Saturday, 20 April 2019

The World is in Chaos, Escape, Book a Sailing Holiday in Croatia

April 20th 2019, it’s not too late to escape from the ‘real world’ for a bit, book a sailing holiday in Croatia.

Let’s face it, there is not much positive news around the world at the moment, or this is what the mass media would have us believe. What, with Trump, Brexit, climate change, and news being released that we are in the midst of a mass extinction… it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Maybe a sailing holiday in Croatia is just what the doctor ordered.

Last year, sailing in charter for the summer, almost every single person shared that they were feeling weighted by anxiety; the stress of the daily grind coupled with the state of the world in general. These were well-educated people, all successful in their various careers, feeling at a complete loss. Stepping aboard our yacht for the first time, everyone was excited but also apprehensive, everyday stress notably resting on their shoulders.

One of my greatest joys working on a yacht in private charter, is seeing the difference between people stepping aboard and then disembarking at the end of the week.

Our itinerary is based on our clients’ wishes and while some people come aboard with a list of ‘must sees’, it usually doesn’t take long for them to realise that this will not just be another trip of ticking things off the ‘bucket list’, it offers so much more. We oblige their initial requests, talk and inform along the way, but within a few days, most guests entrust the experience of their holiday to us – an honour we do not take lightly.

We love sharing the history and culture of Croatia with our guests, but more so, we love taking them to ‘off-the-beaten-path’ locations, and just allowing them to completely relax and immerse in nature. Slow mornings, with breakfast, hot coffee and fresh juice waiting. Anchored in a bay with nothing but the rhythmic beating of the cicadas’ chorus to fill the air. Diving directly off the boat into the crystal-clear turquoise waters, before we hoist the sails and catch the late morning breeze and find another spot to anchor for lunch. Fresh grilled fish, accompanied with a crisp glass of local wine – did you know Croatia has 132 indigenous grape varieties? Another swim and siesta, before we pull into the harbour of a quaint coastal town. Evening strolls, local restaurants, live music, ice cream… before happily toddling back to their home away from home. If this doesn’t sound like bliss, I don’t know what does.

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Photo credit: Mario Romulić

I could wax lyrical about the historical sites, the culture, nature, gastronomy of Croatia but more often than not, it is the simple moments that stand out for our guests. We had esteemed psychologists, actors, IT experts, people topping rich lists, tell us about the stress and drama of their lives and then we watched these same people succumb to the beautifully slow rhythm of a sailing holiday in Croatia. Those who had booked several activities in advance, eventually cancelled some of their plans and threw their itinerary out the porthole – content to just take each day as it came, allowing for whim and inspiration or just divine ‘nothingness’ (fjaka).

I am not advocating from running away from responsibilities and the reality of this world, but sometimes, we need a small retreat, an escape from life to be able to return to it invigored. And, I may be biased but, after years of travel, I still have not found anything that tops a sailing holiday in Croatia. Every single guest we have ever had, no matter how well-travelled, has inevitably told us that it was their best holiday, ever.

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Photo credit: Mario Romulić

Nature has an undeniable way of bringing us out of our heads, away from daily pressures and back to ourselves. And, a 7-day sailing holiday in Croatia is the best way to truly escape everything and immerse ourselves in nature and the present moment. You’ll wake up in peaceful bays, sail past the changing coastline of unique islands, swim in crystalline waters, watch every sunset and maybe catch a sunrise (which we highly recommend doing at least once).

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Photo Credit: Tash Peričić

I am lucky that I get to sail Croatia all summer. Yes, it is physically and emotionally challenging at times, but for the most part, I have nature to reinvigorate and inspire me. While I escape the ‘real life’ for four months of the year, it leaves me more inspired to connect and engage in a meaningful way off the boat. It keeps me connected to this world, knowing that we all need to do our part to make a difference, and it helps keep me grounded and put life in perspective – by only focusing on what matters. And, I believe that even if for only 7-days, this is what all of our guests get from their sailing holiday in Croatia.

At the end of every week, our guests stepped off our yacht – sun-kissed, with a spring in their step, a new glitter in their eyes and the weight of the world removed from their shoulders. I would like to think that they had more to give to their families and lives once they returned to the ‘real world’. We can’t be our best and give our all to life if our cups are empty.

Escape. Book a sailing holiday in Croatia to escape the stress of life – then return fully-charged.

For more stories like this, visit our dedicated Lifestyle Page, or Total Croatia Sailing.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Croatia Boat Show 2019: Croatia Yachting to Premiere 3 New Yachts

From the 10 – 14th April, Split will host the 21st Croatia Boat Show where Croatia Yachting will premiere three new boats; the Hanse 458, Hanse 508 and the new flagship of the Bali brand – the Bali 5.4.

Croatia Yachting are set to attract a lot of attention at the Croatia Boat Show this year with an attractive exhibition space and as much as three Croatian premieres.

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Croatia Yachting are the Croatian Authorised Dealer for Hanse, Dehler, Fjord, Sealine and Bali Catamarans. They proudly represent the most innovative brands on the market; so, it is no surprise that they often premiere new models, which showcase new trends in shipbuilding.

Being a trendsetter means having the courage to try new things; pushing the boundaries to present innovative designs and solutions, and never resting on one’s laurels. Hanse Yachts and Bali Catamarans have this courage, and prove this year after year. This time, the Hanse 458, Hanse 508 and Bali 5.4 will have their Croatian premieres.

New Hanse 458 – innovative design, exciting performance

The new 8 Series embodies quality, performance and comfort like no other sailing yacht series. Hanse invented the integrated self-tacking jib and brought all the lines to the helm, making it perfect for one-handed sailing and enjoying. The new Hanse 458 is no exception to the Hanse philosophy of innovation; ergonomic plotter pods, double anchor arm for code zero, no freestanding mast support. The main bulkhead is a composite construction with carbon reinforcement which provides sturdy and direct mast-keel connection, this creates more space inside, giving the salon a loft-like design.

The new Hanse 458 has been designed to allow for excellent sailing, without compromising on style and comfort; the user experience at the forefront of their mind. There are more windows in the aft cabins, plus ample windows in the salon to allow for natural light to flood the spaces, complemented with a dimming system to create ambience and atmosphere. The spacious and stylish interior combined with numerous creative features, place the Hanse 458 as a leader in her size range.

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New Hanse 508 – distinguished in every detail, built for blue water sailing

The Hanse 508 has been designed with true, blue water sailing in mind – the incredible storage, large cockpit, elevated bulwark and the second forestay for a Genoa, combined with the self-tacking jib, all speak to this yacht’s capacity for excellent sailing performance. Just like the 458, Hanse have replaced the free-standing mast pole with the new carbon composite main bulkhead.

The interior of the Hanse 508 again, surprises with its stylish design and unique features. Take, for example, the saloon and galley, this new model is the only Hanse yacht with a longitudinal galley which creates beautiful flow. The owner’s cabin/master cabin has a king size island berth and a designer, ensuite bathroom. Above, the retractable table in the cockpit with comfortable cushions, creates another beautiful and practical space for relaxation and enjoyment. The optional wet bar with BBQ, fridge and sink creates yet another social element to this yacht. Picture summer days, anchored in the middle of a gorgeous bay, grilling fresh fish while your guests sit, dangling their legs from the bathing platform, sipping a glass of local white wine… these are the moments that sailing is really about, and this is what the Hanse 508 provides.

The subtly concealed storage features above and below deck, make the Hanse 508 practical yet she retains her stylish minimalistic design.

Potential owners and charterers are sure to be thrilled with everything these two new Hanse models offer and everyone can head to the Croatia Boat Show in Split, to see for themselves.

