You can trust me on this one: I’ve been there. I’ve been there many times, varied roles (bride, bridesmaid, guest, musician, observer). The major advice I can give when it comes to Dalmatian weddings is this: don’t attend one!
That is, don’t attend one if you are a well-behaved specimen of the western virtues, you have a reputation to lose and you don’t have a spare week that you can do nothing but eat and party, because there is a high risk you will have the time of your life and that you will laugh at whatever you called manners and reputation before.
1. Weddings are an institution in Dalmatia. Wait – no. They, in fact, are the central event of an individual’s life: as soon as you are born, your parents get worried and obsessed about your future wedding. Then there is your wedding. And then your children are born and you start worrying and obsessing about their wedding.
2. The volume of attention, time and money invested into the event is scandalous. If you wonder, how can a family of average or under-average earnings afford an opulent wedding for 300 guests in the finest hotel in Dubrovnik, here is the answer: the wedding gifts. – If you are a guest, don’t come with a box of expensive pots and pans. Come with an envelope that includes a tasteful card and 200 EUR (the maid of honour and the best man usually give multiples of this sum). Your gift will not be forgotten.
3. Actually, talking gifts: the wedding gifts are so important, that there is usually a special separate party a few days before the wedding, intended for the wedding guests to drop by at the bride’s and the groom’s parents’ house and hand over the envelope. A special trustworthy person will sit behind a little table like an accountant and scribble your name and the value of your gift into a large notebook.
4. The notebook is worth gold in many families. It keeps track of every single gift the family ever gave or received on occasions like weddings, baptisms, birthdays, etc. In case somebody gave the parents a gift years ago on the occasion of their son’s birth, the same value is expected to get returned in the other direction. It’s the parallel shadow economy, that secures that even the poorest families never reach the bottom. (Long ago, I read an article in the Economist about poverty in the Balkans – the author was puzzled how people in war ragged areas can live on nothing for years. Well, the tradition of giving reciprocity is part of the answer.
5. Here it comes – the wedding day: you join in either at the groom’s or the bride’s parents’ house, depending on which side of the future family invited you. This would be around noon. Avoid shock upon arrival to the rather modest village house you used to visit: it will have changed into a gourmet catering show for the coming few hours. Expect best food. Best wines. Countless delicious home-made cakes. And about a hundred people who will wear the absolute best of what they can afford.
6. Yes: the dress. You, too, should wear your best. Hint: “the best” in Dalmatia is some two or three financial and style categories higher than “the best” in London. Some local ladies actually do spend their monthly salaries on outfits when invited to weddings. As regards the bride’s wedding dress and look, it is likely that you won’t recognize the girl when she comes out of her parents’ house. Some of the dresses would make Kate Middleton just stare in awe and disbelief.
7. The music: in case you actually want to talk to someone at the wedding, use the total of ten or fifteen minutes you have throughout the day. The rest of the time, everybody, but EVERYBODY will sing (and dance, at the later hour). Music is a crucial element at a Dalmatian wedding and the best musicians get sometimes booked a year in advance. The basic ensemble that will accompany the wedding until dinner consists of accordion, guitar and double-bass. Even if you don’t understand the lyrics, hum along and have a drink. You’ll get into it eventually. At dinner, there will usually be a pop band (don’t count on them playing international hits, though; domestic pop is a requirement at weddings). Oh, and don’t expect anyone to have a speech. Why talk? Love is in the air, everything else is in that wonderful red wine.
8. There will be at least fifty cars that will need to drive, park, depart and arrive in a long glorious uninterrupted chain in various locations. – First, the guests from the groom’s parents’ house need to get to the bride’s house. In the bride’s house, the party continues, while all of a sudden there is commotion and chaos – quick, everyone! – the entire flock of guests must hurry to their cars, parked in zig-zag pattern all around the house, form a convoy and drive to the church for the actual wedding ceremony. And from the church, you still need to drive to the hotel, for the dinner party. It is a lot of driving of a lot of cars with a lot of drivers who can’t be sober – and the roads around Dubrovnik are dangerously curvy. Close your eyes, if you are one of the terrified passengers and don’t expect the random policeman to stop anyone: he would probably lose his job.
