Olive trees of Lun

This year I did not want to post any photos of my olive trees or anything “regular” happening up and down the coast in the season of olive picking. This year the destination was Lun…
To anyone, even vaguely familiar with olive-growing traditions on the Croatian coast, even the very name of village of Lun grabs the attention as this fairytale landscape is the place of legends and mysteries yet to be fully discovered.

The olive trees of Lun!

Yes, the tradition of olive growing in Croatia is ancient with great olive oils being produced from Istria down to Konavle and yes, the olive groves along our coast are beautiful no matter if you are in Piramatovci near Šibenik, on the islands of Brac, Solta… or in the hillside of Konavle. But all that is simply pale and “unimportant” once you reach Lun… This place and these trees capture you as one of the most unique landscapes on the coast!

Along the main road...

We drove from Zadar and it is a longish drive pass Novalja all the way to the very tip of Pag island – probably the most unique island in Croatia. The landscape is rocky. Dry stone walls along the road with closed gates. Not inviting at all… But all that probably protected these trees from devastation. Not today as the alarm sounded all over the press and media after some nouveau riche bought three ancient trees for 1500 Euros. You really have to be a big time, illiterate looser to take the trees away!
So now we are paying more attention and protection to all the riches Lun hides even though this area has been declared a botanical reserve back in 1963.

Details from the groves
Fairytale tree trunks!

There are between 70 000 and 80 000 olive trees in this area ranging from over 1500 years old trees to very young sprouts from last spring! It is an interesting fact as usually olive trees grow from old barks but here, they grow from pits! This place is one of three world unique locations with biggest concentration of wild olive trees or in Latin Olea oleaster. Other two are in Israel and Greece but they have nowhere near the number of trees found here. Another very interesting fact is that scientists started gathering the DNA samples from different Lun olive trees and found out that nearly all were of different sub-species! Out of 120 olive trees sampled from Istria to Konavle, we now differentiate about 80 authentic sub-species. It is now estimated that Lun area alone has about 300 different sub-species!!! All that without any fertilizers or insecticides. Ever!
That is incredible wealth important to preserve!

Home from the fields...

Lun is a tiny village with about 200 inhabitants. Olive trees are everywhere making this a very unique and very beautiful landscape but forget about easy hiking or walking around as the area is very rocky. Some signs can be seen by the road telling you a little bit about the importance of the area and there is also a sign marking a walking path that takes visitors to some of the most beautiful parts of the area as well as to the oldest tree.
By using new and sophisticated methods of establishing how old the trees are, we now know that most of the trees are between 300 and 150 years old with about a hundred of them being older that 1000 years. One has been estimated at over 1600 years old which puts it in the same time frame with the famous Brijuni olive tree and the one in Kastela. The oldest in the world is on Crete and it is estimated to be between 3000 and 5000 years old and there is one on Sardinia abut the same age.

An old path...

The Lun area belonged to people of Rab and the locals, only in 1830s they asked the permission to start cultivating the olive trees. They never bothered to divide the land among themselves so now the trees have the owners but the land does not. That is why the trees have all sorts of different markings.

Crazy tree shapes

So, after checking the trees and the fields, we went to Lun to have a drink. The harbor of Lun is called Tovarnele and it is tiny and cute. Very peaceful at this time of year. Just like the rest of the island where some areas have been completely devastated by the newly built apartment buildings…

Fall in Tovarnele

The island of Pag is simply an amazing part of the country with Lun being “the icing on the cake”. The area of surreal beauty now lives only of short tourist season and olive oil but the tourism potential is enormous. Not only from very authentic olive picking but people can hike or cycle on the numerous paths from one coast to another. We don’t have to build anything to have a tourist attraction and the newly opened hotel Luna (4*) is right there. The locals should also consider selling their olive oil at specialized stands. With all these sorts, it should not be difficult to fill the shelves! Also, wild olive tree makes perfect bonsais… if you are patient person 🙂
Anyway, even you don’t bring tourists, be sure to visit!

