Honeymoon is over

Reason #163: the initial “in love” phase eventually wears off

This is the case with any big move. The typical “honeymoon period”, where you’re in love with the place and everything is amazing, eventually has to wear off.

For me that usually comes at the 6 month mark. And here it is, right on time and unrelenting. Like a Swiss train.

The hard thing about the Honeymoon being over is that you no longer live on a high of everything being great. Things actually start looking ugly.

The great thing about the Honeymoon being over is that you can finally start seeing things as they really are, in relation to you. And that’s when you can really start enjoying a place for what it really is.

sv.rok_sumartin_brac

sv.rok_sumartin_brac_trash

Rest In Peace on Brač

Reason #162: Brač cemeteries are a beautiful final resting place

If you’re looking for a great place to be buried in, look no further than one of the many wonderful cemeteries on Brač.

Great views, plenty of sunshine, fancy tombstones – Brač has it all. Put it in your will and come on down!

Seasonal veggies ::: part I

Reason #161: get broad beans, peas and potatoes

There’s some veggies all year round, but in the spring it starts getting crazy. People have so much stuff growing you’re bound to get some for free, or at least buy it at a symbolic price.

It’s all, what we in the city would call, organic. Here, people just call them vegetables.

Broad beans. Yum! Yum! Yum!

beans_palm

Potatoes with a heart:

potato_heart

Peas:

peas_podpeas_hands

Beach time!

Reason #160: beach season starts in June

Although you can be a hero and start dipping your toes already in April and May if you want, the water really only starts getting comfortably warm in June.

beach_hat_sea

How warm is warm enough, you ask? 21-23 C (70-73 F), for some. Locals won’t start going to the beach until July, when it’s 24 C (75 F) and higher.

Raining cats and … more cats

Reason #159: cats, kittens and pussycats

As cat people know, you can never truly own a cat. Here on Brač especially, as there are always cats running around or lounging; cats that everybody feeds and pets, but nobody keeps caged. They have it made!

On a less happy note, there have been instances of mass cat poisoning sprees. Basically, somebody leaving poison all over the village for cats to eat. Lots of people still mourn their friends who died in this way. Unimaginable, who would do such a thing!

Fast and Furious

Reason #157: driving too fast on the road Nerežišća – Supetar

There’s a stretch of a road just after Nerežišća, on your way to Supetar, that’s long and narrow. With most of Brač roads being twisty, this one long stretch just begs your foot to hit the gas pedal.

And that’s what many drivers do. And that’s why this road has claimed another couple of victims recently.

Please, be careful. Slow down.

long_road_nerezisca

Brac_map_road_Nerezisca

And a Google Maps link.

Oleander – so beautiful, so dangerous?

Reason #156: beautiful oleander trees adorn streets and seafronts

oleander_tree_street

Besides looking and smelling wonderfully, apparently, oleander trees can also be poisonous. The 1999 Janet Fitch novel, and later movie, White Oleander has the main character (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) uses oleander to kill her lover.

I can say for sure that nobody has yet died of oleander poisoning on Brač :)

oleander_trees_sumartin

oleander_tree

Things to watch out for when cycling on Brač

Reason #155: a few reasons cyclists might not like

Other than the usual things cyclists need to watch out for, here are a few that former mainland or city cyclists should bear in mind when coming to Brač and other islands in the region:

