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What’s your percentage?

When you think about Mediterranean, one of many associations will probably be the Mediterranean diet and olive oil as one of its main ingredients.
Right now at the beginning of November and until end December is the time of the year when olive tree fruits ripe and are ready for harvesting.

However, the olive oil is not the only product of this famous Mediterranean tree; namely just before riping, still green olives are harvested. Then every single fruit has to be pounded, normally with a meat pounder. This is a very sensitive part because the olive has to crack but keep its shape. The olives are then kept in water for three weeks and the water has to be changed every single day so that the olive bitterness is minimized. In the last phase, the olives are conserved in jars together with fennel and bay leaves, poured with boiling water – 10 days later this tasty delicacy is ready to be served and is an infallible sidedish for all Christmas time meals and parties. It pairs best with prosciutto, red wine and homemade cheese.

Even ripe, black olives are an excellent delicacy; at the time of harvest the bigger, fleshy, dark fruits are chosen, then salted with flaky sea salt and shortly roasted in the oven. Having its own specific taste and seasoned with a few drops of olive oil, make a perfect snack or a side dish.

The olive leaf is also extremely valuable – its tea has so many proven benefits for human health, especially as a prevention of infectious diseases.

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Tea of olive leaf is served at our Kazbek hotel

But let’s continue with the story of olive oil: the harvesting is probably one of the easiest works in agriculture; it doesn’t require any significant physical effort. However, it can be something challengings with old, high trees (did you know that in Croatia there is the olive tree which is believed to be 1600 years old and is located in the National park Brijuni, Istrian peninsula – source Wikipedia)
Immediately after harvesting, the olives are processed. It’s interesting to mention how it was done back in history in the old mills. The olives would be placed in a stone pool and pressed with another round stone turned by water stream or donkeys. In another phase, the paste which would remain out of pressed olives would be put in hand knitted bags and squeezed by a special device which was done by human strength. In the last step, the olive oil is separated by pouring boiling water over the bags.

 

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Nowadays, the olive oil extraction is significantly easier and faster with the help of modern technologies.

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Olive oil extraction

Talking about the ratio, 1 kg of olives brings from 10 – 25% of olive oil depending on olive tree sort, weather conditions in that year, location, the age of olive tree… And this is what our title refers to – a very common question in local conversations these days is: “What’s your percentage?” , meaning how much olive oil did you get from your olives this year.

If your travel plans bring you to our part of the Mediterranean in the future at the time of olive harvesting, join our team and take part in it. You will certainly have fun just like we did a few days before.

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KENOVA? An essential Dubrovnik ritual decoded

One of the harder things to pick up on when just passing through a region is to sound like the natives. Everyone knows how appreciated (and funny) it is when you try to use their language, dictionary in hand, trying to decipher the correct pronunciation. But no dictionary will ever help you with the subtle differences that you sometimes notice when moving from one part of a country to the other.

Dubrovnik introduces a great experience language-wise. In general, the sound of Croatian spoken here is beautifully rounded, slow and melodic. It is also intriguing that most people, both men and women, have deep, low voices which sometimes makes it difficult to tell words apart. Still, nowhere else are entire words used like here, mixed up with authentic expressions found only in this region.

One warning is necessary, though, when in search of the Dubrovnik patois: most of the staff that works here over the summer season is from a completely different part of Croatia – if you ask them what Kenova stands for, you might just get a blank stare and a wave to the colleague that hopefully holds an answer.

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It is that more confusing because a good number of places bear an original Dubrovnik word for a name: Pantarul (fork), Moskar (hand fan), Kopun (rooster), Preša (haste), Đardin (garden), Makarul (type of pasta), Lucin Kantun (Lucy’s corner), Orsan/Arsenal (shipyard), Tavulin (table), Buža (hole), Poklisar (ambassador), Portun (entrance), Karaka/Argosy (Dubrovnik galleons) and so on…

Dubrovnik traditional boat Karaka

A Dubrovnik-type galleon called Karaka in the Old Town Port, next to the arches of the Arsenal, shipyard – now a restaurant

Throughout history, languages like today’s Italian, Turkish and German influenced our language strongly – the ties with powers like the Venetian, Turkish or the Austro-Hungarian empire are illustrated in these examples; that is why so many words are recognisable to our main guests and are easier to learn than their Croatian equivalents. Funjestra (window), skalini (steps), marenda (brunch), fen (hairdryer), palačinke (pancakes), krevet/postelja (bed), pamuk (cotton) are just some of the words that have been integrated into the everyday spoken language of the Town.

