Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

From Vermont to the California Coast in 30 Minutes... in Croatia

This morning's mail at our US home brought a new Classic Journeys catalog -- upscale walking tours with gourmet food in places like Southern Tuscany, Provence, and the newest hot-spot Croatia. Prices start at (to me insanely high) US$3400 per person for week-long trips to your choice of either the area around Dubrovnik on the southern coast near Montenegro or the Istrian Coast up north near Italy.

Nearly all of the estimated seven billion Euros spent by tourists in Croatia this past year were spent in coastal areas like these. In fact, when you drive along the coast, every single town and village is awash with Zimmer (hotel) signs, so much so in most areas that you wonder if there is anything at all in Croatia besides hotels, vacation villas, and auto-bus camps all butted up against the Adriatic.

Here's the funny thing: if you go just 30 minutes inland, there's an entirely different Croatia that few tourists see. Aside from an Olympic ski team training camp, there are nearly no hotels. Nothing but scenery, sheep, cows, horses, and a few natives... and it looks surprisingly like Vermont and the loveliest parts of New Hampshire. Places, that in the US would be crowded with tourists on beautiful autumn days.

A few snapshots for you to enjoy. A typical winding road... this is a main road for the entire area. Count the cars with me:I took this snapshot of mossy stones and tree trunks while hiking on a woody trail:

Here's another view during my hike, of the bucolic valley opening up from a hill view. My husband says it used to be more open land, but so many small family farms have been abandoned or hardly worked in the past 20 years it's becoming woods now. It's not just due to civil war. The area suffered heavy losses in both world wars and then came a population shift to the coast which Tito's government made possible by building new roads and encouraging tourism so coastal communities could make big bucks in a Zimmer trade. The young generation took off to seek their fortunes, and the elders slowly died out. We've seen that happen plenty to family farms in the US as well of course. Here's a little guest cottage located in this valley that was too sweet not to photograph:
This is a typical village scene:
Unlike Vermont, here if you drive on the road to the coast for just 30 minutes, you'll quickly leave the leafy woods and winter ski areas behind and come abruptly to open hills that remind me greatly of parts of California. Here you can see some semi-wild horses grazing:
And then, just as abruptly, the road curves and goes down, and there you are spat out on the Croatian coast:
And here we are back in Zimmer-Land.

1 comment:

vinesci said...

Oh, my gosh, prices ARE insanely high!!

Nice photos...

Cheers,
(DejanOZ @ Blog B92)