When my husband and I travel, we always pick up one or more holiday ornaments of the year. Here is the new addition from Croatia. It’s made of Licitar, a ginger cookie, one of the most recognizable symbols of Croatia. In fact, this gingerbread craft is protected as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. What’s special about this charming ornament is the mirror at the center of a Licitar cookie. According to a Croatian folktale, a shy boy wanted to tell a girl that he liked her a lot but didn’t know how to say it to her. So he placed a mirror on a heart-shaped Licitar and showed it to her with a mirror facing towards her. “Look who is in my heart,” he said. She then smiled and gave him a big hug.

Croatia is known for its beautiful water and islands. It has a look of tropical scenes, doesn’t it? Or it reminds you of some scenes from Game of Thrones or Mama Mia? Well…the country has a lot more to offer. They are located in southeast Europe and are geographically pretty diverse. Their low mountains and highlands regions are near the Adriatic coastline and the flat plains are along the Hungarian border. The country’s coastal regions have a mild Mediterranean climate but the mountain regions get cold and have snow in winter. There are also ski resorts in Croatia!

Dalmatian coast, of course, has more than a thousand islands and is perfect for an island-hopping vacation on a yacht or a small cruise. And some islands are for sale in case you are interested.

Here are a few US/Canadian vs. Croatian cities located at a similar latitude. That may give you a better idea of where they are located.
Zagreb (Capital of Croatia):

Montreal QC Canada
Dubrovnik: Boston, MA
Split: Sioux Fall, SD

Croatia uses the local currency, Croatian Kuna (HRK).  $1 (USD) is about 6.7 Croatian Kuna (HRK) today; a Coke/Pepsi ~11 Oz can is about 14 HRK.
It is expected to convert to Euro in 2023.


The capital of the country, Zagreb is where I started. This is a town it was hit by the magnitude 5.5 earthquake the day after the country was closed for COVID in March 2020. Our guide explained that it frightened people in Zagreb and made them wonder if this could be the beginning of the end of the world. Thank goodness, that wasn’t the case. Considering we are still in a pandemic mode they are making great progress in repairing t

he damages. As of right now, the Croatian border is open to foreign tourists.

After checking in to my hotel, I stroll into the town. Guess what I first spotted? LOCAL MARKET!
There were many booths and tables covered with bright color vegetables, Meditteranean fruits such as figs, plums, apricots and oranges, many varieties of mushrooms in various shapes, cheese (don’t miss Paski Sir cheese), flowers (I thought they were similar to Scottish flowers), homemade bakery goods, honey, jam, essential oil…etc. The market is open every day! Don’t miss going down to the basement with more food like pasta, pickles, and of course, fish and meat. Make a note of what those are called. It will come in handy when you order your dinner. Tartufi was my favorite. I can still smell the earthy delicious flavor of Tartufi pasta! Yes, Istrian Truffle is one of the Croatian delicacies. Truffles on the local rectangular pasta called Krpice or flekice was absolutely amazing! (see the picture below, but you have to go there to taste it.)

You can take a casual walking tour of central Zagreb in about two to three hours. There are about 30 museums and galleries there, but half of them were closed due to the combination of the pandemic and the end of the tourist season. (If you visit those museums, you’d need more time.) One of the unique and popular museums is called the ‘Museum of Broken Relationship’. It’s essentially a collection of random items donated by couples who broke up with relationships and have stuff with memories. They don’t want to keep them but cannot throw them away. Unfortunately, I did not have time to go through the museum, but I understand each exhibit includes the stories behind the item.

Croatia has a deep and complex history and it goes back to when the Ottoman Empire was expanding its territory. Their rulers of the country transitioned from one Empire to another. As you know they were also a part of Yugoslavia, Communism. I’m telling you this because the transition of their history is clearly visible in the architecture and culture. Zagreb’s upper town through the stone gate has full of history beyond the Zagreb cathedral with many local picturesque sites. I highly recommend hiring a certified local guide to point out those details.

Find a nice local restaurant for your dinner like The Gallo (our server, Jacko, was fabulous!) and walk back to the historical Esplanade hotel. They celebrated their 90th year anniversary in 20215. You will enjoy the timeless elegance that attracted passengers of the famous Orient Express. If you are interested in reserving a room for your trip or find out more about it, call me.

People are very friendly and the town is very safe in Zagreb.

Since we talked about food in Croatia, let me share about Michelin restaurants there. You are familiar with Michelin Star restaurants.
1 Michelin Star – “A very good restaurant; worth a stop!”
2 Michelin Stars – “Excellent cooking; worth a detour!”
3 Michelin Stars – “Exceptional cuisine; worth a special journey!”There are other Michelin awards: Michelin Bib Gourmand – “Good quality and good value cooking”
The Plate Michelin – “Good cooking: Fresh ingredients and carefully prepared”Bib Gourmand and Plate Michelin are also hidden gems and relatively easier to make the last-minute reservations and fabulous food!
They also have Green Star Michelin, which is an award for a sustainability emblem to show the excellence in sustainable gastronomy.Croatia has Michelin Star, Bib Gourmand, The Plate Michelin and Green Star Michelin restaurants. It’s worth the try. I can make you some recommendations if you are interested.