  1. Local drivers.
    Local drivers are confident and know the roads like the back of their hands, some of them, especially young guys, can be overly confident and drive too fast and too close past you. Coupled with their attitude that cyclists are a nuisance and that the road belongs to motorized vehicles, which many of them have… well, you get the picture.
  2. Tourists behind the wheel.
    This is such a mixed bag of surprises, you just have no idea what you’ll get. It could be a confident tourist from a cycling culture who knows exactly what to do. It could be one from a country with even less cyclists than Croatia, in a rented car, first day of vacation, freaked out by the Croatian driving culture – a cyclist suddenly appears behind one of the many bends – scary for both of you. Luckily, it doesn’t happen often, it’s mostly just in July and August, and you can even avoid it by minding the ferry schedule and staying away from the main road at those times.
  3. Dirt in the corners. 
    Winding roads are great, especially across a hilly landscape, such as here on Brač, but going downhill you have to be careful because each bend could hold a bunch of dirt, gravel or sand in the corner. Adjust your speed accordingly.
  4. Sheep.
    They hang out in the bushes by the side of the road sometimes. Then they freak out when you come along and jump right in front of you. Cos they’re stupid.
    IMG-20140222-01044
  5. Pitch dark.
    If you’ve never cycled in the countryside, listen up. In a populated area there’s always some source of light. In the countryside, on a moonless night, it’s completely dark, you can’t see anything. You can’t walk, let alone cycle. Make sure you have a powerful front light, preferably with a wider beam.
  6. Fake snakes.
    asphalt_fake_snakes
    If you’re afraid of snakes and you don’t have perfect eyesight, these asphalt stitchings could trick you, from afar ;)
  7. Real snakes. 
    Snakes can be a nuisance. They like the heat and the sun, so they come out onto the road sometimes. Most snakes on Brač are not poisonous and will therefore run off if you give them a chance. Just as with sheep, the worst thing that could happen to you on a road is that you get startled by one and fall off the bike.
    snake_dead_roadkill

 

Next: Things cyclists will love about Brač

Škuta… heavenly cheese. Thank you, Brački sheep!

Reason #153: Brač sheep make delicious cheese

As we know by now, Brački sheep are known for their delicious meat on a spit. Well, that’s not all you can get out of these lovely creatures…

sheep_malcom_brac_vidova-gora
Photos by Malcom a.k.a. Selca on Flickr

There’s also škuta. Škuta is soft cheese made out of sheep milk.

skuta_sheep_cheese

You can eat it straight, add it to salads, but the best, THE BEST way to eat škuta is to sweeten it up. Cut slices of škuta and sprinkle them with lots of sugar or pour honey over them. YU-UM!

Bulletproof Heart of Jesus by Ivan Meštrović

Reason #152: admire art by one of the greatest sculptors of our time

Srce Isusovo / Heart of Jesus by Ivan Meštrović adorns the Brač cathedral – Church of Christ the King in Selca. The great artist donated it to Selca in 1956 and local sculptors cast it out of bullet shells left over from the fighting against fascists in Selca during World War II.

What a poignant message of Love above all.

srce_isusovo
Photo courtesy of Tourist Board Selca

spomenici-selcakrist-kralj
Photo courtesy of Općina Selca

Ivan Meštrović, one of the greatest sculptors of our time, was so incredibly prolific that it’s nearly impossible to compile a complete list of his works of art scattered all over the world, in both public and private collections. This sculpture is practically unknown even to Meštrović fans, so it’s kind of a rare find.

Life is rosey ::: “Smell this!” series, part II

Reason #151: scented greeting at the gates

These particular roses have such a powerful scent. If you plant them at the  front of your garden, each time you walk in, you are greeted with a little olfactory ecstasy :)

red_roses_stone

As you know, I’ve decided to introduce a new category to this blog – “Smell this! series”. I’ve read that technology experts predict we will soon be able to convey scent through computers.

This post is for those reading in the year 2024. Go ahead, scratch and sniff your screen! ;)

“Armed shopping not allowed. Try next door.”

Reason #150: you can’t take your gun into a supermarket

Whether you see this as a pro or a con of living on Brač, there it is, you can’t do your grocery shopping while carrying a gun. At least not at the Tommy supermarket in Supetar.

no_guns_tommy_supetar
Photo by Tom Kelsey. Thanks, Tom!

Foreigners are probably shocked to see this sign, but Croatians are quite used to it, even though carrying guns is not common enough these days to justify the need for such a warning sign. It’s thanks to the war of ’91-’95 when many people owned guns (no longer the case) that we now have this odd rule as a remnant of that time.

