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Thursday, January 15, 2009


With a coastline that stretches thousands of kilometres, more than 1,000 offshore islands, and where a mild Mediterranean climate eases you through the worst ravages of autumn and winter, Croatia's appeal is obvious. Throw in chocolate-box pretty Venetian old towns, whose terracotta roof tiles find themselves in the starring role of many an iconic photograph, rugged mountain ranges and melt-in-the-mouth Adriatic seafood, and the cocktail becomes even more intoxicating.Although the coast is undoubtedly the shining star of Croatia tourism, off the beaten track the country also boasts undulating hills in inland Istria, where ornate hilltop towns, great food, good domestic wine and a proliferation of black and white truffles has earned it favourable comparisons with Tuscany. In the north of the country the historic castles of the Zagorje and more rolling green hills await. The oft ignored region of Slavonia, in the east of the country, rewards a visit with the stately riverside city of Osijek and the unquashable spirit of Vukovar, which is still fighting back from the worst ravages of the Homeland War, as well as vineyards and castles of its own. First-time visitors to the country's capital, Zagreb, quickly shrug off anachronistic images of communist era deprivations, as they are greeted by a vibrant and grand metropolis complete with all the trappings of modern day life, an attractive old town and lush green spaces