Celenga Apartments by Pervanovo, Dubrovnik

Funjestra, Dubrovnik word for window – a view to the street and your neighbour’s kitchen (view from Celenga Apartments)

So what does Kenova mean? Kenova is as authentic as the city walls of Dubrovnik – it is the one frequently asked question you don’t really have to answer. It is shouted out instead of a Hello, whispered when you accidentally cross paths with someone in a narrow street. Obviously influenced by Italian as Italy is just on the other bank of the blue Adriatic sea – Kenova directly asks what is new in your life.

A regular conversation goes like this: « – Đe si, kenova? – E, a evo, ide pomalo.. / u preši sam nekoj, ne pitaj.. Kod tebe? – Dobro je! Adío! – Adío!» – This loosely translates to the following: – Where are you («Đe si» pronounced like Jessie, derived from «gdje» – where, used only in Dubrovnik), what’s new? – Oh, you know, it’s going… («pomalo» stands for another local philosophy of «taking things easy») / I’m in a bit of a hurry, don’t ask… How about you? – All good! Adio!/Bye! (Adio is also taken from Italian and, like Ciao, is used regularly.) – Adio!/Bye!

Kenova asks you to share your life’s events with fellow citizens. It is done out in the open, in form of a short break between errands you need to tend to, no fuss, just point and shoot. Those more intimate questions that ask how you are or how everyone is doing are reserved for relationships that are closer or for an occasion like a cup of coffee over the weekend.

You see, Dubrovnik people live in a tight-knit web. Grad, pronounced with a round “A”, like in broad, is a term used by the locals for Dubrovnik. Stari Grad is Old Town, so Grad is Town, City, Dubrovnik. And in this Town, everyone knows everyone. Kenova is the reason why. Some people are just naturally more curious than others and they perfected this art of casual catching up, Dubrovnik style.

For this reason, in particular, try to pay attention to the gestures and tone in which two locals participate in this little ritual – use your intuition and enjoy the theatre unfolding before you. You will be proud of how much you got to understand a language that you thought you barely spoke.

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Springtime kick-off the right way

First days of spring knock on the door. Meteorologically only, of course – we need to wait a few more weeks for real spring to start. The trees grow new leaves and the daffodils bloomed, too. Dubrovnik was showered with heavy rain in the morning but already by early afternoon the wind changed direction, the air became crisper and the humidity went away. The remaining puddles of water mirrored the sun’s reflection and the city soon buzzed with life again.

All of a sudden, there seems to be something new going on in Dubrovnik. The long beauty sleep is finally finished, all the dreams people had for the Town are coming true. Even though the time of the mascarade is over, the main street and the old port still wear a disguise.

Just like with Game of Thrones, Star Wars or the Indian spectacle Fan, Dubrovnik is once more the perfect set for another long awaited blockbuster: Robin Hood: Origins. The preparations lasted longer than usual, the scaffolding and the decor for the film-shooting grew in shape slowly. This gradual development allowed the locals to use their imagination about how it might all look like on the big screen.

Set up of Nottingham on Stradun

Stradun becomes Nottingham

Film tourism - Dubrovnik

Robin Hood filming in Dubrovnik

Hollywood movie shooting in Dubrovnik

View to Robin Hood filming from our Domino Apartment

Now, the newspaper headlines and social networks are full of juicy titles and photos featuring the stars of Robin Hood: the Academy Award-winning Jamie Foxx and the very popular Jamie Dornan. The filming is undergoing day and night on different locations, parallel to the everyday town life. The film is set for release by end of March 2018 and Leonardo Di Caprio, another famous Oscar awarded actor, will be producing this atypical interpretation of a well-known classic. All the facts point to a major success; Dubrovnik is again honoured to play a significant role in the process.

