Dining at Domino’s, Dubrovnik

Old Town of Dubrovnik is still the most desirable place to have dinner in when in the area. There are numerous restaurants in the very Old Town ranging from small and cozy places to the big restaurants like Lakonda in the Old Town. Like in all major tourist destinations, many of them are not matching the expectations so we usually rely on the advice from my local friends and business partners. A week ago we were in Dubrovnik for business (and pleasure, as always) and we were invited by my friend/business partner Niksa for a dinner.

Stradun at night
Stradun at night

The first question was fish or meat and we are not very big on meat… So we went to see if Proto was available but the place was packed for the next hour or so. So, Niksa, as a true Old Town kid who grew up playing on the walls and in the small streets, took us to Domino Restaurant. The restaurant exists for over 40 years and all that under the same management. We also saw the head of the family keeping an eye on the place as he always does making sure that everything is in perfect order.

Domino - tucked in a small alley
Domino - tucked in a small alley

Domino is primarily known for meat dishes but we we did not feel like eating meat so Niksa went to see if they had some fresh fish. And we were in luck! A 4 lbs (2 kg) dentex was just waiting for us!

Niksa requested the fish to be grilled in one piece so it comes moist and juicy at the table. And that’s exactly how we had it – although it took a bit longer to get prepared.

Grilled dentex - seafood rarely gets better than this!
Grilled dentex - the fish rarely gets better than this!

Since this is a monster, the three of us had trouble eating it all so we did not order any appetizers. The only thing I could not resist was a piece of rozada for dessert.

Predator of the seas
Predator of the seas
Rozada
Rozada

Overall, great experience! The ambiance was ok despite the crowds and the restaurant being packed for dinner. The food was prepared masterfully and we really enjoyed Plavac Miličić as their house wine. Next time, though, we need to try their meat dishes they are actually known for… unless they have something like this denetex on the ice again 😉

They have a web site at http://www.steakhousedomino.com/eng/index.html but fairly nonfunctional with all the flash animation. Anyway, the address is Od Domina 8 and it is not that hard to find it.

 

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Prvic Luka and the iconic “Tijat” boat ride

I have been invited by my friends Gabe and Kristi Frlekin to visit them in Prvic Luka on the island of Prvic. Gabe’s father was from Prvic Luka so, when he first visited, he fell in love with the place and kept coming ever since.  Prvic Luka is a typical Dalmatian village still preserving it’s authentic charm.

I was also looking forward to a boat ride on board the old “Tijat” as this is probably one of the most beautiful public boat rides in the country starting in Šibenik and stopping at Zlarin, Prvić Luka and Prvić Šepurine before reaching Vodice and going back.

Tijat in Šibenik
Tijat in Šibenik

Built in 1955. in Split, Tijat still represents the old times when many more people lived on the islands and depended on the safe and secure connections with Šibenik and Vodice. Although the local sea transportation authority, Jadrolinja, wants to replace the old ships with new ones, they don’t have the money so Tijat is looking at at least several more years of connecting the mainland with beautiful Zlarin and Prvić.  So, when in the area, do not miss this boat ride or just visit one of the islands on this probably the most scenic boat ride in the Adriatic!

The channel of Sv Ante or the Šibenik channel
The channel of Sv Ante or the Šibenik channel

So, I was on board on Tijat at 9:30 and enjoyed the ride to Prvić where Gabe and Kristi were waiting for me. But first stop was Zlarin  – one of the most beautiful Croatian islands and definitely worth visiting for a full day or more. Still remember when we used to take guests on board or own “Barbarinac” to Zlarin and Krapanj back in late 1980s… Zlarin did not change much and it is still very authentic and preserved!

Zlarin
Zlarin

Next stop: Prvić Luka.

Prvić Luka
Prvić Luka

I met Gabe and Kristi in front of Tijat and, since I had to be back on the next boat back, we decided not to waste time and they took me around to see the village and to learn more on the memorial center/museum Faust Vrancic that is still under construction. So we met with Mr. Ivan Nimac who started this project out of pure enthusiasm and passion for this great historic heritage.

The models after Faust Vranicic's drawings
The models after Faust Vrancic's drawings

Here is more on Faust Vrancic:

Faust Vrancic (b. Sibenik 1551-d. Venice 1617), was a typical Renaissance “homo universalis”. A notable scholar whose interest comprised mathematics, physics, phylosophy and technology, he spent some time at the court of the German emperor Rudolf II who was also the sovereign to the Croatians, Hungarians, and Czechs. His major work was “Machine Novae” (New Machines), printed in Venice at the beginning of the 18 century, with the pictorial (49 etchings) and textual descriptions of 56 different technical constructions. He had anticipated the numerous technical inventions which were to be applied later to water or wind powered machines, to mills, ships, boats and excavators. His most interesting invention was, certainly, a parachute or “Homo volans” (The Flying Man) as called by Vrancic himself. Faust Vrancic performed a jump with his parachute somewhere in Venice in order to test it. This fact is explicitely stated in a book written by English bishop John Willkins (1614-1672), secretary of the Royal Society in London, only 30 years after the jump. The title of his book which contains this important testimony about Faust Vrancic is Mathematical Magic of the Wonders that may be Performed by Mechanical Geometry, part I: Concerning Mechanical Powers Motion, part II, Deadloss or Mechanical Motions, published in London in 1648.

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See Vladimir Muljevic: Hrvatski znanstvenici Antun i Faust Vrancic, Encyclopedia Moderna, god. 14, II, Zagreb, 1993.

