Pag – is the 5th biggest Croatian island situated in the central Dalmatia – was described as the moon landscape. Without trees with rare, gray grass and dull wandering sheep.
In some places it is.
The island is located in front of the Velebit Mountain from where the strong, cold wind blows almost all the year. Because of it (and because of the fact the Venetians cut down trees for the construction of Venice for years), there are a few trees on the island.
But we have found and coniferous trees, and olive orchards and lavender fields.
As well as great beaches, diving and wakeboarding places, ancient white towns. Pag has the longest coastline on the Adriatic Sea – 270 kilometers.
We lived in the capital of the island – the same name town Pag. An old 3-storey house around the corner of cathedral, photos of grandmothers and great-grandmothers of Maya, shabby buffet with a manual coffee grinder and cups. In the morning we walked to a nearby bakery for fresh pastries, brewed coffee, took out an old wooden table with chairs in the yard with a medieval well. We greeted our neighbors and read old newspapers. 10 meters to the right is the central square of the city with cathedral and souvenir shops. 20 meters to the left is a promenade with the smell of coffee and screaming seagulls.
At the beginning of June rare tourists were wandering in the town, locals repairing something and finishing work in their cafes and shops. We love arriving to the sea before and after the season. You know, it’s like being the last child in the shift of kindergarten, playing with all toys by yourself.
In the evening we sat on the promenade, drank cold white wine, ate Pag cheese and watched the water.
There are just two towns on the island of Pag (Pag and Novalja), several villages (Shimunov, Kolan, Lun) and about 8 thousand inhabitants. In the summer their number grows in 5-6 times thanks to waiters, cooks, sellers, employees of marina (parking for yachts), who arrives to earn from the continental part of Croatia.
Island Pag became a tourist place after 1968, when it was built a bridge between it and the mainland.
Season on the Croatian islands is short – from mid-June to mid-September. Although it’s warm and possible to swim till the end of October.
The main tourists are neighbors: Germans, Italians, Austrians, Slovenians. On Pag, we also met visitors from Poland, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Britains. When Croatia joined the European Union in 2013, the number of European tourists started to grow every year very fast. But as our friends telling, it’s too far to the extent of the Yugoslav tourism.
Croats are very hospitable. Diligent, kind, friendly and open. Their roads are perfect and the food in the restaurants is always fresh.
And they are expanding boundaries of the tourist season, so why would come in March, and November. Yachting, cool music festivals, gastronomic tourism, sport. There are many towns have revived traditional carnivals in winter and spring. Istriya has become the place of tennis and cycling workouts. Dalmatia is a long-standing point for cruise liners.
But go back to Pag.
The symbols of the island are famous Pag sheep cheese, the ancient art of lace making, biscuits bashkotin which is baked by nuns of the Benedictine monastery, and the beach Zrce – “Croatian Ibiza”. In addition, residents of Pag are engaged in the extraction of salt, produce olive oil and supply lamb to the continent.
I’m not a fan of such souvenirs. But the Archduchess Maria Theresa was. And she held a Lacemaker of Pag at her court.
It is believed that the Pag lace art came from the Greek Mycenae. At first Pag lace (Paška čipka, “Chipka” – the lace in Croatian) was mentioned in documents of the 15th century. Of course, it has not been without nuns of the Benedictine monastery. They created the lace school. And have gathered a large collection of lace for the last 150 years.
In 1937 masters from Pag received a gold medal for the extremely valuable craft at the exhibition in Paris. Today, the lace is recognized as a subject of Croatian cultural heritage, and a World Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
Right in the center of Pag town (Petar Krešimir IV sq.) there is the Gallery of Pag Lace.
Or you can visit to the Benedictine nuns of the Monastery of Santa Margherita, who were the main initiators of the lace craft in Pag and its style. In the monastery you can see the collection of over a hundred exhibits, collected and preserved for over 150 years.
Beach Zrće – Croatian Ibiza
At the beginning of June we were on the most famous party-beach in Croatia, so there almost weren’t any people.
But in July and August Zrće turns into one endless dancefloor. Fests, parties, performances by worldwide DJs.
Where to live in Pag
Near the town of Novalja and beach of Zrće, we visited our friend of culinary school Kul In – chef Nicola, who works in the winter in the city of Bjelovar in the central part of Croatia, 70 km from Zagreb. And in the summer he works in the restaurant of a small hotel complex Barbati on Pag, which is also belonged to his employer.
We like that Nicola works for one person so many years. Such loyalty is a good trait of Croats. The most important thing for them is a respect from employer. The attitude of “I – Head, you – fool” is unacceptable. And we liked the restaurant and the Barbatian complex.
The kitchen in the restaurant is very clean (this is the first thing we pay attention to), clear menu with Croatian and international dishes (octopus salad, pizza, pasta, steaks, lots of fish on the grill), and the normal price.
There are 15 rooms in the complex. It’s very clean everywhere and pretty nice design.
It has SPA, a small pool, and a bar on the beach. And it’s situated on the sea front. Lovely place.