Monday, July 30, 2007

Croatia Online - Inland Croatia


We were lucky enough to be invited to a very special party on Friday – up in the hills behind Omiš, after a drive that is not for the feint hearted, but included spectacular views of the River Cetina gorge.

The local festivities featured a special, and highly professional, presentation of the unique attractions of this inland region and the huge number of historical/cultural relics. As privileged foreign guests, at a party that was funded by and geared towards the local population, we agreed not to disclose the real treasures that were in the process of being researched, or the exact location. Very sensibly, those that are spending their valuable time, resources and expertise in discovering the true value of their heritage also want to preserve it for posterity. Thus, research is ongoing, protection of the area and its traditions is paramount, and the opening up of the region for tourism will be sensibly progressed. It was one of the most balanced, entrepreneurial yet considered, approaches to tourism that we have seen whilst we have been here and we aim to support it in the same spirit.

The village festivities went on for three days with local Klapa music (multi part harmony singing) and much more besides. After the open air presentation, we were treated to the secrets of the local cuisine – for want of a better description, a huge spinach pancake, crisped on a large stone between red hot embers. That doesn’t do it justice but we will be revealing more in a future posting. Twelve competitors, many in local costume, and several carrying their culinary masterpiece on their heads (imagine the largest sombrero you can think of and it’s much bigger) vied for the title of the local equivalent of another Michelin star. They were accompanied, and frequently interrupted, by a “ringer” in drag. Only an excellent professional comedian can make children and foreigners, who don’t speak much Croatian, laugh out loud alongside the locals who understand the vernacular and dialect. After the awards ceremony, we all got to taste ample quantities of this special feast washed down by local wine and beer in copious quantities, all amidst green rolling hills and ancient stone houses.

Whilst these thoughtful, hospitable and visionary experts and community leaders research and protect their heritage, for future generations and considerate tourists to enjoy, you can sample some of the delights of the region by walking the well signed mountain trails. The Tourist Mountaineering Guide Book and Map for the “Omiška Dinara” is available from the Split and Dalmatia County Tourist Board, www.dalmatia.hr, price about £10. You’d be well advised to do your research properly before embarking on such an excursion. There’s a lot to discover but the mountains and hinterland need to be treated with respect.

It’s good to see that the non coastal areas are giving a lot of time and resources to preserving their heritage, and, at the same time, opening it up to discerning tourists. That’s coincided with an increasing number of searches, on this site, for more information on inland Croatia. After five years majoring on the coastal areas, we’re looking forward to discovering more about the mysteries of Croatian life and history away from the sea.

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