Travel information for Croatia, including a truffle-hunting expedition.
Joanne: Croatia, once part of Yugoslavia, parallels Italy on the Adriatic Sea and runs inland to Hungary and the former Yugoslav state of Serbia Monte Negro, Bosnia- Hesegovnia, and Slovenia.
Its history at the edge of Western Europe, northern Europe and the former Ottoman Empire shapes the travel experience today.
On the coast, the pace feel more Italian, more Mediterranean. While the interior takes its moods and manners from countries like Austria and Hungary.
Right now we're weaving through and incredible chain of islands known as the Kornati archipelago. It’s the first place we’ll be visiting in Croatia.
The Croatian coastline is so intricate that it actually makes up a quarter of the coastline of the entire Mediterranean.
This archipelago is the big reason why. Its jagged shoreline is full of grotto, nooks, and coves. These are now vastly populated and some are preserved as a national park. These islands are mostly uninhabited, but once held outpost to Romans and early Christians. Today they're very rustic with no electricity or running water.
Croatia’s mainland, just inland from the Kornati archipelago has plenty of sun and ambience to soak in. in fact some called this area the Jamaica of the Mediterranean for its don’t worry be happy attitude.
So here we are, this is Split. It was a former roman stronghold and the trade hub between Europe and the Middle East. Now it’s a great place to soak up the history and the relaxing Mediterranean vibe.
Split is Croatia’s second largest city, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. This town is sunny by day, with a busy harbor full of sailboats and views of the offshore islands. Palm trees lines the promenade. The shoulder season, adjacent to the high season of July and August, is the best time to travel to Croatia’s coast. There is a lot of café and bar culture here. It seems that sitting and talking and sipping is very important to locals.
Inside these walls is Split’s famous roman palace. It was built by the emperor Diocletian, who decided that this spot would be perfect for his luxurious retirement. Obviously he had quite good taste.
Diocletian was a man ahead of his time and that he was the first roman emperor to actually retire from his responsibilities of running an empire so he could relax in old age.
This rustic landscape is known as Istria a highly fertile region north of the Dalmatian coast. It’s probably Croatia’s most Italianesque province. The land alternates between forest, farms, and medieval hill towns. But beneath this pastoral beauty lies a fungus that drives people mad. Mad with pleasure, that is. This is the land of the truffle.
Once autumn chilled the air, Croats take to the woods in search of this culinary gold. I'd be doing the same.
For that, I need an expert help. I also need a four legged friend. This is our guide Osran and truffle hunter Tricka with his dogs.
How does truffle hunting works? What exactly are the principles of truffle hunting?
Osran: You have to train the dog for four years. He has to know the scent, they do this with either oil of truffle that they recognize it with. And now because he got his command in, they won't eat the truffle.
Joanne: As we wondered the dogs got really excited about something at the base of the tree. I thought they might wolf it down themselves. Before long, they coupled out a rather unglamorous looking something from the earth.
Wow, that’s impressive. It’s amazing how heavy it is.
Osran: The best quality truffle.
Joanne: Wow, it smells amazing.
You know you’ve truly arrived in a country when you set foot in its capital. Zagreb has all the toppings of the city bent on progress, it is also a great deal of care taken to preserve its past. This contrast is striking.
Zagreb is always one of the region’s leading enclaves of culture and commerce but didn’t become Croatia’s official capital until 1990.
Travelling around Croatia is all about experiencing things unspoiled towns several thousand years old, romantic Mediterranean coast lines and some of the warmest people you could hope to meet.
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