17 years ago, I spent my summer in Jezera with my parents for the first time. If you are not sure where to place Jezera, they are a part of the beautiful island of Murter, which I keep exploring and meeting anew every summer. Apart from Jezera, this amazing island of islands – as they call it – consists of villages Tisno, Betina and of course Murter. As the wonderful legend says: “After creating the world, He gave to every nation one piece of this Earth. To the Croats who were late for the gifting He had no choice but give them a piece of land and sea that God intended for himself. God leaned over this magical part of the world and poured jewels along the Croatian shore. In the middle, just off the mainland, remained a wonderful jewel surrounded by pearls; the Island of islands – Murter island, surrounded by many islands and islets, unusual in appearance and beauty. Among the islets that adorn the island of Murter are special ones that resemble a crown; the reason they were named – Kornati. ”
Jezera, once a small fishing village, which I hold so dear to my heart, is named after its two “lakes”, which are not really lakes but the meadows of Blato and Lokva which flood during the rainy season, as the impenetrable soil keeps water above ground and creates great pond. Blato is mostly drained because of an outbreak of malaria at the beginning of the 20th century, while Lokva is filled to the brim with water as soon as the rainy periods of autumn begin, and end with the arrival of spring. In the eighties and nineties of the 20th century, Lokva was a gathering place for the villagers. The next stop directly after going to the beach, was this meadow. After the grass was mowed to feed the cattle, people would play football on it. My friend Leo, an inhabitant of Jezera, told me that for several years the festival “Days of Lokve” was held, which would consist of donkey races, matches, tug of war, concerts and the like. In present-day Lokva, you can discover a beautiful sight of horses from the Kukurin farm, which organizes horseback riding through nature on donkeys and Arabian horses.
As the legend itself says the island of Murter is embellished with numerous bays and every one of them has its own story to tell. This summer, armed with our adventurous spirit, we decided to visit some of them. I was an admirer of secluded beaches and secret, hidden coves since forever, but you must admit that the city beach is always the easiest choice when you have children, then again, it does not necessarily have to be the most interesting one. My daughters are (read Zara) too young for some of the more serious ventures like hiking, but they have proved themselves to be braver and nimbler than I thought they were.
We spent a couple of days in the Plitka Vala cove in the morning hours, which is ideal for children. At the exit of Jezera, on the road to Murter, after passing a left turn to another beautiful beach Podjasenovac, and passing a right turn for the Lovišća car camp, if you continue further, you will come to an intersection where you can turn left to go to the bay of Kosirina, or right to Plitka Vala. A great deal of sand, endless shallow water, and a warm sea. Plus, a ton of buckets and accessories, dirty towels and swimsuits, warm sea and no shade. I’m not the kind of person who only likes to soak my feet in the water forever and then think about if I should jump in or not, which means I’m not a big fan of warm shallows either. As much as it is ideal for kids, I could hardly wait for the refreshing temperature of the open sea. That is why we spent the afternoon hours of the first couple of days on the city beach; sometimes Lučica, other times Zaratić. These are the two main city beaches in Jezera, opposite each other, at the entrance of the bay surrounded by hills – that is, ACI Marina Jezera, which because of its natural position is not exposed to strong winds, so it is ideal as a ship harbour. The Lučica Beach also has a small park under the pines which is a great plus regarding a place with shade, and it consists of swings, slides, and seesaws. That childrens park was a life saver for us in the days when our north-eastern wind Bura raged. There was no time for the beach, and you cannot stay with the children at home or in the garden all day. The beach also has a café where you can buy sweets and sandwiches, all at a decent price.
Da se vratimo na avanturistički duh mojih djevojčica. Kao mala često sam s obitelji podsjećivala uvalu Sv. Nikole ili kako je mještani nazivaju uvala Murtar, što znači morska tvrđa, po kojoj je i kasnije otok Murter dobio ime, a u samoj toj uvali je i kapelica Sv. Nikole. Stijene koje je priroda stvorila, mirisi borova koji je okružuju, prekrasna kristalno plava boja mora i pogled na Kornate, samo su neki od detalja koji su mi svakog puta pronašli moju zen točku i ja bih se s te plaže vraćala nekoliko kila lakša. Mir. Cvrčci. Vjetrić. Mirisi. Tabula rasa. Nema tu puno priče. I kad uistinu pogledaš sve te silne slike na instagramu danas, ne možeš vjerovati da je to stvarno. Previše mi to uzimamo zdravo za gotovo i nismo ni svjesni kojim smo ljepotama okruženi. Taj dan, odnosno jutro, u Murtaru smo proveli penjeći se po stijenama. I upravo te stijene, strme, oštre i kamenite, mojim su djevojčicama predstavljale velike prepreke u obliku planina koje su s velikom strašću preskakivale, obilazile, te se zavlačile i penjale. Bilo mi ih je gušt gledati. Zara je samo vikala “Moze Zaja sama!”, a ja sam samo smirivala srce svoje. Muž je ležeran kao i uvijek, curama dao maha da iskušaju svoje granice, iako smo u određenoj visini morali stati i vratiti se nazad jer je uistinu postalo previsoko, a one su bile prehrabre. Pogled na Kornate koji se pruža s visine brda neopisiv je. Još ako ste i uspjeli uhvatiti zalazak, mogao bi se komotno složiti i piknik. Pri spuštanju smo zatekli dva ronioca, nekoliko račića i galebova, te manju skupinu stranih kupača koji su krenuli zaposjesti svoje stjenovite tronove.
