11th VINOcom in Zagreb – Wine and Gourmet at its Finest

It is 11th time that professor Ivan Dropuljić and his team organises VINOcom, the Zagreb International Festival of Wine and Culinary Art, in the luxury Esplanade Hotel in the centre of Croatian capital. This exceptional two-day event is indeed the place where every serious wine maker shows up. And the visiting numbers soared this year.

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Photo by: Večernji list

It was really hard to pass all the wine fans, together with substantial number of young, student-aged people, who took the opportunity of relatively small price of entry to enjoy drinking exquisite Croatian and foreign wines. And while the desire of drinking might be worrisome in their age, there is a comfort of knowing that they are interested in quality wines. Whole public space of Hotel Esplanade was too small for all the enthusiast, wineries, and culinary guests. We can only applaud for the organisation!

Every Croatian wine region was present: from the famous wine counties in Slavonia and Međimurje, to the Istrian terroirs and Dalmatian islands, not omitting some rising wine powers in Moslavina, Plešivica, Dalmatian hinterland, Krk, and many other places. International presence from Slovenia, Montenegro, Italy, Macedonia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina was small but gave additional accent on getting to know new wineries in new territories, and to revisit some known flavours.

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And while every winery is worth to stop by and have a few words with sip of wine, it is almost impossible to comprehend everyone in these two days. Still, a common trend is quite visible. White wines are almost everywhere refreshing, bright, fruity, and easy to drink. Red ones are full of flavour and bouquet, serious and rich. Quite a number of sparkling wines emerged in the last few years and VINOcom was an opportunity to taste some of them.

The workshops throughout the event gave a great accent on rising topics in wine industry and wine consummation today. Some of them were dedicated to the specific terroirs and regions in Croatia. Black Gold of Slavonia stressed the opportunities of red wines in the eastern regions of Croatia, known particularly more for its white varieties. Still, as some of the wineries already show, the opportunities are far more than traditional Frankovka.

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Evolution of Škrlet was another interesting workshop, focused on rather unknown wine from Moslavina. Škrlet experiences quite a renaissance in last few years, becoming a wine of national importance and solidly presented by the Moslavina wine makers at the fair.  A special story was also dedicated to Traminac from town of Ilok and renown Iločki Podrumi winery. Wine from the Principovac area in Ilok is cultivated continuously from 1710, and Traminac is most rewarded wine of Croatia, preferable at the royal courts and bishop palaces.

Last decade saw re-emergence of many old and lost wine sorts, and one of them is Zlatarica, from island of Korčula and from the Dalmatian Hinterland, in Vrgorac, and also in Neretva Valley. The tasting of Zlatarica from the four local wineries in Vrgorac/Neretva region is definitely a step forward for going back to the roots.

Interdisciplinary research into hedonism, culture, and art started to combine wine with particular forms of art or activity. Similar was on this VINOcom, where participants could enjoy movie sets with wine tasting of Marche products of Italy. In another workshop one could find out how French language influences the tradition of wine making, or what are the wines that matured in sea for 240 days.

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The guided tastings of glamorous French wines also took place, with accent on Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste, where tastings of legendary Bordeaux of 1996, 2000, 2005, 2009, and 2010 took place. According to the classification made in 1855, this is one of five grand cru classe selection of Chateau Medoc region. Another interesting workshop was tasting of Chateau Margaux Grand Vin Premier Grand Cru classe from 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Such a knowledge was costly, but pays well.

Of course, besides wine, culinary art of Croatia is presented in a special tent, where visitors could taste cheese, olive oil, oil and smoked fish, prosciutto, sausages, truffles, and other traditional Croatian delicacies. One cannot omit several producers of rakija, whose products were high on wish lists.

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As VINOcom entered its second decade, one must congratulate Prof. Dropuljić on hard work and even harder coordination. In many ways, Croatia is a country whose wine production should only be discovered, and a great deal is done in last eleven years through this festival, but also work throughout the year.

