Thursday, January 24, 2008

Croatia Online - Bibich Winery, Skradin near Šibenik

On Friday, our friends from Secret Dalmatia took us to one of their very special discoveries. The Bibich winery is just a short drive from the Skradin turn off on the motorway and it's a real treat.
Here you can sample some very special wines as well as a variety of good table wines, and you'll get just the right home produced appetiser to go with each one. The photo shows the accompaniment to Bibich's Think Pink Rosé - smoked duck and a purée of potato and spinach with a hint of truffle.
For the owners Alen and Vesna Bibić (pronounced Bibich), nothing is too much trouble and no detail to trivial. They'll tell you all about the wines, the best food to serve with them and much more besides. Olive oil, Maraschino (cherry liqueur), Grappa and Orahovac (walnut liqueur) are also on offer along with the 100,000 litres of many different wines produced each year - a good sized yield for an independent producer. What's more you get to enjoy them, either in the cellars or on a lovely terrace in the heart of the countryside.
If you want to know the true secrets of fine Croatian wines, contact Bibich at or find more information on It's too good to miss!
For news of a new marina on Ugljan island, check out our sister blog,

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Croatia Online - Magazines, Books and Bookshops

I hope readers will excuse us for using the front cover of our book - The Croatia Cruising Companion, covering The Dalmatian coast and islands - as the photo for today's posting. Honestly, it's the only good relevant image that we could lay our hands on speedily! Read more about it on our sister blog as today's posting is about what you can expect from Croatian bookshops and books on Croatia. However, before we leave the subject of our book, as well as being widely available from all the best bookshops in the UK, and on the internet, it's now in stock at the International Book Shop on Split Riva and we're actively seeking other distributors and retailers in Croatia.

As Croatia has grown in popularity, so have the number and variety of books available on it. When we first came here five years ago, there were just a small number of guide books in their first edition. Now every travel guide publishing company worth its salts has a guide on Croatia and many are on their third or fourth edition. Time Out Publications have gone just a little bit further and are now preparing their third annual magazine, Visitors Guide to Croatia, due out in April 2008. Available internationally and throughout Croatia for £5 or 50 kunas it has the advantage of being bang up to date as well as affordable. For insight on what's really happening and the latest news on what to do, where to go, what to eat and drink and where to stay, it's hard to beat. It's only fair to admit that we do have a connection with it - Croatia Online's editor is a regular contributor and on the marketing team - but for us, it's an invaluable source of reference when travelling, and the features will give you a real feel for any number of Croatia's best assets. Property, sailing, food and drink, partying and getting back to nature are regulars. Next year's issue aims to complement these with Tennis, Klapa, Wellness and much more. Plus, as usual, the area by area listings of hotels, restaurants, bars, nightlife, culture, etc will contain the latest objective information, written as they are by locals like us who live in the area rather than being flown in for a couple of weeks as can happen on similar publications.

An increasing market for guides has a number of advantages as it leads to more specialised and detailed books. We mentioned Frommer's Croatia With Your Family in a previous posting. Go to to find out more on what to do with children in Croatia.

Yesterday we picked up a couple of new books: Alastair Sawday's Special Places To Stay and Croatia Chic. Both have a slightly different angle on Croatia's tourism offer and and a number of individual merits. The Alastair Sawday series has a particular emphasis on eco matters but nevertheless has tried to pick hotels and accomodation that are a little out of the ordinary in other ways. A French/Singapore team is behind Croatia Chic which aims at the top end of the tourism market. There are a couple of surprising choices in both of them, however they both add to the increasing array of information available.
Coming up are even more specialist books for walkers, wine lovers, etc - watch this space.
If you keep your eyes peeled you will come across the occasional cultural book in English to add to the more prolific range of tourist information. Just a couple of the one's we intend to review in future pages include:
Mediterranean Mosaic, which includes a chapter on the place of Klapa music in the Mediterranean music world.
British Travellers in Dalmatia 1757- 1935, a book which recounts the adventures of a few well known names such as Robert Adams and Alan Paton.
In the meantime, we'll continue to keep our eyes on the bookshops and newsagents to keep you informed of the best of what's on offer.
Most of the bigger towns, Zadar, Zagreb, Split, etc, have a decent international bookshop but you sometimes have to search hard to find them. The International Bookshop on the main promenade (Riva) in Split is one of the best and has been there since we arrived in Croatia five years ago. At that time is was about the only place to find a reasonably current English newspaper. Life for all the businesses on Split Riva was hard last year whilst the whole area was being transformed into an end result that went down so badly with the locals that public opinion has persuaded the council to have another go at it. The soul of the Riva was the facades of the buildings on one side, the sea on the other, and scores of small shops and bustling cafes. The metallic street lights. glaring stone slabs, high tech chairs, uniform awnings and major hike in business rates did their best to spoil the bustling Mediterranean "high street" feel, and most of the locals now flee into the Diocletian Palace area for their coffees, so let's hope the advent of a new big bookshop is not another nail in the coffin and the beginning of the end for the small specialist shops. Tiska will soon be opening it's first Dalmatian bookshop on Split's Riva, on a grand scale, and intends to follow that with shops in Makarska, Dubrovnik, Zadar and Šibenik. Hopefully that will complement what Split International Bookshop already has to offer and not result in its demise.
Away from the sea in Split, the new Joker Centre, near to the Atrium Hotel and Brodarica development, has a great bookshop, Profil, on the second floor, with a wide choice of English language books. Here you'll find the latest of travel guides on Croatia and plenty of English Language novels and non fiction. Don't expect the big discounts that you can find in England but, reassuringly the Croatian price is very similar to the UK full retail price.

When we first came to Croatia we prided ourself on having almost every English language book ever written on Croatia in our library. Now that's just not possible and I suspect the time has come for an enterprising expat to make a decent return on a commercial library of English Language books. However we will endeavour to keep our eye out for anything new and/or unusual on the market and let you know about it.
Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Croatia Online - Christmas in Podstrana, Near Split

While we were pounding the European motorways, our regular roving reporters Roger and Diane Brown were exploring Podstrana, near Split. Here's there report.


For Christmas 2007 we decided to spoil ourselves a little in a Hotel. After exploring many possibilities we decided local would be best and chose the 'San Antonio' at Podstrana, just south of Split, after checking it out in person. The Hotel is approximately two years old and is situated on the beach, from where we took long easy walks along the coast.

San Antonio is best described as small and friendly with all the facilities you would expect from a 4 star hotel. The rooms are comfortable and spacious with free internet connection, direct telephone access, safe, mini bar, etc. Our luxurious bathroom was fitted with Hydromassage bathtub and all mod cons. All rooms have balconies with sea views, where you can sit in comfort with a bottle of wine and watch the beautiful sunsets. An added bonus is the indoor roof top swimming pool and fitness centre.

As Christmas in Croatia is a family time we were the only guests. On Christmas Eve due to a kitchen staff shortage Mateo, the Hotel owner drove us to Mario's, a local restaurant where we dined on the finest peppered sauce steaks we have ever had. Our meal finished, it had been arranged for the restaurant owner to drive us in luxury back to the Hotel.
How's that for service?!

The Hotel meals were excellent and the buffet breakfast bar deserves a special mention for an unbelievable selection. Cereals, fruit, yogurts, continental choices, bacon and eggs and much more. All accompanied by fresh coffee and a vast range of teas. The staff were extremely friendly and attentive and made our stay an enjoyable occasion.

What a shame that Croatia is not more widely promoted and accessible as a Christmas destination so more visitors could enjoy a similarly good experience.

Above is a photo of our Boxing night's fish being cooked by the 'Doctor of the Grill' and assistant. You can check out the San Antonio on


If you're looking for a self contained apartment, near Trogir and Split, with all mod cons, easy access to the beach, and great hosts if you need them, check out Diane and Roger's website

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Croatia Online - Highlights of 2007

A very happy and prosperous New Year to all our readers. Below are the highlights of 2007 on Croatia Online.

Croatia Cruising Companion - Dalmatian Coast and Islands
This was our biggest milestone of 2007, a book we'd been working on almost since we arrived in Croatia and one that demanded an intimate and up to date knowledge of the Dalmatian Coastline and Islands, and all things nautical. It's difficult not to get emotionally attached to this kind of project and easy to be critical of the finished product but, in fact, we're delighted with the results and our publishers have done us proud on the quality and finish of the end product. If you want to know more about the insiders' guide to cruising the Dalmatian Coast and islands, visit our sister blog

Travel News - Flights to Split and Zadar
Easyjet are introducing a new route from Bristol to Split but both Wizzair and BA seem to have stopped their scheduled flights to Split. BA say that they are concentrating on Dubrovnik this year. We believe Ryanair will be returning to Zadar in the spring after suspending winter flights in their first year of operating the Zadar route.

The elections in early November did not result in a clear majority for the leader of the party with the most seats, Ivo Sanader, so he is still in the process of trying to form an effective coalition government. Go to our earlier posting for a more detailed report.

NATO In Croatia
Croatia was proud to host a NATO exercise earlier this year and there was much activity near us in Kaštela bay. Full details in our earlier posting

Eating Out In The Split Area
The traditional Dalmatian fare of plain grilled fish and meat is great but it's good to have a change sometimes. 2007 was the year that Trogir got its first Chinese restaurant, a new macrobiotic restaurant came to Split and the Croatian Language School introduced a Croatian culinary course to complement the language courses in its summer schools in Losinj and Poreč.
For more information check out the following postings:

Dalmatian Islands Ranked In Worlds Top Ten Island Destinations
US Magazine Travel and Leisure ranked the Dalmatian Islands in the Top Ten for the first time this year - for a full report go to

Croatia Online Records 20,000 Hits
We reached 20,000 hits in August 2007 and on our second birthday coming up this month we should be approaching 30,000. More information on this on

Croatia Cost of Living Update
See for a report on what to expect compared with an earlier report in 2006. Re reading this posting it's already out of date as the cost of petrol has crept up so we'll be updating prices early in 2008.

We revisted a number of destinations this year. Below are links to just a few:
Dugi Rat -
Krka Waterfalls and surrounding area -
Vis -
Inland Croatia -
Krapanj Island, near Šibenik -
Trogir -
Zadar and Šibenik -

We reported on a number of key business areas, highlights as below:
Index of Economic Freedom -
Nautical Tourism -
Croatian Business Environment -

Split has a new multiplex cinema -
The sound of Mandolins! -

Review our postings for a wide range of other topics including snakes in Croatia, a visit from the Royal Navy's HMS Cornwall, Split's new Riva (now being revamped again after public protest about several aspects of the first makeover), tourism news and much, much more.
You can look forward to a similar wide variety of postings in 2008 and we hope you will add to the content with your comments and suggestions which are always very gratefully received. We've made a lot of new friends on this site and we hope that will continue in 2008.