Conical towers such as this one in Korčula harbor once formed a formidable barrier against invaders. The 15th century towers are now a tourist attraction and one has even been turned into a cocktail bar.
Dubrovnik – Been There

How I learned the secret of living forever

Photo by Jurjen Drenth

Dubrovnik – Been There How I learned the secret of living forever

No visit to Dubrovnik is complete without a visit to the nearby islands and I hop on a car ferry to Mljet and Korčula, two of the most beautiful.

Neil Geraghty
Neil Geraghty Travel Writer

The Bura wind is still blowing strongly and the atmosphere is so clear that the blue of the sea is magnified into an almost Caribbean intensity. In an olive grove perched high above the poetically named Odysseus’ Cave on Mljet I stop to have a chat with Antun Market, an octogenarian olive oil producer who looks 60 and is the very embodiment of a healthy Mediterranean diet. I can’t help remarking on his youthful looks and ask him the secret of his good health.

“Plenty of hard work and plenty of fresh air,” he says. “The harvest is now over and I have to cut the trees back for next year. I have 160 and each one takes two hours. It’s been a terrible harvest. It rained all summer and the olives couldn’t ripen”. I commiserate with him but he soon cheers up. “On the other hand, it’s a fantastic year for citrus and we’re going to have a bumper harvest,” he says, pointing to some nearby trees laden with fat tangerines and lemons.

A neighboring farmer, Vicko Strazicic, has converted one of his barns into a museum of local history using many of his family heirlooms. I notice a table inside the museum with a display of interesting-looking liquors. “We make them here at the farm,” says Vicko. “Come up to the house and try some.” We walk through an olive grove to an old stone villa and sit down on a terrace overlooking the sea. The sun has just set and I choose a walnut flavor. The rich warming liquor warms me up against the chilly twilight and Vicko starts telling how his family survived World War II.

The Italians and Germans confiscated everything and my grandparents had to hide jars of olive oil in the forest,” he says. “We discovered one quite recently that they’d forgotten about. The Partisan resistance fighters were very active on the island and we suffered lengthy sea bombardments from German battleships. One landed just over there in the middle of the olive grove and killed my aunt while she was working.”

We chat for half an hour and when I get up to leave, Vicko insists that I take a bottle of the delicious walnut liquor with me.

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Dubrovnik pier JD

Dubrovnik is part of the Dalmation Coast, from where those spotty dogs got their name. Dalmatian dogs were originally called Dubrovnik Hunters and their spots are said to represent the many islands. Photo by Jurjen Drenth

Jurjen Drenth

Jurjen Drenth

Canon EOS 6D

Aperture
ƒ/95/10
Exposure
1/90
ISO
100
Focal
28/1 mm

Dubrovnik is part of the Dalmation Coast, from where those spotty dogs got their name. Dalmatian dogs were originally called Dubrovnik Hunters and their spots are said to represent the many islands.

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