March 20, 2014
We are happy to share some of Croatia’s natural beauty via a special guest. Our dear friend, Jelena Matovina, gave us a peek into one of her favorite spots in her home country.
Croatia is typically referred to as a new touristic hip place, a holiday getaway where famous superstars and party islands mix with areas of untouched beauty. It is often compared to its neighbor Italy or sometime referred to as “another Eastern European country”.
Actually, it is all of that and none of that! It is not a new hip touristic place as tourism has been booming for more than 30 years. It is neither Italy nor part of Eastern Europe, but unique in the Balkan countries.
Croatia is Croatia–a magical, boomerang-shaped country, positioned just right to squeeze in the most beautiful heritage of this world. Newest member of the EU, skilfully hiding its traces of grief caused by the destructions of war in the 90s, this proud land will impress any visitors and take their hearts away.
In this short trip, I would like to take you to my origins – a small village that lies within the pearl of Croatia, the Plitvican Lakes National Park.
The National Park is a UNESCO world-heritage site. By protecting the area, all its inhabitants can live and grow peacefully. The lakes are filled with fat fish, the forests are full of different animal species, including my favorite of all: the brown bear (Ursus arctos). The bears always provide funny anecdotes with their visits into people’s houses, when they smell the smoke-drying meat and sausages.
Over the centuries, in these untouched valleys, trees have naturally decayed in the carbon-rich waters. This created natural barriers giving rise to today’s breath-taking sight of 16 laddered lakes, each overflowing in the next with gorgeous waterfalls.
The striking beauty of the Plitvican Lakes is sharply contrasted by the heavy destruction that the Yugoslavian War brought to its region. As soon as you leave the National Park you will see that life hasn’t fully returned yet to these areas. A handful of older people live in unfinished houses, and other abandoned ones still have visible tank shell holes.
However this has not demoralized the locals, who can offer you a wonderful opportunity to truly experience the region – Village Tourism!
Many villages around the National Park have B&Bs, offering mouth watering local cuisine and our true national pride –home made Rakija. This is simply the best way for you to experience the local life of this proud regionin its truest form.
You have now learned that Croatia is not all about beautiful clean sea, thousands of islands, parties and celebrities. It is also about people, history, smell of home-made bread and the sight of happy brown bears!
All images by: Alessandro Ciucci & Jelena Matovina
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