This being our second trip to Croatia, another sunny jaunt planned by Wanda, the bar was about as high as possible. The last trip, summer 2015, totally floored me from top to bottom. Every detail meticulous, every sight dazzling, every meal memorable. To say that I didn’t expect this trip to surpass that one would be a reasonable statement. Somehow it did. A combination of a greatest hits of the last trip in conjunction with an injection of new, equally fulfilling, experiences made for a trip that has me longing for a third.
We began in Split, a city whose charm is unquantifiable, for three nights in the Hotel Vestibul Palace. On our third day we took a trip to the town of Trogir & took part in a cooking class with Ivana Oresic. We procured all of the ingredients at the town’s market, including a piece of shark that we cooked with figs & wine to my shocking delight.
From Split we took the catamaran to Hvar &, through a series of serendipitous events, were lead through its picturesque hills by a close friend’s cousin Sinisa, who is Wanda’s point-man on island. One meal, arguably the most memorable of the trip, was eaten on top of a remote hill in a tiny town out of Lord of the Rings with barely the trace of running water & electricity.
The “peka” is a Croatian cooking method that cannot be missed. Vegetables are cooked for hours with meats or fish of your choosing under a “bell” in a bed of charcoal. A visit to the Plavac Mali was another memorable excursion, the best among the many wineries in the country. After Hvar we took the catamaran to Orebic, a quiet town on the water at the foot of the lovely grey seaside mountains. The hotel, which we moved to after a plumbing incident at our previously-scheduled hotel, was a complete treat with lovely views of the Adriatic, a comfortable swimming pool, & superb staff. One excursion, lead by the one & only Josip saw us eat another flooring peka lunch in the town of Kuna. Every product was house made, from the smoky hams to the outrageous walnut brandy.
From Orebic Josip drove us to the iconic port of Dubrovnik for the final leg of the trip. As we did on our last trip we stayed at the scenic Villa Dubrovnik, a hotel that I with the aesthetic qualities of an Apple Store & the accommodations of any Four Seasons. The hotel’s sharp wooden cruiser ferries guests to & from Old Dubrovnik in a James Bond fashion. From Dubrovnik we took two fabulous day trips; the first a trip took us into the surrounding countryside to a town where we were given a lesson & demonstration in the art of silk weaving.
The second trip was a small island hopping campaign on a private boat to the Elephites. In both trips the lunches were sublime and company of the guides friendly. Dubrovnik’s airport is the departure point for many Croatian journeys, but the more I thought about it the more I couldn’t accept that as the case. because the taste the country leaves in your mouth is so sweet and smooth that it makes you yearn to come back as soon as the plane lifts off the runway.
Without the herculean efforts of Wanda from Tasteful Croatian Journeys, in New York & in the country itself, out jaunt would not have been nearly as good as easy & enjoyable as it was.
For that I’m grateful.
John C. & Rubina Oremus – Chicago, IL / Wayne, IL