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.

Nautical hibernation

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

Some on the beach, sunbathing their bottoms…

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

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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.

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 ;)

 

Isolation

Reason #54: living on an island can cause a sense of isolation

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Photo source: NASA

Although Brač is relatively close to mainland (16km from Split to Supetar, and in some places not more than 5km to mainland) and there are multiple, daily ferry connections that take you to mainland in under an hour, it’s still an island, it’s still surrounded by water, you can’t just leave whenever you feel like it.

Unless you’re born and raised on an island, moving to one as an adult will take some adjusting. It could be a good thing, you might actually like that sense of isolation and restraint. Or, you might hate it and feel cut off from the rest of the world. Or anywhere in between.

It’s just something to consider before moving to an island.

Where am I on that scale? I’m actually surprised that I’m not feeling cut off or limited in some way. I don’t particularly enjoy the fact that I can only leave the island on some predetermined schedule, or that sometimes I can’t leave at all (strong winds), but it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. It actually feels worse if I can’t get back to Brač from mainland. Now, that’s saying a lot.

And comparing this to living in Taiwan… although Taiwan is an island, I think because of its size and the fact that from Taipei you can’t see the ocean, nor the mainland, to me it just didn’t feel like I was living on an island. I know some other ex-pats there feel differently though.

Prickly and edible

Reason #23: you can prick yourself on a sea urchin (and you can eat it, too)

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The bad news is that this stunning creature’s armor consists of incredibly sharp and thin “needles”. If you step on one, the needle goes into your flesh and breaks off, making it really hard to remove. I will usually get them out with a sewing needle myself, but to first-timers I suggest getting a nurse to do it.

The good news is twofold:

  1. there aren’t that many of them. In fact, at most beaches you won’t even see them.
  2. the water around Brač is so clean and clear that you can easily see them and avoid stepping on them :)

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Warning aside, if you’re really careful and touch them gently, you can actually pick them up in your hand. They will move in your palm and tickle you. It’s very nice. Put them back where you found them when you’re done, though.

Unless you’re going to eat them :D

Jugo (the wind)

Reason #6: jugo weather is damp, dreary and makes you coo-coo

Jugo (you-go) wind blows from the southeast. It’s strong, rather warm and moist. In other parts of the Mediterranean Jugo is called Sirocco and it originates in Africa.

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The Makarska-Sumartin ferry braving the Jugo weather in January.

Jugo is one of the two most important winds in Dalmatia. The other one being Bura. You can’t live here without knowing everything about them and how they affect your life. And affect your life they DO :)

Jugo and Bura are in total contrast. I will be writing a separate post about that.

Jugo is part of folklore in Dalmatia. Similar to California’s Santa Ana winds, Jugo too has a reputation of making people go nuts. Not sure if official statistics support this, but people will tell you that suicide rates go up, as well as domestic violence incidents.

My Dutch friend Diana will tell you that if you’re having a bad day, or just not feeling like yourself, it’s probably the Jugo. And so she’ll just wave off and say, „Ah, Jugo!“. Even if she’s back home in Holland :).

Strictly speaking, there are two types of Jugo. There is also a less moist, less dreary version. This post is about the typical kind.

Pros of Jugo:

  • it’s a good excuse for not doing something properly,
  • or for picking a fight with your spouse,
  • the air is relatively warm (compared to the cold Bura air).

Cons of Jugo:

  • clothes won’t dry outside (Croatians don’t have dryers),
  • it’s cloudy and grey,
  • it’s likely to rain,
  • the sea is turbulent,
  • it can affect your mood and mental clarity,
  • it reminds you of old wounds, bad joints and many other ailments.

My first experience of proper Jugo weather since I’ve come to Brač has been worse than I expected. Apparently I’ve inherited this from my mom and her mom, Nona Jube – it’s a particular susceptibility to Jugo. I’ve been feeling almost flu-like symptoms: achy body, joints, headache, lightheaded, weak muscles. Yay!

Song Jugo by Guliano and Marijan Ban: