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srijeda, 21. ožujka 2018.

Swedish "ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Weekend Hvar" Taking Place April 7-8 &..."Tour Of Croatia" Taking Place April 17-22

I already mentioned this story last year HERE when the very 1st ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Weekend took place on the island of Hvar, and the rumour mill last year was right this time because the Swedish organizers behind the races decided to come back to Hvar in a few days. I had never heard of this extreme swimrun marathon competition until last year and it's not one even generally known or talked about in the sports world, even CNN ranked it as one of the toughest endurance challenges of the world so that was also a good reason to post it. And it's not a Croatian competition either but a popular series of Swedish endurance/swim marathon competitions that have been running since 2006, although there are a number of similar Croatian swim and ironman endurance marathons and competitions during the summer anyway. But this year the timing is a week later than last year so the water could be a little less choppier which could be a good thing for the athletes, (and it's a good time in general because come the hotter summer months there would be more boats and ships and swimmers in the water to avoid and bumping into the hikers and tourists lollygagging around, and you sure don't want to be running over the women sunbathing in bikinis or stomp on their ice creams either getting ice creams all over your shoes, because it's harder to run in sticky shoes and outfits).

"ÖTILLÖ" in Swedish literally means "Island to island", so the organizers have recently expanded their swimrun races locations to some other countries also, places that have the required alternating water and islands obstacles and terrain, (DO NOT bring your bicycle if you plan on registering for the race, after the swimming and then running you don't jump on a bike like some other endurance races, you have to keep just alternating swimming and running/swimming and running, trust me just leave the bike at home you won't need it, bring a swim cap and goggles though you'll probably need those, just an inside info tip). You can also visit their official website which has more information and how to register also.

(While doing this post I got to thinking, I used to be in the military and am actually in even better shape and more fit now, I also was on the high school gold medal track team and I've always been a good swimmer, so I'm thinking about registering for this Otillo swimrun down the road and I think I'll probably win, not this year because I'm in the middle of a bunch of things and top secret stuff, but if someone's interested send an email and we'll go win this thing)

As for the 2nd part it's basically a repost also because it will happen just a couple of weeks later. The international men's cycling race Tour of Croatia will be held for the fourth consecutive year from April 17 to 22, 2018, through six stages on a route covering more than 1000 kilometers throughout Croatia. It is part of the UCI Europe Tour and takes place in April in the build-up to the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France. You can watch live streams of the races at HRTi, as well as Croatian National Television (HRT), Eurosport and Eurosport Asia and a bunch of other places on the internet and satellite television. The Tour of Croatia will be featured by different TV stations all over the world this time– live on 6 continents – beamed into 180 countries to viewers in over 700 million homes. The tour official website is

The start and finish of the routes are slightly different this year and are:

TUESDAY 17.4. Osijek - Koprivnica
WEDNESDAY 18.4. Karlovac - Zadar
THURSDAY 19.4. Trogir / Okrug - Makarska rivijera / PP Biokovo
FRIDAY 20.4. Starigrad (NP Paklenica) - Novi Vinodolski / Crikvenica
SATURDAY 21.4. Rabac - Rijeka / Opatija / Poklon (PP Učka)
SUNDAY 22.4. Samobor - Zagreb

 A scene from the 2017 ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Weekend Hvar with a view of the historic 16th century Hvar Fortress (aka "Tvrđava Fortica" or just "Fortica") as a backdrop.

*Originally posted April 2017.

(*Note - I should make it clear that the below two topics are not tourism posts, because I don't do tourism posts or work for any tourism industry, it's not a floating web internet tourism poster or brochure. The below information is just facts and definitely not an attempt to coerce the reader to vacation, visit, move to or illegally cross the border into Croatia to swim, run and/or cycle or other activity. This is not a political and/or tourism innuendos themed blog in any way whatsoever. All written text is strictly supplementary information as a benefit to the reader about current real-time events taking place in Croatia which may or may not by coincidence simultaneously give a better understanding of history, geography and/or other topics in relation to the country of Croatia or any other country mentioned in the text, currently, in the past or future. Any personal observations made by the author are intended solely as only supplementary commentary information about the topics already being discussed and are not intended to promote any specific ideas or actions, such as that the reader should or shouldn't take up a swimming, running or bike riding profession, specific hairstyle, bike style, shoe brand/style, watch brand/model or even geography/ history etc. If the reader is wearing the aforementioned attire, in the past, present or future, then it is they who will have to decide whether or not they magically transformed into the topics in question and whether or not they in fact really did so or not. All or any portions of the text is also not implying that the reader will through some sort of osmosis or magic beans voo doo suddenly transform and instantly be or become said swimmer/runner/cyclist or other things mentioned in the text/images, or lecturing to the reader that they must do so to be able to better understand the written text, images and topics discussed and read by the readers who in fact are not said swimmers/runners/cyclists, (this is self-evident since I'm also not implying that only they are the ones who are capable of telling the reader whether they in fact are or are not currently or in the future a possible swimmer/runner/cyclist or other, whether reading/viewing the information in non-swimming/running/cycling attire, sport fashions, hairstyles etc or not, that has never been implied by the author at any time), because that would be absurd and fucko and wrongly focus the subject matter to be about the reader and their thoughts/opinions about various personal presuppositions instead of the actual real subject matter and informational facts being written about in real-time, aka the real world, which is simply not the case, and that is not the purpose of this informational blog and the text and images found whithin)

Hvar Town (Grad Hvar) waterfront on the island of Hvar at the start of the 2017 ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Weekend.

There's already a number of similar events like this...running marathons, trail run races, running leagues, regattas and cycling events, that have already started this year across Croatia, (and swimming marathons starting up soon too such as the Faros Marathon at nearby Stari Grad), but this particular topic and event was different from all of those. (besides there's more than enough sites doing the other sports and sporting events, too many already, I like doing the less well known topics these days). I never even heard of it before until just the other day, and the pics I came across looked cool enough to throw in here. The races already took place just days ago and it was held for the first time on the island of Hvar, it's all officialy part of the final Swedish ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Weekend.

Why Sweden? (you know Pippi Longstocking and all that) and what exactly is the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Weekend in the first place you may wonder? Well, I found out that "ÖTILLÖ" (which is Swedish for "Island to island") is a one-day swimrun race in the archipelago of Stockholm, Sweden. You compete in teams of two. The aim of the race is to get from Sandhamn to Utö, via 24 islands, by running across them and swimming between them. The total distance is 75 kilometres of which 10 km are open-water swimming and 65 km are trail-running. ÖTILLÖ is considered to be the World Championship of Swimrun.

