Category Archives: {Croatia}

Plitvice Lakes National Park {Croatia}

When I was in Croatia back in 2010 my cousin Kristijan took me to Plitvice Lakes National Park which happens to be one of the most amazing place I’ve ever been!

Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest national park in Southeast Europe and the largest national park in Croatia. The national park was founded in 1949 and is situated in the mountainous karst area of central Croatia, at the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The important north-south road connection, which passes through the national park area, connects the Croatian inland with the Adriatic coastal region.

The protected area extends over  73,350 acres. About 90 percent of this area are part of Lika-Senj County, while the remaining 10 percent are part of Karlovac County. In 1979, Plitvice Lakes National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register among the first natural sites worldwide. Each year, more than 1,200,000 visitors are recorded.


The national park is world famous for its lakes arranged in cascades. Currently, 16 lakes can be seen from the surface. These lakes are a result of the confluence of several small rivers and subterranean karst rivers. The lakes are all interconnected and follow the water flow.




They are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae, and bacteria. The particularly sensitive travertine barriers are the result of an interplay between water, air and plants. The encrusted plants and bacteria accumulate on top of each other, forming travertine barriers which grow at the rate of about 1 cm per year.




The sixteen lakes are separated into an upper and lower cluster formed by runoff from the mountains, descending from an altitude of 2,087 to 1,650 ft over a distance of some eight km, aligned in a south-north direction. The lakes collectively cover an area of about two square kilometers, with the water exiting from the lowest lake forming the Korana River.








The water was so beautiful you could clearly see all the details in the fish.




The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colors change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight.












Through different climatic influences and the large difference in elevation within the protected area, a multifaceted flora and fauna has been created.

The national park area is home to many endemic species. Those species that prevailed at the lakes before the arrival of man still exist.

Thank you for stopping by and seeing today’s entry.

Anthony Lujan Photography
Serving Orange County and Los Angeles County
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Ferryboat ride to the island of Pag {Croatia}

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Three days left in Croatia. After saying good bye to my family in Belisce,  I hopped on a 5 hours bus ride back to Zagreb where I spent the night at my Aunts house in the city of Zagreb. I woke up early as my cousin Kristijan was picking me up so we could see my Aunt Rezi again to say my final good bye in person.

We took a new route which was beautiful. We drove through the hills and mountains of Croatia. He wanted to take me on the ferry boat to reach the island of Pag. It was cool as I’ve never been on a large ferryboat.

Kristijan was driving fast with his BMW through the hill so we didn’t have to wait anther hour and 1/2 for the next ferry. We were zooming around the bends and saw that the ferry hadn’t left. We were so pleased as lunch was waiting for us.  I was super hungry and getting sick of the speeding turns. :+)

The water in Croatia is super clear! You could see all the fish!

I was excited to be on this huge ferry. I was snapping away.

This next photograph is a panoramic. It’s made up from 12 images!

My cousin Kristijan. See the number 1….he is! hehehe

Took a self portrait.

Coming to the shore of Pag.

Now after arriving to my Aunts house in Pag, we ate and sat around talking about the excitement I had with one particular cousin. We talking about me leaving in two days back home. So we cried a bit. Then all a sudden it started raining.

Then the rain stopped but left a beautiful sunset.

Tomorrow saying my final good bye and headed to the famous Croatian waterfalls.

Anthony Lujan Photography
Serving Inland Empire, Orange and Los Angeles Counties
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Lunch and Goodbye’s {Croatia}

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Today I say good bye to my Aunt and Cousins in Belisce. My Aunt Yeliza wanted to fill my stomach with a delicious home cooked meal prior to me jumping on a 5 hour bus ride going back to Zagreb.

Time flew bye quickly and before you knew it, I had to say my goodbyes which I’m horrible at!

Aunt Blasta and I – thank you for everything! I enjoyed spending time with you.

My Cousin Melita and I – Cousin, I wear your braclet and think of you often! I always have a great time with you.
AND I will never forget you!

Lara and I – Lara, your sweet and have a fantastic laugh! Thanks for making me smile!

Karla and I – Karla, you must keep in touch and keep working on your English as your pretty good!

Aunt Vera and I – It was great spending time with you. Thank you for cooking for us.

