Tourism – Treat or Threat?

The travel industry is growing at an unprecedented pace with numbers increasing from 1,2 billion to 1,8 billion in the very near future. It also accounts for 10% of the world’s GDP, provides 1/10 jobs and is responsible for a massive carbon footprint due to airline travel. To encourage people to travel less is hardly an alternative since it is a valuable resource in developing countries some of which would be deprived of much-needed income if it were radically reduced. Besides, we expand our knowledge of the world, become more tolerant of other cultures, enrich our lives by experiencing new destinations first hand and escape the ignorance bubble of thinking that all we need to know about the world is on our doorstep. But this industry is in dire need of decoupling from abusing resources.

Drinking from a stream in Croatia

Choosing to sail by ship to our country of choice, is simply not an option due to time restrictions. The suggestion is not that we should all start travelling by boat but what if this is so, holidays could be extended to become ‘staycations’ in stead of just ‘vacations’. Here’s how:

  • Companies should get involved in work programmes whereby they transfer their employees to foreign places together with their families, to work and live there for periods of 6 months or more. The enrichment such an experience would bring to the table is immeasurable.
  • Visas should be lengthened beyond the current 3 month maximum.
  • Sabbaticals should be a requirement

And while we’re thinking of how we could gain from all this, what about the residence in these highly sought after spots that we so eagerly invade? Some villages, cities and countries, some with tiny populations, get overrun with tourists during high season. Resources are overwhelmed with all the demands made on them and it becomes all too easy for the traveller to complain causing angry rebuttals from locals who are then branded as ‘unfriendly’.

If you’re a visitor in a foreign country, that is exactly what you are, no more. We may dream of ‘staycations’ but if our holiday extends for a short week or maybe two, we should all be painstakingly aware of how we conduct ourselves.

Request:

No change of towels during your one week stay

No change of sheets

Use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign and make your own bed, or not!

Where the bottle deposit is

Added to this:

Take your own trash home with you especially in places where recycling is minimal

Use containers for toiletries and cosmetics that can be reused over and over again

Eat and drink locally produced products

Eat less meat

Travel by land if possible using bicycles and public transport rather than renting a car

Travel light and carry your own water bottles

Treat your hosts with respect even in the face of frustration

Look into the projects that Future Camp is involved with and join their community of believers by checking out their Living Lab Hotel and their Zero Waste Hotel to reduce your carbon footprint and expand your mind in stead.

Links: Future Camp 

Living Lab Hotel

Zero Waste Hotel

You’ll Never Be Hungry – Croatian cuisine

… in Croatia!

I don’t know about you but to me, one of the great pleasures of traveling is sampling local cuisine. Did I say sampling? It sounds a bit like small portions and that’s definitely not what you might come across in Croatia. Go on a diet before you arrive ‘cause you’re gonna need it.

The hundreds of ancient cook books at Staro Puntijar has been fully utilised by the owners of this restaurant in Zagreb. Here’s a sample (sic!):

Štrukjli soup – a blob of cottage cheese wrapped in a kind of pastry sitting in the middle of a broth.

Pletenica – rich, and meaty braided pork and bacon

“Birling” steak – veal coated in egg and pine with a lemon sauce

Mixed salad – ubiquitous throughout Croatia consisting of several vegetables, some fresh, some pickled and eaten with the main course

Apple dumpling stuffed with a gooey mixture of nuts and cinnamon doused in a red wine sauce.

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             “Birling” steak

Samobor is just outside Zagreb and picture-postcard pretty. Here you’ll find:

Kremsnite – a custard cake that sits precariously on a the lightest of light pastry, served warm. (Between you and me, the Zagrebians like to claim it too but they serve it cold – unacceptable by Samobor standards!)

Sparsely inhabited Lika County sports national and nature parks and prides itself on the fact that it has the cleanest river in Croatia called the Gacka, richly inhabited by trout. Pre Krasno Retreat makes sure that we taste it in all its shapes and forms – carpaccio, risotto, plainly grilled with olive oil, the best of them all. Throw in sweated swiss chard and potatoes and you’re in for a treat.

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Local, local, local – we’re in Gospič at Zlatna Potkova, a real country restaurant.

Salted potatoes with the skin on, all puffy and fluffy

Sir – fresh, light sour creamy type stuff

Sheep’s milk cheese – delicate and nutty

Barbecued organic lamb and believe me, you can taste the difference

Pita – scrumptuous Cottage cheese filled pastries for afters

ls7-DezdtvInEliiWK_m-opQH8FB5umOv36IqKCw1r4=w636-h477-no             Štrukjli soup

We leave the farmland behind and head for the Dalmatian coast.

Burin, little brother of the mighty bura wind that leaves destruction in its wake, lifts your spirits and keeps you cool in this scorching part of the world. Restaurant Burin is a fresh breath of air.

Owner Zvonko has roped in the whole family to run this little joint.

Octopus salad is for some reason or another, not the rubbery offering you so often have to crunch your teeth into, but tender and moist and perfectly delectable.

Kuvač – monkfish starter retains every bit of this tasty fish’s flavour.

Pasticada – slices of meat marinated for 2 days and smothered in a sauce made up of blended vegetables and other yummy things but it’s the homemade pasta that pulls this dish together.

If you possibly have room, the cheesecake melts in your mouth and teeth become redundant.

DSC01475 copy                                                         Octopus salad

Bukara Restaurant in Drvenik is the pride and joy of internationally acclaimed chef Niška who takes me into a back garden, makes a hole in the heap of beach pebbles, flings in two octopi, covers them up with same stones, makes a fire on top and leaves it there for 1,5 hours. In the meanwhile, we clean fresh fish together, crank up a cuttle fish stew with bacon, stock and white wine and have a sip of Dalmatian banana rakije, the local hooch. It turns into a celebration of food if ever there was one.

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                           Octopus fresh from the coal-topped hole in the ground

Croatia’s full of it. They have their own ecological version of Fleur du Sel made on the beach at Zivogošće, the methods of cooking are old, tested and tried, the ingredients couldn’t be fresher or more local, and the finished product is kept plain and simple. No butter, no cream, just plenty of delicious, locally-made olive oil – good for the heart and soul.