There is a good and informative web site of the local community: http://www.lun.hr/index.html

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Great review of my favorite plavac mali wine – Korta Katarina Plavac mali, 2006 (in Croatian)

From Novi List,
By Daniela Kramarić

RIVIJERA OREBIĆ: KORTA KATARINA PLAVAC MALI 2006

Zapravo je vrlo mali broj vina čija se izdržljivost u čaši može mjeriti desecima sati. Korta Katarina Plavac mali 2006 jedno je od njih. Zašto to činim? Jer naslućujem da ono to može, a ujedno to je i jako dobar pokazatelj izdržljivosti vina. Ovaj plavac će i za 5 godina zasigurno biti u top formi. Još bolji i zreliji. Definitivno se isplati u njega investirati. Samo treba imati strpljenja i novaca. Novaca nikad previše, a strašno teško je definirati koje vino je zapravo skupo, a koje preskupo. Odnos cijene i kvalitete je ključan. Trenutno smo mi sommelieri u iznimno teškom položaju. Ponuditi bocu karakternog plavca malog po restoranskoj cijeni ispod 500 kn postala je nemoguća misija. U usporedbi sa konkurencijom plavaca, Korta Katarina Plavac mali 2006 nudi odličnu vrijednost za novac. Gotovo da je bezobrazno ustvrditi da od njega nisam baš previše očekivala, a kad ono… prekrasna mirisna bomba! Zgusnuti i pomalo divlji bouquet s mirisima ružmarina, minerala, rogača i crnih maslina iznimno je intenzivan i trajan. Samo sam ga malo provrtjela u čaši i pojavile su se arome marmelade od crnih ribizla i čokolade prožete svježinom mente. Uslijedile su snažne animalne note, a zna se… one zahtijevaju dekantiranje. Idealna bi situacija bila, gost dođe u restoran, popije čašu šampanjca za aperitiv, pa čašu strukturiranog bijelog, pa crvenog, koje je odmah po njegovom dolasku dekantirano i tek nakon sat vremena zapravo spremno. Nažalost, previše se vina popije, a da njihova ljepota ostane neotkrivena.

Plavac mali, Korta Katarina
Plavac mali, Korta Katarina

Vratila sam mu se nakon sat vremena. Nedvojbeno plavac mali odškolovan u drvetu: marmelada od šljiva upakirana u dimno-karamelastu košuljicu. Ali, posve novi pogled na plavac mali. Dok Bura, Mrgudić, Miloš, Madirazza zastupaju tradicionalne stavove, Grgić, Mendek i Korta Katarina su ovoj našoj tradicionalnoj sorti unijeli fini i ispolirani izričaj. Tradicionalisti su visoko emocionalni, a modernisti gospodski elegantni. Bouquet KKPm2006 u svim fazama ostaje vrlo postojan i fino iznijansiran, te prožet iznimnom mineralnošću s mirisom mora. U ustima slijedi isti stil. Gusto je satkano, elegantno i sočno. Svježina koja ni nakon četiri godine apsolutno ne posustaje, fini, zreli i ugodno prašnjavi tanini, primamljiva i mladolika voćnost te za plavac mali umjerena toplina: poker su uspješnosti i dugovječnosti ovog vina. Da skratim: dočekala sam što sam željela, da se bouquet otvori do balzamskih nota, čokolade, rogača i crnog papra potpomognuto snažnom mineralnošću. Bouquet: senzacionalan. Usta su čista elegancija, zapravo strukturalno ima više bordoški, negoli dalmatinski stil, ali za »all surround« nedostaje mu malo mesa na kičmi. Pikantno do boli, u retrookusu baš peče, a mami na još… Tako uglađen, a tako divlji… Živjeli!

