Land of olive oil and cheese

Trip Start Aug 19, 2012
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed

Flag of Croatia  ,
Sunday, December 23, 2012

Olive oil.  The best we've ever had in our lives.  As complex and eye rolling as wines we've drunk.  And where did we get it from?  From a non-descript plastic bottle, sitting on the kitchen counter of the hostel we stayed in.  And yes, we pretty much ate it with anything that seemed reasonable.

And who made it?  A friend of the hostel owner who sells it at the local fresh market for 50 kuna ($9) for half a litre.  SERIOUSLY?

If only we weren't backpacking and still had several weeks to go before returning home.  We would have bought at least one bottle otherwise, it was so divine.
 
We also stuff ourselves with local cheese, bread, and proscuitto.

Did we mention that Split is part of the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, which was conquered and run by Venetians?  So, the area is influenced largely by Italy, whereas the northern region where Zagreb is situated, is influenced largely by Serbia, Hungary, etc.

We also fell in love with local Christmas dishes called "bakalar bianco" (basically dried cod mixed with mashed potato) and "pasticada" (stewed slices of veal in gravy accompanied by handmade gnocchi).

In the midst of our stay, we visited a nearby ancient town called Trogir.  It is the second oldest town in Croatia, having been settled in the 3rd century!  And the entire town was eventually declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  While wandering the small streets of the old town (yes, most tourist places in Croatia have some version of an old town), we overheard streams of music wafting from around a corner.  Being the curious wanderers that we are, we decided to check out what moment we would catch around that corner.

What resulted?  Local Trogir-ers invited us to join them in partaking in food and beverage of the Croatian kind, free of charge, and we hung out with the locals for 4 hours.  By the time we went searching for the local bus back to Split, it was after dark, and we were fully aware of how lucky we were to have been "invited into the fold".  Another magical moment we will never forget.
 
Split was enchanting with its winding old town streets, famous cathedral in old town, palm tree lined boardwalk, local markets, and beautifully blue waters.  We were also fortunate enough to experience midnight mass for Christmas at the famous cathedral, which was tiny but rich in history and artistry.  After not understanding a single word and being peered at by curious locals, we decided to leave early.  But, it was a special 15 minutes that we spent, crammed shoulder to shoulder in the historical site.

For Christmas itself, we cooked a delicious dinner of proscuitto wrapped chicken, pesto chicken, accompanied by (of course) olive oil, Croatian Trappist cheese, and local bread.  We celebrated quietly, but contentedly, alone in the hostel which we had to ourselves for most of our stay.  The morning of Christmas, we opened our gifts to each other - Kinder Surprises.  Adrian got a little puzzle and I got a tiny Porsche.  Apparently, we had swapped the wrong gifts.

So, ultimately, as much as our Christmas wasn't lively, it was certainly special.

 
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