Meet The Incredible Croatians

The wooden Santa Barbara Church is over 400 years old.

The wooden Santa Barbara Church is over 400 years old.

On our excursion to the Santa Barbara wooden church we were met by Father Anđelnko. He explained the significance of the beautiful chapel built of native oak over 400 years ago and the unique craftsmanship that made possible the building of such a solid structure without the use of nails.  The interlocking logs are shaped such that the only way the structure could be built was like a puzzle, laying one log atop another one at a time from the ground up, and the weight of the logs was enough to bond the structure together.

The wood panels show original artwork from the 17th Century.

After we learned of the original artwork on the interior wooden panels and we observed a prayer before the handcrafted altar, Father Anđelnko invited us to join him in the reception hall where we were given food and drink, of course, because this is Croatia.  I do not remember exactly how the subject came up, but the priest said to those of us close at hand that there were two people he would most love to meet.  Not surprisingly, Jesus Christ topped the list, because he is after all a priest.  And number two on his list he said was Eric Clapton.

Father Anđelnko offers us gifts during our visit.

Father Anđelnko not only loves the blues, he also owns a Fender Stratocaster on which he practices blue guitar whenever he gets the opportunity.  He also owns over 500 CD’s including every album on which Clapton ever played.  He even confided to us, “I sent Eric an invitation letter to come to Croatia for a visit as my guest.  Unfortunately, he never responded.”  I think Eric would come to Velika-Gorica, Croatia, if he knew how blessed and fortunate he would be with the hospitality of Father Anđelnko.

Our guide, Vlatka, introduces Sister Beliclava.

On our visit to Lužnica and the majestic estate converted to a nunnery, we were greeted by Sister Beliclava.  Her warmth and ready smile were surpassed only by her self-effacing humor.  The sister, a woman of large stature, was asked to join us for a group picture with the lake in the background.  She said, “Oh no, your lenses are not big enough to include me.”  We finally convinced her to stand with us, and then it was suggested we do the ‘Ashley Jump’, Ashley Colburn’s signature celebratory cheer. (Ashley is our TV producer.) Sister Beliclava said, “Oh, please do not ask me to jump.  Our site does not have earthquake insurance.”  Such a quick wit and such an enjoyable personality!

“En Garde,Sir Ivan!” (Fortunately, I wore a helmet during the sword fight.)

Our day reached a climactic end with a visit to a partially renovated medieval castle and the gathering of the Knights of Zelingrad.  We were greeted by a local group reliving the traditions of the Middle Ages in period costumes.  After a demonstration of sword play and launching a replica catapult, we took part in archery and sword fighting.  Then we were invited to join the group for food and drinks because after all, this is Croatia.

I spoke with Ivan, my sword fight rival, about the history of the Croatia.  He asked me what I knew about Croatia, and I said, “I am impressed with your young country.”  He responded with, “Croatia is not a young country.  Our history dates back to the 6th century.  It is only now that the world is getting to know us.”

I continue to be impressed with the immense pride the Croats have for their country and their heritage, as well they should.  It is one of the most appealing and welcoming countries I have ever visited.

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12 comments on “Meet The Incredible Croatians

  1. It’s great that you’re introducing us to this lovely country Mike. The people you’ve met sound warm and wonderful. A priest that digs Eric Clapton – how cool is that!! I’ll have to tell you about the 6-weeks I spent in a convent some time. And, NO I had did not have any intention of becoming a nun!!! Celeste 🙂

  2. So excited to finally get to see more of this beautiful country! Have a wonderful time Mike and Florence and thanks for taking us along!

    • Mike Lince says:

      I have many stories to share and so little time to write thus far. Thank you for your patience. I look forward to telling about the unique landscapes that the country has had the foresight to preserve for posterity through their national park system. – Mike

  3. amamic1 says:

    I’m thrilled that they took you to visit my favorite church, Santa Barbara. Not enough is known about this tradition of building wooden churches even here in Croatia, because it was limited to just this one part of the country, just south of Zagreb. And I’m so happy you got to meet such cool people among the clerics, there aren’t that many, and they’re usually younger people. Most old-school priests would not have been so cool. 🙂

    • Mike Lince says:

      I am not Catholic, so I don’t know about the lack of coolness among the clerics. There is no question that the ones met were very cool! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. – Mike 🙂

  4. I love it Mike – a priest with a stratocaster! How divine! 🙂 You are taking us on such a wonderful journey through Croatia highlighting its most endearing feature – her people. Can’t wait to see what’s up next. We just arrived in Kyiv and it’s wonderful. ~Terri

    • Mike Lince says:

      I think the best thing about Croatia is the openness of the people. I hope that they don’t lose that as more tourists discover this country.
      You picked a good time to visit Kyiv. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. – Mike 🙂

  5. reocochran says:

    This story is so cool! I “borrowed” a few minutes on another person’s library pass for the computer. I will close with thanks for the travel sights and people stories that make it a piece of humanity shared with me in my humble small town and I appreciate your widening the horizons for all of us!

  6. Hi, Mike and Florence — I discovered you on Boomer Café and now follow you and your adventures vicariously. What a wonderful blog! I knew virtually nothing about Croatia and now, suddenly, I’d like to visit. What you deliver is so real — completely different from the glossy materials put out by the travel industry. Thanks!

  7. […] was my favorite stop.  Perhaps it was the reunion with our new friend, Ana, whom we met during our Discover Croatia Tour.  Spending time with friends is always a treat, especially while living in a country far from […]

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