9. If nothing else got you on your knees, the dinner will. It is endless heaps of delicious food. Five or six courses. Often, there would be home-made wine. And in between the courses, there is dancing. Go dance even if you can’t dance at all! Anyway, it is unlikely that the crowd will let you sit or stand in the corner like poor Baby Housman. This is the one great thing about being a foreigner at local weddings: people don’t regard you as a foreigner. They want to make sure you enjoy the wedding just like them. So expect that somebody will just grab your hand.
10. In case you are kum or kuma, i.e. the maid of honour or the best-man: be prepared to travel to Croatia for future birthdays, baptisms and wedding anniversaries. Because you are now part of the family – no joke. (Logistically speaking, it might be easier for you to marry a local and stay.)
Blanka Pavlovic a.k.a. the Adriatic Bride is a Czech writer. She studied law (Prague) and creative writing (Oxford). As a lawyer, she specialized in international human rights law, first working for the European Court of Human Rights, then for a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. She wrote five books, among them Total Balkans, The Handbook of the Adriatic Bride or The Return of the Adriatic Bride. She now lives with her family between Dubrovnik and Donji Brgat. More information and English translations of her work are available through www.blankacechova.com
Croatian start-up Juvo Home Friends attracted public attention last year when they came up with an idea of using modern technologies to help modern parents in everyday challenges.
The Juvo Home Friend, a team of young innovators, designed a toy to make things easier for parents in the period when their small children make their first steps and begin to explore things around them.
Matija Srbic, the initiator of the idea, and his colleagues Igor Armus, Stanko Krtalic Rusendic, Sara Bajlo, Viktor Viljevac, Ivor Turcin and Ivan Kunjasic came up with this innovative solution after watching an American advertisement in which a boy says that he will never learn to ride a bike, fly or get married because he lost his life in an accident in his home. After that, Matija Srbic did some research that led him to the fact that several million children were injured in their homes only in the United States.
The Juvo toy, which got its name after a Latin word ''juvo'' which means ''to protect, to guard, to help'', is a platform of smart sensors placed on key areas in a house ( kitchen, bathroom, balcony, stairs, and front door). In a case of an unplanned movement of a child, the system sends a signal via a mobile application to parents' bracelet to notify them about child's movement so they can go and check up on the child. At the same time, the Juvo plush toy with a speaker activates in order to distract the child by singing or by a previously recorded voice of the parents in order to give them time to get to their child.
At first, the Juvo toy will be manufactured in Croatia, however, the team does not hide their ambition to target the US market and American citizens due to their spacious houses and higher purchasing power. The product will also be available on the internet, whilst the application will be available for Android and iOS devices.
It is interesting to note that Microsoft chose the Croatian start-up as one of the teams with a promising idea for improving everyday life in the Microsoft ''Imagine Cup'' finals in Seattle last year.
In the future, these innovative sensors could be used for monitoring the elderly or those suffering from Alzheimer's.
Game of Thrones has released a new teaser video for the upcoming seventh season of the globally popular series.
The new teaser gives a little more insight into the penultimate season of Game of Thrones. The season was partly filmed in Dubrovnik, which acts as King’s Landing, with three of the main characters filming in the city for a few days.
Season seven will be released on the 16th of July this year.
Jamie Lannister in Dubrovnik filming for season seven
Considering the fact that the new tourist season is just around the corner, it is high time to think about the perfect destination for your summer holidays.
For those who have pets, especially dogs, we are sure that it would never occur to you to leave them behind to wander around the city while you enjoy your holidays somewhere on the beach.
However, it is not always an easy task to find a beach where dogs and other furry family members are welcome to enjoy refreshment in the sea.
