The three-day Days of Croatian Tourism (Dani hrvatskog turizma) conference, the traditional annual gathering of tourism professionals from both Croatia and abroad, came to close on the evening of Friday 21st October. Held in Sibenik this year, the event was organised by the Ministry of Tourism, the Croatian National Tourist Board, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and Croatian Radio Television (HRT) and was intended to act as a forum for discussion of this year’s tourism results and to also look ahead to next year’s plans.
The culmination of the event saw a number of awards given out for the best tourist resorts and destinations in Croatia, both on the coast and in the interior, as well as awards given out in specific categories (such as best tourist information centre, souvenir, and site of interest) and to employees in the industry. (Some of these awards – in particular destinations that placed second and third in the Plavi and Zeleni Cvijet categories mentioned below – were in fact announced in a separate ceremony on Thursday night.)
The biggest winner on the night, awarded the “Tourist Flower – Quality for Croatia” prize presented by Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, was the town of Rab. Other coastal destinations that were winners of the “Plavi Cvijet” (“Blue Flower”) awards were Opatija (in the category of over 10,000 inhabitants); Krk (3,000 – 10,000 inhabitants), Nin, which is near Zadar (1,000 – 3,000 inhabitants); and Mlini, near Dubrovnik (less than 1,000).
Interior destinations received the “Zeleni Cvijet” (“Green Flower”) award, and these went to Velika Gorica, just south of Zagreb; Djakovo, near Osijek; Nasice, also near Osijek; and Groznjan, in the Istrian interior. (These four towns are winners of the same categories according to number of residents as mentioned above.)
For the first time this year, three awards were given out to recognise cultural achievements in tourism in Croatia. The town of Zadar was winner of the Destination of Culture category; the Nikola Tesla Memorial Centre in Smiljan was winner of the best cultural institution; and the Rab Fair on the island of Rab, a medieval summer fair, was winner of best cultural event.
Croatia isn’t exactly the first country you’d think of for a ski holiday – and it’s probably even further down the list of countries that extreme skiers would go to if filming an adrenaline-packed movie! (Alaska it ain’t.) It came as some surprise, therefore, to read that the country was in fact used as a location for a new ski movie called Light The Wick by respected extreme sport production company Teton Gravity Research. (I must admit that I don’t know too much about ski or extreme sport films, but these guys are apparently “big” in the business.) Nevertheless, my interest was peaked – exactly where did they go in Croatia, and what kind of “extreme skiing” were they able to do in the country?
Dragging along a few of my ski-mad friends – who would happily attend anything that’s at all related to skiing in any small way – I attended the European premiere of Light The Wick last night. In amongst some truly spectacular scenes in North America, was the brief segment filmed in Croatia – at Blejolasica, in fact. (The Bjelolasica Olympic Centre is in the Gorski Kotar region of Croatia – about three-quarters of the way from Zagreb to Rijeka – and the centre itself is near the town of Ogulin.)
Promoted as an off-the-beaten track destination for the purposes of the film, two of the skiers arrived to experience – what they said – was the heaviest snowfall Croatia had seen for 50 years. Actual skiing footage was largely limited to some off-piste skiing through some rather pretty forests, though the crew did then go down to Dubrovnik to take in some of the coastline and local festivities. And yes, they even took a dip in the sea – which assuming this took place in winter (as it must have, if other parts of the country were suffering from heavy snow) is still quite a brave thing to do!
Here’s the trailer for the film, which shows pretty well what extreme skiing is all about:
More about the film at http://www.tetongravity.com/light-the-wick/
As part of a series of guides to different areas, attractions and activities in Croatia, last week Croatian newspaper Jutarnji focused on the area of northwestern Croatia. An area mostly overlooked by visitors and travellers to the country, this lovely part of Croatia still has a number of interesting places to visit. If you’re looking for something a little different (and can drag yourself away from the coast!), why not give this area of Croatia a go?
The most beautiful towns in the region – as selected by Jutarnji – are Varazdin, Varazdinske Toplice, Ludbreg, Bjelovar, Daruvar, Cazma, Sisak, Petrinja, Kutina and Novska. (Links go to Jutarnji articles on those towns and cities.)
Stand-out city from the list is the wonderful Varazdin. Once upon a time the capital of Croatia (and therefore one of its oldest cities), Varazdin has many wonderful sights, including a 16th century castle and an Old Town dating from that century as well, a cathedral and the Baroque Ursuline Church (one of a number of Baroque churches and palaces in the city). Nearby is Varazdinske Toplice, a spa town (the oldest thermal spa in Croatia), which now has health and rehabilitation facilities, but was once a Roman settlement named Aquae Iassae. Part of the Roman settlement has been excavated and can be visited.
Meanwhile, attractions that are recommended in the region include the Lonjsko Polje Nature Park and Cigoc, a stork village where around 200 storks nest on the houses and locale of a village of around 120 inhabitants – so there are more storks than people! There’s also the Museum of Evolution in Krapina (the remains of Neanderthals were discovered in the local area) and the town of Ozlja, with various Roman and medieval finds, and sights such as its castle and town museum.
Activities in the area include everything from the more standard kayaking, cycling and hunting, though Jutarnji also mentions that quad-biking, paragliding and “speleology” (the study of caves) is possible!