Croatia, Through Amazing Aerial's Viewfinder
Dec 15, 2022
Everyone is talking about Croatia’s football team, but another important team is partially based in Croatia—the Amazing Aerial team! Here is what we want the world to know about Croatia, which many of us call home.
Rebecca: “As an Istrian, I’m a little bit biased, but this region is my favorite part of the country. There is so much to discover, from beautiful seaside towns to secluded villages to a historically vibrant punk scene.” Photo of Rovinj, Istria, Croatia. © Amazing Aerial Agency / Julien Duval
By Rebecca Duras
Just a few years ago, a common complaint among Croatians living abroad was that it was impossible to describe where you were from without hand gestures, convoluted descriptions, and eventually, resigned references to more famous nearby countries.
Today, there are very few people that don’t know about Croatia. Millions of tourists visit each year. Fantasy fans all over the world gawked at Dubrovnik in Game of Thrones. Now, after two back-to-back World Cup runs that smashed expectations, even casual football fans know about Croatia.
Many people know about Croatia, but few people truly know Croatia. Amazing Aerial Magazine reached out to a few of our team members living in Croatia to gather their perspectives on the Croatia the world doesn’t always get to see.
Getting to Know the Coastline Takes a Lifetime…
There are probably millions of photographs of the Croatian coast, but that still isn’t enough to capture how beautiful it is. Even those who’ve lived here their whole lives are still stunned by the beauty that surrounds them. “I’ve covered the majority of the country, but if I had to pick my favorite part of the country that would be my home, the island of Lošinj, and the surrounding islands,” Amazing Aerial photographer Ivan Brčić proudly says.
Croatian islands are popular tourist destinations, but many people still call them home. Living on an island comes with its challenges and quirks. More remote islands are isolated for days on end when the bura, a powerful wind, picks up, shutting down ferry traffic. Take a ferry to a smaller island and one of your fellow passengers may be in a casket—many islands don’t have morticians or funeral parlors, so the business of death usually happens on the mainland. Panka Farkas, Amazing Aerial’s Head of Sales and Business Development who lives on Brač, explains island life by saying, “living on the island was and is much harder, people have to be really hard workers and use their creativity to stay alive.”
For Panka, the real symbols of island life are not party boats or massive stone cathedrals, but the humble dry stone walls that tumble across Brač and other coastal regions. “I sometimes participate in community builds of stone walls, and I know how much time and effort it takes[…]they remind me of the World Cup and the Croatian team because building these walls requires persistent will, cooperation, and a fiery character.”
..But Croatia Is More Than the Coast
While most visitors to Croatia make a beeline for the coast, they may be missing out on the best that the country has to offer. The interior contains some of the country’s best nature. Even Zagreb, the capital, is connected to the Sljeme mountain by the municipal public transportation system. As Amazing Aerial photographer Mislav Stepinac explains, “Croatia is not just the Adriatic Sea, there is so much more[…]almost 35% of the country is covered in forests and more than 12% of the land is in a naturally protected area.”
Like much of the Balkans, Croatia still contains acres of forests where you can find stillness that is difficult to find on the coast. “Whether it is during the summer to get some cool air, or during the winter, it is really nice to go through the forests here and their streams, ponds, and rivers,” Giovanni Vale, Editor-in-Chief of the Amazing Aerial Magazine, explains.
Be Careful How You Visit
More people knowing about Croatia may be a good thing for the national image and the coffers of resort owners, but it is not always a good thing for the people that live here. Over the past few years, overtourism has caused a whole host of problems for local people. Gentrification and touristification have turned cities such as Dubrovnik into “a cultural Disneyland,” as Paul Prescott, Amazing Aerial founder and CEO puts it.
Paul is haunted by the example of the Cetina river spring. The Instagrammable location became a hotspot for tourists, who swam in the water despite pleas from the local community reminding people that the spring is the main source of drinking water for much of Dalmatia. “I believe I have a certain responsibility for what happened as I was the first person to post this photo on social media and on stock sites,” Paul explains. “This triggered a snowball effect, spilling out onto social media and leading to a frenzy of people wanting their own photos in this beautiful location.”
When asked about his favorite places in Croatia, Paul said, “I do not want to share my secret locations anymore, out of fear they will be discovered and damaged.” He is not alone in his conflicting feelings about tourism in Croatia. Many residents want people to get to know the country, but feel as if by spreading the word about the country’s beauty, they invite the country’s destruction.
What to Know When You Visit Croatia
The Amazing Aerial team has a long collection of our favorite spots in the country, which we tried to highlight in our photo selection for the article. However, our biggest recommendation isn’t about where to go, it’s about how to come.
So many articles write about our slower pace of life, so try it for yourself by slowing down a bit when you travel. Talk to some locals, read some articles about the place you’re visiting, and try to learn about the challenges that people face, from convoluted trash collection systems to low pensions. Visit a local market, one that sells produce, not souvenirs. Visit a national park (and please do so respectfully). Take some photos for yourself, not for social media.
Croatia is a small country, but even a country of less than 4 million people is difficult to summarize in a short article such as this one. Ivan Brčić refers to the popular phrase, “malo nas je al nas ima,” a common phrase in Croatia. Translating roughly to, “we’re only few but we are here,” the phrase captures the diversity and stubborn spirit of the country.
Come see for yourself, while being mindful of the impact your visit might have. Check out more than the top beaches and beach bars. Bring your curiosity.
And your football shirts.
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