At last a real holiday, my first in three years, and definitely needed after travelling for work virtually non-stop since March. I went back to the same place as last time; Petrcane, a small Croatian village half way down the Dalmatian coast.
The nearest major town is Zadar which has its own airport, about 40 mins drive from Petrcane if you know where you are going. I don’t and get lost every time! The signs aren’t great, Zadar, Zagreb, it’s all the same…
Petrcane is the location for several festivals over the summer but I come for the disco, house and rare groove vibrations of the Electric Elephant, now in its fourth year. The festival is the brainchild of the Unabombers, Justin and Luke, whose legendary Manchester club night, The Electric Chair, was a pilgrimage for northern lovers of underground dance music for well over a decade.
A crack crew from Sheffield went to party with our Mancunian mates and had one of the best times ever.
The festival site is on a peninsula owned by the Hotel Pinija. Right next door is Barbarella’s night club, an original 70’s disco with a decor style true to its retro features. It consists of a large circular room with a big dance floor for a couple of hundred, served by a hefty Function One sound system.
There are also two dance floors outside under the trees, one at the beach bar for booty bumping at sunset and another larger one by the club where the proceedings get particularly intense later on.
There are also boat parties twice a day on an old sailing ship called the Argonaught. The DJ highlights for us this year were Horse Meat Disco and Derek Carter playing outside under the stars and the Unabombers on the boat on the last day of the festival.
The temperatures in Petrcane were in the high 30s when we were there but in our apartment along the coast in Punta Skala, we were never too far away from the sea. The water is lovely and warm but the beaches are quite rocky though so bring your aqua shoes.
In terms of eating out Croatia is much cheaper than Spain or Italy and they have good ingredients but it can be hard to get a well-cooked meal here for some reason. The national cuisine has two strong influences; the seafood-dominated vibe of the Med and the heavier schnitzel and strudel fare of Central Europe.
The Italian influence is particularly strong both in terms of the language and the food (they used to be part of the Venetian Republic), for example the excellent cured Prosciutto ham (Prsut in Croatian).
You can also get good coffee and mediocre pizzas and obviously there are a lot of good wines and cheeses too. For beer drinkers, Karlovacko is usually okay (B) but Favorit is to be avoided. First stop for me was Plondino, the local supermarket to stock up on all these things.
One morning I had these dense lamb sausages for breakfast in a cafe. With the fried eggs is some diced raw onion and a delicious paprika sauce on the side, which hit the spot (A).
And to drink; a very frothy Cappuccino (B+). It’s a great start to a day of doing nothing.
Kod Jure (Intermediate B+) didn’t get the address but with your back to the hotel, follow the sea path round to the harbour, it’s the first restaurant you come to.
There are plenty of restaurants in the centre of town but the quality can be quite variable. Kod Jure has been consistently good for me though and I like the large outdoor terrace.
Seven of us had the Seafood Grill, which is basically all the other seafood dishes on the menu on one platter and so great for large groups.
You get a couple of whole Orada (gilthead sea bream)…
…and several squid, langoustines and mussels, grilled with olive oil and parsley, which was so good (A), most of us went back the next day and had it again!
You also get some overcooked veg (spinach, beans, potatoes) but they are probably best left (C-).
To wash it down we had a few bottles of Vrbnicka Zlahtina (from Vrbnik on the island of Krk), which is one of the better Croatian white wines (B+).
Milan the owner might appear to be a bit monosyllabic and gruff but he’s actually quite friendly and very hospitable. At the end of the meal he plied us with several glasses of his homemade Orahovaca (walnut brandy) which was good (B) but quite hardcore.
Terazza (also known as Marco Polo) (Intermediate C+), on the main road coming into town, Tel. 023 364 744.
On my first visit I quite liked Terazza but was a bit disappointed this time. I had the Seafood Spaghetti where the pasta had finished cooking in the sauce but it was soggy and nowhere near al dente. However the mussels, clams, langoustine and hoops of squid it came with were poorly presented but fine (C+).
I had this with a bottle of Grasevina, another popular white from an ancient grape variety which is usually pretty good (B). The terrace is a nice place to sit though, and service is friendly, so I’d come again, but maybe order something it’s hard for them to get wrong.
Lots of other places in town, some good, some not. I think you just need to nose out the individual dishes they do well and go when they’re not too busy.
More next year when I go again!
Thanks to Jo for some of the photos and the gang for being the best! x