To make things easier for you, here is the list of the TOP 10 beautiful in Croatia beaches that are dog friendly:
The Seagull beach (Plaza Galeb) at Duce near Omis in the Split-Dalmatia County
The Cypress beach (Plaza cempresa) at Bol on the island of Bol
The Kazela beach (Plaza Kazela) at Medulin, Istria
The Duboka Draga beach (Plaza Duboka Draga) at Lozice on the island of Vir in the Zadar County
The Kijac beach (Plaza Kijac) at Njivice on the island of Krk
The Simuni beach (Plaza Simuni) at Simuni on the island of Pag
The Mel beach (Plaza Mel) at Kampor on the island of Rab
The Stobrec beach (Plaza Stobrec) at Stobrec near Split
The Podvorska beach (Plaza Podvorska) in Crikvenica
The Lucina beach (Plaza Lucina) at Pasman on the island of Pasman
Unique just seems like too small a word. The Dubrovnik – Neretva County is full of surprises, from ancient walled cities to soaring mountains and crystal clear seas. But one region is – well unique.
View from Villa Neretva
The Neretva River basin stretches for as far as the eye can see a huge open plain that was formed in the ice age. With the Neretva River as its central point marches and swamp land fold out on either side. This is a fertile land. Every inch of the river basin has been cultivated with irrigation channels running off at 90 degree angles. From the sky it looks like a New York City plan. Citrus fruits, oranges and lemons, watermelons and every vegetable you can imagine, and some you’ve never heard of, have found a place to call home.
“Whilst the rest of the Adriatic coast line is dotted with mountains and beaches the Neretva region is something quite different,” explained the director of the Metkovic Tourist Board. There are two major settlements in the Neretva region – Metkovic and Opuzen.
And not only is the nature different the history is just as breathtaking. The Narona Archaeological Museum is a gem, holding secrets of the Roman conquests. Located in the village of Vid the museum dominates the skyline, it was actually built around a former Roman forum. Inside you will find an impressive and modern museum that houses statues from the time of the first Roman Emperor, Augustus, and dating back to 10 B.C. A true enlightenment of the rich history of the area and well worth a visit.
A new museum that has only recently opened in Metkovic, around a five-minute drive from the Narona Museum, is the inspiring Natural History Museum. Due to the regions unusual geography the wildlife is also unique to the area. This new interactive museum wouldn’t look out of place in the centre of London with touch-screen displays and computer graphics to lead you through. The river delta has a diverse bird population and all of the birds native to the region are on display, you can even press a button and hear their calls.
Natural History Museum in Metkovic
But no trip to Neretva would be truly complete without tasting the local cuisine – and there is no finer restaurant than Villa Neretva. It is an adventure, and not just for your taste buds. Just getting to the restaurant is a discovery. As it can’t be reached by roads or on foot there is only one way to go – by boat.
These small wooden boats were through history vital to the region. They carried not only people but goods and more importantly the fruit and vegetables to market. Hop into a wooden boat and after only a minute you are into a land that time forgot. The marsh lands very much resemble the Florida Everglades – but without the alligators. This must be one of the most pleasant ways to reach a restaurant.
Located at the foot of a mountain and with spectacular panoramic views over unspoilt nature the Villa Neretva is THE place to taste local delicacies. Frogs and eels, in all different dishes, are often on the menu – for when in Neretva you must eat like a Neretvan.
As nature sings in the background the food arrives. Our recommendation would be the mixed Neretva Brodetto with frogs and eels, a kind of risotto and absolutely magnificent. Over the years the restaurant has picked up many awards and recognitions and it is easy to see why. Local fine wines are also on offer and the restaurant staff are always happy to suggest a good pairing with your meal.
This is service with a capital S! The hospitality is unmatched and all comes from the central figure of the restaurant, Pavo Jerković, the owner and founder. And it could be argued that he is also the founder of tourism in the Neretva river delta. “Restaurant "Villa Neretva" was opened in February 1990. I opened it after returning to Croatia after 20 years of working in Germany,” explained Jerkovic.
“This region and this restaurant is in my heart and I believe that if you work with a passion then the results will show,” added Jerkovic.
