The Dalmatian coast is often referred to as the “romance coast”. Due in part to the quiet tranquil waters of the Adriatic, an equal measure of modest sincere surroundings, nothing pretentious or gawdy arrainged here to overwhelm the senses. Just the pure majesty of His heavenly handi-work, fringed by a crystalline blue sea. That is the Dalmation coast.
Dalmatae: a tribe or people group associated with sheep raising culture, the origins for the final name given this eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. Once a much larger body of land than what it comprises today, reaching further south than present day Albania, and on important region to Roman history. Milini, a tiny village located in todays southern end of Croatia, the birthplace of Constantin, the man credited with bringing Christianity to Rome and for Canonnizing the Holy Scriptures. Gently rolling and thouroughly rock strewn hills are carpeted in schlerophylis shrubs and plants. Few trees exceed 20 feet in hieght, and most are closer to 10 feet. It seems that every plant is designed to rent the flesh of passersby, by the thorny maw that festoons each limb. One brief walk into untamed while wearing cycle shorts will quickly hail a retreat…….only to get back to the roadside and then notice the “warning minefield” sign just 50 yards yonder.
Attributting to the color and clarity of the eastern shores of the Adriatic are reasons several fold. For one, these shores lie very much protected from the ravenous actions of its Atlantic ocean mother-in-law. The softened and mellowed mediterranean climes produce less storm action than in other areas around the globe. The Adriatic’s far lying geographical position within the Mediteranean, ensures that it has a lower salt content, this fact combined with huge inflows of fresh water that have been percolated and purified thru limestone on its journey towards its final destination ensures its chrystaline clarity and rich blue coloration. Like no body of water I have ever witnessed before.
The predominance of Croation soil is poor and mostly untillable, by some accounts as much as 70 percent falls into this catagory. What can be grown on this poorest of land seems to be olives and certain wine grape varietals. Though not in huge numbers, these crops are seen with regularity to be sure. Where rock strewn ground gives way to areable land, then all form of row crop and fruit tree are seen. The hardscrabble land, clotted with limestone rock, which forces grasses to grow in clumps as and where it can find room to take root. The grass is rich, and produces richer flavor yet in the dairy product produced from its yield. One such product known world wide and much sought after, is “Pag Cheese or Paski Sir locally”, considered by many to be the supreme sheeps milk cheese in the world. Thats alot of territory to take in with one block of cheese……further proof that somhewhere along the line Croates are somehow related to Texans. Another of infamy would be “Prsut or sun cured hams and backstraps”, this rich flavor-filled regional delicacy is a part of every celebration in Croatia. Traditionally made in the fall of the year when dry cool coastal temperatures allow slow curing which draws out the flavors and richness.
Currently, I sit in Zadar. A city located north within the Ilurian region of Croatia. Life within Zadar can be traced back to the stone ages by way of tools, bones, fossils remains, and some recently found concho die plates made from old washers. Gosh, and we thought we invented that stuff. Very few spurs worn here in Croatia thru days of old when horses in war ruled……no model T car axles to make spurs out’a. So, they rode into battle bare heeled, natural. The adriatic, the romance coast. Of that we shall soon findout, as my darling bride arrives tomorrow to join me for 8 days of travel and liesure, not even a fleeting thought about my trusty bike as I have found it safe harbor for it’s moorings while we take in Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and portions of Bosnia. So now you know why the wide smile, the light heartedness, the almost giddy demenour that have overtaken my rain soaked soul, the women I love and married thirty some years ago will join me on the Romance Coast.
PS- a little heads up for those traveling abroad in Europe and close proximities. On most occasions when I need a room I simply search out a motel/hotel. In Belgrade I mentioned I found a cheap but very nice apartment right in the heart of old town and was really impressed with it. So, while in Zadar, I tried my luck again, and have to say, that for less than half the price you get a very nice homey feeling and equipped apartment. The apartment that I am in now as I sit and write this taradiddle, lays but 100 meters from the Zadar harbor foot bridge, the red tiled rooves of medievil buildings and Cathedral domes decorate the view of the sky from out my living room window. Hard to beat at $41.00 per night. So, keep that inmind should you ever be traveling over this way in the future. Good night and God Bless.