Photos by: www.vino.com.hr

Apartment Dijana

On a spot from where you can enjoy beautiful view on the old town of Bakar as well as the Bakar Bay stands a house with nicely decorated apartment Dijana. New decorated apartment is located just five minutes walk from the old town and everything you might need for your stay – market, bakery, post office, coffee bars, restaurants…

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The apartment consists of two bedrooms, one with double bed, and another with two single beds. There is a separate bathroom with shower. You can also use the kitchen, equipped with oven, coffee machine and all the other necessary utensils.

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The kitchen is combined with a living room, where you can enjoy air-conditioned space with TV and WI-FI access. But it would be a shame to spend days inside, as the owners will welcome you to a garden where you can relax and enjoy beautiful sea view. The peaceful surrounding of this family house will give you a true anti-stress therapy!

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The apartment has its own access and free parking lot, and caters for up to six persons. It is indeed very close by car to get almost anywhere – Rijeka and Krk are less than 10 kilometres away, as well as numerous beaches in summer. The owners will be happy to help you with advices and showing the way how to best and easy enjoy your holiday time in any time of the year!

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Apartment Dijana
Klanac 175/A, Bakar
dijanatomas@yahoo.com
+385 92 199 7591

Bakar – Rediscover the Town of Captains, Sparkling Wine, and Old Forts

The narrow streets and squares, with all the layers of history to be discovered, is still unknown world of Bakar, one of the oldest towns in the Northern Adriatic. Bakar was built like an amphitheatre on a hill and its historical nucleus was declared a cultural monument.

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The area of Bakar town stretches from the Bakar Bay to the peak of Risnjak Mountain occupying about 12,560 hectares and encompassing seven small towns: Bakar, Hreljin, Krasica, Kukuljanovo, Praputnjak, Škrljevo and Zlobin. Bakar, the ancient town and a port, a place where the Mediterranean Sea penetrated most deeply into the European land.

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A rich history has left an important cultural heritage which is reflected in the Bakar Citadel, Castle of Hreljin, St. Andrew’s Church (the third largest in Croatia), Roman and Turkish houses, Bakar ‘s dry stone walls and many other cultural and historical sights and peculiarities.

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On top of the town stands grand Frankopan Castle, once a seat of a powerful Croatian noble family. We entered it through doors adorned with an old Glagolitic inscription and suddenly found ourselves inside a grand palace, although its interior is still in stage of refurbishing. The architecture of Citadel as we know it today stems from the beginning of the 16th century, when this Frankopan’s fortress was additionally reinforced, faced with the danger of the Turkish invasions. This is also witnessed in a Glagolitic inscription engraved in the upper part of the stone door frame dating from 1530. The Citadel is a structure which inspires and reveals a spirit of the past, adventures, war conflicts, glorious times, but as well as a spirit of culture, creativity, and literacy.

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Another instant feeling is that Bakar is small town with many churches. The parish church of Saint Andrew the Apostle was third largest church in Croatia at time of its origin. The greatness of this church is visible from inside, as even bigger cities in the Northern Adriatic don’t have such a vast church. Today, it is run by the monsignor Giuseppe Vosilla, who is also honorary canonic of the Rijeka Capitol of the Catholic Church. We have visited the good monsignor in his own house, had a glass of wine and talked about the town and beautiful view from his balcony, overlooking the whole Bakar.

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The oldest church in this location was built in 1130 or 1167, in any case in the 12th century. It was dedicated to the Holy Trinity. After it was badly damaged in an earthquake in 1323, it was thereafter repaired, and it changed the church and town’s patron to that of St. Andrija (St. Andrew). At the beginning of the 18th century, more precisely in 1708 and 1718, left and right aisles of the church were added, and in 1710 the bell tower was built, which is still in place today. In the beginning of the 18th century, according to the legend, a strong earthquake hit Bakar and destroyed the church, but the bell tower remained untouched.

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Apart from the parish church, there is the Church of Mother of God of the Port, where once used to be a port; the Church of Holy Cross, in the heart of the old city centre, where the altar has remained in the same place as before, and where a priest performs the mass with his back turned to worshippers; and the St. Margaret’s Church, also near the sea.

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A really unique experience was to enter the crypt under the parish church, where you can find some 85 tombs. On the upper part of the crypt, there is a pylon that certainly belongs to some older building. The crypt has not been fully researched, but its discoveries will bring additional information about the church’s construction work.  The graves date from the 18th and 19th century, and some graves don’t carry any inscription.  Bishop Vjenceslav Šoić was buried in the crypt who was most deserving for the renewal of the church in the middle of the 19th century.

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Within the medieval walls of a town, nearby the church of St. Andrija, is situated one of the most known and for the visitors by all means the most attractive houses in Bakar-the Turkish house. The uniqueness of the Turkish house comes from its oriental structure and its stylish features which are rare to find in this part of the world.  Nevertheless, the Turkish house has gracefully fit into the town’s coastal atmosphere.  Its shape reminds us of an old wooden house that has already grown as a part of the town’s surrounding, as well as two legends, the most beautiful national and literate treasure, about the beginnings of this unusual house without a “corner.” According to one legend, the Turkish house was built by a coastal sailor who when arrived to Istanbul fell in love with a beautiful Turkish woman.  He brought her home to Bakar, and each time he would go on his trip, she felt lonely.  Thinking of how to lessen her homesickness, he built a house similar to the houses from her homeland, so that is how the Turkish house originated.

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It is indeed pleasant to walk by the sea in Bakar’s centre, wonder to the mighty town built on the shores of the bay, visit the churches, one of the first oceanographers in Croatia, jaz and perilo, all the small galleries, or just sit and enjoy the atmosphere of a quiet, sleepy old town, with tens of cats walking around and see the life of its inhabitants, who use their town almost as a living room. This Mediterranean atmosphere, heritage, naval tradition, old cobbled alleys, is why Bakar should be rediscovered as a great tourist destination.

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Our wonderful day in Bakar was accompanied by Mrs Sonja Jelušić, director of the Tourist Board of Town of Bakar
http://www.tz-bakar.hr
Primorje 39, Bakar
+385 51 761 111

Photos: Bruno Vignjević, TZ Bakar, mons. Vosilla

Bakar Gastronomy

As in other Kvarner towns, Bakar’s gastronomy is a combination of seafood and agriculture in its hinterland. This area is influenced by heavy northeast wind bura and rainy days in winter, while having a sub-Mediterranean climate in rest of the year.

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It is the specialties that Bakar is famous for. Everyone here is proud of Bakarska vodica, a sparkling wine grown on the terraces high above the Bakar Bay, or Bakarski baškot, unique baked bread used to gain strength on long voyages of famous Bakar captains and sailors. Fresh fish and sea products are still very much everyday meals here. On the very waterfront stands town’s most famous fishery and a small fish restaurant Vladimir. Beautiful setting of this place is accompanied by also beautiful and fresh food.

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Everything is simple – the menu consists of healthy blue fish, squids, high quality fish, octopus salad, everything with classic potato or beans salad, or Swiss chard.  Of course, the daily menu depends on the successful fishing night. The owner has its own boat and here you enjoy true gastronomy chain – from fishermen to your table! For us, the owner Marijan Čoklo made a beautiful plate of seafood, with distinctive freshness of fish, squids, with Swiss chard and potatoes on the side. Simple, fresh, juicy, this is a branch everyone should wish for!

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Vladimir
Primorje bb, Bakar
00385 98 9519 962

And while many influences in Bakar’s town cuisine came through the ships, Bakar’s surroundings preserved old-fashioned peasant dishes. Such a famous place is the Restaurant Bujan in the village of Praputnjak. This old village inherited the viticulture and agriculture from past times, and Bujan is an old inn, with respected past. On this very spot, called Meja, as this was the toll border between Praputnjak and neighbouring Hreljin, the family had their inn since 1932. Bujan is famous for homemade meals and big portions, and every guest will be offered with homemade rakija (brandy).

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We came to Bujan without prior notice and were surprised with excellent plate of prosciutto and cheese, together with a superb olive oil. This classic Adriatic appetizer is determined by the quality of every ingredient, including the olives, and Bujan is known to offer excellent hard cheese. Among other appetizers guests like to point to the Grobnik cheese with hot potatoes and olive oil.

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Place is also known for its soups, minestrone and stews, especially in winter period. We also enjoyed excellent minestrone soup with chunks of meat, bean, and corn. Rich soups are classic meals in the Northern Adriatic, pointing to the various Mediterranean and Central European influences. But it is the meat Bujan has always been famous for. Known delicacies such lamb and veal baked under the lid can be also matched by beef shanks, always an excellent speciality of the house.

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Bujan is the remnant of the old-style local inn, based on great homemade foods, quality ingredients from the vicinity, very friendly prices, and an atmosphere where the owners will sit with you and with joy drink a glass of wine or rakija, although you have never met before. This is what many locals still very much cherish.

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Krčma Bujan
Meja 16, Praputnjak
00385 51 809 500

Some of the desserts may be done with local honey producers, in nearby Hreljin. The medieval Hreljin fort was administrative centre for residential, trade, and defence use. Since 1225, when it was first mentioned in history record, until 1790, when famous family Frankopan left the castle, Hreljin was a very important place. We cannot be totally sure if they enjoyed honey, but apiculture has long tradition here. Nowadays it is Apitrade from Hreljin that cares for this tradition.

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The honey is brought here from various cooperatives, but the magic of transformation is visible in magnificent end products: honey vinegar, honey brandy, honey wine, nuts, walnuts and almonds in flower honey, dried figs and honey jam. Honey made in Apitrade are mostly Primorski (Mediterranean) honey, acacia, linden, heather, chestnut, flower, and honeydew. The sweet paradise of Hreljin travels around Croatia, as guests on various festivals, fairs, and events, but you can always order their products here:

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PZ Pčelarstvo Apitrade
Hreljin 136, Hreljin
00385 51 545 552, 00385 98 926 3969
info@apitrade.hr
www.apitrade.hr

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Surrounding karstic valleys, where sea and mountains interact, are great pastureland for sheep and goats. Unfortunately, only one shepherd is left here, in Plosna. This small village next to Škrljevo, in the hinterland of Bakar, is very old. Evidences show it was inhabited by Illyrian tribes, long before Romans came to these lands.

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It is here where Mr Dario Mičetić runs family homestead Plosna, and makes excellent cow and goat cheese. His animals roam freely in the valley, nurturing on the healthy and aromatic Mediterranean herbs. End product is clean and refreshing cheese, which can be obtained in the area of Kvarner.

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It is thus strange that Bakar does not have stronger restaurant scene. A rather new attempt strives to make this offer better. It is the restaurant Vallis, situated on the seafront of Bakar. Refurbished and positioned on excellent spot near the sea, this restaurant bases itself on fresh ingredients bough from the local producers. The place has excellent wine list and even better brandy choice. Both meat and fish are present on the menu, with a slight orientation to modern dining, while enjoying the old pictures of Bakar on the walls. In warm months the owners open the summer terrace; it must be a great experience to sit right next to the sea and enjoy the sudden discovery of Bakar. It is truly worth of it!

Restaurant Vallis
Primorje 128, Bakar
vallis.bakar@gmail.com
www.vallis-bakar.hr

Photos by: Bruno Vignjević, Vallis, OPG Plosna, Apitrade

Naval Tradition and Bakar Baškot

There is no town in the Northern Adriatic with such a great and long tradition of naval education and captains as Bakar. It doesn’t mean you will find them around the town, though… these are past times, and you can just imagine captains and sailors in this natural port, preparing their ships for long sea travels. Imagination transformed itself into the old costumes and a naval battle. But some things remain – Bakar is still the place of high-school education in its maritime school, and heritage of Bakar captain families is vivid and represents great value and pride for the locals.