Getting back to the adventurous spirit of my girls. As a child, I often visited the bay of Saint Nicolas, or how the villagers call it, the Murtar bay, which stands for ‘sea fortress’ after which the island of Murter was later named, and in the bay itself lays the chapel of St. Nicholas. The rocks created by nature, the smells of the pines surrounding it, the beautiful crystal blue sea and the view of the Kornati are just some of the details that made all seem better every time. I would always return lighter and more at ease.
Peace. Crickets. Breeze. Scents. Tabula rasa. There is not much more to tell.
When you really look at all those great pictures on Instagram today, you cannot believe it’s real. We take it for granted and we are not aware of the beauty surrounding us. That day, namely morning, we spent climbing the rocks in Murtar. And these rocks, steep, sharp and rough, represented great obstacles for my girls in the form of mountains that they passionatly jumped over, walked around, slid under and climbed. I enjoyed watching them experience this. When we tried to help Zara with climbing, she just shouted:”Zaja can do alone!”, and I just keep calming my heart looking at her go. My husband, as relaxed as ever, gave the girls permission to test out their limits, though we had to stop at a certain height and go back because it really became too high and they turned out to be too brave. The view of the Kornati, which stretches from the top of the hill, is indescribable. If you manage to catch a glimpse of the sunset, you could also put together a comfortable picnic. During the descent, we crossed paths with two scuba divers, a few crabs and seagulls, and a small group of foreign swimmers who ventured out to occupy their rocky thrones.
The same road we took to Murtar, about half a kilometer before (dirt road) you can turn left to Put Pudarica or right to the Koromašna cove. Koromašna, also carved out of beautiful, interesting rocks and small pools,is the place where my girls like to entertain themselves by catching snails and putting them all in one place, releasing them before going home
The other turning point that is mentioned – Put Pudarica – is something about which to argue and theorize about. Jezerska Pudarica is a stone pile that was formerly used by ‘pudars’, i.e. the people in the fields, to form a cone in several circular rounds that grow smaller at the top to oversee the surrounding fields. There are also theories of how it was used to serve as a highpoint that would oversee not only fields but also the sea and the surrounding coves to watch out for pirate attacks. If we were to believe this theory, it would probably stand at a higher point on the hill than where it actually is, but nevertheless, this theory seems to be more interesting. Then again, if they did not consider the pirate threat worrying, surely the first houses that were built would not be located as far as 400 meters from the shore where Jezera started to form, right?
This interesting Pudarica offers a pretty view and it’s nice to see, climb on and look at the beautiful olive groves, fields, coves and the Kornati. Someone who loves mountain biking, hiking, or Nordic walking is certainly not going to be left without speech by a Pudarica, but it will make him slow down, climb it, stop for a moment and gaze at the beautiful blue sky, maybe spotting a ship in the distance. It would be nice if there was an info plate setup, where tourists could be informed on the spot and the rock would be protected in a way, because it is still one of the most important monuments of the cultural and historical heritage of Jezera, and by our knowledge, it was in a deteriorated state until last winter, after which the locals united and repaired the stones, cleaned the access points and removed the weeds within a couple of weeks. My daughters were thrilled with it. My Amelie likes the cartoon ‘Tinkerbell and the pirate fairy’, and Pudarica was her concept. Likewise, as soon as there is a climbing spot, the enthusiasm is immediately present. When I told her that people stood guard here in case of pirate attacks, she was already in the role of a pirate fairy. What more can I tell you? a child’s imagination has no limits. My theory is that people tried to keep their fields in order and that instead of randomly scattered rocks, this was a better solution from which they even got a wonderful lookout.
