Why Cupid Would Choose Croatia

Croatia has a lot to offer tourists seeking all manner of escapes, but being one of the most picturesque countries in the world, it is an ideal place for a romantic holiday.  Here’s a few reasons why…

Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik – View of the Stradun

Oysters
We all know oysters are believed to have aphrodisiac properties. Ston on the Pelješac Peninsula has hosted oyster farms since Roman times and has a solid reputation for the best oysters in Croatia. It is also the only place where the Ostrea Edulis variety is found. Smaller than its Atlantic counterpart, it is served open on its flat side, and the meat is firmer and more richly flavoured. Ston is also on the revered Pelješac wine trail so order a bottle of the local Postup and Dingač as well, and then walk it off along the secluded sandy Divna beach to the north of the town.

Scenic
Take a scenic boat ride across the harbour from a jetty outside the former Maraska (cherry) liqueur building to Zadar’s Old Town with the Barkarjoli (boatmen) of Zadar who have rowed passengers across this stretch of water since the 12th century. Stroll along the waterfront listening to the rhythms of the sea play out on Zadar’s mesmerising Sea Organ, eerily like that of mating whales. Take in the city’s famous sunsets – Hitchcock declared these most beautiful he’d seen – and enjoy the unique ‘Greeting to the Sun’ installation that projects UV light (stored during the day) into the evening sky.

007 Style
Woo her by taking a water taxi from the airport to the sumptuous, sunken champagne bar of Le Meridien Lav, Split; a luxury hotel with island views. Alternatively check into one of several romantic city centre hotels, such as the Hotel Vestibul Palace and Hotel Peristil, both built within the walls of the famous Diocletian’s Palace. Stroll the city’s Riva (waterfront), stopping off at one of the many cafés for a spot of people watching.

Sweetheart’s Token
Give the traditional sweetheart’s token: Zagreb’s licitar (gingerbread heart) is a cookie made from honeyed pastry dyed red and colourfully decorated which is traditionally presented to one’s beloved. Croatia’s little known, yet stylish capital of Zagreb is only a 2 hour flight from London. This central European city break will take your breath away with its dazzling architecture and city parks, plus a softer, more bohemian side of coffeehouses, cake shops and street performers. Its oldest parts Gradec and Kaptol are some of the most beautiful and best preserved quarters in Europe. The quirky, cobbled Upper Town is connected to the buzzing Lower Town by funicular. The exciting new ‘MSU’ or Museum of Contemporary Art which opened in late 2009 is a sure way to an art-lover’s heart. www.msu.hr

Eternal Warmth
Warm the cockles of her heart on the elegant Opatija Riviera which is known for its micro-climate (Austrian ladies used to visit to enjoy the milder temperatures). It is now one of Croatia’s foremost spa centres with many wellness spas offering treatments costing 30% less than in neighbouring countries such as Italy. The lungomare (seafront promenade) stretches for 12km from nearby Lovran to the old fishing village of Volosko. Book a table at Plavi Podrum seafood restaurant and ask the country’s most famous sommelier about Croatia’s award-winning wines.

Pop The Question
Spend a weekend in Dubrovnik, one of the world’s most romantic medieval cities and do as my brother-in-law did and ask your sweetheart to marry you. Walk the city ramparts (approx 1 hr) in an anti clockwise direction and take in the coastline or watch life unfold in the 15th century, honey coloured houses within the city walls. The cityscape is breathtaking with bell towers and terracotta rooftops set against the shimmering Adriatic to one side and mountains on the other. In July 2010 a new cable car launches that will ascend Mount Srd (which towers behind the city) in around 3 minutes to 405 metres above sea level. At the top is a viewing platform plus bar and restaurant with visibility of up to 60 kilometres on clear days. www.tzdubrovnik.hr

Discover the Heart-shaped Island
Galesnjak is an uninhabited island in the Zadarski Kanal between Zadar and the Island of Pasman is the ultimate lovers’ hideaway.

Take the Plunge
The Kempinski Hotel Adriatic in Savudrija, Istria (the appropriately heart-shaped peninsula in Croatia’s north-west) is a five-star luxury coastal resort beside beautiful Adriatic Sea complete with its own Wedding Chapel! What more do you need?

For more information about Croatia telephone the Croatian National Tourist Office, 020 8563 7979 or visit the website www.croatia.hr

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Gastronomic Adventures at Hotel Monte Mulini

Hotel Monte Mulini
Hotel Monte Mulini

Istria prides itself on being the gastronomic capital of Croatia and foodies in the know will already be well aware of this culinary hotbed. The 5-star Hotel Monte Mulini perfectly showcases the region’s delicacies from award winning wines and fresh truffles to a range of seafood including oysters and spider crabs.