My favorite is definitely the gun/ice-cream combo that can be seen inside the Zagreb railway station.

no_guns_no_icecream_zagreb
Photo by Anton Whittle. Thanks!

Roadside supermarket

Reason #149: pinch free seasoning on your way home from the beach

fennel_roadside

Koromač (fennel) leaves can be finely chopped and added to lots of refreshing dips. However, Bračani don’t do no dips, so if you want to do as the locals do, you will add fennel leaves when you’re boiling blitva (chard), preferably with some bob (broad beans) and a potato. Seasoned with just salt and olive oil.

Did you know that fennel is one of the main ingredients in absinthe? I bet it just got instant cred in your book, am I right? ;)

Rosemary is everywhere, too. Even if you’re not going to be marinating or baking anything that particular day, it’s great to just pinch a bit off, or even just run your fingers through it. Mmmm, lovely.

rosemary_roadside

Capers are also something you no longer have to buy in the supermarket if you live on Brač. Their bushes sprout from between the blocks of stone on old houses. More on when to pick them and how to preserve them another time.

capers_bush_stone

Fennel is great for decorating roadside posts, too.

fennel_roadside_signpost

Brač is no place hypocritical carnivores

Reason #148: to enjoy yummy meat you must face reality

Growing up in a big city often means that we are shielded from some facts of life. How we come by our meat is one of them. An anonymous lambchop on a plate is one thing, but knowing your lamb and seeing it on a spit makes things very real.

Living on Brač brings you closer to nature in every way, including the ways you might not have wished for.

From this…

sheep_malcom_brac_vidova-gora

to this…

janjetina_gazul_brac
Photos by Malcom a.k.a. Selca on Flickr

IMG-20140518-02473

and finally this…

lamb_roasted_head

Mintalicious

Reason #147: grow mint for your teas and cocktails

mint-bush

Mint grows like crazy and you can always have some fresh leaves for your cocktails, or…

Tie a bunch of them up, hang them out to dry. Once dry, separate the leaves from stalks and put them in a tin box or a jar. Make your own healthy cup of mint tea whenever you feel like it.

mint-leaves-dry

UPDATE

And here’s a recipe for a refreshing mint and lemon drink from Tom:

“Combine the juice from several lemons with some handfulls of fresh mint, add sugar and water (or simple syrup) then blend with some ice cubes. What a thirst-quencher!”

Pops of red

Reason #146: red poppies in the spring

IMG-20140519-02500

Brač is bursting with color in springtime.

Seeing how most of the flowers are either purple, pink or yellow, poppies and their blood red petals are a special treat.

Poppies growing in springtime. One of the many bays on Brač.

Brač has a big heart ♥

Reason #144: when tragedy strikes you can count on people here

In the devastating floods of May 2014 that have affected large areas of Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes and help was and is still needed. Everyone in Croatia has rallied and helped. The people of Brač were no different. Emergency humanitarian aid was raised in a couple of days and shipped off to the flooded areas.

The photos show just a portion of the collection activities. Some photos by: Pučišća FB page, braconline.com.hr

Not to paint too rosy a picture of Bračani, there is another side to this coin. A small number of people react to these kinds of situations with selfishness, nasty comments or look for self-interest and self-promotion. There will always be people like that everywhere, luckily their voices are quickly drowned out.

—————

To get an idea of scale and effect of the flooding, watch this powerful video by Robert Balasko

First Communion in Selca

Reason #141: nine year olds take part in a traditional Catholic ritual

Croatians take their Catholic traditions very seriously. And in the case of the sacrament of First Communion that means that in towns and villages across Croatia little nine year old girls and boys prepare for a special service in which they take their first hostia, i.e. the Body of Christ.

 

Brač is no different, of course. Even if you’re not religious it’s interesting and nice to go see this special service. Compared to most Catholic services this one is more cheerful with the children center stage, singing and performing.

The 10 boys and girls in Selca were really excited to take part in this ritual.

After the church service each child’s family holds a reception at their house. The child receives gifts, there’s lots of food and a special cake.

