Tadeja’s Blog Post Among the Best 20 Stories About the Balkans

Tadeja’s blog post ‘Top 5 Highlights for Nature Lovers in the Boka Kotor Bay’ has been chosen among the best 20 stories about the Western Balkans on the renowned Balkanvibe travel blogger portal.

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http://inoa.si/wordpress/index.php/2016/03/29/english-top-5-highlights-for-nature-lovers-in-the-bay-of-boka-kotor/

https://www.balkanvibe.com/story/Top-5-Highlights-for-Nature-Lovers-in-the-Boka-Kotor-Bay/162

 

Crkvice: Embraced by Nature

Crkvice: Embraced by Nature

Aromatic fragrances of the Mediterranean wild herbs are in the air as we are rising up the fragile stony stairs of an old Austro-Hungarian cinema in abandoned village of Crkvice on Orjen mountain in Montenegro. It’s amazing how nature takes over after human activities cease. Birds and other animals dwell in magnificent stony ruins.

Old horse stall in Crkvice

Old horse stall in Crkvice

When I was working in Suriname I first heard of so called ‘secondary forest’. I remember my imagination soaring as I was observing how the jungle overgrew old cotton plantations.

Something similar happened here, on Orjen. Except that there are no annoying mosquitoes around and the area continues to be partially cultivated by some farmers that are still growing potatoes in tiny karst fields.

Blending history with pristine nature

Some 100 years ago, Crkvice, a vivid military settlement above Risan, has been established to protect and expand the Austro-Hungarian reign in the areas, predominantly ruled by the Turks. In its peak, Crkvice had up to 10,000 inhabitants, mainly families of Austro-Hungarian soldiers. They had all the luxury one could imagine: hotel, tennis court, bowling alley, football field with stands for 1,000 spectators, cinema, brothel, church, bakery, hospital, horse stalls, funicular to drag tree trunks from the woods etc. Altogether over 150 solid buildings were built in a relatively short period.

Path, leading to the water reservoir

Path, leading to the water reservoir

The most outstanding are the ruins of the old bakery which used to be the largest bakery in the Balkans and the second largest in Europe. It provided bread for whole of Boka Kotor bay. Records show that over 24 tons were produced daily, using automated baking system and electricity created in a very sophisticated generator.

Nowadays, only stony ruins speak of the magnificence of Crkvice. Wildlife expanded, original vegetation regenerated along with old fruit trees, providing abundant food for birds and other animals.

Once the largest bakery in the Balkans, taken back by nature

Once the largest bakery in the Balkans, taken back by nature

Wildlife- and bird-watching in Crkvice is something unique

Our fellow traveller, Rok Rozman, ornithologist, immediately recognized some characteristic birds for Orjen and later on, along the walk, also some quite rare species. The region of Orjen is known for the biggest precipitation in Europe with the peak of it ranging from autumn to spring. Despite all, the region is surprisingly dry due to the karst surface. Limestone here reaches one of the deepest layers in the world, permitting these huge amounts of rain and snow simply vanish down into crevasses, caves and abysses only to get back to the surface, or even under the sea, in springs 1,500 meters lower in the Boka Kotor bay. This phenomenon leads to unique conditions that create very rare habitats and when combined with the forest-cowered ruins of one of the biggest settlements of its kind, you get an experience like no other.

Trying to spot birds in the bushes

Trying to spot birds in the bushes

Wildlife is abundant and especially birds are to be noticed at every step. Nuthatches, tree creepers and tits accompanied us at every step; we spotted many Mediterranean weathers, rock buntings and even black woodpecker. The place is also known to be incredible site for observing birds of prey in the nesting season as well as in migration. We saw a sparrow hawk, but golden eagle and short-toed eagle are to be expected and seen easily for someone, spending more time in Crkvice. The potential for birdwatching is simply amazing.

Non-governmental organisation Center for Protection and Research of Birds of Montenegro is raising awareness about exceptional richness of bird species in the area and about protection of their habitat.

Bullets near Crkvice

Bullets near Crkvice

However, local hunters do not always respect hunting regulations and bullets can be noticed around. I trust that this will change in time with the increased awareness of local people and more and more nature lovers, visiting Boka Kotor bay, admiring its magnificent nature.