Osim zanimljive Jezerske pudarice, vratiti ću se opet na onaj naš avanturistički duh, kako bih napomenula da u Jezerima najveći potencijal vidim upravo u njenoj unikatnoj i netakntoj prirodi; uvalama, bistrom moru, neistraženim putićima i stazama kroz maslinike, borove šumice i makiju, koja su idealna za šetnje i vožnje biciklom na sve strane otoka. Ona su stvorena za promoviranje zdravog života i sporta, pa bilo to od bicikliranja, jedrenja, ronjenja ili trčanja. Jer sve ostale stvari su nam već nadohvat ruke, a ovakva priroda, ovakvo more, ovakav mir, za to se čeka ljeto zbog kojeg se uvijek poželiš vratiti. Voljela bih i da su lokalni malo inovativniji, da imamo neku autohtonu pekaricu, sladoled čiji okusi nisu svi jednaki, neki kafić koji bi nudio i brunch. Danas se cijeni kreativnost. I treba se usmjeriti u to kako ne samo prodati proizvod već kako i zadržati potrošače da se opet vrate. Treba ostati jedinstven i u vrijeme turističke sezone feštati petkom po jezerski: “Kako su živili i feštali naši stari”, zabavljati turiste Jezerskom ribarskom feštom ili Feštom o’smokav, ali s druge strane i naginjati trendovima modernog turizma.
Ono što ja volim kod Jezera je što malo ribarsko mjesto i dalje ima duh tog malog ribarskog mjesta; iako u svakoj kući više ne živi ribar, opet, divno je kad znaš gdje možeš kupiti svježu ribu, i da je ona uistinu svježa, ili te teta koja prodaje svježe dagnje sa svojom vagom, na svom stoliću, na već poznatom mjestu na rivi, prepoznaje kada dođeš po svoju kilu ili dvije. Ili kada imaš svoju omiljenu baku u selu kod koje kupuješ njeno domaće maslinovo ulje. Ili kad teta Danijela na svom štandu peče svoje najfinije palačinke i nikad ne štedi na namazima. A ne moram ni pričati kako sam ovdje upoznala prijatelje za život. One prema kojima namještaš svoj godišnji kako bi u jednu večer bez daha ispričao sve što se dogodilo od prošlog ljeta, a drugu večer u tišini ispijao vino kao da to radiš svakog vikenda. Neobično je opisati te male sitnice, a tako velike kad se vežeš za mjesto u kojem nema nikog tvog, a kroz godine se počneš osjećati kao da si dio svega, pogotova ta priroda, kao da ti svakog ljeta želi ispričati još!
Puno me još toga čeka naučiti o Jezerima i otoku Murteru, i sve ću vam drage volje ispričati, a najviše me veseli ta ljubav prema otoku koju ću se truditi prenijeti i svojim djevojčicama.
Aside from the interesting Pudarica of Jezera, I will return to our adventurous spirit to note that the greatest potential I see in Jezera is its unique and untouched nature; bays, clear waters, unexplored trails and paths through the olive groves, pine forests and maquis shrubland, ideal for hiking and cycling across the island. They are designed to promote healthy lifestyles and sports, whether it is cycling, sailing, diving or jogging. Because all the other things are at our disposal; but this kind of nature, such a sea, this kind of peace, for this you wait every year to always return to and enjoy. I would also like the locals to show a bit more initiative like having a local bakehouse, a better ice cream place (current one has variety of colors with a same taste) a coffee shop that would also offer brunch. Today creativity is appreciated. We need to focus on not only how to sell the product but how to keep customers coming back again. One should stay unique and celebrate like true members of Jezero during the tourist season: “How our old folks lived and feasted”, entertain the tourists with festivals like ‘Jezerskaribarskafešta’ or ‘Feštom o’smokav’, but also lean towards modern tourist trends.
What I like it Jezera is that it still has the spirit of a small fishing village; although fishermen don’t live in every house anymore, again, it’s wonderful when you know where you can buy fresh fish and really know it’s fresh, or that lady who sells fresh mussels with on the sea shore, who recognizes you when you come to buy some from her. Or when you have a favorite grandma in the village where you buy homemade olive oil. Or when auntie Danijela cooks her finest pancakes at her booth and never puts too little spread. And I don’t even want to start on how I met lifelong friends in this place. Those people you plan your vacation around to tell them within an evening what happened in your life since last summer, and with whom you spend the following night quietly sipping wine like you do it every weekend. It is unusual to describe these small and yet big things, when you are becoming a part of a place where there aren’t any people you really know, and through the years you begin to feel like you are a part of everything, most of all the nature, as if it wants to tell you more every summer! I need to learn much more about Jezera and the island of Murter, and I would love to tell you more. I am most thrilled with that love for an island, which I will try to pass on to my little girls.