This is part 2 of our series about the 2020 Peter Sommer Travels brochure, which has been posted as a printed copy to our guests and friends and which is also available on our website as a pdf download or as a browsable online brochure. Together, these posts present a full overview of our activities and the experiences we offer to our guests. Part 1 looks back at what we did 2019 and forward to our new plans for 2020 and beyond.
Croatia - a special intersection of the Balkans and the Adriatic
How time flies - 2020 will be the fifth year of our operations in Croatia. It was the first step in our 2016/17 diversification, when we doubled the number of countries we work in. By now, we have established a programme of four different gulet itineraries up and down the coast and islands of Dalmatia, covering the southern and central stretches of the country's convoluted coast, a geography dominated by a dazzling succession of headlands and inlets, as well as series of large inhabited islands, and countless islets. A beguilingly beautiful mixture of landscapes and seascapes, scattered with historic towns and villages, touching upon millennia of history, it is a region that richly rewards the traveller at every turn.
Perhaps the best starting point to understand the complex history of the region, an area that was often at the crossroads between East and West, but also between North and South, between continental and Mediterranean, Greek/Roman and Barbarian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman, is Cruising the Dalmatian Coast: from Split to Dubrovnik (or vice versa). It includes the two great cultural landmarks of Dalmatia, both listed as UNESCO World Heritage, namely the 4th century AD Palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian at Split and the great Late Medieval town of Dubrovnik, former Ragusa, one of the most stunning examples of 13th/14th century urban design in Europe (lately famous as the venue of King's Landing in 'Game of Thrones'). The cruise also stops by many off-the-beaten-track places, such as lovely Korčula or rugged Brač. It's an eye-opener of a trip, revealing a sweeping panorama across a fascinating history. In 2020, this cruise will be available four times, twice in May/June and twice in August/September.
In the northern part of Dalmatia, less touristy than the south, but no less fascinating, we are now in the third year of running Cruising the Dalmatian Coast: from Šibenik to Zadar, in many regards a complement to the Split-Dubrovnik itinerary. This trip offers an exploration of a quieter side of the region, featuring still-barely-known highlights of immense cultural significance. One of those is the remarkable cathedral at Šibenik, another UNESCO World Heritage site, a building that sits at the transition from Gothic to Renaissance and stands in a wonderfully preserved medieval city overlooked by a series of Venetian forts. The other, also on the UNESCO World Heritage list, is the great Venetian city of Zadar (or Zara), an amalgamate of Roman, Slavic and Venetian monuments. There is much more to see on this itinerary, such as the otherworldly remoteness of the mostly uninhabited Kornati Islands, or the stunning riverine landscape of the Krka estuary with its mighty waterfalls. This cruise is running twice in 2020, in June and September.
Our Walking and Cruising Southern Dalmatia offers a more hands-on and especially feet-on approach to southern Dalmatia. It brings our guests into a very multifaceted contact with the region and it affords them access to places that cannot be approached or understood in any other way than on foot. There are wonderful and unique things to see here. Our guides and guests climb to a now-remote but once-central hillfort, the stronghold of some long-forgotten Iron Age warrior chieftain, in the uplands above Orebić. They also get to stroll along the lanes of the great Greek field system on the island of Hvar, still used as it was planned and laid out 2,400 years ago (this, too, is a UNESCO World Heritage site). And they explore the remarkable historic ensemble that is Ston, with its historic town, ancient salt pans and the unusual border wall that protected the wealth of the Pelješac peninsula, then owned by Ragusa/Dubrovnik. from the covetous grasp of various attackers. Next year, we offer this superb experience in both May and September.
A Gastronomic Cruise of Dalmatia is a very unusual trip, and one the we are modifying and improving every year, because it is dealing with a dynamic and fluid topic, a constant interplay of tradition and innovation: Dalmatian cuisine. In 2019, Peter and Filip reworked this itinerary - another example of the central role that Peter Sommer Travels' continuous and active tour maintenance plays in offering a first-rate travel experience. The cruise is a highly distinctive experience that brings our guests in direct contact with local culture and tradition. The region of Dalmatia features a most extraordinary range of cuisines, mixing elements from the Balkans, an Italian flair, the Ottoman/Turkish East and the sophistication of Austro-Hungarian and Viennese influence, all rooted in the excellent ingredients that the region produces. Our guests meet local producers, observe traditional cooking methods, with a chance to participate, and get to sample the results. It's a wonderful way to explore the historical complexity of the Adriatic region in the most delightful way possible.
These are our Croatian offerings in 2020. At Peter Sommer Travels, our approach to any country is always work in progress: as we mentioned in the previous post of this series, we are also working on a new land-based Exploring tour of Istria, the northern region of Croatia - watch this space! Croatia has much to offer to the cultural traveller and we are excited to present our range of cruises in such a wonderful and diverse country.
Also in this series: