Wednesday 30 March 2016

Lost on Lastovo

Lastovo is known as the island of stars, but for reasons I shall go into, for me it will always be the island of pink. It's been on my list of places to visit but its reputation for remoteness is well deserved. Five hours on a ferry makes a weekend trip possible but not ideal, however the ECA and their small but growing fleet of seaplanes now offer an easy and quick option for a flying visit. There had been talk of a seaplane service in Croatia for many years but it took until late last year to get going. But with an out of season service being more like a private taxi, I'm sure it will take off - no pun intended - and be very popular during the summer.

Lastovo is a collection of islands and its environment is protected by law; in 2006 the Croatian Government made the island and its archipelago a nature park. The islands have a fascinating history and it generally mirrors the story of Croatia as a whole. It has been inhabited since the late Neolithic period and the first traces of humans on the island have been found in the Rača cave . Illyrians, Greeks, and Romans all made their mark, and "villae rusticae" (residential farming units) and water wells known as "lokve" are evidence of Roman ingenuity. However although agriculture was always important, the fertile island has seen war and conflict from the 10th century until the mid-1990s.

Friday 18 March 2016

Croatian Painting on Glass; and other tales

M Hodge "Bear's Dream" 2012
It's taken me a year to finally get around to this piece but it somehow seems appropriate writing about painting on glass under the clear light of the Adriatic, where colour bounces around with the sharp precision of painstakingly applied oil paint. This so-called naïve method of painting came to my attention last April when I met a modern master of the art at a British Croatian Society event. Melanie Hodge is the reason why, out of the two museums I visited in Zagreb, one of them was the Croatian Museum of Naive Art.

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Croatian Culture and Civilisation part 1

Death of the last King of Croatia
I've decided to put my Croatian Culture and Civilisation notes here because they are slightly more serious in tone than stories about me being ridiculous on my travels around the country. Given that I will be examined about this course, it makes sense that it gets written up - though there may be more academic information available. As I've already said, the first Croatian Culture and Civilisation class I attended emphasised the mix of cultural influences: Illyrian, Celtic, Greek, Romans (with their associated enforced mixture), then Slavs and Ottomans. Like anywhere in the world it has seen tumultuous population changes and a large diaspora, which needs to be seen against a background of local, national and international events and developments.