Croatia: The Mediterranean as it Once Was
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- Population: 4,475,611
- Capital City: Zagreb
- Climate: Mediterranean and continental; continental climate predominant with hot summers and cold winters; mild winters, dry summers along coast
- Time Zone: GMT+1
- Language: Croatian (Official)
- Country Code: +385
Croatia is as the Mediterranean once was. It is one of Europe’s lesser known gems—but one of the most beautiful. With over a thousand islands, vibrant cities like Dubrovnik, quaint villages with stone-and-red-top buildings…there is much to see in Croatia.
I am a full-time travel videographer, which means I get paid to travel the world and shoot videos for travel companies. I’ve been doing it for the past 10 years and I’m now making about $80,000 a year at it. Being a travel videographer is a dream job. I had always dreamt of going on safari in Africa and capturing the wildlife with my camera.
A warm, clear blue-green sea lapping long, sandy beaches… Families eating and laughing together over slow, relaxed dinners with lashings of good food and even better wine… If you’ve ever watched a movie set in the Mediterranean, you might believe the region is solely a playground for the rich—the romping ground of Hollywood starlets like Brigitte Bardot. Scratch the surface and you’ll discover that is definitely not the case—an adventure in the Mediterranean could be yours for less than you might think.
During the second Chinese Opium War, in the 1850s, a penniless teen named Cheong Fatt Tze fled from China to Southeast Asia. There he would make his fortune as a merchant. He became so wealthy that he earned the moniker of “Rockefeller of the East.” Tze owned many fine houses throughout Southeast Asia, but none was as extravagant as the Blue Mansion, on the tropical island of Penang off the coast of Malaysia. It’s a colossal beacon of 19th-century Chinese extravagance
And so I nearly always find myself choosing to explore Europe by train, even if it sometimes takes a couple more hours and a few more dollars. I’ve traveled this way for years, both when I lived in the States and visited Europe between jobs, and now that I live here in the Swiss Alps. And I’ve discovered that, even though I love nearly every train ride I’ve taken, a few routes stand a little taller than the rest… they unfold more beautifully and leave attentive passengers more breathless than the average ride through the countryside.
This train ride weaves its way along the coastline of Italy and then France, offering striking views of the ocean, the seaside cliffs and candy-colored towns of the Cinque Terre, tiny harbors, and hillside vineyards and olive groves. Towns seem to tumble down cliffsides into the Ligurian Sea where boats bob at anchor. En route watch out for the chiming towers of Riomaggiore and picture the sleek Genoan war galleys that plied this coast 500 years ago.
A popular expat hub, the Belizean island of Ambergris Caye is no stranger to visitors. From August 6 to August 8, the island welcomes an influx of a different kind, as performers and artists from across the Maya world descend on Ambergris for the International Costa Maya Festival. This colorful event is a spectacle of music, dance, and food, as the region’s Maya ancestry is celebrated in vivid style.
The glittering, cerulean Mediterranean. Not a bad view every morning as you enjoy coffee and croissants from your terrace. Life is good. Sunny days. Freshcaught seafood. Crashing waves your lullaby every night…or for those drowsy, afternoon, after-lunch siestas. And salt-scented breezes keeping things cool.
This morning, I awoke to bright blue skies, crisp autumn air, and the slow, muted clanking sounds of cows wearing big metal cowbells and moving down the street just outside my window. You see, today I am living in a small town in the Swiss Alps. It’s October, which means the farmers are bringing their cows down from the high altitudes and into the low fields and warm barns for the winter. The air smells faintly of fields and campfires. And aside from the bells, all is quiet.
Like so many from the U.S., when I daydream about traveling through Europe, I always imagine myself on a train: speeding quietly through the countryside, over the mountain passes, past charming, ancient towns, or along the shores of a massive glacial lake. Other forms of transportation—with their two-hour pre-flight check-ins, their bumpy, uncomfortable buses, and their too-close-for-comfort seating arrangements—always feel like a hassle.
For decades the Iron Curtain divided Europe in two. Folks in the U.S. and Western Europe were afforded only glimpses of life in the Eastern Bloc. The political situation severely restricted travel. And half of Europe became an uncharted and unknown land. Then the Berlin Wall fell and a dozen or so nations opened up, embracing new freedoms. Visitors were welcomed and discovered a history going back thousands of years, regions of untouched natural beauty, and a seriously low cost of living.
