Our new Guided Walking trip, Japan: Kyoto, Nara & the Kumano Kodo, (as well as our recent Six-Word Travel Memoir Contest) has gotten me thinking about one of my favorite exports from Japan—haiku. Though often taught as a simple counting game (say it with me: five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables), this ancient poetry form is actually one of the most nuanced, profound, and surprisingly hilarious writing forms ever created. And, best of all, it’s a great tool for exploring the Land of the Rising Sun...More>
When Country Walkers guest Heather Blake returned from a Guided Walking trip on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast earlier this year, we were inspired by her photos. We’d always known the region to be an undiscovered gem of Renaissance architecture, Mediterranean color, lush vineyards, and family-owned restaurants, but Heather’s photos reminded us what a glorious—and surprising—place it can be to experience for the first time. Here, we’ve collected a few of our favorite pictures of Croatia; Heather was kind enough to provide captions for each.
“One thing I learned while traveling the Dalmatian Coast is that Croatians are not humble about their country...they’re quite proud and want everyone to know how fantastic it is. So, I’ll be a surrogate Croatian ambassador. This place is tremendous, the people are friendly, the food is amazing and healthy, the sea is a beautiful blue, the coastline has spectacular mountains, and the history is mind boggling.
“We started in Split, the second largest city in the country. Its main claim to fame is the Diocletian’s Palace, a Roman ruin and UNESCO World Heritage Site. This church is part of that complex.”
“This Roman Coliseum in Split was torn down by Napoleon so that the Venetians wouldn’t use it as a base camp during wartime. Still, it was staggering to see. Darn Napoleon!”
“From Split, we then headed to Brac and then Hvar. I really fell in love with these islands! There are no cars in the city of Hvar, so everyone simply walks everywhere. The island is known for its lavender fields and vineyards. I was struck by the rock walls you find around the island, placed there to capture water so plants can grow in the arid climate.”
“Let’s talk wine! The wine in Croatia is excellent. We were lucky enough to visit the Zlatan Otok vineyard by the sea—what a beautiful setting. Croatian wine is a little known gem and this producer is particularly well known for making top quality, award winning wines.”
"Most of our meals were at konobas. A konoba is a restaurant set in a family’s home. They cook your meals, serve you their home-brewed wine, and occasionally sing for you. The Konoba Belin has a lovely outdoor setting with family style seating. They served some of the best food that I have ever eaten: wonderfully grilled meats, beautiful salads, cabbage, and lovely desserts. Everything was artfully prepared by a family who cares.
"Finally, our last nights were in Dubrovnik. Everyone has heard of this city for a reason—it’s awe inspiring. I loved getting lost on the streets and the tiny alleys. After the tour was over, I walked the wall surrounding the city and enjoyed breathtaking views of the orange rooftops and breathtaking marinas.”
“It’s a Croatian tradition that any guest who comes to your home gets to taste your grappa and eat a fig. I had never had grappa before, so it was a new experience. My favorite was the walnut grappa. What a welcoming place!”
About the Photographer: Heather Blake is a traveler, food blogger, and real estate agent based in Denver, Colorado. You can read more about her adventures (and recipes!) on her blog RockyMountainCooking.com.
You don’t have to be a sommelier to appreciate the deep flavors and rich colors of a jammy pinot noir or crisp chardonnay. And you certainly needn’t be a wine expert to delight in our new Self-Guided Walking trip through California’s premier wine country—a region of towering redwoods, rustic towns, sun-dappled vineyards, and sophisticated art galleries.More>