We had been in Croatia for several days exploring Dubrovnik and some of the local coastal villages, and we were nearing the end of our stay.
We asked Ivo, our brilliant host where he would recommend for us to go for our last day, and he suggested that he take us to Cavtat, further along the coast.
Cavtat was all that we had been promised, a perfect Croatian coastal town, full of great architecture, shops and with a splendid beach, with sun loungers and shades to ensure the comfort of the visitors. We learned that it had originally been a resort for very wealthy Croatians and an inspirational town for artists, before being discovered as a holiday destination, although still relatively unspoiled.
We spent an hour or so exploring, and as we were having a coffee at one of the small café bars, Ivo asked us if we wanted to see a more rural village and visit a restaurant for lunch, owned by an old school friend and his family.
As you can imagine, the ultimate holiday dream was about to come true as we set off along winding country roads completely off the beaten track, towards the little village of Ljuta, in the protected landscape of the river by the same name.
Ivo had booked a riverside table at Konoba Vinica Monkovic www.konobavinica.com, the amazing restaurant he had recommended, and as we sat down we were greeted warmly by relatives and staff who immediately brought us liqueurs, a speciality from the grandmother of the family. We tasted two in small glasses as we suspected their strength, one resembled a light sherry and the other grappa.
Fortunately, we had ordered a feast of a starter so we were able to offset the effect of the drinks with their own cheese and hams, and delicious home-made bread served on a gigantic platter.
The main courses were ‘under the bell’ (slow cooked) pork with cheese and the other finely sliced succulent steak with green vegetables and potatoes – followed by apple strudel with ice cream and their own speciality dessert resembling a delicious crème brulee. We struggled to eat it all, but managed to finish off most of the meal as it was indescribably good.
We washed it down with local wine – all the time insisting that Ivo stayed with us throughout to enjoy the food, as he had looked after us so well.
I have since discovered that it is described on Trip Advisor as ‘the best restaurant in Croatia’, and I have to agree that it would take a lot to beat it.
The afternoon seemed to go in a flash, and as we were ready to leave, Ivo asked us if we wanted to visit his parents’ old house where he had spent his childhood, as it was on the way home.
The house was set even further up into the mountainous region offset by dense woodland, where he had fond memories of running freely as a child, through the trees even higher into the steep terrain.
The house is now his studio and a place of inspiration for his art, and where he often brings his young family to experience the solitude and tranquillity of nature.
Before we left this house, Ivo produced bottles of olive oil, made from his own home grown olives, and later that evening, his wife Ela sent us a local delicacy of a large cake, made from a recipe from her own grandmother, and bottles of local wine to take home.
This was our last day of our Novasol adventure, and we will treasure the memories of that special experience for a very long time.
There are many varieties of holidays on offer, and we all have different tastes and expectations. I personally felt the adventure of our very special trip was testament to the experience and dedication of Novasol – and which is why after fifty years of practise, they provide such unique hand-picked holiday homes in so many stunning destinations.
Check out the great deals for yourself at https://www.novasol.co.uk/