Every day life
Every day life

Prvic is a typical Dalmatian village with only 300 inhabitants left but lots of locals who now live in Šibenik,  come back during weekends and especially so in the Summer months when there are people everywhere. There is also a great local restaurant Stara Makina in Prvić Luka known for great food.

Only 15 minutes walking distance way is even more picturesque Prvić Šepurina but did not get there this time…

So, we had a lemonade in a cafe by the sea waiting for Tijat to come back and it was time to go…

Gabe and Kristi
Gabe and Kristi

And it was time to get rid of the kids who climb the sides trying to jump in that foam the ship creates when going in reverse…

Kids will always be kids...
Kids will always be kids...

This is truly one of the most beautiful boat rides in Croatia! Not being too long and touching several picturesque little harbors, it should be advertised as one of the last authentic experiences as Tijat itself has that charm of the mid 50s bringing back some other times to minds…

Under the walls of Sv Nikola fortress
Under the walls of Sv Nikola fortress

When in Šibenik or Vodice, get on board Tijat to enjoy Prvić and Zlarin: great experience of Croatia’s disappearing  island life… Fun for the whole family!

Sacred places of Illyria

Illyria is probably not the best name for the region that is still so mysterious as we struggle in getting answers to even the basic quastions about the ancient inhabitants that lived here. It encompasses  Dalmatia and it’s hinterland including Hercegovina in modern day Bosnia and Hercegovina as this region shared a lot of history despite the artificial divisions. So, studies on the Illyrian tribes, ancient cultures and traditions in Dalmatia,  is never complete without stepping into beautiful Hercegovina.

This past weekend, I joined my friend Domagoj and his wife Sanja for a journey to some of the most mysterious and most sacred places in this beautiful part of the Balkans.

The stećci of Radimlja
The stećci of Radimlja

Our first stop was one of the very special places in the entire region: stećak monuments necropolis near Radimlja. I wrote about stećak monuments earlier so I will not go into too many details. This particular necropolis is considered to be the most special of them all as it has all stećak forms and 5 writings as well as some of the most wonderful carvings.

Hello! From the pastures in heaven...
Hello! From the pastures in heaven...
Another beautifuly carved stećak
Another beautifuly carved stećak

The necropolis has been divided in two when the Austrian government built a road. Same as in Cista Provo necropolis, someone decided that the road must go through the necropolis… There are 63 stećak monuments in Radimlja and it is not the biggest as there are 500 grouped monuments in Cetina and there are about 70 000 in the entire region. Some are very ancient and some are not. Some are carved and many are just big blocks of stone…Nevertheless, they are all very impressive. I always pictured this place with dark and gray stone monuments but the local archaeologists decided to clean them thus making them appear brand new. Not sure if that was the right decision but Radimlja monuments are definitely amazing!

And then we moved to another very special place: Daorson.

Entering Daorson
Entering Daorson

After you pass the recently restored old city of Stolac and into Ošanići, we headed up a steep hill to a natural plateau. At the very western edge of the plateau, a megalithic walls of Daorson appeared in front of us as a storm clouds were forming in the distance.

Today, Daorson is badly damaged site and we know very little about it. The name was given to this place by the archaeologists after they have found several coins with the name DAORS within the walls. It is assumed that there was a mint in Daorson as well. But, one thing puzzles me… This is supposed to be a city? It is tiny! And has no logic of a city being on this very spot and having this huge wall on some places just 10 meters from the edge.

The megalithic blocks
The megalithic blocks

According to the older drawings, just after the entrance, there was a pyramid. However, the archaeological campaign in 1960s leveled it! But one pyramid survived the total destruction…

The pyramid by the dry creek
The pyramid by the dry creek

Daorson is still very impressive and the theory saying that this place was a very important temple is more believable than saying this was a city. Read more on Daorson on Domagoj’s great blog: http://illyrianmysteries.blogspot.com/2011/02/daorson.html and definitely mark it as a must see spot if in the region! We spent over an hour just soaking the energy of this amazing place and trying to understand the logic of building it at this very spot.

Next we drove to picturesque Blagaj village where small river Buna starts it’s journey from the depths of Earth. This is one of the largest and most beautiful springs in Europe producing, at times,  about 30 m3/sec. of very clear and very cold water!

Buna spring
Buna spring

Next to the very spring is a famous  Blagaj Tekija (a sort of a Muslim monastery) and it was built in 1520s or so by the Turks when they conquered the region. We could not get to see it as there were some construction works but that is something to look forward to next time when I am here..  A boat ride to the cave if offered and there are several restaurants on both banks serving authentic Turkish-Bosnian specialties. And that is something not to miss!

The local specialities
The local specialities

This was simply delicious although these restaurants are famous for their trout.

So we returned late that afternoon full of impressions. But that did not prevent us from making plans for next day.

Red Lake of Imotski
Red Lake of Imotski

Next morning we took a hike around the lakes of Imotski. Both beautiful and both very unusual geological phenomena. We also wen to see so called “Dry Lake”  – a hole in the ground resembling the Red and Blue lake but with no water. We also visited several stone structures and unusual formations but everything pales next to the big mound next to the Red Lake. It is most likely the burial mound of a high official or even a king as it is on a very special place.

The mound next to the Red lake
The mound next to the Red lake

And next to it we found even more interesting and more peculiar traces of ancient civilization.

Eyes of the guardians?
Eyes of the guardians?

Resembling eyes in the petrified heads, this is something strangest I have seen in stone walls anywhere in Croatia!

So, plenty of questions still unanswered in the hills of Illyria!