Friday, February 7, 2014

Croatian 2014 Ferry Schedules

With the summer fast approaching many visitors to Croatia are planning their trips along the Dalmatian coast. Most of those journeys will involve ferries to and from the region’s many islands. Below are links to schedules for some of the more popular routes. More routes can be found on the Jadrolinija website. When reading the schedules please be sure to take note of the departure day as some schedules span over 2 days or more.

Dubrovnik – Bari, Italy

Split – Hvar – Ancona, Italy

Zadar – Ancona, Italy

The schedule for the coastal ferry that runs between Dubrovnik and Split via Korcula and Hvar has not yet been published.  In recent years, the coastal ferry schedule has not been published until sometime in May, just days before service begins on 1 June.  You can check for updates to the schedule online at the Jadrolinija website.

International and coastal ferry tickets can be purchased through Jadrolinija’s online booking system. Prices vary depending on date of travel and add-ons such as sleeping berths. Local island ferry tickets must be purchased at Jadrolinija offices in Croatia and generally do not need to be reserved in advance.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Standout Mediterranean Fare in Cavtat


A new restaurant is shaking up the dining scene on Cavtat’s waterfront. Located on Cavtat’s restaurant row and surrounded by unremarkable restaurants, Bouganvila is anything but unremarkable. The setting is simple with a view to the sea on one side and an open kitchen on the other, but the food is creative and delicious.

The menu has many departures from the usual Croatian fare. On a recent visit I enjoyed a starter of burrata (a fresh cow’s milk cheese similar to mozzarella, imported from Italy) with a tasting of 3 types of olive oil from different regions of Croatia and a dish of mixed olives. The burrata was fresh and creamy and paired wonderfully with olives and sampling of olive oils. A basket of fresh, crunchy bread was delivered to help scoop up the burrata and oils.

Main courses included risotto with fresh black truffles, almonds, buckwheat, and comte cheese, 2-day slow roasted lamb, and angus steak with truffle sauce. I had the risotto, which was perfectly cooked (al dente) and the flavors of the truffle, almond, and comte work well. Desserts are also interesting and mostly of the Italian variety, though I did not leave room to sample them.

Prices may be slightly higher than some of its neighbors, but the choice and quality of the food is significantly better so it’s good value. Bouganvila is a welcome addition to Cavtat and I hope that the new competition elevates the quality of food in town.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Villas in Dubrovnik




Large Croatian villas are fast becoming a popular choice for wedding groups and getaways with family or friends.  They offer good value compared to hotels and great common spaces with swimming pools, dining areas, and barbeques for entertaining.  The best villas in Dubrovnik book up far in advance, often in the late summer or early fall of the previous year. 

It is difficult to find large villas with swimming pools within walking distance of Dubrovnik’s Old Town.  Space is limited and most property owners offer apartments rather than villas.  However, there are a few really special villas within easy walking distance of the Old Town that offer the same space and feeling of isolation as large properties farther afield.  Because they are rare, these villas are in high demand and generally book up early.

For those that want a central location and a swimming pool but don’t quite need the space of a 5- or 6-bedroom villa, there are also several larger apartments with private swimming pools within walking distance of Dubrovnik’s Old Town.  They offer the same opportunity for gathering and entertaining, but with a smaller occupancy capacity.

The vast majority of large villas with swimming pools are located outside of Dubrovnik in the small villages that dot the Adriatic Sea.  Many are only a 10 to 15 minute drive from Dubrovnik, but their more isolated locations make them best suited for those with cars.  A few popular areas for large villas are Orasac, Mlini, and the Konavle countryside.

Another great option for a villa holiday in Croatia is Cavtat.  It is a charming sea-side village located just 25 minutes from Dubrovnik’s Old Town.  There is regular service by ferry and bus to Dubrovnik, but there is no need to leave Cavtat – its beautiful waterfront promenade boasts some of the best restaurants and cafes in the area.  Cavtat feels more relaxed than Dubrovnik as it’s not a stop on cruise ship itineraries and there are several large villas within easy walking distance of the town center.

