Wine and olive oil sampling in Istria is worth whatever time you can give to it. The wine is as good or better than much of what you'll find in southern Europe and the best of it never leave Istria or Dalmatia so if you can get there and visit the vineyards, you're in for a treat.
We happened upon an olive harvest and shared with the group their fun more at us I think but we did not really care. It's a novelty for us who did not grow up in olive growing countries.
Olive oil maybe a salad dressing for much of the world but in Istria it is a religion. Hours can be spent assessing colour and aroma.
Heritage towns can do so much more than just polish up vintage architecture and burnish the museum exhibits. The challenge is to turn significant history into a living part of today. Congratulations Split!
With a group like Dalmatian Klapa, the traditional music of the region comes alive and creates a really solid link between today and history.
Singing outdoors in what seems to be a perfectly designed open dome that suits their voices, the Group add energy and humour to their very professional voices. The tenor, of course, is the lead but the wonderful support of the other 3 singers gives him a perfect base to present exciting music.
The presentation is free although you're welcome to buy one of their CDs. For Japanese, Korean and especially Chinese tour groups who may not have heard this style of music before, it can be a revelation. It is the only time we have ever heard silence from an Asian tour group. One Filipina said it was like music from heaven but it's not the staid, old Gregorian music. It's the energetic summary of village experience and it is the definition of toe tapping and smiling engagement.
The songs aren't long so the tour guides don't stare at their watches but if you want to lean against a brick wall at the back of the Dome, you can listen to a variety of music and really feel the energy and happiness of the singers.
If they catch you humming ro bom-bom-booming, you're co-opted into the quartet and invited to burble along in the deep background.
What are the experiences that you remember after seeing your umpteenth Roman ruin or another small museum? What you remember is what engaged you and involved you and lets you become part of the history as a participant and not just a spectator.
The Dalmatian Klapa group and others like it in other cities are doing this and changing tourism from a passive following of the flag bearing guide to a much more active appreciation of the environment of history.
The idea of disruptive technologies is not new. A city wall for protection, 6 meters thick in places, 25 meters high, parapets, gun embrasures, moats, and then, someone invents the mortar, the Howitzer, the aerial bomb. The wall doesn't protect, it traps the population.
Still, for tourists, it creates a wonderful "Games of Thrones" world where you can wander the walls and streets watching the frantic rebuilding to keep in the tourists even if the invaders use the disruptive technologies to change history.
Napoleon had another tactic. Make the effort to climb the hills behind the city and be prepared to pound it to rubble from there, easily looking over the walls.
Vaubon would have been proud.
About 1940 meters long, the city walls is one of the most beautiful fortification system I have ever seen. My husband and I hesitated for a few days before we gathered courage to scale it.
To our surprise, it was quite manageable even with my husband's bad leg. The parapets are high enough that even the height challenged are reasonably comfortable. The walkways are wide and there are resting places to give your weary legs a break.
The walls include 3 forts, 16 towers, 6 bastions, 2 corner fortifications and 2 citadels. Don't miss the impressive tower of Minceta where the Croatian flag is flown permanently.
What You'll See on the Top
The views are stunning of the bays and the islands. You can take pictures as you peer through some of the slots woven through the walls.
Have a peek at the rooftops and fill your imagination with the interesting lives of the people under those roofs. The dark red roof tops indicate the rebuilds after the Serbia bombardment in"91-'93.
Here are some of the views from the top:
As of November 2017, the fees are 150 Kuna per person