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New Bali 5.4 – the new flagship of the brand

The new Bali 5.4 brings a wealth of innovative solutions and unique design features to create the best possible experience. There is fantastic inside-outside flow and several areas to enjoy and relax in. Thanks to the tilting door design, the rear glass wall of the saloon opens up, to create a rear cockpit entertainment area. The front cockpit, with access from the saloon, is comfortable and easily accommodates the crew; while the flybridge is a luxurious design with sunbeds to relax. The galley is U-shaped which any cook will enjoy, and the storage and fridge space is any sailor’s dream.

Owners or charterers will find all of the cabins more than ample in space, comfort and design; and the en suite bathrooms with separate shower stalls are absolute luxury. All of the cabins on Bali catamarans have been designed with plenty of windows and hatches to allow for natural light and maximum airflow.

With all of the different areas to enjoy and innovative design features, this Bali 5.4 is absolutely a home away from home for owners and charterers.

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Visit Croatia Yachting at the Croatia Boat Show to see a multitude of new models for ownership or charter, and you can even chat to them about the easiest way to own a yacht with their world-class charter management program.

For more information, you can visit their websites; Hanse Yachts and Bali Catamarans, keep up-to-date with the latest news and offers on their Facebook page or check out charter yacht options here.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Visit New, Beautiful Lifestyle Hotel Vitar in Bol on Brač Island

The recently opened Lifestyle Hotel Vitar, located in Bol on the island of Brač is constantly being noticed and given awards and compliments for its interior design. So, these days, Studio UP which worked on the Vitar's design is among the finalists for the yearly award by the Association of the Croatian Architects for this project. 

The four-star lifestyle hotel Vitar is located right at the entrance to Bol, a place well-known for its amazing Zlatni Rat beach, and a popular destination for beach-goers, surfers and divers. It has 25 rooms on 4 floors, and several small gyms on different spots within the hotel.

Lea Pelivan and Tom Plejić, head architects that worked on the project explained to Jutarnji list that the name "Vitar" is logical for a famous surfer destination (vitar is a local word for wind). The atmosphere in the hotel is also surfer-inspired, and during their stay, the guests are aware of the dynamics in the space created by moving elements of the design. They weren't working on the project since the start, but when they took over, they needed to change the entire interior design to make the hotel become a cool and laid-back place.

There's a top chef working at the hotel, Mario Čepek, so that aspect of the hotel experience is also highest quality. The view from the hotel's roof to Hvar and Zlatni Rat is breath-taking, and each of the rooms has a view: either of Hvar, southern side of Brač and the channel between the islands or of the Vidova gora mountain on Brač. That's one of the reasons the designers insisted on the beds facing the windows, and not the TV sets in the rooms. The perimeter of the hotel has been turned into an intense mediterranean garden, full of colours, smells and contrasting surfaces.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Sustainable Community, Nove Starine Park in Solin Celebrates 15 Years

March 6th 2019; the talented team of writers at TCN is ever-growing and we are happy to welcome number 129 to the ranks. Mischa Pearson is best known for founding her multi-award-winning NGO fighting food waste and hunger in England. She was both nominated and recognised as one of the top most influential women in Suffolk where she grew up, and currently lives in the city of Split. Mischa has since been sustainably travelling Europe with her home educated son and their dog. Her first piece for TCN is naturally on a sustainable topic, the Nove Starine Park in Solin celebrates 15 years; Mischa caught up with the founder to learn a little more.

Welcome Mischa; if you are interested in writing for Total Croatia News, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise”. The old Anne Murray song might suggest a Teddy Bear or two, but it’s not that which causes a stir in the old forest, the Nove Starine Park...

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Photo Credit: Srđan Tutić

About the Nove Starine Park in Solin

Sculpture and concept artist Ivan Tokić turns his ambitions to the sustainable project - Nove Starine Park development, with one 10,000 square meter forest in Solin. Set deep in the heart of mother natures dwelling place and neighbouring the ancient city of Salona --capital to the Roman province of Dalmatia, and birthplace to Emperor Diocletian lies the Nove Starine Park; home to this emerging artistic community.