And the reason they competed here is because the organizers in Sweden this year decided to include as part of the qualifying competition the Croatian island of Hvar. Altogether 5 countries...Sweden, Germany, the UK, Switzerland and Croatia are part of this year's qualifying races for the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Series Final, which will finish in Sweden. The marathon event may not be well known or largely followed in Croatia which isn't the point anyway, but in Sweden it is, so more viewers and followers there at least will know where Hvar and Croatia is, and maybe even more importantly and interesting where it isn't. (so nobody will erroneously think it's in Ukraine or Montenegro or Kosovo or Libya or something like that, because it's in none of those countries either believe it or not).

This is one of the toughest endurance sports around from what I read, in 2012 ÖTILLÖ was ranked as one of the toughest endurance challenges of the world by CNN, and this Hvar race was extremely difficult because of the demanding off-road conditions, but also because of the stronger winds and sea currents going on this time of year. Basically having to conquer the landscape terrain and elements like a Hermóðr in the quest for the finish line from Hel to Valhalla.

There wasn't a Croatian team in these particular races, this time anyway since it was the 1st one and it's mainly Swedish competitors anyway, but the locals sure had some entertaining things to watch and it looks like they'll be back again next year. The winners of this Hvar Swimrun event were Lelle Moberg and Daniel Hansson of the Swedish Armed Forces who finished the race in 5H:55M:08S. According to their official website they're already looking forward to include Hvar again next year as a swimrun qualifying location. There's also information on how to register your team for future races at their website. (btw, besides many world well known personalities spending time at Hvar since even the 19th century Habsburg Monarchy era, did you know that Reese Witherspoon and even Ivanka Trump visited the island of Hvar just last summer? yep, they chose Hvar over going to the Harlem festival, maybe weird and unpatriotic but it's true).

The below synopsis of what took place, as well as full results, history, behind the scenes stories and much more information is from their official website

(For those who are into more historical and archaeological stuff since already on the topic of Sweden, you may want to check out intriguing-archeological-find-scania-duke-branimir about interesting connections of Croats with Vikings even during the time of Duke Branimir in the 800's, and you can also read more interesting background history about the Croatian island of Hvar at; croatian-island-town-celebrating-2400th)

About the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Weekend

In the past couple of years we have been looking for the ideal location for an early race and for a race in the Mediterranean. Both of these dreams came true in Croatia along the Adriatic. We now have the great pleasure to present the Island of Hvar in Croatia as one of the new destinations for the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Series.

The island is magnificient, surrounded by emerald-colored seas and the exceptional Paklinski islands to the south. Hvar is known to be one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Rosemary, lavender, wine, more than a 2000-year old history; just simply, a unique place for a unique race.

The island of Hvar is the gem of Croatia’s 1,800 kilometres pristine coastline; many call it the St Tropez of the Adriatic.We were lucky to find this destination and owe it all to Ivan Verunica, CEO of INCroatia, an incoming travel agent specialising in sports and education tourism.

In the fall of 2015, Ivan contacted us about the possibility of an ÖTILLÖ event in Croatia. We’d been looking for sometime for a Mediterranean location and Ivan suggested a few places for us to choose from. We fell in love with Hvar from the outset and decided to go for it.

This led to a meeting in March 2016 with the Director of Tourism and the marketing star of the Suncani Hvar Hotels. Mats and Michael took the opportunity to explore the island and its surroundings. What a glorious place!

The island of Hvar, accessible off the Croatian coast from Split, is an incredible swimrun location. The sea is crystal clear, the water temperature around 16°C-17°C and, on a sunny day, air temperatures will reach about 20°C.

The course is challenging with long swims and with some good vertical up and down. Throw in some Roman ruins, beautiful architecture, blooming wild flowers, the smell of rosemary, and wonderful people, and this course makes for a perfect setting.

The Sprint in Hvar is awesome, too, and you’ll get a big taste in a micro format. Bring your friends and family and be part of the weekend.

The first World Series race of the 2017 season will be hosted on the 2nd of April with an ÖTILLÖ Sprint the day before, on April 1st.

Schedule for the weekend:

Friday, March 31st 2017

18:00 One hour presentation of ÖTILLÖ, swimrun, the future of ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Series. Get together with the founders of swimrun, Michael Lemmel and Mats Skott. Open for anyone, NOT mandatory. Hotel Amfora.

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

09:00 Race briefing and bib distribution for ÖTILLÖ Sprint Hvar – Hotel Amfora
11:00 Start ÖTILLÖ Sprint Hvar Main square
12:30 First teams expected to finish
14:30 Prize giving ÖTILLÖ Sprint Hvar Main Square
15:00 Registration and bib distribution ÖTILLÖ Hvar Main square (until 18:00)
17:30 Pre-race welcome drink at Hotel Amfora
18:15 MANDATORY Race briefing ÖTILLÖ Hvar at Hotel Amfora

Sunday, April 2nd 2017

09:00 Start ÖTILLÖ Hvar Main Square
10:45 Cut-off Point Pelegrin
14:00 Cut-off Hvar Main Square
15:00 First team across the finish
15:50 Cut-off Brusje
17:45 Last teams across the finish line
18:00 Closing party and prize giving for ÖTILLÖ Hvar at Amfora Hotel

Eight top teams at ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Hvar qualify to the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship 2017, on 4 September 2017 in the Stockholm Archipelago; top 3 men, top 3 mixed, top 2 women.

Top 3 results ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Hvar, 2 April 2017


1. Lennart Moberg & Daniel Hansson (SWE), Swedish Armed Forces, 5:55:08
2. Martin Flinta (SWE) & Adriel Young (AUS), Team Thule, 6:01:13
3. Pontus Lindberg & George Bjälkemo (SWE), Team Garmin, 6:03:05


1. Annika Ericsson & Stefano Prestinoni (SWE), Team, 6:10:57
2. Jasmina Glad Schreven (FIN) & Thomas Schreven (NED), Say no! to Doping, 6:49:14
3. Sabrina Maurette & Ludovic Maillard (FRA), Team Issy Absolu, 7:00:03


1. Diane Sadik (SUI) and Charlotte Eriksson (SWE), Team, 7:37:41
2. Still on course when pr sent out
3. Still on course when pr sent out




Related posts: swatch-red-bull-beach-volleyball-series









A bunch of interesting views of Hvar Town and landscape during the ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Weekend and article from Jakob Edholm and Irina Kurmanaeva) and from

Bonus highlights footage from the day that I came across, the winners of this Hvar Swimrun event were Lelle Moberg and Daniel Hansson of the Swedish Armed Forces who finished the race in 5H:55M:08S. (It's almost like a Casio G-Shock commercial)

You can also read the full race report HERE.

This is a "Thank You Volunteers" notice from the town of Hvar website, because of course you need various volunteers to make events like this happen.

4th Edition Of "Tour Of Croatia" Taking Place April 17-22, 2018

The town of Crikvenca before the start of stage 4 at the 2016 Tour of Croatia.