Here’s a short video that sums up the long First Communion service.

Brač Ice Ice Baby

Reason #140: Brač has its own ice brand – I dare any island in the world to top that!

Ice cube vending machine. It says “Brački led” / “Brač ice” on it. It also says to call the number for ice deliveries. Finally a weird and creative business idea.  I hope it takes off. IMG-20140519-02496 Erm.. what’s a dog got to do with the ice? It’s not even a Dalmatian. IMG-20140519-02498 Is it any good, you ask? Does it taste different? I wouldn’t know. I was too Bračanka to spend any money to find out :D ————————— This post wouldn’t be complete without this:

Flying off course to live on Brač, of course

Reason #139: Brač is so awesome that even river birds fly over from the mainland to live here

This little fella flew into a neighbor’s yard the other day.

IMG-20140518-02491

It’s a Little bittern. No idea how and why it flew all the way here.

IMG-20140518-02494

Then we checked out the wing span…. so that answers the “how” it flew all the way over here. But “why”… it must have been reading this blog and all the great pros of living on Brač. That must be it.

IMG-20140518-02489

If it lives around fresh water, looking at the map, the nearest river is Cetina. It would have been some 20km in a straight line.

brac_river

At the time the photo was taken we didn’t know which bird it was, except that it was probably a river bird. Sandy and Marijana gave us the name. Thanks, guys!

Springtime roadkill

Reason #138: snakes come out to get a sun tan and get squashed by cars

This time of year is the best chance to run into snakes. They like to come out onto the road and soak in the sun, to their detriment. snake_brac_roadkill

I took a bunch of pics of dead snakes, a lot more graphic than this, entrails and all, but was advised that not everyone would appreciate them :)

This place is bugged!

… but in a more literal way than in spy movies.

Reason #137: smelly millipedes in your house

If you’ve lived in urban areas all your life and now you’ve moved this close to nature, this will be something to get used to. You will find lively, crawly creatures in your house from time to time.

These are my least favorite ones. They’re very crawly and they smell. They smell especially bad if you touch, squish or hurt them in any way.

IMG-20140330-01345

Here they go by the name smrgorke, but I couldn’t find anything under that name on the internet. They’re millipedes and they’re harmless. That much I know.

Found one in my bathroom the other day. They always look for water, so you tend to find them there.

IMG-20140409-01497

I’ve tried different ways of killing them. Picking them up gently will still cause them to release the smell. So my latest technique was to spray them with toilet cleaner. That kills them and seems to stop the smell from getting too bad.

They don’t seem to show up in the summer at all. And new houses and properly insulated places probably don’t have this problem at all.

You have been warned, though.

What’s so special about Croatian limestone?

Reason #136: there’s something special about this limestone

I bet if we asked a bunch of people here to use just one word to describe this island most of them would say – stone (Croatian: kamen)

limestone
Photo courtesy of the Tourist Board of Selca

As in limestone. As in, we’re surrounded by it, everything is made out of it, people work with it, live off of it, we love it, we hate it…. stone.

IMG_7637

One of the many stone quarries on Brač.

IMG_7662
Photos by Anton Whittle. A man who loves hanging out in Brački quarries :)

It’s not just Brač, a good portion of the entire country is made up of limestone. Here’s an article that explains it: Wisegeek.com – What is so special about Croatian limestone?

The article mentions that the White House (THE White House) is made of Croatian limestone. To be precise, it’s only the Oval Office, and it wasn’t just any Croatian limestone, it was the best kind. Yes, you guessed it – Brački kamen ;)

Diocletian: “Come back to Rome, are you crazy?!”

Reason #135: living on Brač makes you feel like a Roman emperor

The legend has it that after Diocletian retired from being a very successful Roman emperor and moved into his palace in Split, Rome was in trouble and so they asked him to come back and run the place again. To this Diocletian supposedly told them: “If you could see the raštika* growing in my Palace garden, you wouldn’t be asking me this.”

