Saturday, June 19, 2010

Going on a safari in Croatia?

Access to the Brijuni National park was via a 15 minute ferry ride from the town of Fazana.

I believe the ferry left every hour, but we had an 11:30am reservation. After paying the entrance fee, 200 kunas ($40) or 50% for Croatian citizens, which included the ferry ride, we waited to join the 4 hour excursion tour with an expert guide.

Town of Fazana, here you can purchase your tickets. We were an hour early so we walked around for a few souvenirs.

Located along the south-west coast of the Istrian peninsula, the 14 islands were proclaimed a national park four years after Tito's death in 1980, the former Yugoslavian socialist leader. The public was allowed to set foot on Brijuni for the first time since the outbreak of malaria which led to its evacuation hundreds of years earlier.

According to its history, back then an Austrian industrialist purchased the islands in 1893 and hired a Nobel Prize-winning bacteriologist to eradicate the disease with quinine.
The main island was then turned into an exotic retreat with fresh water and electricity, the landscape was transformed with villas, lawns and gardens, sub-tropical trees, a zoo, and the first 18-hole golf course in Europe.

"By the time Tito came to power, the Depression, Italian rule and the war had taken their toll, but he declared the islands his official summer residence and set about recreating their former splendour."

From the early 1950s until 1979 the Brijuni islands were Tito's private playground. He spent six months of the year on the islands enjoying a lifestyle of luxury unimaginable to many people.

His guest list included Sophia Loren, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Gina Lollobrigida, and Queen Elizabeth II to only name a few. And his gift list was just as extensive including a 1950s Cadillac from former president Dwight Eisenhower.

And I got to drive it!! OK not really, since the cost to drive it was $600 dollars for half-an hour, who has that kind of money? But I was allowed to take a photo.

Meet Lanka, gift from India's then Prime Minister, Indira Ghandi.

Sightseeing the island's natural beauty via a tourist train and visiting the natural-science collection and photo museum, and the zoo (but our tourist guide called it a safari?)

After that we were free to walk around the island.

One of my favorite paths, nostalgic right?

It was calculated through carbon analysis that this olive tree is 1600 years old!!!

You could also rent a bicycle for 160 kunas a day.

Well, it was time to catch our ferry back to Fazana, we still had to stop in Pula to see the grand amphitheater.

So what do you think? I was quite impressed with the island, although it was sad to see the villas deteriorating, although they are still being used by the government, no residents are allowed to stay overnight, only tourists staying on one of the hotels.


  1. That looks so beautiful and perfect! I can see you are having a lot of what a car!!! The elephant is adorable too:)
    Have a wonderful day sweetie and see you soon:)

  2. Sitting behind the wheel was like being part of history, it was very exciting!

  3. I remember when Tito died, I was still a kid, but my parents and everyone else in that Eastern European region were glued to their televisions, wondering what would happen next.

    What a beautiful place for a summer residence. I hope that there are those who have the finances to restore the villas and keep this island's place in history.

  4. Great Photos Elisa. It looks like you all had al lot of fun.

  5. AnonymousJune 22, 2010

    Hello, I love Croatia and your blog. Related to Brijuni: look on youtube for a wonderful song called Zebre i Bizoni and performed by Galija. I'm sure you'll like it.
    Cheers from Alina.

  6. Hi Alina! Thank you, for stopping by. I'm listening to the song as I'm typing this, I like it, a tribute to Brijuni. Now I just have to figure out the lyrics. "replay"

  7. Angie, I didn't realized that Tito was so loved by the people, visiting that photo museum I learned through the pictures that not only was he popular amongst celebrities but he did great things for children. Like I said, quite sad to know that the island was so spectacular and now is...

  8. thanks Kelly, now we only need to visit Vis, Tito's former military island. I saw your trip there and the photos are amazing!

  9. What an interesting place to go! That olive tree is remarkable. I need to get to Croatia at some point.


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