Aunt Yeliza and I – Oh my gosh so much to say. Thank you for opening your home to me.
I always feel welcomed when I’m with you. So thank you for every thing!

Ante and I – Ante, thank you for driving us all around town. You gave me much insight to all the things around us.
Thank you for pulling the family together. I had a great time with you all. So thank you very much!

Uncle Joshi and I – Uncle, thank you for driving down and spending lunch with me. It was fantastic to see you again.
I know my grandfather is in heaven smiling. Thank you!

Thank you everyone! I had a great time with you all!
Next time I’ll have to stay much longer as this trip was extremely short!

Anthony Lujan Photography
Serving Inland Empire, Orange and Los Angeles Counties
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Ice Cream and my Grandfather’s Childhood Home {Croatia}

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Before we took off to see the house where my Grandfather lived, we stopped off at an ice cream shop in Belisce. This was the best ice cream I have even had!

The shop owner

My tasty, tasty ice cream! Carmel and chocolate mix.

About Belisce where my Grandparents and Mom were born and raised:

Belišće is a city in Croatia, located in the region of Slavonia, Osijek – Baranja county, at the altitude of 93 m. The population of the city is 7,197 (2001), 11,786 in the municipality, the majority who are Croatian. This industrial town upon the Drava river lies near the border with Hungary north from here.

Chief occupations are forestry, timber and wood processing, (sawmill, chemical and mechanical wood processing), corrugated fiberboard, metal industry, chemicals and synthetic material processing.

The influential Gutmann family made a significant impact on the Belišće region in the 19th and 20th century. Once vast Slavonian oak forests were mostly replaced with farmland, and a section of the working-class quarters of Salamon H. Gutmann from 1884 became part of the present-day Belišće.

Major recreational activities include angling, rowing kayak and canoe on the Drava, river and its backwaters and hunting in the broader surroundings.

My Aunt and Cousin took me to house where my grandfather was raised which is in the village of Popovac in Croatia. Even though no current family members reside in the house it was still some thing to see.

Nice wishing well

Beautiful hanging flowers

Side of the house

My grandfather would be so pleased to see all the rose bushes they have

Current resident

The neighbor lady has moved but her son still lives in the house.

Next door to them a shop remains standing. Even though the shop is closed, it looks as if it was frozen in time as the window display has never been changed.

Anthony Lujan Photography
Serving Inland Empire, Orange and Los Angeles Counties
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Visit with Uncle Joshi – Grandfather’s Brother {Hungary}

Monday, June 14, 2010

One of my goals was to visit as many family members as possible while in Croatia. My Grandfather has a brother who is a priest in Hungary. It’s a short trip from Belisce. So my Aunt and Cousin said they will take me as they also would like to see him.

Monday afternoon we took off for Hungary. It wasn’t a bad drive. I was super hungry and couldn’t wait to eat. My Uncle had lunch waiting for us. After we said our hello’s we sat around the huge dinning room table and had a meal together.

After lunch my Uncle took us to his church. I was full of emotions. I kept on thinking of my grandparents. They never had the chance to see my Uncle’s church. My grandparents were very religious and always spoke about my Uncle. So being in his church filled my heart. Before walking out of the church I asked my Uncle to bless me. I so badly wanted his blessings. As he started we both cried.

It’s amazing how much family members look alike. My grandfather and his brothers have so many similar features. I was torn as seeing him filled my heart and on the other hand it made me miss my grandfather more. But my heart was completely happy as I know my grandparents were with me the entire time.

After visiting my Uncle, we went to the cemetery where my grandfather’s parents and his one sister were laid to rest.

Anthony Lujan Photography
Serving Inland Empire, Orange and Los Angeles Counties
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Vukovar – Battle zone aftermath {Croatia}

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I normally do not post negative or devastating stuff on my blog. After seeing and hearing how my Aunts, Uncles and Cousin’s lived through the Serbian/Croatian war, I felt I had to share this with you. Specially after they took me to visit the town of Vukovar. It had such an effect on me it was overwhelming.

I went with my cousin who is the same age as me and lived through this war. She shared her stories with me and why she can not handle hearing the thunder storms that roll in as it reminds her of the bombing. I will not share any more details of my families personal stories or names with you but I will give you some education regarding what happened. It isn’t a pretty story about what happened to the town of Vukovar and surrounding towns. But if your interested, please continue.