That pretty much sums up how I feel when someone calls to ask when I’m coming back to Zagreb. Without the part where anyone there needs me to run the place, though :D

The view of raštika from my Palace in Selca:

IMG-20140513-02382
As mentioned before, the credit for anything growing in our garden goes to my amazing Aunt Nada.

*raštika is collard greens in English. More on this yummy plant in this post: Planting your own multi-vitamin (raštika).

Scenic coastal cycling route Supetar – Pučišća

Reason #134: dip your toes in the Adriatic while riding your bike (almost)

Brač offers tons of cycling routes, with various difficulty levels, vistas and sight-seeing opportunities. This is one of the loveliest and most scenic of all: Supetar – Splitska – Postira – Pučišća.

IMG-20140510-02261

A good portion of this route is at, or just above sea level. It takes you through bays, beaches, villages and even vineyards.

You can take paved road all the way, but if your bike can handle it, I recommend going partially off road (between Splitska and Postira, and between Postira and Lovrečina).

Don’t forget to take your swimsuit and a beach towel with you.

supetar-pucisca-route

A special thanks to Davor Cvitanić for the route tips :)

You can always contact me if you need more specific information about this or any other route on Brač.

Japanese mock-orange tree ::: Smell this series, part I

Reason #133: this Japanese pretends to be an orange and smells wonderfully

I’ve decided to introduce a new category to this blog – “Smell this! series”. I’ve read that technology experts predict we will soon be able to convey scent through computers.

This post is for those reading in the year 2024. Go ahead, scratch and sniff your screen! ;)

IMG-20140512-02379

You barely notice these trees during the winter, but once they start blooming you realize – they’re everywhere!

Pittosporum tobira is a tree native to Japan and it’s also called Japanese mock-orange. The scent is similar to that of an orange tree, but I would say it’s even stronger.

IMG-20140512-02380

Although I love it and would gladly hug one all day, I can imagine that, as with all powerful fragrances, not everyone does and that they can’t wait for the season to be over.

Limestone oases

Reason #132: get yourself a sinkhole and plant a crop

IMG-20140506-02209

Deserts have their oases and karst topography has sinkholes where fertile soil is found. Soil is otherwise scarce on Brač, as it’s mostly made of limestone.

If your land plot has one, you’re lucky because you don’t have to dig up too many rocks to find soil. And the soil found in sinkholes is usually very fertile, too.

To give you a bigger picture, a large part of Croatia is made up of karst topography. The most notable area is Plitvice Lakes, a National park that’s on the UNESCO Heritage listing for this particular reason.

Hang me out to dry. Gladly.

Reason #131: life on Brač is a real-life laundry detergent commercial

The sun is shining, the air is clean, the wind is blowing… yes, washing your clothes here feels like you’re in a TV commercial for Ariel washing powder.

IMG-20140507-02227

Not all year round, of course. There are wet, cold Jugo days when you can hang your clothes out for days and they never dry. But there’s always another sunny day just around the corner if you wait it out.

IMG-20140405-01400
Some clothes were hurt during the making of this commercial.

Roses are red… and yellow and white and pink and…

Reason #129: grow a garden full of beautiful flowers

With this wonderful Mediterranean climate on Brač there’s lots of warm and sunny days all year round and that means anyone can grow just about any plants and flowers they want.

Disclaimer: my anything-but-green thumbs are not in any way responsible for this garden. Aunt Nada is the wizard behind this magic. I just get to wake up to it every morning. That’s a pretty rosy deal, as far as I’m concerned.

Pučiške krafne – doughnuts made in heaven?

Reason #128: Pučiške krafne – enough said

It’s debatable whether this is a pro or a con of living on Brač. It depends on whether you care about getting fat and whether you possess the necessary willpower to keep a potential addiction under control. I don’t, but I still would not want to live in a world without Pučiške krafne. Ever.

