Coming from Zagreb to Dalmatia – back in the old days; before the highway – we were taking the very scenic road through Lika and usually making a stop in Borje in Korenica (Titova Korenica back then). Sometimes in the 90s that all changed and Macola became the one and only stop for buses, trucks, travelers of all sorts… I would say that Macola is one of the “must experience” places in Croatia. It is not because of the food – as I never had anything memorable there, nor decor – 90s chic with a hint of 80s romantic movement mixed with stuffed animals – and not even the service which is generally quite good. Macola is all that and more: an authentic place where you meet real Croatians no matter if they are loggers in the nearby woods, top lawyers driving latest Benz or philosophy students riding the bus to Zagreb…
The food in general is quite good but it is nothing fancy. The portions are fit for folks from Lika: huge.
Other dishes include local classics like sarma, stuffed peppers, gulash… and most of them are ready in minutes as Macola is the place where all buses stop for fast meal. Some sort of traditional Fast food Croatian way. Anyway, you will probably see bus drivers sitting at a special table. That is because the owner, Macola, used to be a bus driver himself before starting his restaurant. Bus drivers get to eat for free and, in return, they stop there for 30 min break (…or so: haven’t ridden the bus in ages) bringing (literally) buses of people.
Another attraction of Macola is a small ZOO behind the main restaurant building. Deer, two bears, wild boar!
This is probably the closest one can get to a brown bear…
There are about 1000 brown bears in Croatia and they are remarkably peaceful and do very little damage to people compared to other countries. Scientists are saying that is because Croatia has lots of uninhabited regions where they can roam freely and they don’t have the need to feed on garbage…
So, if you have kids and like animals, this is simply a must! And it was a beautiful day to relax in mud 🙂
If taking the highway, there is a new Macola there as well. Just at the gas station and resting place Zir. First one after Sv Rok tunnel if traveling from Dalmatia north. I have not seen the animals there but the rest is in place as well as a small hotel next to a restaurant.
For more info: http://www.macola.hr/
The Macola on the scenic route is a stopping point for Split-Belgrade buses. I guess there is now a direct train between Split and Belgrade (in season). But I kinda liked that overnight bus and the familiar rest stop.
Ah, so that’s the name of that place. I remember being “brought” there by my first bus ride from Zagreb to Split years ago and yes, I completely agree with your write up of it. My belly was ridiculously full just before the bus I was on caught fire about 20 minutes later. Now that, was memorable!
I appreciate the new highway a great deal as it makes the trip much, much faster, but no end of character was lost in getting to see “actual” Croatia for visitors because it ain’t all beach.
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