Food, Ski, sports and adventure, Things to do, Trip reviews

Off the beaten path: the horn of plenty of all the small things in life

The youngest member of the European Union, Croatia is, perhaps, the most illustrative bearer of ‘Unity in diversity’, macerated with such gift and managed with hard work. If not for anything else, this country would be worth seeing for its over 1 000 miles of coastline alone. Nestled with over one thousand breathtakingly appealing islands and islets, this country’s a proper heaven for any beach lover. An undoubted marvel of the Adriatic, this country’s raw beauty comes from the organic, unrefined, yet perfect seascapes, the most ideal blend between crystalline bubble blue water and steep, sharp cliffs covered with spring green vegetation. The kind of place you’d like to wake up every day, watch the sunrise and instantly clear your mind. Yet, this is one of the most popular holiday activities in Croatia, while lots of other simply amazing places seem to have been – unfairly, I would say – left outside the travelling schemes.

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‘Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. This is why any authentic creation is a gift to the future.’

Albert Camus

Listen to UNESCO World Heritage recommendations!

For instance, one of the most underrated National Parks judging, of course, in terms of visitors per year compared to very popular ones is Plitvice. It interlinks sixteen lakes and the natural placement is not by far its strength by comparison with its landscapes: wild forests, home of wolves and bears, of lakes and waterfalls. Besides being a very important point of interest for geologists and archeologists because of the karstified limestone with dolomites back from the Jurassic age, this National Park could content the most fastidious mountain lovers. Any atlas will describe the area as flora and fauna-rich, but this wouldn’t do justice to the outstanding spectacle of the perfectly combined panoramas. Imagine waters mirroring the hundred nuances of green of the plants and trees, and while the details are the ones that make the whole scenery spectacular, the water makes it look like a surrealistic painting, a rather nonconformist sketch.

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Another UNESCO heritage, culturally this time, is the old city of Dubrovnik. It should be the most prominent tourist resorts of the Mediterranean, this ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ that turns to be surprising even for the locals. And the potential, it uses it all. And what’s most surprising isn’t even the gorgeous paradisiac landscapes that make it so, but the great way that’s been taken care of, the explosion of things you can do in this very, very coquettish town. For instance, not less than half of the year you can enjoy the outdoor jazz performers in the square of the Old Town, while during winter you can’t miss the Troubador. Not only the most popular bar in town, this place is a capital stop-off – the kind of place that you’ve only seen in the American movies, a mark of the beat mix generation, with a great old spirit, yet always fresh, welcoming and warm.

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And after having warmed up with a nice cup of tea, it’s time for you to take the cable-car. And yes, you may find it a little bit expensive, but it’s simply not worth leaving the town without this experience. The panorama’s you’ll see on your way to the top is nothing else but a reminder of all the reasons together for which people should visit the place. Not to mention the restaurant you’ll find on mountain Srdj, right at the cable-car station. Being fascinated goes great with classy food. And you’ll be: the entire sight depicting before you is like nothing else you’ve seen. First of all because it’s nothing like you’d think from down there. What’s most striking is how an immensity of crystal clear water isn’t only attractive in itself, but seems to better outline the beauty of this town, like a strange sort of natural consideration for the human creation. As about the food at the restaurant, it’s plain delicious, as well as classy: a bottle of wine, the best seafood and great, great desserts.

Spend lots of time outdoor!

‘Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most inner obsessions mercilessly.’

Franz Kafka

It would really be rude for me to skip this, as most of the Balkan countries have a great social sense for the things that makes us feel human and humble, that remind us about the things we once loved and that are, sometimes, (long) forgotten. Because we’re busy, we don’t make time for the small things, we prefer to sleep whenever we have a couple of hours off. But Eastern Europe is all about the small things. Theater is such an example. And Croatia’s must see are the cultural festivals, especially during summer. A festival of dreams (in translation), Zadar Snova gathers all contemporary art lovers to workshops, concerts, dancing and one of the best freelancing experimental theater in Europe. The play of lights is almost unnecessary, as there’s no addition to make to the young artists’ performances.

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And since we’ve just recommended you to go see Dubrovnik, this town’s summer festival isn’t only 65 years old, but it integrates all kinds of art manifestations, from painting to singing and acting, in a way that makes the whole town vibrate for a long number of days. Isle of Pag is home of the Hideout Festival. Being mostly musical, it’s not the number of editions that best speaks of it. It’s the beat. Putting together excellent music on the beachside, making sure that anyone around’s coming back next year.

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Cycling’s something you can experience here even for the first time. And for what it’s worth, it’s clearly going to satisfy your expectation as easy as it can make a professional cyclist happy. And it’s not making plans or expectations, but this is one of the most relieving, easing but adrenaline-related experiences you can’t afford missing.


Aaand just a little inside

‘In character, in manner, in style, in all the things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.’

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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I could’ve stopped after the cycling, but this recommendations wouldn’t have been complete. It’s because of the lighthouse hotels. You can’t miss them either. I strongly believe that advertising based on these hotels’ services can debunk these prejudices about poor, low quality assistance and maintenance in Eastern Europe. Very private, but always suitable, and full of surprises, these are the perfect places take your family to. Or the significant other. They’re also very popular for the romance-friendly policies as well.

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