Proizvođač: Rivijera Orebić d.o.o.
Vino: Korta Katarina Plavac mali 2006
Porijeklo: Pelješac
Sorta: plavac mali
Temperatura serviranja: oko 16-18°C
Čaša: bordoška
Dekantirati: obavezno!!!
Trajnost: piti ili čuvati
Odnos cijene i kvalitete: odličan (5)
Cijena: 250 kn

 

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Villa Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik – Romance forever

As the season ended, we are already getting ready for 2011 with site inspections, guide selection and some (slight) expansion of services. One of the nicest part of that process is definitely staying at nice hotels that we recommend to our clients. Each hotel is personally inspected at least once a year and we sleep at least two nights in most of them.
So, when the newly restored Villa Dubrovnik opened this past May, I knew we had a serious pretender for our favorite hotel in Dubrovnik. We visited in March while the construction site was still a mess and booked some clients this summer but I am reluctant to recommend any 5 star property before testing it myself.
So, this wonderful October weekend was the right time to visit!

Entrance to the elevator from the main street

The drive to Dubrovnik was surprisingly short – only 3 hours and 40 minutes from Biograd via highway and terrible road from Ravca to Opuzen. When the highway reaches Opuzen, hopefully next year (elections!), it will be a sweet 3 hours paying attention to speed limits.
But the nastiest part of the drive to Villa Dubrovnik is the narrow street where the hotel actually is so make sure you are not driving anything too big as the vans are extremely hard to drive there. I was amazed to see the trucks while the villa was till under construction but they did an amazing job!

THE view!

The first thing that one notices when exiting the elevator is the beautiful garden/terrace and the all-glass top floor. The reception desk is on the top floor and right where the old, original building meets the new wing.
The best part of ALL rooms here is the fact that all of them are facing the sea and Lokrum Island. I wanted to book the superior room but, since the hotel was not that busy, they upgraded us to a suite. “Bad” management! Really bad decision! 🙂
And they do that all the time when the suites and bigger rooms are available!

The living room
The king size bed
Living room

All rooms and suites are pure luxury with finest furniture, great bathrooms (two in a suite), bedroom… and Bvlgari toiletries.
All rooms have balconies while all executive rooms have also a jacuzzi bathtub on the balcony (behind glass).
Some folks may find it awkward that the bathrooms are separated by the glass wall – which seems to be the latest craze among the hotel designers – but there are curtains for shy ones.
Basically, our bedroom was a deluxe bedroom plus the huge living room and minus the TV in the center of the room (on a stand).

When inspecting, it is always important to check all the facilities so a lunch or a dinner in a hotel restaurant is a must! Most people are wrong when they think that they will find a better restaurant in the Old Town than in their hotels and Villa Dubrovnik is a definite proof!

Pjerin restaurant at Villa Dubrovnik

I enjoy reviewing restaurants and usually doing that separately but this restaurant is not always open to the public so I kept it within this review. One can eat at Pjerin but the reservation has to be made before the arrival and they are not allowing reservations in peak season. The management wants to keep the perfect experience for their clients and not to get the restaurant crowded. There are only about 50 rooms and that is the perfect size for any hotel to provide great experience!

So, our lunch was easy and fast as we needed to head out to several meetings.

Cold pear soup

I started with cold soup of Williams pears and that was quite interesting!
The rest of the menu was also quite intriguing and too bad that we could not spend more time (days) to explore it all!
It would also take at least two days to remember all those names as they were quite elaborate

Pumpkin gnocchi...
Escargot stew with saffron risotto...and some other stuff

Really interesting fusion dishes!
The breakfast is also served at this restaurant and it is a la carte (great selection!)
There is also a small kitchen outside, by the hotel concrete beach, cooking light dishes all day long at great prices for the guests of the hotel who want to grab a bite while enjoying the hotel beach or the sunbathing area. There is a small beach that can be closed for couples and that is perfect for honeymooners!

Sunset at Villa Dubrovnik

There is also a amazing SPA with “diamond bed” treatment – one of 4 in the world! I let you discover it on your own 🙂

Regular bed at Villa Dubrovnik

Overall, probably the best hotel experience in Croatia. Although I am still “in love” with Lesic Dimitri and Monte Mulini, in Dubrovnik, this hotel is simply a great experience. Hotel Bellevue ranks number two for me but that is another post…

Hotel web site: http://www.villa-dubrovnik.hr/
Rooms from 220 E per night and suites from 580.

The hotel has a great line – Romance forever – and that is so true in this place that is a perfect hotel for couples!

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