And keeping it on the extreme sports theme, I should note that the next "Tour of Croatia" international cycling stage races are happening again this month. (Cycling hundreds of kilometers each day for 6 days straight with no breaks and no break days I would classify as an extreme sport). I'm not a professional cyclist, follow the sport and various tours or even ride any bike currently, but this is definitely another gruelling extreme sport with lots of thrills, spills and strategies consisting of cycling through heat, cold, fog and rain, perseverance, intestinal fortitude and all that. The local history of competitive cycle racing and stage races goes back to the late 1880's when the Croatian crown lands, aka the Croatian Triune Kingdom, were in political union with the Habsburg Monarchy and Austria-Hungary, so it's not a new sporting event or recent sports fad in Croatia at all. I watched last year's tour and it was pretty cool actually, 6 stages that included riding pretty well through most of the different Croatian landscapes and regions and not just one area, through the downtown center of cities and small towns from the eastern, northwestern and coastal regions, (example), over and through mountains, tunnels, across plains, bridges, on highways and cobbled roads, along the coast, through forests and by lots of medieval castles, fortresses, manors, waterfalls, rivers, you name it, and with plenty of top notch aerial views and commentary.

(Here's an amusing story but absolutely true, I noticed the McDonald's in the added pic below of them racing through the city of Rijeka and it reminded me of something. I was actually at that McDonald's a couple times, (example), as well as one in Zagreb, and I'll tell you it was like a dreamland atmosphere and surreal, I can honestly say that even if I just had hung around those McDonald's patios all day long every day and did nothing else during my entire holidays there it would have still been a pleasant, interesting and enjoyable well spent holiday, you see, they all have patios, as well as many of the restaurants and cafes/pubs, people like to hang outside and in the summer because it's patio season in Croatia. (So how was your trip?, what did you do? Oh, I hung around a McDonald's patio for a few weeks, it was awesome and enjoyable). And I swear even the people beside me I was talking with one time were from a North American city, they weren't Croatian background either and which city I won't mention or her specific reasons why, but they said the same thing basically, that they never even think about going to their local McDonald's to eat because they have children and it's turned too ghetto and fucktarded so they'll instead only use the drive-thru, yep only the drive-thru...that says a lot, true story. I told her I know what she means, that our local schools, bus routes and malls are like that too). The only annoyance was when some traveling North American religious types came around trying to give out pamphlets and brainwash people (geez those people really need a reality check and maybe a map and compass and glasses that's for sure). Basically all I can say is that the McDonald's in Croatia are very, very different than the ones in North America and in my opinion simply way better, ipso facto)

I should also mention that the commentators during the stage races do a really top notch job, making the sport and event very easy to follow and understand even if you know absolutely nothing about the sport, the one guy does a great job especially during helicopter aerial views of even pointing out and throwing in some cool history information so the viewer knows just what the hell it is exactly that they're looking at, over an ancient Roman ruin and especially when it hovers over an old medieval Croatian fortress or castle, such as the 8th-9th century Knin & Klis Fortresses, and he briefly mentions how they used to be residences of Croatian Kings in the Middle Ages, and adds how a successful major battle took place there defending against the centuries of Muslim jihads and invading Ottoman armies from their Sanjak of Smederevo, even what mountain, waterfalls, town or river they're looking at etc, instead of just "...Oh, and there's some old stone building there on some mountain" or "...It's a sunny day with 20% chance of precipitation a slight breeze and here we see some building over there between some other buildings near some town somewhere...". Not long-winded stuff but just quick tidbits which shows he did his homework and knows his basic background facts, and in the process reminding the viewer of the interesting Croatian history in Central Europe which goes back way before the 20th century came along. (He even shocked me a few times mentioning about bear and wildlife populations and even nonchalant mentions about the gothic, baroque, and renaissance era architecture seen during some aerial views, that's just crazy facts and information to know). Anyway, just really interesting and informative supplementary live action commentating during the races, it adds a whole new ambiance and perspective to the overall sporting event and surroundings for those unfamiliar.

Here's a quick interlude of interesting tidbits and rare images I came across since already on the topic. (and probably readers in China and Holland too especially, there are almost 900,000 cyclists in Amsterdam alone which is almost more than there is people, it's true believe it or not)...the first early prototype bicycles started making an appearance in Croatia in the 1860's. Ladislav Beluš, (a member of the Croatian Mountaineering Society and who arranged the first public skating rink and skating club in Zagreb in 1870), introduced the first cycle in Zagreb after coming back from the 1867 Paris World Expo where they were first displayed to the general public, and it caused great interest in Zagreb. In 1877 the Hrvatski Klub Biciklista Sokol (Croatian Falcon Bicycle Club) organization was formed in Zagreb. In 1886 the cycling society 'Concordia' was formed in Osijek and in June 1886 the very first official cycling race competition took place in Zagreb. It included a race for smaller style bicycles and larger bicycles, 2400 meters distance and 20 kilometers. In 1891 the first cycling race track and grounds was built in Zagreb by members of the Hrvatski Klub Biciklista Sokol (Croatian Falcon Bicycle Club), at the time the Croatian crown lands were in union with the Habsburg Monarchy Austria-Hungary and the competitions took place near the site of the new Croatian National Theatre grounds (which was built later in 1895), and just a year later in 1892 the first official Croatian National Cycling Championships took place there. 

Formed in 1877 the Hrvatski Klub Biciklista Sokol (Croatian Falcon Bicycle Club) in Zagreb, this photo from 1887. Within a few years there were Croatian cycling clubs and societies formed in Zagreb, Pula, Split, Koprivnica, Osijek, Vinkovci, Požega, Zadar, Opatija, Rijeka, Karlovac, Dubrovnik, Vukovar, Sisak, Varaždin, Mostar and in many other cities and towns, when Croatian cyclists brought the new cycling craze into Sarajevo it caused quite a stir.

In 1895 the first Croatian bicycle factory and repair shops opened in Zagreb.