The hotel’s traditionally styled Wine Vault restaurant features an extensive wine cellar with an impressive selection of 550 award-winning Croatian and international wines personally selected by Croatia’s leading sommelier, Emil Perdec.

Twice winner of the prestigious Trophée Ruinart in France, popularly known as the European Championship for Sommeliers, Emil Perdec is working alongside renowned chef Tomislav Gretic, who opened Dubai’s Asia de Cuba and perfected his craft at Zurich’s Dolder Grand and Dubrovnik’s Palace Hotel, to establish the Hotel Monte Mulini, as Istria’s leading destination for wine connoisseurs and gourmets.

Hotel Monte Mulini
Hotel Monte Mulini

With two of the most popular types of Croatian wine, the crisp Malvazija and full-bodied Teran produced in Istria there is little wonder the region is now recognised as a top food and wine destination by food writers and wine connoisseurs all over the world.

In both the Wine Vault and Hotel Monte Mulini’s Mediterraneo restaurant, chef Gretic serves delicious French-Mediterranean concoctions that include local produce such as heady white truffles, wild asparagus, freshly caught seafood and fish and Istrian prosciutto.

Istria is a year round destination and the hotel’s menu changes daily. Spring is the season for wild asparagus, summer and autumn for black truffles and autumn and winter for famous white truffles – real gourmets will know this is when the truffles are at their finest. During truffle season truffle fans will be delighted to find they feature heavily on each menu and are often served with every course, even the ice cream! To help truffle aficionados get to the source of their desire, The Hotel Monte Mulini can arrange truffle hunts for guests, and participants even get to keep the truffles they find!

Room rates at Hotel Monte Mulini start from €235 including breakfast and VAT for a double room. For further information or reservations please visit www.montemulinihotel.com or call +385 (0)52 636 000.

Truffle hunting can be arranged and booked at the hotel. This costs €120 per hr or €350 per half day and participants get to keep the truffles.

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Learn to Sail in Romantic Rovinj, Croatia

Discover your sea legs and romantic Rovinj this year, with a luxurious sailing break in Western Istria, Croatia. The recently opened five-star Monte Mulini is offering couples the chance to learn a new skill, and more about each other, during a five-night stay which includes a 3-day sailing excursion along the lively coast of Rovinj.

Western Istria is a sailor’s paradise with crystal-clear waters and huge variety of flora and fauna make this coastline a natural paradise. For three days you can explore the 22 islands and islets on your own personal sailboat, complete with English-speaking skipper to coach you through the sailing basics. By the end of the trip you will know how to lift, lower and trim the sales and honed your skill at other essentials, including simple manoeuvres and weighing and slipping anchor.

At the end of a long day on the water, the Hotel Monte Mulini is a luxurious haven for couples. The true romance of its location is evident immediately on arrival, as its dramatic glass wall over three levels greets guests as they check-in with undisturbed views of the sea. The remaining public areas are similarly designed to maximise natural light and all guest rooms benefit from balconies offering fantastic views of the chic pool area and the surrounding bay and nature reserve.

For a bit of well-earned pampering, spend some time in the Hotel Monte Mulini’s spa. Set over two levels with reception and treatment rooms on the upper level, above the pool and sauna area, the Monte Mulini Wellness Centre includes a VIP Salon with zones which can be booked by individuals or couples for individually designed treatments which last for up to four hours.

Gourmet couples are well catered for at Hotel Monte Mulini. Mediterraneo is the hotel’s à la carte restaurant with 54 seats in a spacious terraced area for alfresco dining and relaxation on warmer days. While guests sample delicious Mediterranean fusion cuisine they can enjoy fine views of the pool area, the bay and romantic sunsets. On cooler evenings a further 118 covers are available inside, but guests still benefit from the views.

The traditional Croatian Wine Vault restaurant on the lowest level is a fine dining restaurant with 60 seats serving French delicacies, with an extensive wine list including the best labels from Croatian and around the world.

Rovinj itself is Croatia’s Blue Pearl of the Adriatic with its cobbled streets, Venetian architecture, natural forest parks and beautiful churches and chapels is a short stroll along the marina from the hotel and offers endless opportunities for aimless wandering. One of the most picturesque towns in the Mediterranean, the old town is perched on a narrow peninsula high up on a hill, crowded with terracotta-roofed houses and crowned by the 18th century Church of St Euphemia, the  bell tower of which dominates Rovinj’s skyline. A central square is edged with lively cafés and restaurants spreading out on to a charming harbour crammed with sailing and fishing boats – all in all perfect for watching the world go by.

The Hotel Monte Mulini’s luxury sailing break is available between 15th May and 11th June and costs €2,750.00 for two people. Included are five-nights accommodation in a deluxe room, with a full buffet breakfast, and a 3-day charter of a private yacht and skipper.

www.montemulinihotel.com

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