Just try not to get too distracted by the views. The food is glorious and if you even if you don’t want to try the local specialities there is an international menu as well. And the icing on the cake is a relaxing boat ride back after your meal.
Pavo Jerkovic always the perfect host
Telephone - +385 (0)20 672200
Website - http://hotel-restaurant-villa-neretva.hr/en
It certainly felt like summer had come early to Dubrovnik today, blazing sunshine and clear blue skies made for rising temperatures. At 3 o’clock this afternoon in Dubrovnik a mercury breaking 26.6 degrees was measured which is a new record temperature for the month of March in Dubrovnik.
The previous record was not only broken it was shattered, the warmest March day until now was on the 26th of March 1977 when temperatures hit 23 degrees.
And it wasn’t only Dubrovnik that was sunbathing today, a warm front with an unusually warm north wind brought high temperatures to the whole of Dalmatia. Split also had record breaking temperatures as midday saw thermometers rising to 24.1 degrees a new record for March.
The Dubrovnik Tourist Board is in the process of installing installed two new city clocks in Dubrovnik. The first one was put in place today in front of the Hotel Petka in Gruz, opposite the Port of Dubrovnik, and the second will be installed on the main traffic intersection into Dubrovnik by the end of next week.
The city clocks were completely funded by the Dubrovnik Tourist Board and the City of Dubrovnik and are placed in positions were knowing the time is important, near to the port, bus stops and traffic intersections.
According to a survey on product quality in Croatia, almost 83 percent of Croatian citizens believe that products intended for eastern European markets are of poorer quality than those sold in shops in western EU member countries.
Furthermore, more than 70 percent of Croatian citizens believe that in the eyes of large European corporations in Western Europe, they are still the second-class citizens.
In order to examine this situation, the Croatian MEP Biljana Borzan and the Croatian Food Agency will carry out a comparative analysis and testing of 27 seemingly identical products sold in Croatian and German supermarkets.
The project has three phases. The first phase has already defined the list of 22 food products and five cleaning and personal hygiene products such as Coca Cola, Pepsi, Nestea ice tea, Heineken beer, Rio Mare tuna, pasta Barilla, Ariel laundry detergent, Silan laundry softener, Domestos household cleaning products as well as Nivea and Colgate products.
In addition, these products will be sampled in Germany and Croatia for further chemical analysis in order to determine their quality.
The second phase includes the selection of adequate quality parameters such as basic raw materials, taste, smell, share of sweeteners etc. The third phase refers to data processing that will help compile a report.
‘’Sampling and part of the analysis will be conducted by the Andrija Stampar Teaching Institute in Zagreb, because this institute is recognized as the leading institute in Croatia and in the region’’, said Borzan.
Zvonimir Sostar, the director of the Andrija Stampar Teaching Institute emphasized, ‘’The safety and high quality of food is our priority, thus we do not want double standards when it comes to the quality of seemingly identical products in Croatia and countries of Western Europe. All the research will be carried out professionally, and the results will be transparently presented to the public’’.
Summer isn't even on the horizon, spring has only just begun, but already the swimming season in Dubrovnik has begun. The iconic Banje Beach with panoramic views over the Old City of Dubrovnik was just too tempting today for some tourists in the city. Temperatures touched 27 degrees today and a handful of sunbathers took full advantage.
And even thought the Adriatic Sea is only around 16 degrees it didn't seem to deter some brave swimmers from diving in. From coats to shorts and T-shirts, just a couple of months ago the whole region was gripped in a polar front with heavy snow and temperatures down to minus 15, what a difference a couple of months makes.
A raging forest fire is currently burning in the hills of Konavle. Thick smoke fills the air of the Konavle region, just south of Dubrovnik as pine trees and undergrowth burns.
The Konvale Fire Brigade is on the scene but as the fire broke out half way up the mountain side it will prove difficult to fight. So far the cause of the fire is unknown.
The fire is to the west of the popular tourist attraction Sokol Grad in a fairly uninhabited part of Konvale. According to the latest information the fire is under control and is almost extinguished.
Photos by Adriatic Images