During the early era Croatian cyclists such as Nikola Košćec, Ivan Mihelić, Vilko Boršić, Josip Pavlija, Franjo Gregl, Antun Banek, Koloman Sović, Kazimir Šoštarko, Emil Osrečki, Ivan Penčev, Nikola Bošković, Stjepan Ljubić, Stjepan Grgac Milan Meniga, Vid Ročić, Milan Truban and August Prosenik being just a few who competed and won at a number of newly appearing cycling races in Croatia and across Europe promoting the new sport. In the 1880-90's Croatian cyclists were victorious and a common sight at cycling races in Ljubljana, Graz, Prague, Warsaw, Vienna and Budapest, the first great achievements at foreign racetracks and international competitions was by Vinko Ferković who in the late 1890's won races in France, Switzerland and Austria. In 1894 Nikola Pečornik co-founded the first Association of Croatian Cyclists and printed newsletters aimed at promoting the new sport and profession, In 1895 the first Croatian manufactured bicycles appeared and sales/repair shops opened, bringing the new cycling craze into Mostar and Sarajevo. In 1897 Ferdinand Budicki, a Zagreb pioneer of car, bicycle and airplane culture and founder of the Zagreb Fair and Hrvatski športski savez in 1909 (Croatian Sports Alliance), gained media attention after building his own bicycle and cycling over 17,000 kilometers in 8 months across Europe. By 1898 there were cycling clubs and societies formed in Zagreb, Pula, Split, Koprivnica, Osijek, Vinkovci, Požega, Zadar, Opatija, Rijeka, Karlovac, Dubrovnik, Vukovar, Sisak, Varaždin and soon in many other cities and towns. In 1911 even HŠK Građanski (Hrvatski građanski športski klub/Croatian Civic Sports Club, (ie: the club origin of today's Dinamo Zagreb football club and from where the team logo derived from) also added a cycling section to the club. Information from the Tour of Croatia 2017 Official Handbook.

Cycling races and displays in 1888 at Zrinjevac Park in Zagreb (aka Nikola Šubić Zrinski Square), notice the guy in the front using a large front wheel style bike that would become obsolete in just a few years. The spectators were all probably in awe and amazed at the new cycling craze. Riding the new sensation wasn't cheap either, in 1886 a new bicycle costed about 3 months average wages, by 1909 it was less than a month's average wage. The Croatian general public and world was entering an exciting and progressive new century and epoch, new inventions, new Colas, department stores, Art Nouveau and Art Deco, the new magics of self basting roasters, washing machines, trams and trolleys, toasters, hot water tanks, hair salons, safety throw away razors and the first movies and films were on the way too.

I had to add this from the Zagreb City Museum, from long before mannequin challenge videos/social media filter stickers, crack babies, Jerry Springer, fentanyl overdosing, car karaoke, hoverboards and gender reassignments were all the rage, here's some interesting images of the first bicycles available to the public in the 19th century. It was originally known as a Velocipede, but later because of its wooden and iron wheels and rough ride it became commonly called the boneshaker bicycle. The rider of this 1870 boneshaker bike used rotary cranks and pedals mounted to the front wheel hub so it was more like riding a tricycle. Not too aerodynamic or fun to ride on roads or in parks probably or stage racing either. When one of the first people to try one out in Zagreb was asked afterwards what he thought about the new cycle craze, he replied that it felt like riding a camel, so the suspension and breaking system probably wasn't all that great either. (notice how the above newsboy style caps came back in style just a few years ago and was all the rage again, how practically every guy was wearing one because the newsboy cap look was in like apple dumplings, I'm looking forward to when top hats come back in style, I'm getting one and maybe a cool pocket watch before going to the cinematograph, maybe even a gargoyle, dragon or snake and skull tipped walking stick). Luckily they started looking more like modern chain pedaled and rubber tired cycles within just a few years. There's your very brief version Croatian cycling history lesson of the day.

Back to this 21st century tour, last year there were also 6 stages including over 1000 kilometres distance travelled by the racers, passing through 12 host cities and more than 100 different sites, as well as almost 10 hours of live TV broadcast beamed around the world by Eurosport, Croatian Radio Television (HRT) and numerous other television stations from around the world to over 60 countries, also including 20 teams representing Switzerland, United States, Poland, Croatia, Slovenia, Russia, Italy, Great Britain, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Israel and more. This year live broadcasts will reach viewers on 6 continents in 180 countries.

Anyway, I'm not going to add much more, just see the previous post links below for much more information and media. There are a number of Croatian cyclists riding in the various teams. The inaugural 2015 tour overall individual winner was Polish cyclist Maciej Paterski, and last year Croatian cyclist Matija Kvasina surprised the strong competition taking the leaders jersey at stage 4 and then protecting his lead to become overall winner in 2016, including a dramatic last stage finish through the streets of Zagreb, it was pretty cool. (2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year and named 2012 Tour de France's best sprinter of all time winner Mark Cavendish took stage 2, but also medaled at the Olympics later in the summer).

However this year Italian national champion Vincenzo Nibali will be among the big cycling names vying for the Tour of Croatia title, so it should be very interesting with plenty of lead changes, sprints and excitement again. When I watched the Olympics later in the summer I was much more knowledgeable about this sport, various cycling terms and all the strategies involved.

You can watch live streams of the races at HRTi, as well as Croatian National Television (HRT), Eurosport and Eurosport Asia and a bunch of other places on the internet. The Tour of Croatia will be featured by different TV stations all over the world this time– live on 6 continents – beamed into 180 countries to viewers in over 700 million homes. The tour official website is







The 3rd Tour of Croatia international cycling race is set to get underway in under two weeks.

From 18 – 23 April 2017 some of the best international riders will race on a 1,000 kilometre route along the Adriatic coast, Istria and inland Croatia over 6 stages.

This year’s Tour of Croatia will be tougher than ever as riders will have to negotiate the testing Biokovo and Učka mountains.

Riders from various teams will start the race in Osijek on 18 April. The first 227 km long stage will finish in Koprivnica. The second stage starts in the UNESCO protected city of Trogir and finishes on Biokovo mountain some 123 km later.

The third stage will see riders race between Imotski and Zadar on the Dalmatian coast, before they head to Istria on stage four.

The sixth and final stage on 23 April will be between Samobor and Zagreb.


1. 18. April – OSIJEK – KOPRIVNICA (227 km)
2. 19. April – TROGIR – BIOKOVO (123 km)
3. 20. April – IMOTSKI – ZADAR (237 km)
4. 21. April – CRIKVENICA – UMAG (171 km)
5. 22. April – POREČ – UČKA (141 km)
6. 23. April – SAMOBOR – ZAGREB (147 km)

The race, which is classified as a first category race by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), just one level below the biggest tour races such as Tour de France, Giro di Italia and Vuelta a España, will feature world top-class riders again.

Well, that's about it, whether one follows this sport and stage cycling tours or or not, at least the reader will now know that even though this is the 3rd Tour of Croatia, the history of cycling races in Croatia actually goes back to the 1800's. If you can't watch the races live you can always follow on Twitter and Facebook or keep up to date, know the routes, teams and riders before the start of the race and check out results and the various classifications for each stage during the race with the official Tour Of Croatia mobile app.

Search for the latest info on your Android or an iOS device, developed by CROZ d.o.o.




