Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Croatian Food

Sampling the fine Croatian food was one of the highlights of my visit. The cuisine is absolutely delicious. Because of their long coastline, seafood is prominent. But, meats and cheeses are also plentiful. Fresh figs and pomegranates, ruby red ripe tomatoes, basil. I really liked this black risotto dish made with squid ink. And...I cannot say more about how divine their olives and olive oil are. If it weren't for the airline restrictions on liquids, I would have packed my carry-on full of the stuff!

Here are some of my favorites, along with some pictures to get you salivating:

prosciutto, cheese, tomatoes, olives

shrimp with olive oil and garlic

Palacinke (pronounced "pala chink eh"): pancakes filled with chocolate and walnuts


Would you like to try your hand at some Croatian cooking? Check out this site for some free recipes!


Eat up, and adventure on!


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Croatia - Top 5 Essentials

Here are my top recommendations for Croatia:

* Walk the walls of the old town of Dubrovnik, getting an eagle-eye's view of the inner city, the outer islands, and the open sea

Walking the walls on a rare rainy day.

* Stop for a break at the "Hole in the Wall" where, once you literally walk through a small hole in the fortress wall, you'll find a pleasant spot to enjoy a beer and view the sailboats, nearby islands, and cliff jumpers

Look...a hole in the wall!

And the view from the other side.

* Buy fresh lavender, figs, olive oil, or handmade lace from any of the many stands selling local goods

Garlands of fresh figs and homemade brandies.

* Visit the Sponza Palace Historic Archives for a history of the city of Dubrovnik, and view photos of all the men and young boys who lost their lives while defending their hometown

* Try some of the local wines (Croatia is well-known for their wines)

* Take a dip in the cool Adriatic sea

Take a dip! Clothing optional.

* Walk the Placa-Stradun (main street) at night, from Big Onofrio's fountain at one end, to the Bell Tower at the other, stopping along the way for a slice of pizza and people-watching

Walking the centuries old stradun (main street).

Friday, November 16, 2007

Greetings from Hrvatska!

WHERE, you might ask? It's what we call Croatia. Officially known as the Republic of Croatia, it was once a part of the former Yugoslavia after WW2, declared its independence in 1991, and is currently a candidate for membership in the European Union.

Capitol: Zagreb
Official Language: Croatian
Population: 4.43 million

The majority of the population are Croats. National minorities include Serbs, Muslims, Slovenes, Italians, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, and others. The majority of the population is Roman Catholic. In addition there are Orthodox, Muslims, and Christians of other denominations.

Croatia sits on a fault line that lies between Western and Eastern Europe. Because of its location, it has Venetian, Latin, Hapsburg, Hungarian, and Slavic influences. It is home to Roman ruins, cobblestone fishing villages, medieval walled cities, forested national parks with amazing waterfalls, and over 1,185 islands (more than Greece).

View of the azure Adriatic Sea.

Join me as I explore this amazing country.

Adventure On,

Friday, November 9, 2007

Bosnia & Hercegovina - Top 5 Essentials

Here are my top recommendations for Bosnia & Hercegovina:

* Enjoy some rahat lokum (Bosnian sweets, much like Turkish Delight)

* Check out Islamic culture and the Turkish souvenir shops while strolling along the old cobblestone streets of Mostar

Looking for the perfect hookah?

* Drink some Turkish coffee (Move over lattes, this stuff is strong as sh*t!)

* Eat some Bosnian meats, grilled and served up with hot ajvar, a delicious relish made from peppers and eggplant. Milk and meat are Bosnia’s principal agricultural outputs.

Tasty Bosnian grill. Mmmmmmmmmm..eat!

* Drive through the countryside, and marvel at its mountainous backdrop and blue-green rivers

The Neretva River cuts through the countryside around Mostar.

* Watch crazy people jump off a bridge! A local tradition that continues today is to jump off the Old Mostar Bridge. Even after the bridge had been bombed in the 1990s, contestants jumped off of what remained. Brings new meaning to the saying "If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?"Apparently, in Bosnia & Hercegovina, the answer is YES!

Adventurous I am...but not enough to jump off a bridge!


Friday, November 2, 2007

Greetings from Bosnia & Hercegovina!


How did I get here, you might ask? Well, quite literally, it was a crazy journey from Seattle to Chicago, to Galway (Ireland), to Dubrovnik (Croatia), to Serbia & Montenegro, and finally here. Trust me when I say my return journey was just as long!

Over the next few weeks I'll be posting stories from all of the above-mentioned places, but thought I'd start here.

Not many people I know (Americans in particular) have been to Bosnia & Hercegovina. The images we receive from our national media do not portray such a nice place. I would like to share with you what myself, and my sisters who travelled with me, experienced on our trip.

First of all, yes...there are visible signs of recent warfare. Bullet-strewn buildings and blown up bridges are still in a state of disrepair. On the market streets you can buy an interesting array of war-time paraphernalia. However, the country has done much to re-build and grow, and it truly is a beautiful place.

Scars from bullets during the war of the 1990s.

The Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina was formed after the break-up of the former socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and following the wars that took place from 1992 to 1995 among Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs. The country was devastated by three years of violent inter-ethnic fighting.

With aid from the international community, major reconstruction has taken place since the advent of peace in 1995, and despite the problems it continues to face, Bosnia is generally considered a post-conflict success story.

In 2005, The Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar made it onto the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Mostar’s Bridge Over the Neretva:
A Muslim and Croat symbol of reconciliation

We should all take the time to learn about, and learn from, the history of this fascinating place. And most of all, to not forget.

Piece of shrapnel on a simple memorial.

Adventure on, with an educated mind and respect,