IMG-20140506-02173

Krafne are similar to doughnuts and they’re a very typical Croatian pastry available at any store or bakery. The dough is usually filled with marmalade, jelly or chocolate. The Pučiške krafne are shoulders above any other krafne, in my book. They come in two flavors: chocolate and marmalade.

Although you can get them anywhere on Brač, it’s best to come visit Pučišća and enjoy them there, as god intended ;)

IMG-20140506-02174

It helps if you’re going to get on a bike afterwards and burn them off.

Pučiške krafne are made at the Grikula pekara in Pučišća, Brač. Each morning their truck delivers these and other baked goods to stores all over Brač. Make sure you ask for the “Pučiške” since all krafne look more or less the same. But they don’t taste the same.

PS I’m now told the best way to try them is warm, straight out of the oven. I have a feeling someone will be camping out in Pučišća this summer ;)

No thyme for Scarborough Fair

Reason #127: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme

Hiking or cycling on Brač in April and May you feel like you’re in flower heaven. Colors and smells are fantastic. Sage and rosemary are practically everywhere you look. And with parsley in your garden, you know what that means… you can’t help but hum Scarborough Fair as you go ;)

IMG-20140506-02186
Sage in the wild

IMG-20140506-02190
Growing out of a rock

IMG-20140506-02214
Sage planted to decorate public spaces 

IMG-20140127-00924

IMG-20140222-01038
Rosemary. This was taken back in February when it was in bloom.

IMG-20140505-02151
Parsley in our garden

Now all we’re missing is some thyme. Obviously we can’t show up at the Scarborough Fair until we have all four. The guidebook tells us it’s definitely here somewhere, so off I go:

IMG-20140507-02222

————————–

Scarborough Fair by Simon & Garfunkel

Guidebook to 103 wild plants on Brač

Reason #126: now you can use a guidebook to find all the amazing plants in the wild

Dalmatia is bursting with amazing flora, tons of plants, flowers and herbs. Islands, such as Brač, are especially rich and relatively untouched ecosystems.

Now there’s a fantastic pocket guidebook available to us nouveau-locals and visitors. “Vodič za šetnju prirodom – 103 samonikle biljke otoka Brača” (Hiker’s guidebook – 103 wild plants of Brač)

IMG-20140507-02224

internet-ponuda-biljke

Kudos to the authors Tija Mlinac and Marisa Škaljac. Here they are promoting the book at the public library in Selca:

samoniklo_promocija

plants
Photos courtesy of knjižnica Hrvatski sastanak 1888, Selca

You can buy the guidebook at public libraries on Brač, or online: Purchase info @ super affordable 50kn

Nautical hibernation

Reason #125: some boats get to have a nap over the winter

Some on the beach, sunbathing their bottoms…

IMG-20140222-01036

Some smack in the middle of their owner’s olive grove. Why not.

IMG-20140506-02177

Not everyone takes their boat out for the winter, but most people do. It’s just easier that way and less maintenance. Plus, winter weather can be harsh and if your boat is not tied up properly a rough bout of Bura or Jugo can do serious damage.

Working man’s beans

Reason #124: eat May 1st bean soup in great company

May 1st is a national holiday in Croatia – International Workers Day and it’s a custom to have a group outing or a picnic, cook a huge pot of bean soup and have fun. It’s an old socialist tradition that is slowly disappearing, but on Brač it’s still alive, luckily.

If you’re going to join one of these bean soup eating festivities, you can go for one of the urban, public events such as the one in Supetar where you could be served by the cool new mayor Ivana Marković…

gradonačelnica-supetra-fazol
Photo source: Ivana Marković FB page

… or you can go old-school and have a picnic at 600 m above sea level, up on the Vidova gora mountain, with the great folks from the “Profunda” hiking club.

IMG-20140501-01615
Master Chef stirring the meat and the beans: Jurica a.k.a. “Lola”

IMG-20140501-01645
The line forms quickly :)

IMG-20140501-01642
The trick is to scoop out your ideal proportion of soup, beans, sausages and meat. 

