By Janie Cadena
This month I would like to introduce you to a country that you may only associate with the war that raged through the former Yugoslavia back in the 1990’s – this country is Croatia. Croatia sits just south of the beautiful Alpine country of Slovenia, north of the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina and on the Eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea with Italy on the Western shore. Although the war was fought in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, many of the NATO troops were stationed in Croatia.
Croatia is a very beautiful country with a very long Adriatic coastline with many ancient port cities mostly established by the Greeks or Romans. The best known city along Croatia’s Dalmatian coast is Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik sits on the southern end of Croatia; called the “Pearl of the Adriatic” it is just that - a beautiful, well maintained, walled city. It has been a major port of the Adriatic for centuries.
Further up the coastline is the one of the greenest islands in the Adriatic called Korcula (pronounced Kor-chew-la). It is reputed to be the birthplace of Marco Polo, not the game, but the famous world traveler who brought noodles from China to Europe. I enjoyed Dubrovnik, but I fell in love with Korcula – I think because it is smaller and still feels like ancient times while Dubrovnik is fairly touristy. Some other well known coastal cities are Hvar, Split, Zadar, Pula and Rovinj. Pula and Rovinj are on the Istrian peninsula which was part of Italy until 1947 so many people in this area still speak Italian.
Croatia has a very impressive coastline, with 1185 islands and is said to be the prettiest in Europe. So it is understandable that this country would have a naval history. As a matter of fact back in the 1600’s their navy started wearing scarves around their necks, since uniforms weren’t very common, this identified them. Louis the XIV of France was very impressed with the way the Croates (pronounced crow-ats) wore their scarves that he gave up his lace and started wearing a “Cravat” – the French pronunciation of Croates.
While Croatia’s coastline is beautiful there are other areas of this fairly small country that rival the coastline – one of them being Plitvice Lakes National Park. This park consists of approximately 20 lakes flowing from one to another via beautiful waterfalls. I walked about 7 of them as they have developed raised walkways and bridges so as not to disturb the forest floor. This park is one of seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Croatia, as is the city of Dubrovnik.
A unique factoid on Croatia is the height of the people. Croatian’s tend to be taller than other Europeans, many over 6 ½ feet, consequently Croatia has furnished the NBA with many players. If you find this article interesting and would like to know more about Croatia, you can go to www.croatia.hr.
Janie Cadena, CTC, CPG, a certified travel counselor and professional tour guide has traveled or lived in over 40 countries. She is the owner of Your Travel Guide, a travel agency located in Von Ormy. For more information go to: www.yourtravelguideco.com or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.