06 March 2011

Summer is coming

Summer 2011 is coming fast - from the orgy of music that is EXIT in Novi Sad, to the Sarajevo Film Festival (and its less well-known Istrian cousins in Motovun and Pula), to the yachts cruising down the Dalmatian coast and the bodies sweating to the beat on Hvar, you have plenty to pick from.  

So why will this site be of interest? Because it is purely about sharing what the editorial board loves - no more, no less. The guide actually started out over 15 years ago (yes, before many of you could drive, much less plan a trip like this) as a personal endeavor born out of frustration in trying to find anything appropriately chic to do in the region, given that the setting was aching to be upgraded or at least rendered into something kitschy cool.

Of course, since the inception of this guide, areas within the vaguely defined perimeters of southeastern Europe have increased in their global appeal. Despite some missteps made by hoteliers and others in "modernizing" the coast, we remain steadfast in the belief that one can still have an ersatz jet-set life here – and you won’t run across any gapless jeans, TGI F#*day’s or other such globalized tedium.

The reader can be assured that everything included here has been personally selected by either the editor or very trusted friends and colleagues. This could be a hole-in-the-wall which happens to have an excellent minestra, a special hotel (Villa Arditi is our latest find), charming/gorgeous staff, or anything else which appeals to one of the senses in a way that we felt should be included. The hotel listings are incomplete (if we haven’t stayed, or hated it, it's not here); the restaurants guided by our distaste for ‘tourist class’ and the accompanying globalisation of the mediocre.

The idea here is not to replicate any of the myriad of books that you may have picked up about the various and sundry areas covered herein, although certainly the inability to find any guidebooks that we felt were really targeted at us and/or our friends drove us to continually collect more and more info. There are some good guides, and we will happily tell you which we think are best for which areas and why as we go along.

For where you may want to start, check the contents  (you can click on the pic at the top right) or the exceedingly subjective listing of the best of the Adriatic.

What areas does this cover?

Roughly, along the eastern coast of the Adriatic from Trieste in Italy through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, and Macedonia, ending in Thessaloniki in Greece. On the western coast, we include the Italian regions of Salento on the heel of Italy's boot. Why? Partially for practical reasons and partially because we love the not-as-traveled bits: this very-clearly-not-defined-in-a-legal-manner region emerged, based on airports, highway systems, ferry lines, and - most importantly - places of interest. It is our opinion that, in this day and age, one massive failure of 'normal' guide books is that they split the world according to national borders, which often doesn't make for the best trip. This is particularly the case of the Adriatic and the countries that surround it.

If you are heading to Istria, you can easily jump into Slovenia and Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy. Dubrovnik mixes well with Kotor in Montenegro and Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and of course when you go to the Sarajevo Film Festival you have to end your trip in Dalmatia. From Montenegro or Dalmatia you can easily take an overnight ferry to Puglia and enjoy the baroque charms of Lecce and the sensory overload of la cucina povera. Islands such as Hvar pair well with Dubrovnik (as well as everything in between) or even Istria if you rent a car. In short, we hope to help you mix complementary destinations regardless of borders, and to suggest itineraries based on personal interest rather than what is convenient for the writer to package for a publisher.

To best do that, and to continually improve this web-based endeavour, your comments and queries are essential.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the trip.

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