Posted by: viewfromtheriva | August 28, 2011

August 2011 SightseeingCroatia Newsletter!

Dear friends of SightseeingCroatia!

What a summer this has been!

Let’s begin with some of our new projects.  In March, we were asked by friends on the islands of Solta and Hvar to create an English language newspaper for their visitors, like the one we have been doing here in Split for the past two years.

Two new newspapers!

Cover of the new DiscoverHvar!

After months of work, with support from the Tourist Boards of both islands and terrific enthusiasm from local merchants who agreed to become advertisers, we created DiscoverHvar! and DiscoverSolta!

Page 8 of the new DiscoverHvar!

DiscoverHvar! has 8 pages and focuses on Hvar town, the enchanting seaside village on the south side of the island.

The cover of the new DiscoverSolta!

DiscoverSolta!, the closest island to Split (but with only 1,500 year round residents) not only has 50% more pages, but an insert!!

The Traditions and Culture page in DiscoverSolta!

Putting together DiscoverSplit! and two other newspapers was a real challenge.  But we were able to produce all of them by the middle of June, and so far, the feedback we have been getting has been very positive.  Stari Grad, the largest town on Hvar, even called to ask us to create a newspaper for them next year!!

New Solta program

We’ve enjoyed Solta ever since we arrived here and created a “Discover the island of olives, honey and wine” tour to introduce tourists to the island’s magical ambience, unspoiled beauty and rich cultural legacy.  The driving force behind the DiscoverSolta! newspaper was a group of Solta residents called “Soltanski Trudi”—literally “Solta workers”  All of them are either artists, grape and olive growers, fisherman or other “workers” who live off the land by the labor of their hands or their creativity.  Their volunteer work is centered on the preservation and celebration of the island’s cultural traditions.  During the summer, they use an ancient walled compound as an artisans center to showcase many of these traditions and produce special events as well.  If you are coming to Split, do make time to visit Solta—just 45 minutes by ferry away!

Our program flier for the new Solta tour

Discovering Croatia

We took this dreamy photo from Jerzy's backyard at dusk

Although we have lived here almost three years, there is so much to discover in Croatia, we’ve barely scratched the surface.  So during the Spring we always make time to see something new.  This April we were invited to visit some of the hinterland villages up, in and over the mountains that run like a spine down the Dalmatian coast.

In Zagora, we met Jerzy and his family who run an adventure agency that includes one of the country’s only registered paragliding schools.  Tucked up in the hills, this is rural Croatia right down to its rustic roots–black-clad grannies tending vegetable gardens, livestock running about, big sleepy dogs, winding narrow unpaved lanes, ancient stone walls and timeless village churches all set in a landscape that makes you wish you could paint.

Jerzy does deep forest walks, canoeing on the Cetina, paragliding and more.  And to reward his guests after all that adrenaline, he and his family cook up a sensational peka (meat or octopus (yes, we know it sounds weird, so just imagine fabulous scallops, but even better, with potatoes, carrots and spices cooked an iron pot over coals for hours). Washed down with home made wine, it was a meal to remember.

Next year, we hope to create a program with Jerzy so people who visit Split can come and enjoy his hospitality as well as some great outdoor experiences.

The year is 1532,  the battle for Klis Fortress!

"Victims" of the famous battle, outside battle tents put up around the fortress!

We always enjoy going to Klis, impossibly perched on the spine of the top of an 800 meter high rocky butte overlooking Split–for more than 2,000 years, a strategic bastion of defense!  For Croats, the fortress remains an indelible example of heroism by brave Uskocki (local Croats, part bandit, part Robin Hood) who defended the precipice against the Ottoman Turks for decades in the early 1500’s.  This year a group of local Klis historical and cultural preservationists decided to re-create the famous battle of 1532 (when the Turks finally took control of Klis). After it fell into Turkish hands, Klis became the defacto dividing line between the Ottoman Empire and the Venetian Republic, which included Split.

The poster for the event in Croatian and English .























The evening event, which drew thousands of spectators who lined the fort’s ramparts to watch soldiers dressed in period costumes battle it out with swords and cannon, was spectacular. We hope it will become an annual celebration because despite its vast appeal and historical significance, only 13,000 tourists come to visit Klis each year.

One of the world’s oldest Christian churches!

St. Martin’s Church (probably 5th C) is just one of many treasures inside Diocletian’s Palace.  Rarely open, it’s built into the guard house inside the north or Golden Gate of the Palace. It’s one of the earliest true Christian churches inthe world because unlike the secretive rooms and hidden chambers used by early Christians to practice their faith, this is a real chapel. Its was a soldiers church (St. Martin is the patron saint of soldiers) used by the men who stood watch inside the walls of the most important gate of the Palace.

                      The tiny chapel inside the Golden Gate

The Benedictine Monastery next to the gate, a nunnery, has been the custodian of the church for 700 years.  Although I’ve heard the nuns will unlock the chapel from time to time, I’ve never seen it open, so we had a rare chance to see the inside when just by chance I was walking by and saw the door ajar.  A kindly nun beckoned me inside, and of course, I jumped at the chance.  What a gorgeous place, beautifully preserved!

We’d like to end this newsletter with a bit of fun.  One day last month, hungry for some fast food, Split-style, I went to Popeye, one of the city’s most revered sandwich shops (open til midnight in some areas!).  As I began reading the menu, my mouth watered, ummm, change that to literally dropped—as the English language editor of the Tourist Board’s magazine here I’ve seen a lot of odd and even funny transliterations, but this one took the proverbial cake!

a picture is worth a thousand plagues

The tortillas with smallpox is actually a tortilla stuffed with small shrimps. But somehow, someone translated these little critters as crabs and then probably used an internet “machine” translator which read it as “smallpox”!

The result is priceless.

Unfortunately, I brought some friends to see it and management got wise and has now discreetly pasted some paper over the diseased word, so here, for posterity, is the original.

OK, that’s some of the news from here in Split….we’ll send our next newsletter in January—meanwhile we will be re-designing our website to make it more user friendly and adding more programs for you and your friends to enjoy.

We welcome your comments and of course, if your friends or colleagues are considering a Croatian vacation, do please let them know that we’d be happy to help them plan something wonderful.

That’s it from sunny Split!

Be well and enjoy!

Robert and Natasha


  1. Is there any chance I could get a digital copy of the Discover Solta Newspaper. I have a hard copy that I am trying to copy with little success. Family Club Solta in Chicago is celebrating its 80th anniversary with mass and a banquet at St. Jerome’s Croatian church and I would like to distribute some of these newspapers to all of the members and their families . Thanks!

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