm, away the problems with medicines for elderly neighbors, and "most important" all nicotine junkies have their smoking friends again.
Food was'nt a problem, as all neighbors prepare their own pancetta, prsut (delicious smoked ham), kobasice (sausages) and earlier in the season all produce their own olive oil (and tasty that is !!!) and not to forget, their wine.

And traditionaly everybody here takes pride in knowing how to bake home made bread, with behind every house a group of chickens, that even on cold days produce their eggs put on the daily bread (and if needed a Croatian mc. chicken).

Next couple of days temperature will rise, so some of our snow will melt, but during the weekend more snow is expected.
And after that, as always as this is Dalmatia (Dalmacija), temperature will rise even more, as the sun will continue it's regular job.

And day after day we will see the snow dissapear, with more sunny days, and some planning to put seeds in the ground, cause in spring and later on, all delicious vegetables and fruits will grow again on this land.

So bye bye Republika Modris, and hello world again.
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February 07, 2012

declaration of independence


Today, the people of Modris, part of Svinisce, part of Omis, declared the independent republic of Modris (Republika Modris).

Not because we don't believe in the benefits of the state of Croatia, nor the upcoming membership of Europe, but just because of the simple fact that winter isolated us from the rest of the universe, the world and the country.
But as soon as we're reconnected to the rest of Dalmacija, we'll share their values again.
Untill the army, manpower, machines or sunny weather make it possible to join life in Croatia again, we will live in the Republic Modris, center of Europe.

Common values of concern, sharing and mutual support and help are things we value more than ever today, in our winter wonderland, with snow from kneedeep to as deep as the tip of our nose.
"Are you ok today" is a common question nowadays, "need help or food" is another one, and from Kilo's mouth yesterday sounded "me and Lero will fight the snow for some cigarets in Kucice".

On a normal day, under normal conditions, Kucice is about five kilometers by car, the airco buzzing, the radio singing, but these are not normal days nor normal conditions.
So he and Lero went for a "nice" walk, and returned after a couple of hours with the so much "needed" smokes.

And as we shared together in our gardenhouse the last couple of days, with the woodstove heating our bones, they came in from the white to join in our mutual meal.
Three days ago we started to cook and eat together, the first day with a delicious fish soup, the next day with a fantastic bean soup with smoked meat (all of it home made !!!) and yesterday with a large lasagna.

On the picture you see our "mayor", who's name is Kilo, one of the heroes that that "came from the white".
The bottles in front of his sleeping head are a gentle joke from our side, the view however behind him is as true as it can be.

So, "VIVA REPUBLIKA MODRIS, Center of Europe" but let's hope the next days the sun will raise temperature again to normal values, so we can share the values of Croatia again.
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February 06, 2012

no smoking gun


Due to snowy conditions you wo'nt see smoke coming out of the barbecue's gun.
We're isolated at the moment, not a bad thing at all, as we've got food for weeks, so every day we join with a couple of surrounding friends to enjoy lunch (marenda they say overhere).

At ten a clock I lite a good fire in the woodstove of the gardenhouse as round eleven folks come through the snow, which is from 0.5 meters to even 1.5 meters and on some spots even more.
Very rare indeed for Dalmacija, where winters can be cold up here (250 meters above sealevel), sometimes covered with a bit of snow, but this situation is extremely rare.

Even in Split, a town with about 200.000 people everything came to a halt, as even there they struggle through snow.
And for Split, with most roads and streets going up and down, that means "forget your car, no driving today (or tomorrow)".
Only some lunatics try it, and even for pedestrians it aint easy, resulting in about one hundred broken bone patients in the central hospital there.

I went for a walk today, had to be in that virgin snow to take some pictures, but believe me, it was a struggle, increasing my respect for those mountain monkeys (alpinists) that fight their way up Mount Everest, K2 or Nanga Parbat.
Lucky me, I was first, but being first also means going knee deep every step.

The walk was great, a low sun shining brightly, but I was "whiped out" after it.
So no smoke from the barbecue these days, but it can't always be summer.

Brrrrrrrr, snow's fantastic, but we did'nt move to Croatia to live in the snow.
So give us some sunny days again please, so I can add some CO2 to the system (sorry for the joke) while grilling some juicy steaks.
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February 04, 2012

ten minutes from the Adriatic


In the brochures they say the Adriatic coast with it's palmtrees, oranges and olives is a summerparadise.
Which is true !

However, we live (just) ten minutes behind the coastal mountainrig, about threehundred meters above sealevel.
And as you can see, the situation here is slightly "different" in winter.
Slightly different it is indeed, and very unusual too, as it may freeze some days overhere, there may fall some snow, but it never lasts long, as the sun brightens (and melts) any winterwonderland when it peeps over the mountainridge.

Today however, all of Dalmatia is suffering under extreme winter conditions, all schools are closed, most factories stopped and moving is a risky thing, even in the coastal city of Split.

Blocked from any possibility to go shopping, we are using our well stuffed stock, including things from the freezer and many dry beans, flour, sugar and preserved milk.

And what do people do when there is "nothing to do", right, we join in our gardenhouse, and prepare various delicious meals, carefully accompanied by a glass (or two) of local wines.

The panoramic view is great, the company fantastic, and the food delicious, so a bit more snow does not hurt.
Not to much please as it's already more than enough for a nice picture !
Pozdravi iz Svinisce.
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