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Photo Credit: Ivan Tokić, the idyllic setting of Nove Starine Park

Nove Starine Park boasts everything from an outdoor cinema to a sauna and climbing gym, set amongst old pines stretched from a bed of limestone soil. Offering respite and shared meals to an array of international travellers willing to volunteer their skills, often escaping the city life in countries such as France, Holland and Germany; the sanctuary has taken on a charm unlike any other near the Adriatic coastline.

Lochlan, who stayed with Ivan at Nove Starine Park for three weeks in late 2017 described it as a "diamond tucked away in a beautiful forest reserve".

What inspired the development, and what's in store for the future?

"I started Nove Starine Park almost by accident, it was totally spontaneous and I actually wanted to be an actor prior to this" Ivan explains, as he walks the grounds. “I didn’t have food, so I grew some, and though deep into the philosophy of healthy soil, I used mostly intuition and communication to understand the natural environment. I call it intuition agriculture”.

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Photo Credit: Ivan Tokić

Ivan hopes to host more travellers and local community interested in the project, welcoming those who would be willing to work for board. Individuals specifically adept with social media and fundraising, armed with motivation to bring new life to its collaborative design are encouraged to get in touch through the Nove Starine Facebook page.

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Photo Credit: Ivan Tokić, international visitors and friends of Nove Starine Park

“We have many projects and ideas, and because there is so much space and freedom here, our only limitation is finding the right helping hands to make it happen. We have an outdoor cinema on a stage that would greatly benefit from some experienced minds, to perhaps take over for the summer months and put on some events/evenings.

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Photo Credit: Ivan Tokić

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Photo Credit: Srđan Tutić

It's really important that the local people are invited to be a part of what is happening here, too. We need all the support we can get to be successful.”

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Photo Credit: Srđan Tutić

Nostalgic for times spent living in the thick of Suffolk's oak and hornbeam, framing the picturesque Norfolk border of England, I quickly found myself imagining the off-grid pace once more; away from the Mittel-Europe grind of concrete jungles and densely carbonated air. In balance though, the city life is convenient, and if you've ever stripped naked and stood in an oversized woodland with a camper’s shower, hung precariously on a branch, thrashing a sack of unforgivingly cold water over you, you'll know the simple life, although whimsical and romantic in its essence, is not for the faint-hearted.

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Photo Credit: Srđan Tutić

The project plans to continue in its mission to demonstrate sustainable practices symbiotic with the natural environment, alongside a stone carving school and traditional olive pressing on-site starting October this year. Ivan finished by saying “the whole thing [project] has been a huge learning process, it’s really not about the destination, just the process.”

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Photo Credit: Srđan Tutić

For more news from Split and surrounding, visit Total Split.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Rijeka Carnival, a Brazilian Comparison to Its Famous Rio Counterpart

It's Carnival time and quite fittingly we welcome a native Brazilian to the ever-growing team of TCN authors. Debora was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro and now lives in Split. She has visited 5 continents, more than 30 countries and now calls Croatia home. Debora shares with us her impressions of the Rijeka Carnival versus the famous Rio Carnival. Welcome #124, if you would like to write for TCN, you can email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rio de Janeiro, land of one of the biggest celebrations in the world, and Rijeka, the main seaport city in Croatia: how does the Rijeka Carnival compare to its famous Rio counterpart?  Oh, Carnival! Such a magical period of the year, when we all wait anxiously to spend time on the beach wearing flip flops, multi-coloured bikinis and light clothes. The kids are on vacation, playing around on the streets with friends and neighbours, parents are also on vacation, preparing for travelling to the seaside and enjoy some time off as well.

Ok, this is exactly how Carnival in Rio looks like, the city that holds the best Carnival in the world, a reference for music and culture. For 5 to 7 days, giant parades and colourful costumes enchant tourist and local people, who never get tired of singing the rehearsed songs all day long, eagerly waiting to see their samba parties fill up the Sambodromo Avenue with energy and a lot of joy.

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Credit: Wikimedia, Sambodromo Avenue

However, this is not how I will be celebrating as I am not back home in Brazil, I am now living in Croatia. Ironically, Rio and Rijeka both mean "river" and the comparisons don't stop there, the Rijeka Carnival was once considered the third largest Carnival in the world and while they are worlds apart, it seems there are more similarites to consider... if you take a closer look.