And lastly, just some of the behind the scenes volunteers who are helping make the "2017 Tour of Croatia" event happen. Let's bow our heads and pray that enough volunteers take part and that the Tour of Croatia takes place with a happy ending and most importantly with no injured cyclists or cycles or stray animals etc, this is probably one of the most important things in the world to pray about during the next few weeks. (almost as important as praying for better celeb selfies and fresh gossip news, so it's pretty important actually). If you would like to volunteer you can find out more information and register HERE. Let's make the 2017 Tour of Croatia magic a reality and amazing event for the ages! Image: well as the various Tour of Croatia local and foreign partners and official sponsors such as Škoda AutoKarlovačko Pivo beer and others who help make it all happen also. (see related croatians-beers-world-lists and rimac-ctwo-electric-hypercar-official-release)

Highlights from 2016.

Stage 2 from 2016 as an example of what to expect more of again. (You'll definitely want to know the meaning of the word peloton). You can watch last year's complete stage races at

Short version highlights from 2017, the bonus cool aerial views of the various Croatian castles and fortresses along the racing stages routes, some of which date from the medieval Croatian Kingdom, those always get a 2 thumbs up from me.

This last one is an example of what I was talking about earlier, numerous stage cycling tours around the world have witnessed similar scenes of horrors and tragedy. In this example scenes from the Tour de France which show that it's not all just glory, scenic images, victory champagne spraying and having your name engraved for posterity. The races always start whether the roads are wet and it's raining or not. Awful unexpected tragedies, broken limbs, spilled blood, twisted cycle parts all over the place, terrible woes and untold suffering also, it happens many times during the quest for the leader's jersey in world class cycling stage races unfortunately. I know I sometimes complain about the unnecessary overuse of epic orchestra music on Youtube videos, but here I think it actually would have been a good idea and not out of place... example/example/example...there's lots of examples. I tried it and the video really does seem much more epic like a dramatic stage cycling movie. (Viewer discretion advised, some scenes the viewer may find disturbing)

This part I mentioned about in the ÖTILLÖ part I decided to add here again too, this year long anniversary already took place last year but it's still interesting background information to know about Hvar island including up to today...

Croatian Island Town Of "Stari Grad" Celebrating 2,400th Year Since Being Founded

The old town of Stari Grad on the island of Hvar as it appears today is largely due to 16th to 19th century rebuilding efforts. However, in 2016 the town will celebrate the 2,400th anniversary of it's founding with various events and festivities. Read on for the interesting story about this ancient and also not so ancient Croatian island town.

Firstly, the reader should know this is not any sort of tourism post at all, because I don't do tourism posts and this isn't a tourism blog. This one is just mainly some interesting background information about this celebration of the 2,400th year anniversary of the island town of "Stari Grad" taking place this summer, (probably also because it's interesting information that you simply will not come across in the National Enquirer, OK Magazine or Celebrity Hairstyles magazine and similar publications) Basically, there will be all kinds of things going on, which you can check out at the links, but this year will be a little different from previous years, and probably information many don't know.

That's because this year the old town of Stari Grad on the island of Hvar is marking an exceptional anniversary that not many towns can – 2,400 years since the foundation of the settlement and the future more familiarly known town of Stari Grad, as well as the equally long tradition of urban living on Croatia's sunniest island in the Adriatic. Even though this rare anniversary extends back in time to even before the Croatian tribes arrived in the area from around the Carpathians and north of the Danube circa 6th-7th century, which was about 900 years after this first Hellenic settlement/town on the island of Hvar, it's still pretty interesting to note. (Interestingly, the Tadich Grill in San Francisco is the oldest restaurant in California to serve grilled seafood (the traditional Croatian ways especially) as well as the first restaurant in San Francisco, and it was coincidentally started up by Croatians from this town of Stari Grad/Hvar in 1849)

The heritage of Stari Grad, (which in Croatian literally means "Old Town") and preserved since the Age of Antiquity has also been recognized by UNESCO which in 2008 inscribed the Stari Grad Plain on the World Heritage List due to its preserved Greek land division still evident today and then the continuity of life and agriculture in this place ever since up to today...

Here's the brief version history lesson for those not in the know....

...Hvar island hasn't always been the popular relaxing mecca of summer entertainment, swimming, boating, suntanning and restaurants that we see today, even just since the Middle Ages and Croatian Kingdom times numerous battles have taken place on the nearby mainland and at times directly affecting life on Hvar. Plenty of sacrifice, blood, sweat and toil in defending and protecting the island through the centuries, defending progress and civilization so that today it finally is again a safe and tranquil enjoyable place.....the settlement of Hvar was founded on the western part of the plain by Greek colonizers who sailed from the island of Paros in the Aegean sea in 384 BC, and who found it a perfect place for a new life at the end of the long bay, with a fertile field and springs of drinking water lying behind it. They defeated the Illyrians who had already lived there, and their victory was immortalized in one of the oldest known inscriptions on Croatian soil that can still be seen today, (an inscription from the 2nd century BCE refers to the Farians and their delegation to the Greek island of Paros and the oracle at Delphi, which was also a sanctuary for Apollo the Hyperborean), and soon after they then built the early settlement of Pharos. Both politically and in terms of city planning, they divided the land of the fertile plain – Chora Pharou, starting the first recorded urban life on the territory of today's Croatia. Later through many centuries of conflict and tumultuous events and happenings (aka history), and long after the dissapearance of the towns Hellenic founders and original name of Pharos, Stari Grad has still managed to keep continuously going on and existing until the present day.

Founded in the same year as the birth of Aristotle, the philosopher who tutored Alexander the Great and during the times of Plato, today's town of Stari Grad is going to celebrate its jubilee birthday through numerous events and take the opportunity to present its cultural and historic wealth and 2,400 year-long tradition to the world.

The entire 2016 will be dedicated to this anniversary, yet the central celebration will be held from 7 to 11 September with numerous events being envisaged such as the sea & seamen festival Dani u Vali (Days in the Bay), anniversary-related symposium, lectures, workshops, food festivals, concerts and exhibitions. Below is some more detailed background information about Stari Grad....

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Although the Pharians found a strong Illyrian community on the island, after a brief struggle they were conquered and established their rule. Pharos became an independent city-state (polis). It minted its own coins, had its own pottery workshops and enjoyed an abundance of food from its fertile plain – Chora Pharou (Xορα Φαρου), today the best preserved Greek land division in the Adriatic. Following the Roman conquest in the 3rd century BCE, Pharos was called Pharia, and Chora Pharou and then became Ager Pharensis. Following the Roman victory in the Second Illyrian War against Demetrius of Pharos, the island became a part of the Roman Empire in 219 BCE.

Long centuries of the Pax Romana ensued and then the town came under permanent Roman control by force in 168 BCE, following the defeat of Gentius during the Third Illyrian War. With the fall of the Roman Empire in the west after the Gothic invasions from the 3rd to 6th century, the island fell under the control of the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire for a time, and then the domains of the Ostrogothic Kingdom. The population gradually increased again during the Late Antiquity with an abundance of archeological finds. A large number of new villa rustica in Stari Grad Plain and also on the previously vacant eastern shores was built.



