Quirky stuff on Brač: car door as garden gates?

Reason #142: car parts don’t get thrown away, they get up-cycled

That’s someone’s garden…

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And that’s a car door…

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Is it supposed to be the garden door? Does it lock? Can you roll up the window? These are all valid questions we need answers to.

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)

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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.

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One of the many stone quarries on Brač.

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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 ;)

Limestone oases

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

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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.

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 ;)

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Sage in the wild

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Growing out of a rock

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Sage planted to decorate public spaces 

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Rosemary. This was taken back in February when it was in bloom.

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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:

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Scarborough Fair by Simon & Garfunkel

Sign your name across my… beach

Reason #99: if you’re ego trippin’ you can carve your name into a rock (but please don’t)

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Brač stone is relatively soft, so it’s great for sculpting and carving. I’d rather you didn’t practice this skill on my beach, but if you’re a cocky adolescent desperate to impress a girl (or a boy), I guess you can’t really help it.

Lame, Božidar. Really lame, dude.

And not particularly skillful either.

Natural stone mosaic patio

Reason #87: find pieces of rock in the woods and build a patio

Step 1: go out and find flat pieces of rock such as these: IMG-20140316-01281 Step 2: make friends with a couple of great Bračani guys such as these, to help you carry the rocks, joke and have fun with the whole thing: IMG-20140316-01280 Step 3: have a car such as this one that you don’t mind messing up, then load the rocks into it: IMG-20140316-01279 Step 4: find a skilled Bračanin such as this one, who knows what he’s doing and enjoys what he does: IMG-20140316-01282 Step 5: take coffee breaks such as these, to enjoy the whole thing properly: IMG-20140316-01284 DIY geeks, you may want to see a short little video showing finishing touches on the mosaic:

Saint Anthony watches over us

Reason #74: St. Anthony will make sure you don’t get lost in the woods

St. Anthony of Padua, patron saint of lost stuff and people.

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“Saint Anthony, pray for us!” it says on the iron cast door.

Catholics are into their saints, as you might already know. And Mary, of course.

On Brač that means that you will often find chapels and altars such as this one. Most of the time they’re built spontaneously by people. Either on their property, or just along paths and roads.

This one of Saint Anthony is one of my favorites. It’s so DIY and imperfect, yet so organic and fits in perfectly.

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If anyone local is reading this and knows who built it, please let me know. Thanks!

 

Bunja – Stone huts

Reason #71: stone huts to hide from rain when you’re in the field

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Photo above by Selca. Thanks, Malcom!

If you look carefully in the fields, vineyards and olive groves you’ll still find plenty of these on Brač. Bunja is a hut created by piling the rocks found in the field that had to be cleared in order to get to the soil. You have to remember, soil is hard to find on Brač, and rocks are ev-ry-where.

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If Peter Jackson ever runs out of locations in New Zealand…

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They were built by farmers and shepherds as shelter from the elements.

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Nowadays people don’t use them as they don’t spend all day in the fields anymore. But I think they offer a great spot to come to, relax and contemplate the past; times when life was much simpler, definitely harder, but also healthier, in some ways.

Hercules

Reason #57: the Greek god Hercules is part of Brač history

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Photo source: Supetar Tourist Board

In Ancient times inhabitants of Brač worshiped Greek and Roman gods. Romans used the beautiful white stone from Brač to build their palaces (including the Deocletian’s palace in Split).

The stonemasons and quarry workers worshiped Hercules as their God of choice, their Main Man. It was a total bromance. Hercules was cool; strong, a bit wild, but chose the path of good, hardworking… just what you want in a god, right?

So, they carved him out. In stone, obviously.

There are three stone reliefs of Hercules on Brač. In the old quarry of Rasohe, near Splitska, you can see a relief of Hercules still in the rock (the photo above). Artistically speaking it’s not a very sophisticated rendition (probably done by an apprentice) but it’s really cool to see.  The other two can be seen in the Škrip museum (Muzej otoka Brača).

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One of the Hercules reliefs at the museum in Škrip

The Rasohe quarry is worth seeing, in my opinion. It’s a nice 2km hike that starts in Splitska and ends in the quarry. More info here.

And now on a less serious note, here’s a little taste of Hercules, Hollywood style: