Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Croatia, I Can’t Quit You!

Next week, on July 1st, Croatia will join the EU, and while I wish Croatia the very best for the future, I also feel rather protective of a country I’ve come to love.

To paraphrase a quote from Brokeback Mountain : "I can't make it on a couple a visits once or twice a year. You're too much for me, Croatia, I wish I knew how to quit you.” 

This year, I’ve received more emails from readers looking for food and wine recommendations in Croatia than any other destination. Here are a few excerpts from people who wrote to me asking about BIBICh. {Click to enlarge images}

As I continue to write about wine, food, and wine tourism, and assist readers in pursuit of their own discovery of Croatia and other destinations; I dearly hope it's not spoiling my favorite places in the process. I hope it's helping places to carry on.

The first time I visited Croatia was in 2003, it was summer and the coastal villages of Istria were packed and bustling with sun seekers from neighboring European countries, especially Germany.

Ten years later, Croatia is now on the radar of most Americans, and in the last several years Croatia has been touted as the hot new "undiscovered" destination in magazines and featured on many travel guide top ten lists. I worry about Croatia and the possibility that it will be ruined by rapid growth to accommodate the surge in tourism.  I worry that I may be contributing to the problem.

Once emerging destinations become mature, the magazines lose interest and the crowds are off to another trendy hot spot, until the cycle comes back around and it's deemed the newly “rediscovered” destination. But Croatia is so much more than a spot on a list. Croatia is more than a trend. Croatia is in it for the long term.

Even though I worry about being part of the problem, I think blogging about little known wines and wine regions around the world is a service to wine lovers. Without the word of mouth you might never hear of some wines. And some under the radar wine regions need to be discovered solely so that they can continue to exist.

This past March I was in Croatia again. I came home longing for Teran. {Which as of July, won’t be called Teran-- see here for more about that}

I craved Posip with botocnie salad or some other morsel plucked fresh from the sea.

I dreamed of little hand-rolled fuzi pasta with a drizzle of fine Istrian olive oil.

No, I can’t quit Croatia. And you won’t be able to either after you read my new multi-part series on the wine and food of Istria coming up next on my blog.

In the meantime I offer you-- Top Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Trip to Croatia:

1. Download Apps Before You Go
In my opinion the best app for food and wine in Croatia is Taste of Croatia.

You can also follow Taste of Croatia on twitter here: @tasteofcroatia

The Tourist Board of Istria app is also useful:

2. Hire a Local Guide
Many people think a tour guide is going to be boring and akin to following someone holding up an umbrella saying walk this way and just spouting out lots of dates and names. But that is not the case when you work one on one with a local guide. The local tourist board can help you locate a qualified guide to suit your needs. 

For foodies and wine enthusiasts looking for a customized experience in Zagreb, Istria, and other parts of Croatia, I recommend Mladen Car of Funky Zagreb. Here is Mladen ’s Trip Advisor page.

3. Get Lost in the Hinterlands
Rent a car and wander around in the back country. Follow the food and wine trails of the hinterlands of Istria. You’ll discover wonderful places well off the coast-side tourist trail.

4. Book Winery Appointments in Advance
Some of the best wineries are very small operations and need to know well in advance if you will be visiting in order to welcome you for a wine tasting. Another good reason to work with a local guide is they can facilitate winery appointments that may be difficult to secure on your own.

5. Pack an extra bag for all your wine and cheese and olive oil purchases. It’s well worth the second bag fee for the bounty of flavors you’ll want to take home with you.

6. Tell’em Marcy sent you! –Well, that will only work in a very few places, but give it a try anyway.

Links to Forbes Travel Guide and my other posts on Croatia:

Spending Two Perfect Days in Zagreb
Best Places to Eat, Drink and Stay in Istria

Croatia Series:
Croatia Series Preview: Zivili!
Croatia Part 1: Bibich Dégustation
Croatia Part 2: The Splendors of Split
Croatia Part 3: Šibenik Caressed by the Sea
Croatia Part 4: Zadar, The Perfect Date
Croatia Part 5: Pilgrimage to Pag: Land of Paški Sir
Croatia Part 6: Istria--Truffles, Olive Oil, Prosciutto & Wine!
Croatia Part 7: A Taste of Zagreb

The Wines of Croatia: A Preview Tasting
Croatian Wines Making Waves
Country of Good Vines: Countdown to Wines of Croatia
I Can Almost Taste It! Croatian Wine is Near
Wines of Croatia Tasting: The Recap
Ajvar Smackdown
Croatia: Memories Lost and Found
Eli's Caffé in Zagreb--Wake Up and Smell the Coffee
Maraschino - Wrapped in Tradition

1 comment:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...