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Bakar once had its own Sailor’s House. According to the historical information, it was in fact a brothel. In past centuries every port had brothels, where sailors spent their income. Although there isn’t much written documents, the brothel was later renamed as a Sailor’s House, and it did had accommodation for tired sailors. But, sailors can be proud of better things too. The first number of the magazine “Novi život” (New Life) was published in Bakar on May 29th 1911, the magazine that consisted mostly of maritime topics. It was also a magazine that promoted actions against foreign rule in Croatia.

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To evoke memories of this long and rich tradition, Bakar reinstated its Town Guard in 2009. he Town’s Guard Bakar’s uniform is sewed in according to the sample of Jakov Tadejević uniform as shown on his portrait.  He was the duke of Bakar’s guard from 1848.  An emblem of The Town’s Guard Bakar is the historical emblem of Bakar, and it was established with the Statute of free and royal town Bakar, as approved by Bakar’s parliament on 3rd November, 1896.

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This Guard also takes part in the annual Naval Battle, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Bakar. Within the Margaret’s summer in Bakar (Margaretino leto), the spectacular “Naval battle” is held regarding the Town of Bakar’s Day celebration (Saturday closest to July 13th). It is about reconstruction of this historical naval attack, when for the last time the Venetians had unsuccessfully tried to win Bakar back in the year of 1616. The old sailing ships (Klementa, Sakuhai and Stari Ive) equipped with pyrotechnic resources and with members of the Croatian Army historical units from all parts of the country are all participating in the battle as defenders of the town. The originality of a real naval battle experience is guaranteed, along with the shootings from the sailing boats, rifles, firelocks and guns from the shore, fiery torches, water bombs and smoke effects. The whole event ends with a magnificent firework, concert performance of a popular artist, and a party late into the night.

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Many of the sailors who embarked and disembarked in Bakar had with themselves Bakarski baškot. Baškot is a typical double toasted or a fresh bread product (type of a bun) in a shape of a ring brought to Bakar by fishermen from Chioggia.  Once, the fishermen carried them instead of the bread to longer fishing trips, and they were also unavoidable in ship’s kitchen where they would hang from a rope.  Baškoti could last up to six months due to their dryness, and were also convenient to have as a part of diet on other travels. They were often eaten with all liquids available on the ship (wine, tea, water), although baškot was traditionally dipped into red wine.  Baškot’s quality was determined by dropping it from a certain height to see if it would break.  Baškot that broke in the most pieces was better.

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Each baškot is not perfectly shaped because men make them, not a machine, but from the same reason is perfect and unchangeable in taste. They were produced with love and touch of warmth to provide taste enjoyment.  Today it has become the protective sign of Bakar, and it had been chosen as an official souvenir of Bakar.  Our Bakar’s baškot had always been consumed with joy, and even today it is very popular among all generations that gladly come to well-known bakery “Bakarski baškot” that daily produces soft and hard Bakar’s baškot.

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The story of Bakar’s baškot connects to the life of seamen which is as “Bread with seven layers.” Once, it was taken instead of the bread to longer fishermen trips, traditionally is dipped into red wine or coffee with milk.  Today, baškot is one of the symbols and souvenirs of the town of Bakar, and we have tried it in original Baškot bakery, situated on edge of old town, Veberova 135a

Photos by: Bruno Vignjević and TZ Bakar

Bakarska Vodica – A Sparkling Jewel of Bakar

We parked our car on a local road parking lot. Invisible to ordinary passer-bys, beneath the road stretches vast terrain of cultivated vineyards. The paths are rocky and steep, seemingly going right to the sea. The view is absolutely spectacular: on one side first evening lights emerge in the town of Bakar; direct opposite is Bakarska vrata, a narrow passage from the Bakar Bay to the open sea. These are Bakarski Prezidi – the Bakar Walls.