The Battle of Vukovar was an 87-day siege of the Croatian city of Vukovar by the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA), supported by various Serbian paramilitary forces, between August-November 1991 during the Croatian War of Independence. It ended with the defeat of the local Croatian National Guard, the destruction of Vukovar and the murder or expulsion of most of the Croat population of the city and surroundings.

Although the battle was a significant and symbolic loss for Croatia, which did not regain control of the town until 1998, it was also a costly victory for the JNA and helped to gain international support for Croatian independence. As such, it is widely regarded as having been a crucial turning point in the course of the war.

On April 9, 1991, Dokmanović wrote a dramatic letter to Croatian President Franjo Tuđman declaring “that the current situation in Vukovar is extremely critical and threatens to escalate any time into inter-ethnic conflict with possible permanent, tragic and unforeseeable consequences, which is particularly emphasized by [the] increasingly frequent arming of civilian population, which continues and is causing the atmosphere of fear and absolute lack of confidence of the entire population in any government institutions.”

The first casualties at Vukovar came in May 1991, when two Croatian policemen were taken prisoner in Borovo Selo. A detachment of Croatian Interior Ministry (MUP) police was sent in to rescue them on May 2 but came under heavy fire, suffering twelve fatalities and another 20 injured. It was widely reported that the bodies of the dead were mutilated and put on display by the paramilitaries. In the wake of the Borovo Selo killings, relations between Croats and Serbs worsened sharply and intercommunal attacks took place in a number of other places in Croatia over the following months.

Throughout July and August 1991, the Croatian government progressively lost control of Eastern Slavonia as paramilitary forces and local Serb militias, often supported by JNA units stationed in the area, expelled government officials and set up barricades and minefields.

The JNA took up positions on the other side of the Danube, and JNA gunboats patrolled the river. Sporadic mortar attacks on Vukovar began in July, and long-range artillery attacks began from early August. By the end of August, the population of the city had fallen to around 15,000 people. The remainder comprised a mixture of Croatians, Serbs and other nationalities. Vukovar was by this time largely surrounded by Serb-controlled territory, and from August 25 onwards was subjected to regular shelling and air attacks. There was, however, no attempt as yet to capture it; the fighting consisted principally of intense exchanges of fire between Croatian- and Serb-held territory

Vukovar was defended by a force of some 1,800 defenders drawn from local militias, the 204th brigade of the Croatian National Guard (ZNG) and Interior Ministry forces. As many as a third of defenders were said to be non-Croats. They were relatively poorly armed with little heavy weaponry, though they gained some additional weapons following the capture of JNA barracks elsewhere in Croatia.Despite their small numbers and poor weaponry, they were far better motivated than their opponents, as [in some instances] their families were located in the town, and they would naturally fight with more vigor and emotion. They also benefited from the defensive advantages offered by urban terrain.

Dedaković and the defenders’ Chief of Staff, Branko Borković, played a key role in devising defensive tactics that kept the JNA out of Vukovar for a prolonged period of time. They created a unified command structure that created a single brigade from a number of previously disparate elements. Their tactics centered on the creation of an integrated defense system that featured the mining of approach routes, roving anti-tank teams, snipers and heavily fortified defensive strong points. This combination was intended to slow down and dissipate JNA attacks to the point where counter-attacks could force a retreat.

Ovčara – prison camp

One other place we went was to Ovčara. This is where the Serbian forces turned Ovčara into a prison camp in early October 1991. Aside from the massacre, 3,000 to 4,000 prisoners were temporarily held in the camp before being transported to the prison in Sremska Mitrovica or to the local army barracks, which was the transit point for the Serbian concentration camps Stajićevo, Begejci and others. Some of the Serb forces were led by Željko Ražnatović “Arkan” who directed much of the pillaging and murder that occurred in Vukovar during and after the siege.

The people brought to Ovčara included wounded patients, hospital staff and some of their family members, former defenders of Vukovar, Croatian political activists, journalists and other civilians. One member of the group standing trial in Belgrade for the executions testified that “among the prisoners, there were quite a number of civilians and wounded persons with bandaged wounds and casts”, including a pregnant woman. Several witnesses at the trial, former JNA soldiers, also confirmed there were civilians present at Ovčara.

