My name is Andro Tartaglia, and I am an ExperiencePlus! tour leader and country coordinator for Croatia. People are often curious about Croatia and what life is like here so I thought I’d share my idea of two perfect days in Split (my hometown) and Brač, the largest Dalmatian island and located just south of Split.
Friday begins early, I jump out of bed, get dressed, brush my teeth and walk seven minutes to the fish market, where I begin my discussion with fisherman about politics their families, and the day’s catch. The market is always a little bittersweet for me because it reminds me that the old dialect and traditional lifestyles are slowly disappearing from our area. As with most of the world, technology is everywhere – smart phones, laptops, wi-fi, emails…too often it feels to me that the virtual world is taking over.
But for now the market is here and I’m on the hunt for 2 kg of the freshest sardines of the day. My efforts are rewarded and I hand them over to “Zila” so he can clean them – he’s charges about 3€ per 1 kg of fish which is well worth it and will save me a lot of effort and time. I bring the fish home and before I get lost in my daily routine in the virtual world… responding to emails, working on schedules and tour planning I start the sardines marinating. I am not eating them right away because they are better when the flavors have had a chance to meld with the juices. Needless to say this meal will be for tomorrow…
After a good night of sleep, I jump out of my bed (again!), brush my teeth, and this time I take my bike, marinated sardines and head to the ferry bound for Supetar on the Island of Brač. It is a 45 minute ferry ride which is just enough time for me to wake up, have an espresso and read the newspaper. I arrive in Supetar where a friend joins me and together we’ll pedal the same route that we do on Days 4, 5 and 6 on the ExperiencePlus! Islands of Dalmatia trip – of course we won’t be stopping to see the highlights along the way because cycling is not our only agenda today.
It is already 10 AM and the sun feels strong as we bicycle along the almost flat road to Splitska. It’s a beautiful coastal road with amazing views of pebble beaches, the mainland, olive groves and vineyards. Splitska has been a key port town since ancient times and the famous white Brač stone has been a key commodity over the centuries and has been used to build several famous structures including Diocletian’s palace in Split, and parts of the White House in Washington D.C.
We continue cycling and pass the fisherman’s village of Postira, the shepherd’s village of Dol, and carry on to our first climb to Pučišća. Pučišća is famous for its stone carving school – one of the last in Europe. Sadly there is no time to stop and we immediately begin the 500 meter climb to Praznice where we take a short break to catch our breaths and enjoy the shade of the olive tree located adjacent to the bocce field. We are soon on our way and head over the high plains of Brač, passing the village of Gornji Humac, and finally just after Humac we are at the top of our climb! From here it’s ten glorious kilometers downhill to Bol. The view opens and we can see islands Hvar, Vis, mainland, Korcula, Peljesac, Lastovo…but on this particular day we are not focused on these amazing sites instead we are looking for white caps on top of the waves. If we see them we know it’s going to be a good day for windsurfing.
The white caps are there and we hurry down the road, enjoying the never ending descent to Bol where my friend owns a surf center. We rig up our sails in record time and enjoy a 4 hour windsurf session, and relish our breaks on Golden Horn beach -one of the most beautiful beaches in Croatia.
Bol is the most popular windsurf location in Croatia and the Maestral wind is at its peak in May, June and July. The Maestral blows between 12 and 18 knots, and it picks up slowly, so it is great wind for beginners. I invite you all to join the ExperiencePlus! bicycling tour along the islands of Croatia where you too can bicycle from Postira to Bol, enjoy delectable sardines, and take the afternoon to try windsurfing. In Croatia, there are no big waves, so the only way you can surf is if you mount a sail on your board…what do you say?
Andro’s Recipe for Dalmatian Brodetto – Brujet
Dalmatian brodetto is a popular meal and very easy to make. It is considered to be peasant Mediterranean fare and has a genuine aroma and tasty fish. You can use any kind of fish, but the best brodetto is made using an assortment of strong flavored fish such as dent fish, sea bass, grouer, conger eel or tuna. In a pinch you could also use fresh sardines and though the flavor would be milder than if you used a fish mix you will still have a really nice meal especially if you serve it with polenta or pasta.
INGREDIENTS ( Serves 4):
1 kg mixed fish
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup tomato paste and 2 cups fresh tomato
2 tblsp wine vinegar
2 tblsp chopped parsley
salt & pepper to taste
Cut the bigger fish into slices, leaving the smaller ones whole and flour slightly.
Chop the onion, sauté in the oil. Add the fish and sauté. Add the minced garlic and parsley. Add some salt and pepper , tomato paste and some sliced fresh tomatoes. Cover the fish with water and bring to a boil before adding the vinegar.
Cook for 30 minutes, letting it simmer over medium heat. Do not stir just shake the pan gently so the fish does not fall apart.
Cook polenta in salted water with some olive oil and laurel leaf.