MEMORIES – the best souvenir
Memories are the best souvenir you can get but you can not take them home to your friends and family. Yup, we all love them and hate them equally so let me help you a bit with some ideas on what to actually buy in Croatia. Having a long history and a lot of different regions we also has a huge number of different souvenirs. Most of it comes down to traditional local products often something you can eat or drink ?
“These are few of my favourite things” (Don t judge – I love THE SOUND OF MUSIC movie):
1.) LICITAR HEART
It is a non-eatable cookie with a mirror in the middle. ? Why? So the story goes that In the old days when a young man was in love with a girl, he gave her a licitar heart saying “Look who is in my heart“ or „Who you see in my heart is the one I love“. She would then look at her reflection in the mirror and it would be a romantic beginning of a relationship. Today it is definitely one of the most recognizable symbols of Zagreb and surrounding area.
2.) A TIE
Yes – Croatian „invented the tie“ – so you are welcome world… The wearing of a cravat ( a loose red scarf – looking thing around the men’s neck ) started in Croatia back in the 16th century as a part of Croatian traditional costumes. During the Napoleonic wars, women would tie it around their men for good luck and it became recognized as a fashion from which the French adopted – so in a way they stole it from us… something like the World Cup 2018. If you buy an original Croatian „kravata“ it is pure silk, hand sowed.
Welcome to Balkan. We drink. Join us. Probably one of the first words you will learn in Croatia is „ŽIVJELI“ meaning „cheers“. I know it sounds bad and you now have a mental picture of us maybe being drunks but it is not like that ( we are recreational drinkers – meaning we drink for fun… or for any other reason ? ) So, of course, it became a souvenir so some of the things you can take home are:
- RAKIJA – the rule is „don t smell it, just drink it
- WINE – if you are a wine lover – you will LOVE Croatia
- MARASCHINO – a liqueur made from Marasca cherries ( sweet so can trick you easily )
So you would not say that all we do is drink – we eat too. ? Some of the things worth mentioning are:
- Bajadera – my absolute favorite chocolate made by the most popular Croatian candy factory „KRAŠ“. This sweet little thing will rock your world and convince you to have a „cheat day“ every day
- Vegeta – a condiment which can be found in EVERY Croatian kitchen because it is believed that one small spoon of Vegeta makes the dish better.
- Truffle – ah yes, the black gold of gastronomy. A special experience that you can have is to go truffle hunting and then, of course, eat them. Best place to do it – Istra peninsula
- Paprenjak – traditional Croatian biscuit which contains a unique mix of honey and black pepper. I can honestly say that tourists are crazier for it than us locals.
5.) BURA IN A JAR
„Bura“ is the most popular wind in Croatia, coming down from the north, over the Velebit mountain hitting the Adriatic sea. It is wild, cold, strong, often similar to a minor hurricane with the highest measured speed of 304 km/h – so why not put it in a jar a sell it as a souvenir. Yeap – you read it correctly – Croatians are selling wind in a jar!!
6.) VUČEDOL DOVE
One of the oldest locations in Croatia’s history is Vučedol – an archaeological site on the far east of our country next to Vukovar city. Vučedol dove has become one of the main symbols of it because a ceramic pot in the shape of a dove was found here dating from the period between 2800 and 2400 BC. So if you want to have something on your shelf collecting dust, at least have something authentic – today you can find a replica of it in all shapes and sizes.
7.) CROATIAN LACE
Grandma was here! Lacemaking in Croatia is a tradition dating back to the Renaissance period and because of its uniqueness, UNESCO actually recognized it as one of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The most popular is from the island of Pag. If you do not want to buy it as a souvenir – at least try to make a small part of it by yourself – believe me, you will value it more ?.
8.) WOODEN TOYS
One more thing recognized by UNESCO as one of the Intangible Cultural Heritage are old colourfull wooden toys specific for the area of „Zagorje“ ( North part of Croatia ). In the old days, the mas would make them, women would paint them and the kids would play with them – it was fun for the whole family. Today it became more of a souvenir than a toy for children so why not change it and buy it for a present.
9.) A PIECE OF ROCK
Not just any rock – even though it would be a proper “Balkan” style – take a rock and be grateful that you have it ( i can hear my father saying – when I was a kid, we were playing with mud and rocks – and we were happy ). Ok, back to souvenirs – “brački kamen” or the rock from the Brač island. Hard, white and actually world-famous used from the Ancient Greek and Roman times for building but also for everyday things ( decorations, dishes, jewelry,… )
10.) GRIČKI TOP – FACEBOOK PAGE
And last but not least and definitely my favorite. There is a tower called Lotrščak in Zagreb dating from the 13th century and on top of it, there is a cannon that shots every single day exactly at noon with the blast going over 120dcb ( to find out why and how you have to join my tour ). Anyway – the name of the cannon is “Grički top” and ( of course ) it has its own Facebook page with only one purpose – to post “BUM” every day at noon.
Now let’s step back and see what is a souvenir actually – it is something that will remind you that you have been traveling. So why not do this – Like the Facebook page ( it is free ) and it will remind you, every day with the “BUM” that you have been in Zagreb and no matter where you are in the world it is going to be noon in Croatia.