Ideas for hiking in the area

Ideas for hiking in the area

Crkvice is great for hiking as well. Though easily accessible by car – less than half an hour drive from Herceg Novi – the site is a very suitable starting point for several walking trails that lead to spectacular views and are getting very popular. Local mountaineering clubs Niskogorci and Subra are maintaining mountaineering trails on Orjen and do great job in promoting outdoor activities in the area.

I certainly don’t qualify for a professional birder. But birdwatching can be such fun! Especially, if not taken too seriously. Hours pass by listening to the sounds of nature, something that can rarely be experienced in our everyday lives. And as I had been trying my best to spot nuthatches and tree creepers, another joke from our Montenegrin guides came across. Days spent in laughter!

Upon my return home, I learned that these same enthusiasts from Niskogorci club introduced a new climbing route, called ‘nuthatch’ (brgljez), named after the only European bird that can climb head down. I just love this dedication and Montenegrin sense of humour!

New climbing route by Niskogorci

New climbing route by Niskogorci

Special thanks to Nativa Institute and Rok Rozman!

Strategic Development Plan of the Orthopaedic Hospital Valdoltra

Ankaran, March 2016

Strategic Development Plan of the Orthopaedic Hospital Valdoltra 

Inoa experts are co-creating Strategic Development Plan of the Orthopaedic Hospital Valdoltra, addressing key strategies and actions of this renowned medical institution in the period 2016-2020. More than 30 employees are involved in this interactive strategy development process.

Top 5 Highlights for Nature Lovers in the Boka Kotor Bay

Top 5 Highlights for Nature Lovers in the Boka Kotor Bay

The Old Town of Kotor, its fortifications and nearby villages have been widely publicized since Kotor made it to the list of Lonely Planet’s top picks to visit in 2016.

The wider area of the Boka Kotor Bay offers some pretty amazing experiences for nature lovers, too. We had a chance to work with environmentalists and authentic local tourism providers within a non-profit initiative, called BETSA (Birdwatching and Eco Tourism of South Adriatic) and this is what we recommend as top 5 highlights for nature lovers:

View from Orjen; Photo: Miljan Novaković

View from Orjen; Photo: Miljan Novaković

 

1. Tivat Salt Pans

Tivat Salt Pans, an ornithological reserve, enlisted on the Emerald and RAMSAR site, are a unique biodiversity gem. The most nature friendly ways of accessing the area are: by kayaks from Tivat, by bikes or walking a 3 km walking trail from Tivat Airport.

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Tivat Salt Pans; Photo: CZIP

The natural and cultural heritage of Tivat Salt Pans is presented by young enthusiastic guides from the Center for Protection and Research of Birds (CZIP), a non-governmental organisation which is running an info point there. A variety of birds can be spotted during every season:  herons, several species of ducks, coots, snipes, woodcocks, cormorants, gulls, ibises and many more. In spring, the scenery is particularly impressive as most European species of water birds fly over the salt pans in large flocks.

 on Tivat Salt Pans; Photo: Borut Rubinić

Little Egret on Tivat Salt Pans; Photo: Borut Rubinić

We recommend visiting the reserve either early in the morning or later in the day, before the sunset. The lights are just amazing.

2. Exploring Mount Orjen

Vilino Guvno on Orjen; Photo: Željko Starčević

Vilino Guvno on Orjen; Photo: Željko Starčević

Orjen is the highest mountain range in the Mediterranean part of the Dinaric Alps. The area has been recently declared a regional park. First mountaineering trails and several fortifications date back to the 19th century, during the reign of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Plateaus on Subra are majestic examples of karst micro-relief. ‘Subra amphitheatre’, for example, is a fabulous work of art by nature. Numerous speleological sites are scattered in the area.

Orjen Authentic Pine (Munika); Photo: Željko Starčević

Unique Bosnian Pine on Orjen (Pinus Heldreichii); Photo: Željko Starčević

The best way to start the exploration of the mountain is from the edge of Herceg Novi at ‘Matkovića most’, near the village Matkovići on the way from Herceg Novi to Trebinje.

A one hour hike on a stony walking trail leads to Kotobilj forest. This area, afforested back in the 30s of the 20th century, is an untouched oasis of mixed trees of Bosnian pine and cypress. There is a lot to see in the surroundings. A visit to the tiny churches of St. Peter and St. Paul, as well as, to the Church of St. Stephen is especially rewarding. It’s also nice to walk to the ‘Secret Hill’, dominating above the village of Kameno. It used to be a military fortress and nowadays, it offers an attractive blend of history and nature. From the top of this hill some of the best views over the bay can be observed along with flocks of migratory birds during spring and autumn migrations.