Make your way to the Italian city of Siena for Il Palio on July 2 and witness 10 bareback riders charge through the streets as part of an ancient religious tradition. The Corteo Storico pageant precedes the race and celebrations go on long after the winner has passed the post.
If you’ve decided to buy a boat and live the cruising lifestyle, you have all the same questions we did. Where do you start? What makes a good boat? How much will it cost? Where do you shop? The first thing you need to do is research. Back when Al and I bought Carina the Internet was in its infancy. We did it the old fashioned way, with print publications. Now things are much easier with a vast amount of information online.
Before I arrived in Croatia, people told me that it was one of the most beautiful places in Europe. “If you love Italy, you’ll love Croatia,” they said. “After all, the Croatian coast is where the Italians go to vacation.” Most of Croatia’s coast is along the historic Dalmatian region—a place that perfectly meshes Italian and Eastern European inspirations in architecture, food, and even language. I based myself in Split…
Europe may be the second-smallest continent by land mass, but it’s extravagantly diverse in geography, climate, language, and culture. From the flamenco-dancing south of Spain to Rembrandt’s tulip-filled homeland, to the rugged cliffs of Italy’s Mediterranean coast, it’s equally rich with opportunity…for gracious travel…comfortable living…even for good-value investing.
Before I arrived in Croatia, people told me that it was one of the most beautiful places in Europe. “If you love Italy, you’ll love Croatia,” they said. “After all, the Croatian coast is where the Italians go to vacation.” Most of Croatia’s coast is along the historic Dalmatian region—a place that perfectly meshes Italian and Eastern European inspirations in architecture, food, and even language.
Imagine living in Europe, Africa, or Australia and earning a living while traveling around and discovering the continent. Sounds too good to be true? Well this is exactly what I have been doing for about six years now. I started off in Africa because I had always wanted to go on a safari but could never afford it.
In medieval Europe, keeping an eye out for and guarding against invasion—a frequent occurrence in those days—was no easy feat. But one of a nobleman’s greatest defensive weapons was a castle perched on a rocky hilltop near an important mountain pass. The location itself—surrounded by steep cliff—offered protection.
For thousands of years skiing was just a way to travel in winter, carry mail and goods to snowbound towns, or—believe it or not—charge into battle. Then in the mid-19th century the first races took place and before long enthusiastic amateurs had taken up the sport.
As the ferry approaches Brac Island and Supetar, its toy-town “capital,” the blues fragment into shimmering greens and turquoises. In the harbor, the water is so crystal clear I can see fish. It’s like gazing into a magic mirror. Today, Croatia is pulling out all the stops. Trees froth with blossom, fields are speckled gold with wildflowers, and there’s the scent of summer in the air.
Blue becomes bluer, every shade from sapphire to cobalt. Sea merges with sky. The intensity of blueness is almost too much. It’s as if the Adriatic has fallen into the clutches of a Photoshop enthusiast with an uncontrolled passion for color saturation.
Everyone dreams of vacations. But accommodation, food, and transportation all add up. In the current economic climate, low cost is good. And “no cost” is even better. Here are some suggestions to save on your next vacation
In 2002, Jeff Martin was busy running his successful law practice in Massachusetts. “I was having no fun at all,” he says. The only thing he did enjoy was scuba diving.
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Embassies and Consulates Embassy of the United States of America, Ulica Thomasa Jeffersona 2, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia; tel. (385)1-661-2200 or (385)1-661-2300; website: www.usembassy.hr. The Embassy’s American Citizen Services unit assists Americans with passport renewal, registration of Americans living in Croatia, birth reports for children of American citizens born in Croatia, voter registration, income […]
Visas and Travel Requirements On Jan. 1, 2004, Croatia introduced new residency and entry laws for foreigners. With EU entry in mind, these are similar to the laws of existing EU member states. For a trip lasting up to 90 days within a six-month time frame, North Americans do not need a visa […]
Croatia is often dubbed “the Mediterranean as it used to be” or “the new Tuscany.” But are the accolades justified?
Many tourists travel in Croatia to take advantage of the many beautiful beaches The best time to travel in Croatia is between May and September. In general, the country has hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Breaking it down: northern Croatia has a continental climate, central Croatia has more of a mountain […]
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