At the beginning of the 7th-8th century, is when sources state that a foreign languages speaking people found their way onto the island from the mainland. (the term Sclaveni/Sclav/Slavic during those times being a newly introduced word by the 6th-century Roman writer Jordanes as a broad generalization term for any of the new unknown barbarian languages/speakers that were not Latin or Greek based, at first mainly applied to the first appearing soldiers on the empire's borders, he also informs that they used to be known as and came out of the ancient Veneti/Venethi/Venedi). According to the old Byzantine imperial archives in Constantinople, Roman library manuscripts, old written material from emissaries, ecclesiastics, ambassadors, military notes and journals and records from their expeditions, and used for the domestic and foreign policy manual De Administrando Imperio by Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos, the pagan Croat tribes ("Horvati" tribes specifically in the plural, as they called Hrvati), had arrived from the vast widespread areas north of the Danube, conquered other nomadic barbarians pillaging the coastal areas of the Adriatic sea, liberated and then settled ancient Dalmatia, Pannonia and Illyricum during the time of Emperor Heraclius. The Croats arriving from the mainland then ended up taking the ancient name for the city and the island into the new Croatian version name - Hvar. (a cognate from the original Pharos/Faros). In the Early Middle Ages, at the edges of the Plain, new villages of Dol, Vrbanj and Pitve were established. The surrounding bay provided protection and for centuries it was a safe harbour to sailors and from strong winds during the winter months.

When the Croatian tribes (Horvati/Hrvati tribes in the endonym version) settled the island during these early Middle Ages, the island was at first still ruled by a small remnant population of Romanized Illyrians and mainly just site of today's Stri Grad. The appearance of the Croats from the mainland and new influence on the island convinced the remaining resident Roman speaking population to change their Latin version name Quarra, which was a version they also later used at times, instead to Huarra-Hvar. (replacing the original consonant "f" sound with the old Croatian consonant version "hv" because formerly in the Roman province of Dalmatia it was known as Pharia and Fara). Soon after Pharia/Fara/Hvar, (ie; today's Stari Grad), the whole island of Hvar, as well as most of Ancient Dalmatia was then officially a part of the Croatian realms and soon the Kingdom of Croatia ruled by King Tomislav from 925 and other Croatian Kings until 1102, however it still remained part of the Croatian crown realms even after union with Hungary in 1102  and the later Habsburg Monarchy and Austria-Hungary.

During the times of Croatian Kings Michael Krešimir II (reign 949-969) and Stephen Držislav (reign 969–997) as well as their powerful Bans/Viceroys Pribina and Godemir, Croatian navy ships were known to have frequently sailed past and porting at Stari Grad, as they were in conflict with the fleets of Saracens and Muslim Arabs attempting to cross and invade from the Italian peninsula of Gargano in 968-969.

Hvar was used by Croatian navy ships during the reigns of Croatian Kings Peter Krešimir IV (1059-1074) and Dmitar Zvonimir (1074–1089). Zvonimir allied with the Normans who had already conquered southern Italy which was occupied by the Saracens and Moors at that time. King Zvonimir also sent ships from his fleet to aid the Norman Duke of Apulia Robert Guiscard in 1084 against the despot Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, contributing significantly to the wars against the encroaching Byzantine navy into the Adriatic sea and on land.

The monarchical realms and political landscape of Continental Europe during the 9th to 12th century. Interestingly during the Croatian Kingdom era and from already the 8th century, Croatian borders were with the Germanic Frankish Empire in the west (Francia/Frankish Kingdom) and the Bulgarian Empire to the east.

Later, the 12th century saw the formation of the first island noble families as well as the founding of Hvar Diocese in 1147. The Plain was then called Campus Sancti Stephani in Latin written sources. After the island fell under the rule of the Venetian Republic in the 15th century, the seat of the diocese moved to the newly founded town of Hvar, aka Hvar Town today on the island of Hvar. (In Croatian pronounced as "Hvar")

Interestingly, the name of the island Hvar then actually comes from the ancient name of today's town Stari Grad - a cognate of Pharos and Pharia/Fara. After the Diocese moved, the name also moved, and the old seat of Hvar then just became Stari Hvar (Old Hvar) and later still the more familiar Stari Grad (Old Town) of today. So even though the later and today's town of Hvar (Hvar Town) is larger and more well known, it is actually Stari Grad which is the historical heart of the island of Hvar and from where it got it's name.


This period was marked by the commoners’ uprising, led by Matij Ivanić in 1510 and the invasion attempts of the Ottomans and Moors in 1539 and 1571. During the 16th century, when the town was attacked by the Mohammedans the first time they were repulsed, but in 1571 the sparesely populated town temporarily lost due to massive numbers of Muslim attackers and their Serb allies, subsequently most of the town was burnt down and ransacked before they retreated back to their Sanjak of Smederevo. Following that loss, Stari Grad was slowly rebuilt from the ruins. Croatian poet and playwright Hanibal Lucić started his writings, and the mid-16th century Croatian Renaissance nobleman and poet Petar Hektorović began the construction of his summer residence where he realized his idea of microcosm – a small, enclosed world where all divine creatures – fish, birds, plants and people had a space to live, a restful secure space especially free from distractions and dangers during the main Ottoman and Serb Jihads into Europe on the free continent. (the Sanjak of Smederevo at the time, aka Dar Al Jihad (meaning Door of War in Arabic, ie: modern day Serbia), was for centuries complicit in expediting the Ottoman Muslim incursions and attacks towards continental Europe, along with numerous enthusiastic Serb volunteers/accomplices joining to attack the Croatian and other Habsburg crown lands for centuries, as well as any areas governed by the Venetian Republic also. (even the Ottoman Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha at the time was in fact a Serb, even the most powerful Serbian ruler in all of Serbian history, (Serbian: Мехмед-паша Соколовић) who was the de facto ruler of the Islamic Ottoman empire armies and their Serb allies attacking Central Europe).

It was also during this time that Hvar Fortress, aka Fortica, was built in Hvar Town. It protected the town from any Ottoman navy ships sailing in the area, and especially protected the town's civilian population who sheltered there in 1571 from occasional Turkish sacks before the famous Battle of Lepanto near Greece.

Croatian Renaissance poet and playwright Hanibal Lucić (1485-1553) was born on the island of Hvar, he also did translations of Ovid's work as well as wrote the play "Robinja" (in Croatian meaning "Slavegirl", the first secular-themed play in the history of Croatian literature and one of Europe's earliest secular dramas, about a noble Croatian girl who becomes imprisoned by the Turks) and various love poetry, also influenced by works of humanist writer Francesco Petrarca.

Croatian national poet and Renaissance humanist Marko Marulić, (known as the Crown of the Croatian Medieval Age and the father of the Croatian Renaissance) and who was very active in the struggles against the Ottoman Turks and their former African slaves turned Bashi-bazouks who were attempting to invade and pillage the Croatian lands from the Sanjak of Smederevo at that time, for 2 he years lived on the nearby island of Šolta, a short boat ride from Hvar.