Tourists are a rare sight to see, but not completely absent. There are enough connecting flights and accommodation options but the most important part is the weather. It is much better than in most European countries! There are some surprises from time to time, but the average winter temperature of 10°C/50°F and plenty of sun exposure vouch for a relaxing weekend getaway.

Snow in Dubrovnik in January 2017

Dubrovnik Winter Wonderland (photo by 2THESign)

What could attract you to visit Dubrovnik during low season is the fact that you can do it even on a tight budget – the basic prices are much lower than the very popular summer months. An added bonus that is definitely an important highlight: you do not need to elbow your way through the crowds and all the beauty of the city and its surroundings seem almost heightened by the quiet tones of the mild springtime sun.

The openness of the space around you and the simplicity of the locals’ lifestyle will enchant you. Everything seems to move at a slow pace, the mood is lighter, the smiles on peoples’ faces genuine. When you are not hunting for a glimpse of a famous Hollywood star or researching the museums for more stories about different habits, rituals and cultural heritage, you will be out and about.

If you are a food enthusiast, keep in mind that March is the perfect time to be in this region! The oyster season is celebrated in Ston town on St Joseph day, March 19th. The oysters from Ston are unique in the world, small in size but full of flavour; a true delicacy enjoyed only in Croatia.

 

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Oyster Festival in Ston

 

Those first-hand impressions of faraway places stick with you forever and spark the curiosity to find out some more. So, for this spring keep Dubrovnik in mind.

Feel the soul of Dubrovnik on the Day of Saint Blaise

February 3rd, the most significant day for all Dubrovnik citizens is just behind the corner. Learn more why the people of Dubrovnik love their patron, Saint Blaise or locally knows as Sveti Vlaho.

Blogging by Pervanovo group, Dubrovnik

Christmas, Easter, New Year…yes they are all important and rightly have their place on the Dubrovnik calendar. However, there is one day in Dubrovnik that puts all these in the shadow, the Day of St. Blaise. To start to explain the significance of St. Blaise for Dubrovnik and its citizens would…well let’s just say that you could fill a novel. Here is a brief story on why the people of Dubrovnik love their patron saint. You will often hear that St. Blaise, or St. Vlaho as he is locally known, is known as the protector of Dubrovnik, there is a reason behind that.

Dubrovnik by night, st. Blaise church St. Blaise church in Dubrovnik Old City

The year was 971 and Venetian war galleons had dropped anchor near Dubrovnik and requested to stock up their ships with water and supplies. It looked harmless but was the cover for a cunning plan to capture the city…

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Christmas in Dubrovnik

My New Year’s Resolution: Travel the World!

In 2017 I will definitely visit Dubrovnik!
«Dear Passport,

It is that time of year again. The weather is grey here and I miss the Sun. I think we should head down South together and give life to a whole different New Year’s experience!»

…if this is what you catch yourself thinking when taking a long commute to work or while looking out the window from your sofa, we have an invitation for you: Come to Dubrovnik!

One way you will know you are in a place where people like celebrating is the almost mandatory dress-up no matter the time of day. Hairdos are modern, stiletto heels high, the men elegant in blazers and fine coats. You would think everyone is attending a wedding somewhere but in fact, it is just a way to enhance the merry atmosphere. Newest trends in eyewear are demonstrated, too because: Yes, it is really sunny here, you do need them! Official statistic backs this up: both in 2015 and 2016 we have had rain-free Decembers. The other giveaway to the end that is near are the firecrackers blasting off everywhere as soon as it gets dark. It is a local way to ring out the old and ring in the new year.

Holidays in Dubrovnik

Sunny and bright holiday season in Dubrovnik

The huts in the Old Town are here to stay, this time spread more evenly in different locations. They offer handicrafts and bites from different Croatian regions but do try the drinks as well: a warming cup of baked fruit tea with a delicious scent of orange with cinnamon at Stradun or head further to Gundulić Square for the crafted beers from small and unknown Croatian breweries.

The youngest citizens have not been forgotten either – all the glowing, colourful statues are in place, smartphones are clicking photos endlessly. We have to admit, even grown-ups take selfies with the Bear. The amusement park in the port of Gruž is fun for the whole family too.