On the way back, a little village Trebesin is also worth visiting. The name of the village comes from the French expression of excitement: ‘tres bien’. A delicious authentic meal can be ordered in ‘konoba’ there.

3. Moonlight in Žlijebi Village

A small, almost completely abandoned Dinaric village of Žlijebi is noted for its unique stone houses with interlaced limestone roofs. Everything is built from stone in this village: poultry houses, paths, walls and even the church of St. Nikola. Nikola Sikimić, a local master of stone crafting, is one of a few left who can show you how to collect plates of limestone from the ground by hands so that they don’t break. With much care and love for this unique village he has renovated a beautiful complex of houses in traditional style that are now open to visitors.

Žlijebi Village

Žlijebi Stone Houses; Photo: Tadeja L. Colnar

More than anything, simplicity and peace can be enjoyed in Žlijebi. And on a full-moon night the whole village glitters. Unforgettable!

4. Hiking Vrmac

Mount Vrmac is a peninsula, dividing Kotor Bay from Tivat Bay. On the Kotor side, it is part of the UNESCO world heritage, whereas on the side of Tivat, it is declared a regional park. Several marked walking trails that used to connect settlements and fortresses on Vrmac lead to spectacular views over the bays.

There are several options on how to hike to Vrmac. For those who prefer an easy walk, a 4-5 hour trail starts at the Austrian fortress, continues on the slopes of Vrmac to the highest peak of Sveti Ilija (St. Elijah, 785 m.a.s.l.). The views over the Kotor and Tivat Bay are stunning.

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View from Vrmac; Photo: Klaudio Katelan

There is also a possibility of longer hikes, starting in the Old Town of Kotor, through Vrmac, to the village of Gornja Lastva. Local guides will help you with that. Pay special attention to the drumming sounds, made by woodpeckers, whose presence indicates highly preserved forests in this area.

Vrmac is attractive at all seasons – Camellia Festival is a spring overture to festivities in Boka. Camellias are a symbol of maritime tradition and interconnectedness with the rest of the world.
Summer is the time to enjoy Upper-Lastva Festival.
In the end of autumn/beginning of winter delicious chestnuts are the reason for another festival, called Chestnut Festival in Donji Stoliv. It’s amazing how many culinary delights can be made from this one ingredient.

5. Kotor Town Walls

Though this is one of the major attractions of Kotor, climbing the city walls just above the Old Town is a must. Rising at sunrise and avoiding crowds is certainly a good way of doing it. Nature lovers might enjoy this path a bit differently – at the very top, at the Fortress of Sveti Ivan (St John), an off-the-beaten path continues through ‘the window’ towards the village of Špiljari.

Fairy's Doors; Photo: Klaudio Katelan

Fairy’s Doors; Photo: Klaudio Katelan

Perhaps a little ‘bar’ in the village is open and you will have the chance to taste the best pomegranate juice ever while sitting in traditional Montenegrin chairs, overlooking Vrmac, the Old Town and the sea.

Written by: Tadeja L. Colnar

Off the Beaten Track in Slovenian Istria

Off the Beaten Track in Slovenian Istria

Slovenia’s Northern Istria is marked by salt, sun, rich soil, fresh breezes, and the colours and smells of the sea. Nestled at the top of Adriatic Sea, between Italy and Croatia’s more famous coastlines, the Istria has been at the crossroads of Slavic and Roman cultures for millennia.

Just beyond the leisurely bustle of the historic coastal towns of Piran, Portorož, Izola and Koper, the hill country is rarely explored by visitors and the rhythms of life remain in tune with the seasons and proud traditional livelihoods. With a time-honoured reputation for healthful living, the region offers experiences, activities and nourishment that leave you feeling vibrant and healthy.

Inspirations from Kozina Homestead

Inspirations from Kozina Homestead

Touch of Salt, Sea and Art   

Salt production has shaped the landscapes of northern Istria for centuries, from Croatia to Venice. Today, few remain visible, and the Sečovlje salt pans are the only ones that have continued to produce salt using traditional methods for over 700 years. Merging modern design and tradition, Sečovlje Salina has created several successful lines of salt products that are used by chefs in the most renowned restaurants around the world. It’s fun to hear and touch the stories of the salt pans, participate in the salt-makers’ good-luck ritual, and collect salt from salt pans in the traditional way.