IMG-20140501-01647

Second helpings are not at all frowned upon, but some room should be left for the dessert. Great news, there’s always dessert in Croatia :)

The hardest part of a May 1st outing is getting back home when you’re completely stuffed and relaxed. Fortunately, when you’re at Vidova gora you can always say: “It’s all down hill from here”.

Shopping center? What’s that?

Reason #123: there are no shopping centers on Brač

In an era of excessive consumerism and when family lifestyle in big cities often sadly centers around visits to shopping malls, it’s so refreshing to live in an area without any.

And to get to the nearest one in Split would take all day and two boat rides. Excellent!

Yes, I’m sure that many locals disagree with me and would love to have a shopping mall on the island, but fortunately enough Brač is too small of a market for investors to get any return of ka-ching. So, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see one. Phew!

Photo submitted in evidence of non-existence of shopping malls. I dare you to zoom in and find me one ;)

IMG_8745_corr_s
Joking aside, if you do look closely, you’ll see a man building foundations for a very non-shoppingcentric structure there. 

Martin Kukučin – a doctor, an author, a Slovak and a Selčanin

 Reason #122: Slovakian author lived here and wrote about life on Brač in 1900

Martin Kukučin is a famous Slovakian author, medical doctor by profession, who lived in Selca 1894-1907 and wrote about the life and the people.

kukucin

His real name was Matej Bencur. He was born in 1860, in Jasenova, Slovakia. In 1893 he received his medical degree and his friend Marko Didolić, a Selčanin who owned a winery in Prague, talked him into moving to Brač. He moved to Selca in 1894 and became the local GP.

Dr. Bencur took care of all the inhabitants of Selca, Zaseoci, Povlja, Novo Selo and Sumartin. He was popular and well respected. “He tirelessly did the rounds, covering this large area on his donkey, his ‘terrain vehicle’. He not only treated the poor free of charge, but also helped them out by providing means to eat more healthily.” (Jerčić 1985:7)

He was proficient in the Selca dialect. This gave him insight into the customs and the daily lives of the locals.

The good doctor married a local gal, Perica Didolić who was 19 years his junior.

perica

This marriage solidified his ties with Selca. He was very well accepted and considered one of their own by the locals.

kukucin (2)
The commemorative plaque on the Selca main square

Even though he published articles in Slovakian papers throughout his stay in Selca, the locals knew him as the good doctor and knew nothing of his literaly double-life. He didn’t brag, obviously.

His famous novel Dom v stráni (Dom u strani) depicts life in Selca at the turn of the century.

expo_blue_kniha5

And he’s immortalized on a special commemorative 10 Euro Slovak coin, which is pretty cool for a Selčanin ;)

kukucin (1)

 

 

Ferry rides to and from Brač

Reason #121: riding the ferry can be anything you want it to be

372672718_73bc54054c_z When I first thought of living on Brač the fact that I had to get there by ferry each time seemed like a hassle. And it sure can be. But I’ve also since come to embrace the positive aspects of it. So, let’s do another pros&cons list. But first let’s watch this fun video:

And now the pros&cons list…

Cons of ferry rides to and from Brač:

  • they take a long time (50 minutes!)
  • the tickets are kind of expensive (pricelist PDF)
  • tickets for bicycles are ridiculously expensive IMO: 38kn
  • you’re stuck, you can’t go anywhere for an hour
  • the wi-fi is there to tease, but you can’t actually log onto it
  • if the weather is bad it’s not as fun
  • if the wind is really strong, especially on the Sumartin-Makarska side, the ferry won’t run

Pros of ferry rides to and from Brač:

  • they’re not that long (just 50 minutes)
  • if you live on the island you pay half the price for everything (people, bike, car)
  • you can’t go anywhere for an hour so you can get a lot of things done: read, work, write blog posts, chat with people, play cards, think, meditate, people-watch, etc.
  • you run into people you know and hang out
  • you can sit outside and enjoy the sun, even get a tan
  • you can sit inside and enjoy the A/C
  • there’s a bar
  • there are toilets, with toilet paper
  • there’s a tv and if you love soaps and the news, you’re in the right place

Here’s a great page (unfortunately, facebook) with lots of pics and videos from all the ferries to and from Dalmatian islands, including Brač: Uživo s dalmatinskih trajekata / Live from Dalmatian ferries

Brač has its The Voice: Glas Brača

Reason #120: compete in a singing talent show

glas_braca1

The participants were chosen through auditions in elementary schools and they sang Croatian pop songs.