Christmas in Dubrovnik

A photo with Teddy the Franko is a must

The Tourist Board of Dubrovnik offers an overview of events here:
http://www.tzdubrovnik.hr/lang/en/calendar/0/index.html

Should you opt to greet the New 2017 outdoors like the bravest of them all, leave the dress-up for another occasion. You need to be warm and ready to dance, jump and shout your way into a better future. The fireworks from the old Belltower are half as spectacular as the Sydney ones, but what you really need is a loved one to watch the sparkly lights with and a kiss at a stroke of midnight, surrounded by cheery natives.
When all the partying is set aside, the most important part of the event becomes obvious: before the end of another successful year you count your blessings and share them with the World. You make room for all the good you will give and receive in the next, so reward yourself, take your passport and click to confirm your trip
we are expecting you!

Dubrovnik in Christmas spirit

Festive season in Dubrovnik

Wines of the Dubrovnik region – bottled poetry

A day without wine is like a day without sunshine. The story of wine in Dubrovnik and the surrounding regions is one very much entwined with the passage of the society, the development of the econo…

Source: Wines of the Dubrovnik region – bottled poetry

Wedding in Dubrovnik, Croatia
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Happily Ever After starts in Dubrovnik

How weddings became The Thing to Do

Many people come to Dubrovnik to admire the best known UNESCO site in Croatia, many more to see the Game of Thrones filming locations, but what stands out as a trend now is to get married in this historical setting, paved with polished stone and breathtaking facades. How could one resist the allure of such a perfect stage? When flying in, the shimmering blue sea opens the scene to a city carved in the cliffs, surrounded by walls built centuries ago and filled with distinctive red rooftops.

Dubrovnik as seen from plane

Arrival in Dubrovnik

The bell towers of churches ornated in styles of renaissance and baroque announce the beginning of another love story. Every year, couples from around the world come to inhale this magical atmosphere and walk hand in hand down Stradun, the main promenade where no person is spared the attention. Picking a time to take photos of that special day has become a demanding task – Dubrovnik is always full of people! Nevertheless, when a Bride to Be starts walking towards a camera, everyone around smiles and lets her enjoy her glory. The fact is that those are going to be outstanding and unrivaled photos.

Weddings and honeymoons in Dubrovnik

Just married

Wedding planners, hotels and all the necessary arrangements can be found with ease. Organising such a joyous ceremony has become a matter of prestige and more and more people want to engage in making it as perfect as possible. The choice is yours, from a traditional wedding in one of many churches like the patron St Blaise’s and then a dinner on a lush hotel terrace or something more laid-back like a beach wedding. Why not consider sailing into the sunset, literally, on board a real 17th-century galleon replica, (maybe even with a pirate theme)? How about saying I DO on top of mount Srđ with a post-card view of the whole region? If you want a big celebration or just an intimate gathering of the people you hold most dear, Dubrovnik has the choice for you.

Wedding ceremony at the Kazbek hotel, Dubrovnik

Cheers to the Newly-Weds

Croatian Wedding Traditions

The locals favor their own traditions: most weddings take place Saturdays and then the bells are ringing all over town. The custom demands that the groom’s party comes to pick up the bride at her parents’ house with a lot of music and singing to set the mood. The road to the church and then to the dinner venue must never be repeated and every car honks the horn during the drive to chase away any bad spirits. You will often see the couple enter the church together and walk down the aisle accompanied by the best man and maid of honor. When exiting as newly-weds they are showered by the crowd with applause, flower petals, rice and more singing – sometimes even rain is considered welcome as it is a sign of a prosperous marriage.

Since the locals need to find a different location for their honeymoon and not many spots compare to Dubrovnik’s beauty, the choice is hard. It is almost enough to just take time off work and enjoy the romantic setting of the town where they fell in love in the first place like so many couples come to do.

Honeymoon at Hotel Kazbek, Dubrovnik

I DO in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik has the ideal aura for all things romantic – weddings, honeymoons and special anniversaries. It is a small town full of charm, its hosts do their best to make you feel right at home. How not to think about coming back again on that significant date, relive a moment that is all about a perfect union? After all, your happiness is key to Have and to Hold – Dubrovnik will always give its finest for your adventure to be remembered as your most remarkable yet.

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Dubrovnik, a perfect background for your wedding photos

Photographs courtesy of Ana, Sandra and Kristina