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At this very spot, people from the nearby village of Praputnjak have for centuries cultivated a sparkling wine Bakarska Vodica (Bakar Water), a leftover from the Napoleonic times. . The world-wide famous sparkling wine Bakarska vodica originates from the Belina grape, which used to be cultivated in the Bakar region. The dry stone walls were built during the 18th century and abandoned in the ‘50s of the 20th century. In 1972 the dry stone walls were proclaimed ethno zone and included in the Registry of cultural monuments.

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This original Grand Cuvée is made according to the méthide rurale, based on boiling of clear young wine (mošt) of belina and other authentic white sorts such as žumić, vrbić, verdić, žlatina, gustošljen, brankovac, and white Muscat. As it has about 50 g/l of unboiled sugar, it is considered to be a sweet sparkling wine.

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Wine-growing and wine production was the main sources of livelihood for many generations of people of this littoral region. The people of Bakar were inventive and persistent and thought of how to overcome the lack of soil. They built drystone walls of limestone and filled the space between the walls with fertile soil. In such way they obtained terrain beneficial for cultivating grapes. The soil of the Bakar’s drystone walls gave this great wine.

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Terraces formed by drystone walls can be found all along the Adriatic coast and on the islands, but they are nowhere as impressive as in Bakar. Here they occupy such a vast and unique area covering the entire northern coast of the Bakar bay. It is not surprising that in 1972 the drystone walls of Bakar were proclaimed monument of culture, and ethno zone. In fact, we were welcomed by local ladies wearing the local Praputnjak dress. These ladies are also members of the Agriculture Community Dolčina from Praputnjak (Poljoprivredna Zadruga Dolčina), which cultivates these grapes, while the winery Pavlomir in nearby region of Vinodol produces this exquisite wine.

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The terraces we stand on are called “takala”, meaning “spread all the way to the sea”, in the local dialect. Indeed it is so, and there is only a municipal road next to the seashore that stops the vineyard to step into the sea itself. This was also the path many boys and girls took in summer from Praputnjak, Meja, and Krasica, the villages above the vineyards and above Bakar, to get to the bay.

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PZ Dolčina
https://pz-dolcina.crobiz.net
https://www.facebook.com/Bakarski.prezidi

 

Photos by: Bruno Vignjević

Ravna Gora

Ravna Gora is situated in the wooden realm of Gorski kotar, where strolling the forests and hiking up the hills, or just enjoying in the fresh air, will make you forget the stress of everyday life. Ideal for every nature lover, Ravna Gora is a place where you can also enjoy excellent authentic food.

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This place has been a military outpost in times of Turkish/Ottoman invasions, and slowly progressed to a artisan and wood producing town. During your stay in Ravna Gora you should visit the cultural sights of Ravna Gora, the excursion site Javorova kosa with a mountain chalet next to which, according to a legend, is the healing spring Božji studenac, visit the wood paths and walking paths or find another way of relaxation.

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You have the opportunity for hunting or photo hunting in the hunting ground “Višnjevica”. Get informed about the rehearsals or the concert of the Ravna Gora wind and tamburitza orchestra. They are worth listening to.

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Nearby is an idyllic small village Stara Sušica. Around the village – hills, woods, meadows; in the village – a school, a tiny church, a castle, below the castle a stream… Indeed, it is a picturesque setting. The beautiful Stara Sušica castle is a recognisable sight in this region, and it is home for school children’s holidays.

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If you want to understand life in harmony with nature to join Ravnogorski fruits of the mountains, walk the picturesque countryside Ravna Gora mountain road bike and explore the beautiful Ravnogorski green paths.

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Learn more about this destination:

TURISTIČKI URED RAVNA GORA
I.G. Kovačića 177, Ravna Gora
0385 51 818 351, 00385 99 229 3773
tzo-ravna-gora@ri.t-com.hr
http://www.tz-ravnagora.hr

Photos by: TZ Ravna Gora