Salt at Sečovlje Salt Pans; Photo: Soline, Pridelava soli

Sečovlje Salt Pans; Photo: Soline, Pridelava soli

For a bit of afternoon decadence, enjoying a leisurely lunch with Maršič family is recommendable. They prepare food with ingredients that come from nearby gardens and local farmers. With passion, they create traditional dishes with a modern interpretation. Tastes and aromas of the sea, olives, orchards, herbs, and vegetable gardens seem to be so pure.

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Delicious and Simple Istrian Gastronomy

Nearby Forma Viva sculptures are a great place to end the day, gazing over a hauntingly beautiful view of the sea and salt pans that have inspired artists for centuries.

Days in Communion with Nature

Several families in Slovenian Istria embody the values ​​of sustainable living, working in harmony with natural systems and in respect for the earth. Exploring their bountiful gardens and orchards and taste the fruits of their land including teas made from cultivated and wild herbs, jams and spreads, and other goodies, is a unique experience. Many of these farm fresh delicacies rarely appear on modern menus and are almost completely forgotten outside the rural areas.

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Garlic and Olive Trees

Celebration of Istrian soil which gives birth to the irresistible flavors and aromas of the Mediterranean may take several days here. In a typical Istrian clustered village of St. Peter, it is interesting to visit the Tonina House, a traditional stone building that houses a fascinating ethnological collection of everyday Istrian life up through the middle of the 20th century.  From there you can find your way through olive groves, garlic fields, and the cultural landscapes of the countryside and look for Krkavče village, known for mystical energy stones and an ancient church which stands on a rock.

Nova Vas (New Village), named after all of the original inhabitants died from the plague, is something special, too. It was built along with a garlic tower to honor its famous garlic production. Istrian red garlic is known to be very aromatic and healthful. It is said that this is the village with a most powerful breath, and that it was widely avoided by Count Dracula, when he traveled to the West.

Istrian Garlic; Photo: Slomedia

Istrian Garlic; Photo: Slomedia

It’s time for olive oil! Munda Family Farm is renowned for its premium Istrian olive oil, produced using traditional organic methods. The owners, Tatjana and Vlado Munda, create original olive-based recipes: chocolate with olives, jam made of olives, polenta (corn meal) with olives and whatever new dishes they have concocted.

In the old Roman Empire only Istrian olive oil was of high enough quality to be used in food preparation. Most olive oil came from Mediterranean regions further to the south and was used as massage oil or lamp and torch oil. At that time quality olive oil and wine were status symbols that signaled cultural superiority. Both were also known for their healing properties.

Persimmon, Golden Fruit Gardens

In November,  picking ripe persimmons from the orchards at Silvano Knez farm is a memorable experience. Silvano is one of the founders of the famous Persimmon (‘kaki’) Festival of Strunjan which attracts over 15,000 people. The popularity of this festival dramatically increased demand and brought an end to the uncertainties of persimmon production in the region – ‘kakis’ became the golden fruit again.

Special thanks to Kelli Rose Pearson!

(Slovensko) Študija biotske raznovrstnosti Orjena in Sniježnice

Kotor, 15.12.2015

Študija biotske raznovrstnosti Orjena in Sniježnice

Inoa s sodelavci izvaja “Študijo biotske raznovrstnosti Orjena in Sniježnice”, kar bo med drugim podlaga za pripravo čezmejne “Strategije eko turizma in turizma opazovanja ptic Južnega Jadrana”. Gre za slikovito območje od parka Biokovo, doline Neretve, Konavelj do Boke Kotorske, znano po jadranski selitveni poti ptic. Projekt vodita Center za zaščito in preučevanje ptic Črne gore (CZIP) in Občina Baška Voda.

Ambasadorka Hiše žive dediščine

Šmarješke Toplice, 27. september 2014

Ambasadorka Hiše žive dediščine

Naša sodelavka, mag. Tadeja L. Colnar, je postala ambasadorka Hiše žive dediščine v Šmarjeških Toplicah. Naziv ji je podelila županja mag. Bernardka Krnc. Inoa bo še naprej s simpatijami soustvarjala trajnostni razvoj v tej deželi zdravilnih vrelcev.