"SLANO (2002,2003,2004,2005,2006,2009)" Slano by edwis

Slano Travel Guide: 2 reviews and 52 photos

our home base, 40 km from Dubrovnik, on coast


“J” and “C”’s place is in a little town in a secluded bay area called Slano, about 35 miles from Dubrovnik, Croatia’s popular tourist and main historic city. Slano is a sleepy little town of about 200 people and it is like going back in time. Croatia (and Slano) is still the country where the little old ladies come to the market each morning with their woven baskets for their daily staples. This was fun to watch as I sipped my morning cappuccino in ‘downtown’ Slano. Some days we had the ever popular meat/cheese in a warm freshly baked flaky crust ‘burek’, for a late morning snack. They usually come in a brown wrapping paper and you find somewhere to sit and eat it. This is always a creative and messy proposition no matter how you try to eat one.

Their house in Slano, which is always in a state of restoration, started out from a war damaged bombed out shell with its block and stone walls. Of course now has turned into be quite the place. It is only about 4000 sq ft! - Complete with marble floors and terraces overlooking the water. The harbor never has a wave because it is in a sheltered bay, so it is like a giant lake. The water there is the clearest and most colorful we have ever seen. A local guy was telling us about the stonework used on “J’s” house. It came from some famous island / area near there (briach?) and it is the same stone that was used building the American White House. Their kitchen which was finished on the year two visit is a work of art. One of “C”’s cousins is a wood worker, and he hand made cherry wood cabinets which includes a spectacular floor to ceiling wine rack. We learned one side was to be used for the whites and the other for reds. They got a great European washing machine, nicknamed the ‘boiler’, for it takes about 2 ½ hours of time and it just boils out those white clothes, and never a stain remains.

We heard some interesting tales about purchasing property in Croatia. Not quite the same as it is in the States. Much of the bureaucracy process and then the financial transactions require a bit of trust, patience and having a hopeful spirit. We were told that buying a property in Croatia may involve a house deal where the land may not be included in the sale. Then it could be that the entire house may not be included in the sale or that the government must give approval for any expansion, which they all require. Of course more common is that there may not be a clear title to the property. And as “J” and “C” found out with their house purchase, there may not be open access to the property. What they thought was a free driveway up to there house, was actually owned by neighbors. It took months of gaining trust, smooching, and gift giving before a free and open access into their property was realized.

Our first time there, the kitchen was not quite ready yet, so all food cooking took place in the rear yard on a beautiful stone fireplace. The running water was also in the back, so cleanup and dishes were handled in an outdoor sink. They acquired a rack device which holds a whole prosciutto leg they get for each summer, and one just shaves off slices as needed. Of course the proscuitto was a purchased at a local farmstead.

“J” and “C”, who obviously love food and preparing meals, always outdo themselves. Using the outdoor grill with some special olive wood burning, having a whole fresh fish that “J” caught that morning, or fresh fish we picked up at the fishermen’s’ market, is always such a treat. Once “J” caught an octopus in his netting/box traps so we had a fresh octopus salad that night. This was served with fresh beans, bream, and crepes for dessert. Oh the good simple life in Croatia keeps calling me! Every item is always so fresh and the people pride themselves of their local products. You go to the market each day, go to the bakery each day, and picked up what you need for only that night’s meal. Such a nice lifestyle and who wouldn’t like it?

( trips in 2002 /03/04/05/06 ....)

The routine at “J”s is always great – so relaxing and peaceful. We’d wake each day and walk about 3 blocks along the beach/water into “downtown” Slano (which is about 6 shops together); have a morning cappuccino, then go buy bread, cheese, meats, for the mid day snack. Then walk over to the big resort and do beach stuff. Later we’d do some boat activity trip to an island, the city, etc. “J” has fishing cages out in the bay and checks those each day. He also does a lot of spear gun fishing about 20 feet underwater. He wears a weighted belt and hopefully brings home fresh squid and fishes. Sometimes he goes our alone in the boat for one of his fishing events and even I find that a little worrisome.