The archive of the City Government of Vukovar has some testimonies of Ovčara prisoners. When they came out of the buses, they had to run between two rows of Serbian soldiers and other forces, who beat them with rifle butts, clubs and other blunt weapons. The beatings continued in the hangars; at least two men died from those beatings. Ovčara was closed on December 25, 1991. Its total count was around 200 killed and 61 missing prisoners.

Still today this area is full of minefields. You’ll see these signs below up and down the roads. The government is trying to clear these fields.

Anthony Lujan Photography
Serving Inland Empire, Orange and Los Angeles Counties
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Verona, Italy {Italy}

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My cousin drove me to Verona where I stayed 6 1/2 hours all alone in the city of Romeo and Juliet. It was probably better that I was alone as I took my time and really soaked up the city.

I visited the Casa di Giulietta

The house claiming to be Juliet’s. It has been turned into a tourist attraction. It features the balcony and in the small courtyard, a bronze statue of Juliet. It is one of the most visited sites in the town.

Many people write their names and the names of their beloved ones on the walls of the entrance, known as Juliet’s wall. Many believe that writing on that place will make their love everlasting. After a restoration and cleaning of the building, it was intended that further writing should be on replaceable panels or white sheets placed outside the wall.

I also visited three churches.

Church of Saint Anastasia

St. Anastasia is the largest church in Verona. The church you can see nowadays was built by the Dominican Order and dedicated to Saint Peter Martyr, Dominican monk and co-patron of Verona together with Saint Zeno. Being built on the site on which an older church dedicated to St. Anastasia was, people of Verona still call it this way.

St. Anastasia is a superb gothic building, boasting a majestic apse and a high bell tower. Everything is made in red bricks. Facade was never completed in its upper section but it proudly displays a double opening ogival portal in polychromatic marble. Left of the facade, in the beautiful little square in front of St. Anastsia, the suspended tomb of Guglielmo da Castelbarco, the forerunner of the famous Scala family tombs.

St Anastasia is divided in three aisles, decorated by beautiful lateral chapels, presenting rich collections of paintings by famous painters from Verona such as Girolamo dai Libri and Altichiero. Very interesting are also the two holy-water fonts supported by two hunchbacks. One was probably sculpted by Paolo Veronese father who was a stone cutter.
St Anastasia most famous work of art is the fresco by Pisanello representing St George freeing the Princess, considered a masterpiece of gothic painting. It decorates the arch of Pellegrini Chapel.

Duomo di Verona – the Cathedral Complex

Rather than a single building, the area surrounding the Cathedral of Verona is constituted by a series of religious buildings linked together: the Duomo (Cathedral), St Giovanni in Fonte baptistery of Verona, St. Elena, the Canonical museum, its cloister, the library, the bishop residence and the bell-tower. Some are closed to the public and some are opened only in certain period of the year.

The Cathedral is dedicated to St. Mary Matricular, like the earlier churches that have been erected here since IV century. The actual building was built in Romanesque style 1187, but was restored and enlarged in gothic style in 1440. Of the original austere Romanesque structure remain the double prothyron with its twisting columns and the winged griffins, the sculptures of the portal and few decorations. On the side of the Cathedral there’s the huge bell tower. The base dates back to thirteenth century, the central storey was designed by Sanmicheli in sixteenth century and the top part, unfinished, was built in the early twentieth century.

The inside is divided into a nave and two aisles by beautiful gothic columns in dark red Veronese marble. Fresco decorations on the walls are by Falconetto, painted in the sixteenth century.

The apse basin is decorated with a fresco by Francesco Torbido taken from Giulio Romano design.
The most important painting of Verona Duomo is the big Our Lady of Assumption painted in 1535 by Titian.

On the outside, hided in a small alley, there’s one of most beautiful cloister in town: the Chapter cloister. Built in 1140 above the remains of earlier Christian basilicas it’s one of the purest examples of Romanesque style with its small columns arranged in couples which on the eastern side, pan out into a double order of small arches. In two “windows” opened on the floor of the cloister, mosaics from earlier churches can be admired.