Wherever your group decides to stay just remember to book early, especially for those special occasions such as weddings, family reunions, and milestone birthdays.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Croatian Wines

In recent years Croatian wines have been gaining worldwide recognition by winning many awards at international competitions.  However, the wine regions and their wines are still little known and can be daunting to visitors to Croatia who wish to buy a bottle or two.  This article is meant as a brief overview of the wines of Croatia, and is by no means an exhaustive discussion of the subject.

There are three important wine-growing regions in Croatia: Slavonia, Istria, and Dalmatia:

Slavonia: This area lies inland in the east of Croatia and is little visited by tourists.  It mostly produces white wines from grape varieties such as Riesling (called Grasevina in Croatia), Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.  It is also known for its sweet wines, which are known to compare favorably with some of the world’s best dessert wines in terms of quality and price.

Istria:  This coastal peninsula is located in the north west of Croatia, and has a strong cultural influence from its Italian neighbors, which can be seen in its food and language.  Istria is predominately a white-wine growing region with Malvasia being the most popular varietal, although they do produce some noteworthy sweet wines and red wines.  The most significant red wine in the region is Teran, which is similar to Italy’s Refosco.  Modern wine makers are also doing well with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Dalmatia:  The most important wine–growing region in Croatia is the Dalmatian coast, stretching from mid-to-southern Croatia along the Adriatic Sea.  The Peljesac Peninsula has an unrivaled climate and perfect landscape for Plavac Mali, which is similar to its California cousin Zinfandel.  It produces wines with earthy aromas of plums, dried fig, and rosemary, strong tannins, and high alcohol levels.  The best Plavac Malis can be found by looking for the names of the villages from which they come: Dingac, Postup, and Ponikve. 

Another important wine in Dalmatia is Posip, which is a white grape grown on the island of Korcula.  It produces excellent dry white wines with fruity and floral flavors.  For the best quality Posips look for name of the village that they hail from: Cara.

A visit to Croatia offers wine lovers a unique opportunity to taste wines of extraordinary quality that are little known outside of the country.  A great place to sample some of the wines above is at D’Vino Wine Bar in Dubrovnik’s Old Town.  For those that want to gain a deeper understanding of Croatian wines, a wine tour to the Peljesac Peninsula makes a great day trip from Dubrovnik.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Croatia Celebrates Accession to the EU


As of July 1, 2013 Croatia is now the 28th member of the European Union. Its accession came 10 years after its initial application to join the union. Nearly 2/3 of voters approved the accession, despite the current economic problems the EU is experiencing.


So, what does this mean for visitors to Croatia? Tourists aren’t likely to notice many changes. The country will continue to use the Kuna, its national currency, and borders will still be patrolled as it is not part of the Schengen visa zone. There will now be two lines at Croatian international airports (one for EU passport holders and one for non-EU passport holders), so arrivals should go quicker. Visitors will still be required to pay local tourist tax and be registered with the police, but hotels and apartment owners generally take care of this formality for their guests.


It is too soon to tell if the accession will pave the way for a lot of new businesses and new products available in the Croatian market. Nevertheless, it is an exciting summer to be visiting the newest member of the EU.

Friday, May 10, 2013

2013 Dubrovnik Summer Festival Tickets


The 64th annual Dubrovnik Summer Festival will kick off in Dubrovnik’s Old Town on July 10th and run through August 25th.  The festival will feature a wide range of events including theatre, classical music, traditional Croatian music, and a special appearance by international performer Rufus Wainwright. 

Tickets for limited performances are currently available online at https://www.ulaznice.com.hr/paganini/app/web_v2/ctl_evt.jsp?act=priredbe&p=t&t=4&lang=ENG, with more to be added closer to the beginning of the festival.  For a full schedule of events and locations, visit the festival website: http://www.dubrovnik-festival.hr/Default.aspx.
 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dubrovnik to Mljet Catamaran


A great day trip from Dubrovnik is to the island of Mljet. However, many visitors to Dubrovnik have difficulty finding information about how to get there. There is a daily catamaran to the port of Sobra on Mljet named “Nona Ana” that operates year round. The timetable varies depending on the month and during the peak season of July & August it also continues on to Korcula and Lastovo. The full schedule can be viewed online here: Dubrovnik - Mljet Catamaran.