I do love the mountainous region of Goranski kraj, with its picturesque little towns and lush forests. I get on my bike and rush through Gornje Jelenje through to Bakar in mere half an hour. I love to go kayaking at a quiet time of day, when the calm is such and the sea so clear I can see straight through to the bottom. But, I will remember today after the people.
Some of them, like director of the Hotel Jastreb in Begovo Razdolje, Igor Bratulic, I've known for many years now. We've worked together on many team-building programmes and I was always impressed with Igor's enthusiasm and interest for all unusual suggestions and demands, unconditional readiness for cooperation and unreserved willingness to help at any moment. Igor brought the service of the hotel from 3 stars to a new level of (at least) two more.
Unlike Igor, I've known Drazen Lesica, the owner of the cult gourmet institution, the restaurant Rivica in Njivice, for decades. I’m always spending my summers here, in this little town, but the two of us have never really hung out. People might think he contacted us, offering his help, out of some pure promotional interest, but Drazen has helped us so much these couple of times, with his unreserved generosity and kindness. And so, I would like to say a massive THANK YOU to Drazen and share a link of his great place link.
The staff of another, less famous restaurant, is also pretty terrific. Before I got down from Begovo Razdolje to Lokve, I popped into Park šuma Golubinjak. I definitely recommend checking this place out. Gorski kotar, however, should be seen and enjoyed by everyone who enjoys nature even just a little bit; you can go and spend days there, and have completely different adventures from one day to the next; you can go to the mountains, go swimming in the lake, exploring caves, climbing rocks and cliffs, go rafting and so much, much more!
Golubinjak is a real concentrate of beauty, lush pinewoods and unusually attractive phenomenon of cliffs and limestone area. The people are a real example of kindness that can be experienced only in the region of Goranski kraj. When I got there, I ran into a waiter and a cook who were so unbelievably happy to see me. „We noticed a cyclist and we wondered if that was OUR Daniel?! “ What more can I say? I was really touched. They were happy to have their photos taken in front of the wonderfully heated house (Park šuma Golubinjak“). Welcome at Bakar. I'm more than one hour late. I'd probably be there quicker if Cedo would stop calling me every five minutes, begging me to hurry up. „People are waiting, we've promised them you'd come on time! As if I don't know I'm being late... but, that ascend from Mrzle Vodice to Gornje Jelenje was a real stretch. Finally, after a long (and fast) descend I whiz through our Welcome arch and I get a huge applause. Then I notice these 20 – 30 people wearing all different costumes. I haven't even managed to catch my breath and I'm already holding gifts which director of TZ Bakar Sonja Jelusic, cheerfully placed in my hands. We are having our pictures taken, there are cameramen, the crowd is getting bigger, people in their costumes are hugging me, congratulating, cheering, asking questions about the adventure, the women's choir is singing famous Dalmatian melodies... It takes me a few minutes to realize what is going on. I was welcomed by the members of the Bakar city guard, gentlemen and captains, women's choir „Sklad“ and one section of the Pensioner's association.. Looking at them I started to think how there is a thin line between pretentiousness and sincerity, between protocol and spontaneity and between being official and being cordial. And how people of Bakar are so perfectly sincere, spontaneous and gracious.
And such was the wonderful Sonja, who organized this absolutely amazing welcome. Her enthusiasm and energy which she carries on to her work are a sure guarantee she will achieve wonders on her business plan: a rise in number of guests coming to Bakar („from five to ten“as she adds optimistically).
Finally we end this wonderful day with character and work of Kreso, who stood by with his colleague Luka quietly observing the whole parade. I only realized later on that he was to follow us to Krk on his boat "Bente Dorte". And there is a story about the boat, but Kreso has his story . The boat is saying nothing, and Kreso is stingy with words. But the story is there...
Maybe it's time for me to shut up as well, until the next post.