Check them out, they’re adorable:

Check out the video medley with this year’s participants:

Although this latest craze with talent shows is a relatively recent thing, since the Idol, The Voice, CountryX’s Got Talent, etc… However, this talent show has a much longer tradition. It used to be called Pjevači amateri and was conceived in Selca by Zoran Vrsalović Peci.

glas_braca

All the photos courtesy of Dalmalino. You can find lots more here.

Kudos to the organizer – Dalmalino and Zoran Vrsalović Peci – on a great effort. Hopefully Glas Brača becomes a long-standing tradition once again.

Za križen – Following the Cross

Reason #119: follow the Cross in a traditional Easter procession

Za križen is a procession ritual, part of the Catholic Easter tradition observed in Dalmatian towns and villages.

The start of the procession varies. In Selca, Sumartin and Novo Selo it starts on Friday morning. The three villages start at their own church and walk to the next village and back. Without running into each other.

The Selca procession starts at 6 am.

IMG-20140418-01559

It follows the old road to Sumartin

IMG-20140418-01562

At the same time, the procession from Sumartin heads to Selca, but via another route, so that the two processions never meet.

IMG-20140418-01578

The Selca procession arrives in Sumartin and is met by Roman soldiers who escort us to the church of St. Martin. The march of the soldiers is eerie and impressive.

 

IMG-20140418-01567

IMG-20140418-01565

IMG-20140418-01572 IMG-20140418-01573

zudije_sumartin
Photo courtesy of  Žudije Sumartin.

Here’s a tip for those who intend to join Za križen for the first time: try to be at the front of the procession, where all the singing and the decorum is happening. If you hang in the back it can be annoying and the magic is lost, as most people chat and instead of thinking of Christ and His suffering, they’re more interested in “Whose house is that? Check out those curtains!”, “When was the last time he trimmed his olive trees”, and such.

In the evening we gather in Selca again, for another service and procession. The streets of Selca are lit up by torches and people sing hymns all the way. It’s beautiful.

Change of guards at the tomb of Jesus in the church Krista Kralja in Selca.

IMG-20140418-01587

In the video you would have heard a loud, rattling noise. That would be these:

skrpajka

Rachet or škrpajke are carried in the procession (by kids mostly) and at certain points the procession stops, the singing stops and on command all the rachets make noise in unison.

Although many Dalmatian towns and villages observe this tradition, the most famous and reportedly the most impressive Za križen procession is the one on the island of Hvar. It even made the prestigious UNESCO Cultural Heritage listing.

More on the Easter tradition in Selca and Sumartin in this post: Easter ritual of Žudije – Roman soldiers

Saint John Paul II in Selca

Reason 117: one of the first statues of saint John Paul II

This morning, Pope Francis canonized Popes John XXIII and John Paul II.

papa2
Artist: Kuzma. Kovačić; photo courtesy of Tourist Board Selca, by Daniel Troha Photography

John Paul II was revered by Croatians. The people of Selca built a statue of him back in 1996, out of gratitude for his support during Croatia’s bid for independence.

And today they celebrated his canonization.

papa3

papa4
Photos courtesy of selca.hr

Same old, same old

Reason #116: life can be monotonous by comparison

It hasn’t gotten to me yet, but people keep warning me about this – life on Brač, or any island and any rural area, can get a bit repetitive and monotonous. At least for those who are used to a life in the big city.

You keep seeing the same people, the same scenery, your routine doesn’t vary much from day to day.

And of course, the same old scene at local cafes.

kapelica
Photo by vankufer