One of the more frequent inquiries I get is about a country
that is truly becoming a favoured choice of world travelers again.
What is now the country of Croatia, with its most seaport
city of Dubrovnik as a tourist centerpiece, has seen massive annual statistical
growth in visitations.
Dubrovnik itself was once a prime convention destination and
cruise port, but the wars between the former countries that once comprised
Yugoslavia, changed all that completely.
Long before those conflicts, one of my most indelible
memories comes from my experience, when as a young man hitchhiking around
Europe; I ended up in Zagreb.
Travelling around Europe, I had pretty much fallen off up to
date news cycles.
But In Zagreb I read that my country, Canada, was under the
War Measures Act as a result of the FLQ murder of British diplomat James Cross.
That was a shocking revelation.
Later that night an acquaintance introduced me to the
hottest disco in the city where a new song, American Women, by Winnipeg’s own
Guess Who was played incessantly all through the night.
Those confluences made a huge impression on me, and I always
wanted to get back to the region that is now Croatia.
Last year my wife and I had that chance and spent time in
Split, Dubrovnik and the area around it.
Facing the Adriatic, the walled fortresses of Dubrovnik
represents an imposing presence for cruise ships approaching its port.
Inside the city remnants of recent wars are evident by the
bullet holes that dot so many of the historical buildings around the main
square. But recent history has not affected the way tourists are welcomed.
Buskers  playing
unique instruments are scattered through the main thoroughfares. Harmonizing
groups offer regularly scheduled performances in the open squares. And a walk
along the ramparts of the walled structures provides an overview you won’t find
in many other cities.
Dubrovnik is an exceptionally beautiful city and perhaps the
greatest testimony of that came from George Bernard Shaw when he wrote “those
who seek paradise on earth should come to Dubrovnik.”
For those exploring the region, or the rest of the country
for a longer stay, with over 1000 of coastline there are loads of beach
options. The quality of the waters is reported to be excellent but many of the
beaches, while gorgeous, tend to be more pebbled than fine sand.
The view however often makes up for the beach quality, and
it is the pebbled base that helps make the water so crystal clear.

A trip to Dubrovnik should automatically include a day or
three in the countryside around it. A number of small communities whose economy
still depends on the fruits of the sea have also recognized the importance of
tourism as an economic generator as well.
One of these is the seaside town of Catvat.
Situated on the southern portion of the Croatian Riviera, it
is a quaint community with spectacular views and excellent restaurants located
on a sandy beach in a beautiful bay.
For wine lovers Catvat is situated near the primary grape
growing area of Croatia, and a number of local wine region tours will open the
doors to some exceptional scenery as well.
The second popular port city of Croatia is also the second
largest city in the country.
Split has a history that goes back to the 3rd
Century AD when then Roman emperor Diocletian decided the location would be
perfect for his palace headquarters.
Walking along the extremely narrow streets that are
preserved in the original palace area, the past seems to come to life even
though so many of the structures are now gift shops, restaurants, and offices.
Want to gain a bit of extra luck for your future endeavors?
Grgur Ninski, known as Gregory of Nin, a tenth century
religious leader had a uniquely designed massive and imposing statue of himself
built near his cathedral.
Thousands of people daily seem to be influenced by the myth
that by rubbing the big toe of his shiny gold left foot will bring good fortune
to those who line up to be photographed in the action of the process. Perhaps
it is not a myth!
While we did not get to Zagreb on our recent trip, tourist
officials there are working hard to position the city on the same level as
Prague and Budapest.
Known as the city of museums, Zagreb is divided into three
distinct sections.
Like most cities there is a high rise area that is really
like the heart of many of today’s modern cities.
Beyond that, the museums and galleries are situated along
the cobbled streets that flow through the 1000 year old historical area around
the Presidential Palace.
History is kept alive with the use of gas lit lamps. Galleries
and museums punctuated by numerous restaurants make it a prime tourist walking
I suspect the disco I was in is long gone, but this part of
the city is also the prime entertainment area as well.

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