Where to begin talking about the Rijeka Carnival versus the Rio Carnival?

Carnival in Rio started in the 1920s, with the first samba schools competing with each other in 1933. But before that, Carnaval (as the original name is spelt) was basically a food festival, as the word derives from carne vale (farewell to the meat), and until today, it is celebrated 40 days before Lent.

The rhythm and music style adopted during Carnival was originally brought from the African slaves who inhabited the poorest areas in Rio, the slums or “favelas”, and it was a way of the less favoured classes to rebel and protest against the injustices and misery faced at that time. However, this idea smoothly changed, as the upper-classes saw in Carnival, a great opportunity to make money. And that is when the samba schools and parades were organized. Nowadays, there are about 30 samba schools belonging to the main group and hundreds of other schools who also participate in the samba parades during Carnival. 

And the history of Carnival in Rijeka? In terms of the calendar, it follows exactly the same period as in Rio, although the celebrations and festivities around the city may start at the end of January. Just like the beginning of Carnival traditions in Rio, the parades and parties were exclusively directed to and organized by the aristocracy (Austrian, Hungarian, German and Russian aristocrats, princes and barons of the European society).    

However, this scenario started to change in 1982, with the presence of three groups on the parades. Things again changed in 2001, with almost 140 different groups and 150.000 visitors. Nowadays, there is a huge Carnival charity ball attended by important politicians, media people and well-known representatives of Croatian society, held in the Governor’s Palace located in Rijeka. As a symbolic opening of the Carnival period, the key of the city is given to the “maestro” Toni, as it means that he will be responsible for taking care of the city during the festival time, a Carnival queen is elected and the festivities start.

Croatians also found a way to ‘rebel against the system’ as the end of the festival is signalled by the burning of the ‘Pust’ – a puppet, often named after a politician. The Pust is blamed for all of the bad things that occurred the previous year, it is read a list of charges and afterwards is burned at sea! In Rio, they do the same, except he is called "Judas", he is also normally a political figure who is blamed for everything, attached to a lampost, hit, and then burned.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

Rijeka Carnival versus Rio: is the weather a factor?

Well, if I say no, it is a lie. So, yes, it has a big influence when it comes to these two carnival scenes. When I first came here in Croatia to spend Carnival, I thought that because of the cold weather in February and March, Carnival would maybe take place in summertime, as it is in Brazil. But of course, I was wrong to think like that (my Brazilian brain wishing to celebrate it on the beach).

Between January and March, with the cooler days and nights (between 6 and 10°C compared to Brazil with average temperatures between 25 and 32 degrees). I mean, this is the average temperature in the south of Brazil. Now, if we compare Rijeka and Rio during Carnival time, they are really two extremes, as Rio reaches 40 degrees almost every day during summer. It is unbelievable but oh, how I miss this!

In fact, I could live here in Croatia for 20 years and never get used to it. For a girl from Niteroi, 15 degrees is cold enough, plus here there are tons of sorts od winds: bura, jugo, maestral, tramontana…call it what you like, but I would just call them “cold and windy winter days”. So, it seems kind of weird or impossible to dress up in scanty costumes, like the “samba mulatas” and “samba passistas”. In Rio, performers eagerly await the whole year for this glorious moment – to cross the Sambodromo Avenue and be seen by millions of people around the world. Bearing this in mind, in Rijeka, I have still witnessed a few brave girls who pay no heed to the cold weather in order to show their best spectacle and dance samba wearing original costumes. I personally couldn’t do it, but svaka čast (well done) to them.

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credit: Mario Romulic, with blue skies and outfits like these, you would be forgiven for not realising this was the Rijeka Carnival in the middle of winter!

How many people visit the Rijeka Carnival versus Rio Carnival?