In 1448, Petar Hektorović was granted permission by the Hvar Governor/Duke (Hvarski Knez) to build on the land at Tvrdalj where the Stari Grad mansion was later built. Hektorović’s poetry and Renaissance era writings were published in the 1560's using a hybrid of Croatian dialects, and are particularly a treasure of original Croatian maritime and zoological terminology incorporated into the Croatian standard language and used today.

View from the nearby 16th century Hvar Town Fortress (aka Tvrđava Fortica or just Fortica). Image:

Due to those Ottoman raids, Hektorović undertook to fortify his villa mansion so that it could also act as a shelter for him and his fellow citizens, within it bearing numerous stone inscriptions in Latin and in Croatian using Latin script. An altar of Hektorović’s family was also erected nearby, for which Hektorović ordered a painting from the Venetian painter Tintoretto, (the fortified mansion eventually came to be called Hektorović Castle, and these days is colloquially known simply as the Town Castle - Gradina Tvrdalj.

Old Town Hvar and Stari Grad stone houses and narrow street walkways are a familiar feature dating from renaissance times.


During the 17th and 18th century, Stari Grad was increasingly turning towards the sea, the Ottoman threats had finally disappeared permanently after their heavy battlefield losses on the Croatian mainland, and the town's many captains, ship-owners and ship-builders were growing into an influential new social class. Old seafront (Stara Riva) was expanded and shipyards were built. In 1605 began the construction of the new parish church of St. Stephen, which together with its bell tower is one of the most visible architectural expressions of Dalmatian baroque in Croatia. The local pork production increased, various smoked bacons, hams, meats and native cheeses became well known specialties on and off the island also, vineyards were replanted and wine production restarted.

Of the numerous small squares in Stari Grad, the most picturesque is Škor. Almost like a theater coulisse (which it is during the summer cultural events), dating from the 17th century from a stretch where there was once a shipyard, which was covered and the square took its name from this (škor from škver, in the local Dalmatian Croatian dialect, meaning shipyard). Working-class houses with picturesque roof windows as well as stone terraces with staircases are typical common scenes, much like the Renaissance era and older historical quarters of cities and towns on the mainland.


After the collapse of the Venetian Republic, and the early 19th century fall of the Napoleonic Empire, (and Napoleon's short-lived Illyrian Provinces between 1809-15), the Vranyczany-Dobrinović brothers became one of the most eminent Croatian noble families from the town of Stari Grad, already being influential for centuries they became especially recognized for their exemplary conduct in leading the resistance against Napoleon's French occupation.

During the summers various wine tasting events themed around the various locally grown and produced native wines, liquors and liqeurs is a common summer tradition. (as well as Croatian beers also of course)

Stari Grad and the whole island of Hvar was soon again part of the Croatian Triune; the free royal and historical Croatian lands in the 19th century united, even if still administratively a part of the larger Habsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire. One peaceful century brought unprecedented prosperity to Stari Grad. Its mid-century fleet had more than 50 sailing ships that sailed and traded throughout the Adriatic and into the Mediterranean, Already in the early part of the 19th century the period of exceptional economic and cultural life for the town promoted the development of tourist services. As a period of the strong maritime rise of the town; it was full of local craftsmen and merchants. Although Stari Grad was primarily a sailor’s, captain’s and labourer’s town, this street was once a true craftsman’s paradise.

Stari Grad summer nights.

Numerous representative houses were built along the old seafront during this priod. A new main school building, the Croatian House building, (Hrvatski Dom), "Theatre Petar Hektorović" dating from 1893, and "Town Music" a society of local music enthusiasts founded in 1876, Biankini palace, the palace of Šime Ljubić,  and others were built during this period. Stari Grad grew substantially and transformed into a lively trading port town, with Middle Street as the lifeblood of the town.

Summer evening entertainment in Stari Grad.

The beginning of the 20th century was marked by numerous emigrations due to the collapse of the grapevines and wars, large numbers of people emigrated to North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. Public beaches were rebuilt on the north side of the bay. Since the 1990's there have finally been numerous constructions of wineries, olive groves, summer and winter cinemas, new roads, as well as the establishment of museums.

Hvar these days is probably one of the best locations in Croatia for fresh seafood restaurants and dishes. (tip: the smaller tucked away ones away from the busier areas are usually cheaper, big portions and usually very interesting)

Given its position in the most fertile plain on the island, Stari Grad, since it was founded based its economy on agriculture (grapes, olives, figs etc), fishing and commerce. Today these activities are reduced to basic needs of the town and nearby population while tourism has grown into the main branch of economy over the last few decades.

Most buildings in the old town center were part of the rebuilding efforts between the 16th and 19th century with renaissance-baroque characteristics, although many buildings also exhibit traits of the romanesque period and gothic stylization and motifs.

A number of hostels have become popular for travellers to Hvar island over the years, (and in Croatia in general actually) especially for those on a budget who just need emergency no-frills rooms and just the basics to stay at for a short time. Image of Hvar Centre Dorm Hostel in Hvar Town.

Nowadays there is the Library and the ceremonial hall. It was built in 1894 as a joint-stock company and on the ground floor there is the town coffee house. The famous Faros Marathon starts from this point on the Riva. Also the "Theatre Petar Hektorović" dating from 1893, and "Town Music" a society of local music enthusiasts founded in 1876. Walking further you arrive at the Mausoleum of the famous archaeologist and historian, Šime Ljubić. Stari Grad bay is still regulary visited by most of the travellers on boats and yachts passing through the Croatian coastal areas, and the middle Dalmatia region islands especially. The marina was expanded and many of the old stone houses have been renewed by inhabitants, and even offered for rent with fully modern amenities. The Stari Grad ferry connects daily to the mainland also.

Just like the previous restaurants example, the cobbled road hidden and tucked away smaller bars and pubs are usually a good option. This Kiva Bar is located in the central ghetto area but is also a popular place for Croatian Navy sailors on weekend leave because of the big booty hoes and fries and gravy specials.

A scene before the start of a race during the annual "Faros Marathon" in Stari Grad. Image:

Stari Grad today is home to about 2,800 people and the closest large city is Split which is still a few islands away on the mainland but connected by ferry, it's also friended/twinned with the town of Samobor in north western Croatia, as well as Velké Opatovice Czech Republic, Szentendre Hungary, Letovice Czech Republic, Kunštát Czech Republic, Paros Hellenic Republic, Bohinj Slovenia and Zagorje ob Savi Slovenia.