Quiet time around their house is so pleasant and to be cherished. There is a sea view from all the rooms and just to spend some time reading or sitting outdoors is quite peaceful. Most meals are on the outdoor second floor terrace overlooking the few sailboats in the bay. We were taught that when toasting a round of drinks (salute), you always look at each and every person directly in the eyes as you toast. As “C” would say often, “it’s an old Croatian custom”. She liked to tell me something goofy and then tell me it’s an old Croatian custom.

Each year there seem to be more cars and more tourists than before. The Italians are everywhere on holiday during the summer months. With resort being about 1 mile down the shoreline, the summer months in Slano are quite busy by their standards. “J” & “C”’s homestead comes develops a little better with each year’s new projects; some new landscaping happening on our last visit including some new fragrant lavender plantings taking hold. We enjoy the quiet and peaceful living that Slano presents each day.

Slano opened a new little building called the tourist office recently. After a morning cappuccino in the next door café one day, I stopped in and a young lady was staffing the place. There was a very artsy multi-colored poster in the window that caught my eye. She didn’t speak any English but somehow I convinced her to give me the poster, which she did. We I got back to “J” and “C”’s place and showed them the great memento I acquired, “J” immediately took a walk into ‘downtown’ Slano and went to the tourist office. He asked the girl for a poster speaking Croatian, and she replied that “oh no, we don’t give those out to anyone”. Now there was a business man standing around in front and we figured that he must have been the office supervisor and she was not going to get into any trouble. Jay couldn’t believe I secured a poster and he struck out!

Everything in Croatia is always so fresh.

They take pride in not using preservatives and the resulting taste of peaches, plums, and other items is just wonderful. Imagine tomatoes that taste full of flavor just like when we were young kids. The olive oils are locally grown and produced. When they bring them to the processor, they are given an official ‘certification’ and number ranking of quality, by the state. They always refer to what we call the state as ‘the ministry’. It took me quite a while to catch the meaning of this term ‘ministry’.

“J” would grilled the fish whole, using olive wood, mixed with special charcoal dug out from the hills in nearby Bosnia. I think we had grilled whole fish, with heads and tails, almost every day in Croatia and while around the Adriatic coast. Joan finally learned the proper filleting method along the way. Out of our 12 days in Europe that summer, we ate indoors only once during the entire trip. I think we adjusted quite well to the coastal life.

The last year over to Slano, there was a new little girl in town named Ivana, who is a trained masseuse who has opened a little shop in Slano, actually one room in her house. “J” had checked her out regularly and when I got there, I had a nice visit with her. Ivana likes to wear very short shorts and small cropped tops all the time. Her massages are pretty good too. “J” had sent me an email prior to the trip over saying he discovered this new masseuse in Slano, but her music selections were just awful for massage therapy. So when I arrived a few weeks later, I brought her some highly rated massage music CDs that I picked up on Amazon. I think “J” got some free massages in exchange for the CDs but he never told me.

She also had some bottles of olive oil for sale at her place. We discovered that they received the highest certification ranking from the ministry this last year. Outside of her little massage business, she had a beautiful garden of giant, juicy red tomatoes, all ready to be eaten.

We walked around the Slano village hills one day and found grape vines, lavender, pomegranates, olive trees for homemade olive oil, and a variety of berries. We also passed several goats walking on the roadway. Little boy Luca liked to walk down by the goats and feed them his cheerios. One summer a new bakery opened in Slano and by the time I got there in the morning, there were about 8 people standing in a line outside to get in. This was a common sight every morning after the Catholic Church service let out. But doing this for a taste of the warm poppy seed apple tort was well worth it. In the true Dalmatian style, we usually began each day in a café with our morning cappuccino.

At home, my morning daily exercise walks are a perfectly timed 35 minute routine which seems all I can handle. But when I am in Slano, walking along the seashore from their house to the old church and back was a 55 minute trip, and probably the shortest walks I did on the trips. The walkway goes along the curved bay, in the shape of a “U”. The little sandy area by the old church has the warmest water area due to some under ground springs action, so this was a favorite place for taking a little dip.

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:living the simple life / unspoiled beauty
  • Last visit to Slano: Aug 2006
  • Intro Updated Jul 29, 2009
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