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What Celebrities Say About Vacationing in Croatia
Stop the World
What is the attraction anyway?
In recent years, since Croatia gained independence from the former Yugoslavia, many international stars have discovered Croatia as an ideal spot to spend their holidays.
Why is this? Aren't the Greek Isles, Italy, Spain and the South of France equally tranquil and beautiful? They are all bordering the relatively warm and peaceful seas of the Adriatic and / or Mediterranean, great for swimming, sunbathing and recreation.
Less People / Less Stress
Perhaps because of the isolationist policies from the days of the Iron Curtain, Croatia remains relatively unspoiled, a pristine "small town" kind of tourist destination. Croatia's entire population consists of about 4.5 million people, less than an American super-city. (By comparison, Los Angeles has a population of about 10 million including the immediate outskirts.) Those who flock to the Dalmatian Islands are amazed that their kids can run on the beach, play without worry and - for celebrities - be completely left alone.
A Refreshing Mentality
Croatians are absolutely not star-struck. They have the attitude of "so what?". This is a refreshing change of pace for paparazzi chased celebrities who would love to just enjoy a quiet day on the beach with their families. Here, they can do this. The most the stars will get is a pleasant hello and "I liked you in that film". After that - Goodbye, Charlie.
Photo requests (with the star) are possible but autographs are highly unlikely. Largely unimpressed with superficial externals, no one (frankly) "gives a damn"!
Prince Harry Shakes His Groove Thang
Central Croatian Coast and Islands
Split and the island of Pag are known for their young, fun-loving, concert going, pub crawling, culture festival attending and National Park (Krk, Plitvica to name a couple) visiting possibilities.
If you just want peace and quiet, many of the 1044 Croatian islands offer quiet hideaways. Take your sailboat (or yacht!) and find a cove. That's what many stars do!
Hvar Island is known for its very active and well organized night life. There are usually movie stars walking around. Princess Caroline made a stop on the island of Vis every summer on end until recent years. She parked her yacht a kilometer or two from the main seaside walkway then took her speedboat to her favorite restaurant, Val, in the north part of the harbor.
Dubrovnik in the South
The Dubrovnik Fim Festival - A Mecca of Stars
The Dubrovnik Film Festival is held in Croatia every summer, introducing American and international stars to the fascinating walled city (former city-state) Dubrovnik, often for the first time. Morgan Freeman came in 2010 and became famous for saying, "You've got some beautiful women here".
Other notable stars attending this festival include Mickey Rourke (2009), Kevin Spacey (2007), Chris Cooper and others. Julia Margulies of ER (Emergency Room) fame visited Croatia at the suggestion of her once co-star, Goran Višnjić, who was stunned and amazed at how beautiful Croatia really is. (She said that she thought he had been exaggerating!)
Mickey Rourke in Dubrovnik
The Computer Mogul
Bill Gates could go anywhere in the world that he chooses - who says "No" to a man of his wealth? Just this summer I learned that Bill Gates has discovered Croatia and had already returned for a second time around. Krk National Park is famous for its waterfalls and hydro-electric water plant, making it home to the first city powered by hydro electric power. That city was the tiny Dalmatian coastal town of Šibenik, home to Dražen Petrović and Goran Višnjić. The source of that power comes from the tributary waters, of course. Coincidentally, Edison and his protogee, a man named Nikola Tesla from Croatia, were behind the Niagara Falls success.
Krk Waterfalls are beautiful and an easy day trip. Besides observing the falls, visitors can swim in the cascading pools below. It is also large enough to find secluded docking areas near the forested shoreline. The summer months - sometimes through early October - are warm - providing peace, security and sheer enjoyment for the stressed out super - exec.
Krk Waterfalls hideaway
Armand Assante of The Mambo Kings
When I first came to live in Croatia in 1999, I saw an American interview of the famous actor, Armand Assante. He explained in English how he had been paid to vacation in various hot spots to endorse his approval that these were ideal places to take a summer vacation.
Assante explained that he had visited Croatia every year for the past few years, and had no reason or desire to make a change. Years later, he was asked to take part in this short video (below) promoting the capital city of Zagreb. The architecture shows its roots as a member state of the Austrian Hungarian federation, which lasted until Archduke Ferdinand's assassination, the event which is known for triggering the outset of World War I.
Armand Assante in Zagreb, the capital
Celebrity endorsements have given Croatia a leg-up to the international tourist level. Until recent years, people imagined women with little dark mustaches and appliances from the 1950s. Not exactly accurate, but Croatia (like other parts of the former Block countries), were a step behind as far as luxury accommodations.
In the past twenty years after Croatia declared independence in 1991, considering the task of war reparations and shifting from a Communist / Socialist economy to one of Free Enterprise, Croatians have been busy. Realizing the economic opportunities in tourism, many have built luxury apartments and raised the bar to meet and exceed Western European standards.
Focusing on its rich cultural past as a Greek, Roman, Illiric, Middle European and Mediterranean civilization, it has won its place on the roster as the New Tuscany with affordability, beauty, simplicity, and most of all - great swimming in a stress free environment.
In 2013, Croatia is expected to be named as the 28th Member state of the European Union.