Settled on the crystal clear waters of the Dalmatian Adriatic, balancing itself half on the mainland and half on the island of Murter, is the little known town of Tisno. My second home. This small town, with a population of a little of 1,000 inhabitants, is the hometown of my father, and my favourite place to spend the Europen summer. I was also furtunate enough to spend a year in this town (I began a blog about my experiences in Tisno – http://dalmatinka-malakretova.blogspot.com.au – check out the blog for information about the culture and history of the town) experiencing the traditions and simple life of the poeple of Tisno.
Although I had so many places I wanted to visit on my travels this year, I spared a week of my itinerary to visit old friends, and new friends (many of my friends had had children since I was there last) in Tisno. August is also a great time to visit so you can experience some of the traditional summer festivals, such as The Tisno International Donkey Race (usually the second weekend in August) and Velika Gospa celebrations in Jezera (on the night of the 15th August). In Tisno, and on the Island of Murter, there is a lot to do to occupy your time: spend your afternoon lazying about at one of the many beautiful bays, hire a scooter or a boat for the day and explore the island, or just sit back and relax in one of the many caffe bars, gossiping with the locals and watching the world go by.
Here are a few of my favourite places to go and things to do on the island:
- Spend the afternoon lazying at the Bay of Jasenovac. This beautiful bay, located on the western side of the island, is absolutely spectacular. The bay can only be reached by sea, on foot from the Bay of Kosirina, or taking the long and windy unpaved road. Don’t try riding your bike there as I did one day in the sweltering heat – I’d forgotten how long the road was and how difficult it would be to navigate by push bike – part of the road is covered in loose pebbles, making bike-riding near impossible. About 10 years ago a father and son from Jezera, who owned the land by the bay, opened a little restaurant/cafe overlooking the Adriatic. It’s a perfect place to have some evening drinks or an evening meal as you watch the sun set into the sea. The food it basic, but if you want something amazing ask for lamb (janjetina) or octopus (hobotnica) “ispod peke” – baked under hot coals. You have to order a day in advance and the “peka”, as it is called, is to die for. If it’s not too hot, spend a few hours walking from Jasenovac to the Bay of Kosirina. This picturesque sea-side walk is a relaxing way to spend the day, get in a bit of exercise and soak in the beauty of the island. A word of warning, there are many nude bathers along this path.
- Chatting to the locals. There is always some gossip to hear or something to laugh about, a conversation with someone from Tisno is never dull. There will be laughter, crazy hand gestures, insane ideas thrown about, some bizarre story told – although it’s a small town, life never seems to be dull.
- Party the night away with the locals in the caffe bars. Three of the most popular in Tisno are Caffe Bar Crni, Caffe Bar Kole and Kasiopeja, each with their own cliental. Crni’s attracts the younger crowd – the university students party all night long, every night of the week, soaking in their short-lived summer holidays. Kole’s has the older, more sophisticated crowd – drinking their wine and critiquing the passers by. And finally Kasiopeja, with its ‘alternative’ crowd, entertaining themselves with personal jokes and gags. Wherever you go, you’re bound to have fun if you hang with the locals.
- Swim at Sveti Andrija (Saint Andrew’s) Beach. Hidden away at the southern end of Tisno, on the island side, is this little protected beach. Although the water is usually colder at this end, Sv. Andrija is one of my favourite beaches, as the water is always crystal clear and you are free from the hoards of tourist you find at Jazina Beach on the opposite side.
- Festa time! Everyone loves a good festa. And the people of Tisno know how to party. There are many festas (festivals) organised in Tisno during the summer. These are huge outdoor parties, with both local and well-known Croatian bands coming to town to give free concerts. The night usually consists of copious amounts of drinking, singing along to songs in the loudest voice possible, catching up with old friends from other parts of Croatia, Europe or the wider world, and dancing together into the early hours of the morning before staggering home – staying until sunrise is not uncommon.
- Concerts at Cigrada. Found on the western side of the island, just before you reach Murter is a signpost on the left to Cigrada. This little bay is often the site of concerts in summer, with well-known Croatian artists coming to perform. With only one street in and out of Cigrada, these concerts usually have an entry charge. Many people avoid this cover charge by going cross-country through the shrubbery, trying to avoid organisers searching for them with flashlights.
- Eating figs! I just adore figs and they grow almost everywhere in Tisno. Take a basket when you go for a walk and collect them as you pass. Just make sure no one sees you – some of the locals might be a bit disgrunted if they catch you ‘stealing’ their figs (even if they themselves aren’t eating them, and they are rotting away on the tree).
- Summer Festivals! As of this year, Tisno is home to a number of well-known European summer music festivals. This year, and for the following few years (I think a five year contract has been signed), Tisno was home to The Garden Festival, Stop Making Sense, Soundwave Festival, and Electric Elephant. These festivals are held in the Bay of Rastovac, located just outside of Tisno. There is camping onsite, but if you want to true local experience, many of the locals rent rooms and/or apartments in their houses over the summer. So if you like 3 to 5 day music festivals, dancing and listening to amazing music all day and all night, there is no better place than Tisno in the summer. And the scenery is just amazing – there aren’t many places in the world that are more beautiful.
- I have to put this one down, as all my friends in Tisno tease me about my Linolada obsession. This stuff is amazing. Similar to Nutella, but it’s a half hazelnut and white chocolate spread, it is a necessity when making palacinke (Croatian pancakes, similar to the French crepes).
There is plenty of private accommodation in Tisno and around the island. Many locals rent out rooms and private aparments during the summer to tourists. Prices and standards vary. Ask at the local tourist bureau (turisticka zajednica) for a current list of vacancies. They’ll usually call the host (which could range from being an old grandmother to a young barman) who will pick you up, take you to your room, and usually stuff you with local delicacies of cured ham, cheese and figs. People’s knowledge of English will vary, from knowing nothing to being almost fluent, but through a range of hand gestures, you’ll hopefully be understood. Either way, you’ll have a true local experience.
Ok, so I’m going to be a bit biased here and mentioned the restaurants of a few good friends (but they are great restaurants).
Ferali: Run by twin brothers (who don’t look alike), this restaurant is one of my favourites. Roko in the kitchen always serves up great local cuisine and his brother Krste is an enteraining host. My brother swears that they do the best lignje na zaru (grilled squid) in Croatia. He has tried the dish in almost every restaurant we’ve eaten at in Croatia, and he rates Ferali’s as the best without a doubt. Located in the centre of town, as you cross the bridge to the island side, turn left and they are about 50 metres along the waterfront.
Prova (http://www.apartmani-restaurant-prova-tisno.com): Also run by two brothers, Ante and Marko, this restaurant with its beautiful waterfront terrace is located a little out of the centre, towards the bay of Jazina. They have a wide range of local specialities and you must try their pizza – they were the first restaurant in Tisno to serve up pizza on their menu, nicknaming the family “Pizza”.
Like many small towns in Croatia, public transport connections can be a bit irregular. However, Tisno is reasonable well connected to Zagreb, with a few direct connections daily. Just check the route of each bus, as some go direct via the autoput (motorway) taking about 4 hours, whilst others go via Rijeka or other cities, taking 6 hours or more. To get to other parts of Croatia, you usually have to go via Sibenik, being the capital of the county. There are a number of connections to and from Sibenik, the first one being at about 5:30am and the last at about 9:30pm. Hitching rides from locals is commonly done, if the train timetable doesn’t suit. Many people hire cars whilst in Croatia, making travel easier and more convenivent, especially in rural areas.