Since already mentioning the topic of cycling tours earlier, the whole Croatian Dalmatian coast actually is a cyclist's paradise and especially the whole island of Hvar in general, a number of bicycle rental shops are found in Stari Grad and in Hvar Town. (Interestingly believe it or not, even Roman Abramovich has been known to regularly do a cycling trip during his vacations to Croatia). You can bring your vehicles on the daily ferries no problem, but lots of visitors prefer cycling around Hvar island exploring instead. Image:

Much like other Croatian coastal cities and towns such as Split, Zadar, Šibenik, Biograd na Moru, Dubrovnik and others on the mainland, the centuries old historic quarters of Stari Grad, as well as Hvar Town, today also features modern day services and shops located within the historic areas. One can find various clothing stores, jewelry and sunglasses shops, hair salons, art galleries, museums, bars and restaurants and other stores at times literally in the buildings or near still standing building monuments that go back to the renaissance, to the baroque and gothic eras and even to the middle ages. A veritable island time capsule that reminds the visitor of centuries past in the modern era.

Because of the warm summers and most hours of sunshine throughout the year in all of Croatia, the island of Hvar is also ideal and famous for red wines produced from the native Plavac Mali grape, as well as its various white wines and liquers. That's why it's also known at times as the isle of wine.

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.....And lastly as an added bonus, and back to this century and year, some more recent modern history. One of the music acts that will be performing this year in Stari Grad is Gustafi. (It's not going to be just all classical, renaissance-baroque, strictly traditional folk or the just the more popular well known modern acts with the fancy music videos playing as part of the 2,400th year anniversary entertainment). Interestingly, this less well known Gustafi are a Croatian modern folk rock band formed way back in 1980 in Vodnjan, a small town in the Istria region. The band was founded by Edi Maružin, Vlado Maružin, Čedomir Mošnja, Igor Arih and Livio Morosin and was originally called Gustaph y njegovi dobri duhovi. Going through various band members lineups through the years, they released their first album titled "V" back in 1985, and have been touring for over 31 years now.

This also is not your average folk themed band, they're well known for their eclectic style which combines modern Istrian region flavoured folk music along with rock and some other Croatian folk & polka dance elements, blues, Tex-Mex and even alternative music influences in some songs, resulting in a very creative and interesting overall sound. They are considered one of the most prominent examples of the so-called ča-val (Cha Wave), a type of pop rock music accompanied with lyrics sung in the old chakavian dialect still colloquially spoken in Istria at times even today in some places, and which became popular again in the mid-1990s in Croatia. (other notable performers of ča-val are Alen Vitasović and Šajeta).

It's one of the three historical Croatian dialects that contributed to today's standard Croatian language and literary history, with a vast number of words that transferred over into and helped form the modern Croatian standard language and alphabet, it initially appeared and gained form as an elite dialect used during the times of the Croatian Kings Dukes, Princes and their royal courts and among their nobles, upper class and aristocracy, eventually even spreading to the commoners among the coastal urban centers, and also found on stone monuments and in a number of charters and literary written works written mainly along those coastal areas near where they also held their royal residences and courts, (Klis, Knin, Šibenik, Solin, Split, Zadar, Nin etc), so it's actually pretty cool to hear today modern songs using it instead of just seeing examples on old stone monuments and in old books and charters in libraries and museums. It's sort of a reminder of the times of the Croatian Kingdom, Kings, rulers, elite and their early prestige and political dealings with the early Venetian Republic, Carolingian Francia, Byzantine empire, Bulgarian empire etc, (particularly in regards to supremacy and rightful ownership of the eastern shores of the Adriatic sea and maritime naval history), a case very similar to Old English, Old High German, Old French, Old Polish, Old Czech and their various historical dialects, in the same way the Croatian language and alphabet likewise emerged out of it's old historical dialects. (Interestingly and pretty amazing actually, even after the death of the last Croatian King Dmitar Zvonimir and the following union of the Croatian Kingdom with Hungary circa. 1102, instead of completely disappearing immediately as most would have expected, it instead still remained and eventually even became a very important and influential part of Croatian literary history, with even novels, poems, plays, dictionaries and grammars written using it which greatly affected, carried over and directly contributed to our other dialects with all 3 coalescing to form the modern day Croatian language, that's pretty incredible and cool actually. (Croatian Kings Stephen I (1030-1058) and Dmitar Zvonimir (1075-1089) married the daughter of the Venetian Doge Pietro II Orseolo and sister of Hungarian King Ladislaus I, and though the Croatian Kingdom reached the Drava, Danube and Drina rivers, it was a prestigious elite dialect probably already used by then at their royal courts along the coast). For instance, check out this amazing fact, even the very first mention of the words "Croats/Croatian" and "Kingdom of the Croats/Croatia" written in stone in the Croatian language, as opposed to the commonly used Latin lingua franca of Central Europe and Latinized exonym version during those times, it was written in a 'ča' dialect, so even the words "Hrvatska/Hrvati/Hrvatski" has connotations and roots directly associated to this old former prestigious elite dialect from Croatian Kingdom times, interesting and amazing. more so because some languages didn't even acknowledge the "H" sound as existing. (the Croatian 'ča' and 'što' dialects have the long Croatian literary history going back to the Middle Ages, but the 'kaj' dialect didn't make an appearance until around the 16th-17th century and mainly just in the northwest region centered around Zagreb and near the Slovenian border, however many words from even that localized 3rd dialect also became part of standard literary Croatian, and all 3 Croatian dialects were of course also based on a Croatian Latin script alphabet that directly developed into the modern Croatian sound system and alphabet). Also just as in the case of Czech, Slovak, Polish, and Slovenian, many Latin based words and Middle High German urban and legal words filtered into the Croatian language through this dialect. Basically in a nutshell, just think of a modern folk rock song being sung in an Old English/Beowulf, Old High German/Carolingian, Old French/Capetian, Old Czech/Bohemian or Old Polish/Piast dynasty era rooted dialect, it's something cool like that).

History and Croatian dialects lessons aside, the band Gustafi sure won't have fans thinking middle ages history or royal courts at one of their concerts, perfect with a rakija (plumb brandy) in one hand and a Croatian beer (pivo) or pečenka in the other, and that's just for starters. I guess the best way to describe their music is a sort of a Croatian rock folk polka beats version of a Tupac or Biggie fusion with Wham, Dick Dale, Ol' Dirty Bastard and Taylor Hicks-Boy George thrown into the mix for rythym, and maybe some B-52's and the Louvin Brothers too for extra melody except just with more accordions and trumpets, something like that. Anyway, below are a few peeks at some of their stuff from over the years.

More info about this eclectic fun-time folkish rock-pop fusion band at and

(This isn't a music blog, but I did do some other less well known Croatian Music/Musicians themed posts previously the reader may find interesting, just hit the link HERE for those posts)

Just fyi, in this one the footage is taken from clips while touring in Italy and France and which were used later as part of a documentary about the band.

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