Family ethno hotel “Stara Vodenica” (Old Watermill) of family Galić is situated close to Klanjec and near the Sutla River. You cannot miss it on the road as the exterior resembles fairytale place with a distinctive Zagorje features. Family Galić transformed it based on years of tourism experience. Now it welcomes visitors from all around the world in a picturesque corner of Hrvatsko Zagorje, with River Sutla, Klanjec, Kumrovec, and Castle of Veliki Tabor in easy reach by car.
We came to Stara Vodenica after long day of visiting the area and trying local specialties. As a reward, bright smile of staff and welcoming drink with Mr Galić waited for us, along a substantial dinner. The restaurant of this place is decorated in rural Zagorje style, evoking memories of the old, and grandma’s fireplace. Every meal is done in stone oven and the offer is based on traditional Zagorje dishes such as baked beans with sausages, turkey and duck with mlinci, filled Zagorje loaf, baked štrukli, along homemade Zagorje peasant bread.
Hospitality in Zagorje is always present. Thus, we enjoyed talking to the owner while sipping a glass of homemade rakija, before venturing off to the adventure of Zagorje dinner. Situated next to the fireplace, we enjoyed beautiful mushroom soup. Forget all the tastes in city restaurants, this is soup made from hand-picked mushrooms in Sutla valley. Soft chunks of various mushrooms blend perfectly with the broth.
Next, we had Zagorje’s famous and signature dish duck with mlinci. Mlinci, a thin dried flatbread prepared by simply pouring it in boiled salted water, is by its simplicity a true opposition to the knowledge of slowly baking duck and making it a soft main dish. Nowhere in Croatia is duck more popular than in Zagorje and people here are masters in making it.
For dessert you will probably find grandma’s apple pie, pancakes with grandma’s jam, or baked štrukli, another famous Zagorje meal, often eaten not only as a dessert but also as an appetizer. With some homemade red wine, our dinner was a very pleasant finish of the day, with a found memory of duck with mlinci.
Stara vodenica was also our resting place for the night. None of the rooms is the same, and they are all made in Zagorje rustic style. The furniture inside is made from old oak woods, and every rooms is equipped with a TV, air condition, bathroom. Small details are what brings happiness to guests and make the stay here very enjoyable. Sleeping here is indeed almost like a fairytale.
But the real fairytale is to be found around the restaurant and hotel itself. It is a park with old fashioned rural wooden houses, a true historical mill, and animal farm with hens, chickens, dog, goats, etc. In warmer months the park is filled with people sitting on wooden benches and massive wooden tables, enjoying the pleasant green area not far from the Sutla River.
For those who stay here over summer, an outdoor swimming pool may come handy. Otherwise, there is wellness option, with massage and Jacuzzi. Or you may just visit the wine cellar next door and find many top quality wines from all around Croatia and Slovenia.
There are some major master plans to spread the experience and success of Stara Vodenica and make a fairytale village all the way to Sutla. This would greatly enhance the touristic offer of this destination and indeed make our own fairytales known in the wider world. A great experience, enjoyable night, and in every way a place to visit again.
Staying at Stara Vodenica was kindly provided by the Tourist Board of Klanjec.
Photos by: Andrea Seifert, www.mint-media.hr and Stara Vodenica (outdoors)