Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
The Sun, part of a to-scale representation of the Solar System on the Riva in Zadar, Croatia

Click on title to view photo in large format. The Sun, part of a to-scale representation of the Solar System on the Riva in Zadar, Croatia. The display begins far back on the promenade that runs along the Adriatic Sea. Furthest from the Sun is Pluto, represented by a small disc, followed by Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, and Jupiter. After another stretch of empty space, Mars, Earth, and Venus appear as tiny specs in comparison to the massive sun. Each panel is also a solar cell that generates electricity for the city. The panels light up when stepped on, and the attraction is Read More

People's Square in Zadar, Croatia

Click on title to view photo in large format. People’s Square in Zadar, Croatia is located on a narrow peninsula that protrudes into the Adriatic Sea. The stone building at the center of the photo is the City Hall, and the square itself is one of the city’s most popular gathering places. Zadar is particularly known for its Roman and Venetian ruins. The entire Old Town is a Read More

Pier on the Riva in Zadar, Croatia

Click on title to view photo in large format. The Riva in Zadar, Croatia, is a popular destination for summer visitors to the Dalmation coast. Even on a cloudy day, tourists lounge on this stone pier to catch some rays and enjoy seaside breezes. The “Riva” is a term used throughout Croatia to refer to the promenade that runs along the Adriatic Sea. Dalmation communities take great pride in their Rivas, and Zadar is no exception. In addition to the pier, the Riva in Zadar features a Sea Organ that produces music from waves, as well as Read More

One of the first things that visitors to Croatia notice is the country’s unique boomerang shape.  The largest hunk sits at the top, stretching deep into Eastern Europe between Slovenia and Bosnia-Heregovina. The rest of Croatia curves downward in a narrow strip of coastal plain, beyond which steep mountains rise quickly from the shores of the Adriatic Sea. Residents of the inland areas of Croatia tend to be more influenced by the Ottoman culture of their neighbors in Bosnia-Herzegovia, while the culture of the coastal plain is more Mediterranean in nature.

It is not uncommon to hear people who live along the Croatian coast proclaim, “We are Dalmatians!” The term Dalmatian coast refers to the region that stretches from the city of Zadar in the north to Albania in the south. Though today most Dalmatians also consider themselves Croatians, they are quick to point out the cultural differences between themselves and those who live inland.

After a month on the Dalmatian coast, I began to notice the differences as well, starting with the language. The Croatian word for bakery is Pekarna, but on the coast it is simplified to Pekara. Many words are similarly simplified, perhaps because the coast was ruled by Venice for centuries, while inland regions were settled by Slavic tribes. And like Italians, family is paramount for Dalmatians, with multi-generational extended families often living in the same home.

The village of Kastel Novi is comprised of old stone houses and narrow lanes

The village of Kastel Novi is comprised of old stone houses and narrow lanes

Food is another big difference. Every Dalmatian has a large garden that provides fresh produce during the summer and canned goods for winter. No self-respecting Dalmatian would think of buying a tomato in a store. And the milder climate along the coast makes for a long growing season, so fresh fruits and vegetables are used abundantly in coastal cuisine.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was these differences that most factored in my decision to spend the month of June on the Dalmatian coast this year. Read More

A string of villages, each named for a different defensive castle built to protect against Ottoman raids, combine to make the Town of Kastela, Croatia

Click on title to view photo in large format. Just 20-minutes north of the popular seaside resort of Split, seven villages dot a half-moon bay. Each is named for a “castle” that was constructed in the 15th century to protect against Ottoman invaders. Today, these seven villages are collectively known as the Town of Kastela, Croatia.

In addition to its fascinating history, the area is blessed with rich, fertile soil and abundant seas. Each morning, local women sell fresh picked fruit and vegetables from their gardens in the village squares. Fishermen head out to sea each morning, returning with fresh catch for the local markets and restaurants. The area has become known as the Kaštela Riviera for its crystal clear waters, lovely beaches, and laid-back atmosphere.  Read More

A sea of red tile rooftops in the Old City of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Click on title to view photo in large format. Red-tiled roofs and ancient churches in the Old City of Dubrovnik, Croatia are framed by the jeweled Adriatic Sea. I took this photo from atop the ramparts of the stone walls that surround the old city. They walls run for 1.2 miles, and it is possible to walk their entire length along the upper battlements. I made the trek in about two hours, passing through turrets and fortresses along the way. The entire time, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d been there before. Read More