The Shortest Day is Over: Countdown to Dalmatia Beach Heaven 2014

Secret island beach, by Dalmatia Explorer

With all this gorgeous weather, it is hard to imagine that we are really in the midst of winter, but with December 21 behind us, the days are now getting longer. And longer days can only mean one thing – the summer season is approaching.

We are very grateful for all your fan photos throughout the year. Here are a few beach shots submitted by our fans to remind you of what awaits when you visit Central Dalmatia in 2014. Beach heaven!

Pakomina -byMakarska Riviera Beaches

Mimice – Deni Ulic

Brela – Makarska Riviera Beaches

Cvitacka by Makarska Riviera Beaches

Zarace, Hvar – Nenad Medak

Hvar in Fodor’s List of 25 Places Not to Miss in 2014

Last year it was the New York Time featuring Hvar in its list of top 46 places to visit.

This year, the press release is also from New York. This time it is Fodor’s Travel, one of the leading named in tourism, and the message is the same – Hvar!

“Need inspiration for your travels in 2014? The Fodor’s Travel 2014 Go List—announced today—highlights 25 can’t-miss places that should be on everyone’s travel radar for the coming year. Curated by a team of Fodor’s Travel experts, the list incorporates everything from emerging destinations and new hot spots to noteworthy events and great values around the world.

“Hvar, Croatia: Forget the French Riviera; this sunny island on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast is the new hot spot for beach lovers and yachting revelers. Located along the route of Croatia’s trendy Yacht Week–a 7-day tour of coastal locales in a fleet packed with young travelers from around the world—Hvar has cemented its status as a partier’s paradise.”

Traditional Dalmatian Food at Christmas: Bakalar

With much of Dalmatia now focused on the festive holidays, it is time to think of food, and Christmas means one thing for most households in the region – bakalar. Given the region’s richness of fresh seafood, it is perhaps a little curious that the main fish dish for the Christmas season is based on dried cod… from Norway.

It’s hard to say why people around the Mediterranean, including Dalmatia, accepted codfish so eagerly, knowing that it usually comes as a dried fish, looking more as a wooden board than a seafood delicacy. And why anyone who is used to all the fresh treats coming from the warm southern sea would love to eat something so ugly and smelly when cooked? The answer might be hidden in some great journeys of the past.

Old chronicles report that cod was brought to the Mediterranean by Venetian nobleman and merchant Pietro Querini in the first half of 15th century. As described in The Northern Light Route, a project conducted on University of Tromsø, Norway, Querini set sail in early summer 1431 set from Cretan Iraklion to Bruges, in Flanders, with three ships loaded with wine and spices. Caught in a terrible storm, vessels with 68 men sank and the crew had to move to their lifeboats. Many drowned or died of starvation and fatigue while the boats drifted across the North Sea. The same source claims that just after the new year 1432 survivors stranded on an island near Røst, in Lofoten. They were found by local fishermen, and after three months of recovery sailed on small cargo boats loaded with stockfish to Trondheim. The result? Signor Querini became the first exporter of Nordic stockfish, especially cod dried on sun and wind, to southern Europe.

Still, the connection between cod and Christmas was yet to be established. It happened in 1561, when The Council of Trent sharply condemned greed, vanity, blasphemy and any kind of body pleasures. Fasting was reevaluated as a mean to purity, loyalty and gratitude to God. On the other hand, rich Europeans just didn’t want to get rid of their culinary habits, enriched with food from newly discovered lands. Chefs of the time got a new assignment: how to cook by strict religious norms, and still enjoy. About six thousand scholars participating in Council tasted top dishes of “adjusted” cuisine, and the almost unanimous verdict discovered something Scandinavians already knew for centuries; cod is the perfect fasting meal. Hundreds of recipes were published in cookbooks of the time, and the biggest popularity was gained on the Mediterranean, an area so filled with fresh, tasty fish.

Sometime during the 1800s codfish settled in Dalmatia, as an Italian import. Narrow streets of Dalmatian cities were swept by the not so pleasant odour during the holiday season. Just everyone was cooking cod. After the World War Two, when communist came to power in former Yugoslavia, including Croatia, cod even turned into an ideology “weapon”. Visiting churches in a socialist country was often considered inappropriate, so preparing cod and other traditional Christmas specialties became even some kind of resistance. Only the dilemma mentioned in the beginning – which of two the most popular recipes to prepare for Christmas eve dinner – remained the same, all the way to our times. Every family has its own variation, some will even make adventurous move to some other way of preparing, but here are basic recipes for basic codfish meal. Learn how to do it on time, it’s an important ingredient of being accepted in the local community. How and where to buy codfish? You won’t miss it, it usually comes on the shelves at the same time as Christmas decorations. If you are not an undiscovered cooking genius, don’t worry. Any restaurant will prepare it, and almost all most communities have publicly cooked cod meals on December 24.

Dalmacija Wine Expo 2014, in Split and Makarska

2013 has been a good year for the wines of Dalmatia, with grape varieties such as plavac mali, posip and bogdanusa becoming more recognisable on the world stage, and exports from California to China.

An increasingly important platform to present the wines of the region is Dalmacija Wine Expo, now in its fourth year, and hosted every year until now in Makarska.

Next year’s event will be expanded and take place in both Split and Makarska, with the main event at the Radisson Blu in Split on April 24 and 25.

While the main event will be moving from its home of four years, Makarska, it will also be holding a two-day event in Makarska – Wine and Fun Days – on May 1-2. 

Direct Flights from Split to Dubronik in 2014

While the increase in international flights to Split and other Dalmatian coastal airports has been fairly well documented, Croatia Airlines has just announced a rather interesting domestic flight, starting in April 2014.

The weekly flight every Friday will offer passengers the chance to move between no less than five Croatian cities, from an early morning departure from Osijek to Zagreb, Rijeka, Split and Dubrovnik, before returning to Rijeka from Dubovnik. The return leg from Rijeka to Zagreb and Osijek will take place on Sunday.

While the Split to Dubrovnik direct connection is only in one direction at the moment, it marks the start of what will hopefully be an option for tourists travelling along the popular route. The proposed timetable, courtesy of Aerocroatia, is below.