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 ;)

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.

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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.

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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! ;)

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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.

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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

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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.

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.

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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.

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Photos courtesy of selca.hr

WWII Partisans remembered

Reason #105: the Selca elementary school is dedicated to the fallen Partisans

Elementary school in Selca was built in 1982. and dedicated to the local men and women who were killed in World War II on the side of the Partisans – National Liberation Army.

The plaque and stone relief inside the school:

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“Besmrtni kao ovaj dragi kamen. Uspravni jarbol u plovidbi vijeka. Vi ste ovih zora svjetlo i znamen.”

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“Spomen školu podiže narod ovog kraja da bi svjedočila pokoljenjima kako se rađala sloboda ove zemlje. 

My grandfather’s name on the commemorative plaque – Vjeko Štambuk (Miloša). He died in 1945. Just days before the war ended.

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Truck heaven

Reason #100: Brač is a great place for kids and grownups who love trucks

Because of the Brački stone industry and because there’s a lot of building and transporting going on, there’s also trucks galore.

Old, abandoned and rusting trucks:

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Active MAN-ly trucks:

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Red, blue, green and yellow trucks:

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And it wouldn’t be a Brački truck if it wasn’t loaded with Brač stone:

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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.

Get away from billboards and neon advertising

Reason #94: miles and miles of billboard-less space

One of my absolute favorite things about living on an island like Brač, after having lived in cities all my life: there is hardly any advertising, especially no billboards and neons.

Look to the north…

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Look to the south…

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All clear.

OK, some can be seen in a few of the bigger places on the island, especially in and around Supetar. And a few more will pop up during the summer, targeting thousands of tourists who visit the island in July and August. But that’s still nothing.

But some people might miss the sight of big city advertising. Some people might get super annoyed at the kinds of alternative sights Brač has to offer… Such as…

Bob Squarepants & friends balloon fest. Really annoying, all those happy faces…

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Pizza place advertising. For a pizzeria that hasn’t been open in years. So that’s annoying…

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Street name plates in stone. If you don’t like stone, it’s really annoying…

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Art at the side of the road in Novo Selo. Really annoying, as all art should be closed inside galleries…

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Mess behind a mechanic’s in Radonja, plus, trash container advertising. Really ugly annoying. Everything in the world should be tidy and neat…

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UPDATE: I checked yesterday, this particular mess has been cleaned up. So, that’s annoying. But there’s definitely other messes out there, don’t worry.

Same goes for this old Fićo (Fiat 600). Rally old and annoying…

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This cageball sign written by hand. Cost nothing probably. That’s annoying…

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My uncle’s socks in fresh air and sunshine. Annoying…

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This hand painted sign advertising a restaurant in Povlja. How annoyingly adorable and unique…

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Some joker mocking poor cows. Annoying when someone has a sense of humor…

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This guy’s selling home made vine in Postira. With a home made sign for it. How annoying…

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Annoying cyclists who are amused by their own shadow…

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Bags of olives waiting to be taken to the press. Annoying stuff. Olives should be seen only properly packaged in jars with fancy stickers on them…

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Trees in meadows. No advertising anywhere. How annoying…

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Donkeys. Just standing there. Not advertising anything. Probably annoyed because of it…

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So, there. If you think you’ll miss looking at billboards while stuck in a traffic jam and inhaling exhaust fumes on your way to work, you definitely shouldn’t move to Brač ;)

 

Home Depot? Bauhaus? No. Neighbor’s back yard.

Reason #93: building material can be bought from someone’s back yard

Although for some stuff you’ll have to go to one of the proper stores on the island or mainland, some stuff can be bought from “a guy”. Such as this guy’s back yard, offering firewood and roof tiles (special, Brač stone roof tiles).

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And how do you know which guy is selling what? There are no classifieds, you’ll see no ads for them. Just ask locals at one of the usual hangouts.

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:

Coin tossing game

Reason #52: it doesn’t take much to have fun

This game with the catchy title: Whose Coin Lands Closest to the Wall Wins has been played by many a Selca schoolkid.

The best thing about it is that you can play it just about anywhere.

All you need is two people, a wall and a bunch of coins.

You stand at an agreed distance from the wall, you each throw a coin of the same value towards the wall. The closest one to the wall (whether it bounces off or not) is the winner and takes the other one’s coin.

You play until one of you runs out of coins, until you get bored or until your parents yell at you to come home.

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The best place by far to play the WCLCTTWW game is the entrance to the Selca church. Especially when it’s raining outside and you have time to kill before the mass. 

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This is the proper distance to the wall…. I wonder what Adolf Schlauf up there thinks about the whole thing.

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Our coins landed and mine won. Yay!

Hvala, Galaksija! :)