Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Croatia Online - Tribunj

Tribunj has a very special place in our hearts. When we first decided to move to Croatia, over 5 years ago, we went to look for somewhere to live before driving over a couple of months later. Our first stop was Trogir, where we quickly found our apartment; our second stop was Tribunj, where we soon found somewhere to stay but realised that central heating and winter lets are not that common in Dalmatia!

In 2002, Tribunj was a quiet fishing village with a great big unfinished concrete building and several fishing boats. The building became the focus of what is now an extremely smart marina, and the fishing boats remain in the outer part of a marina now filled with, mostly, very posh yachts. Back then, Restaurant Tople, open all year round, seemed a little out of place - more of a formal dining experience than a casual konoba, but with an owner in tune with progress who just happened to have an apartment to let 5 plus year's back, and who now, has just sold his small hotel accomodation, Villa Diana, to a Russian owner who plans to take it up market.

For those in the know, Tribunj is a gem of a destination. The old town is on a tiny oval island, connected to the mainland by a small stone bridge. Most of the north east side of the island faces the marina; on the south west side are several bars and cafes and municipal boat moorings. By the bridge are the tourist office and post office, and restaurants are scattered all around the area, on and off the island. As if that's not enough, the more cosmoplitan tourist town of Vodice is a lovely 40 minute walk away along the blue flag beach linking Tribunj and Vodice, and the tranquil area of Sovlje, with it's secluded beach and beautifully situated restaurant Plava Vala, is a 5 minute drive away.

Onshore Information and Highlights

Tourist Office and Post Office - on the right just over the bridge on a street called Badnje. Both tend to open for a few hours in the morning and again late afternoon/evening. Hours on the tourist office door were 8am to 1pm and 5pm to 9pm, except Sundays - 8am to noon.

Ice Cream - don't miss Amfora, by the church and car park in the old town. All the ice creams are made fresh daily and decorated by the owners wife. The flavours are superb and so is the presentation.

The Movie Resort Hotels and Apartments - with pages in English if you look hard enough. Gone are the days when the only accomodation in Tribunj was the plethora of summer apartments to let. This is a stylish hotel with an adequate beach and an interior full of character, themed on the film industry - that means plenty of film star photos on the wall and an old movie camera as part of the decor. To find it, drive past the marina and it's on the left, just past Restaurant Tople (see above) and the last pier.

Villa Diana - Definitely one to watch for next year. The gardens and restaurant decor are already lovely, though the restaurant just does pizzas at the moment (from 4pm onwards). It's only just come under Russian ownership and there are plans to refurbish all 15 rooms this year to take it upmarket from its current, somewhat harsh, two star status. Just before Tople on the marina road (Jurjevgradska), no website as yet.

Plavi Val -, though unfortunately only pages in Croatian, Italian and German as yet, which suggests something about Tribunj's normal clientele. This superbly located restaurant in the Sovlje area of Tribunj also has 7 apartments to let and offers a free taxi service to diners in a 10 mile radius - call 098 337 154. The menu covers all the Dalmatian favourites with a large choice of fish and meat dishes. Prices are perhaps just a little above the Dalmatian norm but not signicantly so. Apartment prices seem very reasonable though we didn't look inside. All major credit cards accepted and opening hours are from 12 to 12 in the summer season - check for opening dates direct.

Konoba Palma (pictured) - don't be hoodwinked by the understated nature of this bistro from the outside - the plain wooden tables at the front hide an airy and welcoming "interior" of fishing nets, trinkets and delicacies. The owners are from Slavonia, inland Croatia, where they return to a ranch in the winter to prepare some of what gets to your table, such as the Slovenian smoked ham (misnamed Dalmatinski Prsut) and the Slavonski Kulen (a spicy, all meat, sausage). Both are delicious though the smoked ham is quite diffierent from its Dalmatian cousin - not surprising as the latter is dried in the Bora rather than undergoing a smoking process amidst plum trees that gives a texture that is more moist, and a flavour that is equally intense but quite different.. Other treats are breakfast with omelettes and/or sausages, Coquille St Jacques, salmon, and home made apple strudel. Prices are reasonable, Mastercard, Maestro and Visa cards accepted, opening hours noon to 1am daily between late April and early October. The same owners also run Buffet Škver in Tribunj's old town. The menu has yet to be translated into English. You'll find it on the same road (Jurjevgradska) as Villa Diana, Tople and The Movie Resort Hotel.

Konoba Simun, Old Town - lovely inside and out, though you get the sense that the ambience is verging on the snooty. The lyrics from a song from the famous local singer, Arsen Dedić, opens the menu in the same arty style as the swirling italic writing, and manicured small garden outside. Prices are a little bit above average too: mussels buzara - 60 kn, Lobster sailor style - 500 kn per kg, bifstek - 115 kn, pork with mushroom sauce - 80 kn and house wines - 110kn per litre.

Tribunj has much to recommend it as a holiday destination and let's hope that it's sensible enough to leave mass tourism to Vodice and retain its intrinsic mediterranean charm. Visit our sister site Croatia Cruising Companion for an update on Tribunj's nautical facilities, which includes the discovery of a substantial boat building yard tucked away in Sovlje.


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