When it comes to numbers in attendance, it is unfair to compare the Rijeka Carnival to the Rio Carnival; Rio has visitor numbers of around 2 million people on the streets every day in attendance, comparatively Rijeka has up to 10.000 for the main parade and around 100,000 visitors in total. But, considering the city of Rio has a population of 6.3 million (more than the entire population of Croatia), compared to Rijeka’s humble 120,000 it is definitely not a bad effort. Especially when you take into account that the weather is cooler and Carnival occurs outside of the summer and tourist season. To tell you more, in 2018 the Rijeka Carnival won ‘Simply the Best Award’ for creativity, excellence and inventiveness in the category of Multiday Thematic Events. The Rijeka Carnival is a great bonus for tourists who choose to visit in this period compared to the peak season.

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia, crowds lining the streets for the Rijeka Carnival

When does the Rijeka Carnival and Rio Carnival take place?

This year, Carnival in Rio will take place between 1 – 5th March 2019, with an extra parade on the 9th of March (the 8 best samba schools will be once more on the Sambodromo Avenue). In Rijeka, however, the festivities have already started (from January 17 to March 6, ending on Ash Wednesday). If you wish to get more information about schedules, tickets and program, you can take a look at www.rio.com and www.rijecki-karneval.hr.

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Photo Credit: Mario Romulic, Rijeka Carnival

Rijeka Carnival versus Rio: Food and Drink

While I am here in Croatia enjoying cups of coffee to survive this cold weather and be kept awake, in Rio, my friends and family, along with millions of people from all over the world pack the main streets near the Samba Avenue and beaches, hotels and hostels. There, they enjoy the parades with glasses of cold beer in hands, coconut water or caipirinhas (ahhhhhh), what is important, at this time during Carnival, is to refresh your body and keep yourself hydrated. The days are very warm and, although the sea water can be around 15 degrees, people are encouraged to jump into the sea. I miss that deeply.

In Rijeka, nobody will jump in the sea (I mean, I would not, for sure). But, it does not mean that tourists will find less attractive things to do. For example, food. Yes, food in Croatia is really a thing. For tourists or locals, it is always a great experience to try some of the unique tastes of Croatia, check out this article on 10 Gourmet Istrian specialities not to miss, for an idea of the type of food you can expect in this region.

The Greatest Similarity Between the Rijeka Carnival and Rio Carnival?

What both of these Carnivals have in common is the fact that the traditions, cultural customs and folklore are being preserved and spread through generations, no matter who performs better or not during the parades. It is a time to come together, dance, enjoy and celebrate. The world can be so hard that Carnival can be a time to unwind and enjoy life, hoping for more positive and brighter days.

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Photo Credit: Mario Romulić, Rijeka Carnival, Zvončari from Ronjgi - UNESCO Intangible Heritage Protected

Read more about Rijeka, the City that Flows… in our 25 Things to Know series.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Hrapoćuša Cake: “Brač’s Sweet Aphrodisiac”

Learn a little more about Brač's sweet aphrodisiac, a desert so special, it is even listed by Croatia's Ministry of Culture as protected intangible heritage. 

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Mark De Mori: Famous Aussie Boxer with a Croatian Address

14th June 2018; as droves of Croatians emigrate in search of a better life and more opportunities outside of Croatia, Ana Matulić reminds us that there are also those who are returning, choosing the Dalmatian ‘po malo’ lifestyle over hustle and bustle.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Top Chefs Tour Dalmatia, Praise as a Foodie Destination

Early in Spring, Great British Chefs – Francesco Mazzei and Tom Aikens recently toured Dalmatia and had nothing but praises to sing about the gastronomy and their overall experience here.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Eat Like a Local: A Guide to Buying, Cleaning and Cooking Fish

Travelling to Croatia? Food will be as much a part of your travel experience as the picture postcard images you post to Instagram. If you don't eat like a local you are doing yourself a disservice. Don't shy away from getting your hands dirty, dive in, you may just surprise yourself.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

The Magic of Meneghello's and Palmižana through Photos

See the magic of Meneghello's and Palmižana through the talented eye of Ivo Pervan…

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