On the back og the Cathedral, St. Giovanni in Fonte was the cathedral baptistery. It dates back to 1123, made in honey coloured sandstone. The inside is dominated by the monolithic baptismal font in its centre. It was created by master Brioloto in thirteenth century and because of its extraordinary naturalistic vivacity is considered one of the highest examples of Romanesque sculpture in Verona, depicting scenes of the life of Jesus.

Church of Saints Fermo and Rustico

The church of the Saints Fermo and Rustico is one of the most representative examples of Gothic architecture in Verona. The actual church dates back to the fourtenth century, but on the place, layer after layer, and various churches were built since fourteenth century on the place on which the two saints undergone martyrdom in 361. The facade is characterized by the typical stripes of yellow sandstone and red bricks together with the beautiful portal contribute to create a building of rare beauty.

In the inside the visitor is stunned by the wooden hull-like ceiling and the funeral monument of Nicolò Brenzoni, sculpted by the Florentine Nanni di Bartolo and decorated with an elegant fresco by Pisanello depicting the Annunciation.

Lower church
St. Fermo and Rustico is basically constituted by two different churches, a lower and an upper one. The lower church is made of evocative cross vaults supported by cross shaped pillars. It still holds many interesting eleventh and thirteenth century frescos.

Here are more photographs I took in Verona, Italy.

Anthony Lujan Photography
Serving Inland Empire, Orange and Los Angeles Counties
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Burano, Italy {Italy}

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

After visitng the island of Murano I ate on the island of Burano. The food is less expensive then Murano.  This is where I ate Gnocchi for the fist time. When in Italy do as they do!  Here are a few photographs and some facts about Burano.

Burano is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, although like Venice itself it could more correctly be called an archipelago of islands linked by bridges. It lies near Torcello at the northern end of the Lagoon, and is known for its lacework.

Burano is situated 7 kilometers from Venice, a short 40 minute trip by Venetian motorboats, “vaporetti”. The island is linked to Mazzorbo by a bridge. The current population of Burano is about 4,000.

The island was probably settled by the Romans, and in the 6th century was occupied by people from Altino, who named it for one of the gates of their former city. Two stories are attributed to how the city obtained its name. One is that it was initially founded by the Buriana family, and another is that the first settlers of Burano came from the small island of Buranello, c. 8 km to the south.

Although the island soon became a thriving settlement, it was administered from Torcello and had none of the privileges of that island or of Murano. It rose in importance only in the 16th century, when women on the island began making lace with needles, being introduced to such a trade via Venetian-ruled Cyprus, more specifically the small town of Lefkara where Leonardo da Vinci visited in 1481 and purchased a cloth for the main alter of the Duomo di Milano. The lace was soon exported across Europe, but decline began in the 18th century and the industry did not revive until 1872, when a school of lacemaking was opened. Lacemaking on the island boomed again, but few now make lace in the traditional manner as it is extremely time-consuming and therefore expensive.

Burano is also known for its small, brightly-painted houses, popular with artists. The designer Philippe Starck owns three houses. Other attractions include the Church of San Martino, with a campanile, the Oratorio di Santa Barbara and the Museum and School of Lacemaking. The colours of the houses follow a specific system originating from the golden age of its development; if someone wishes to paint their home, one must send a request to the government, who will respond by making notice of the certain colours permitted for that lot. This practice has resulted in the myriad of warm, pastelly colours that characterises the island today.

Anthony Lujan Photography
Serving Inland Empire, Orange and Los Angeles Counties
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Murano, Italy {Italy}

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

One of the sites to witness is on the island of Murano in Italy. Its famous for their glass. Here are a few photographs of the factory I visited and some facts.

Murano is a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. It lies about 1 mile north of Venice and measures about 1 mile across with a population of just over 5,000 (2004 figures). It is famous for its glass making, particularly lampworking. It was once an independent comune, but is now a località of the comune of Venice.

Venetian glass is a type of glass object made in Venice, Italy, primarily on the island of Murano. It is world-renowned for being colorful, elaborate, and skillfully made.

Many of the important characteristics of these objects had been developed by the thirteenth century. Toward the end of that century, the center of the Venetian glass industry moved to Murano.

Byzantine craftsmen played an important role in the development of Venetian glass, an art form for which the city is well-known. When Constantinople was sacked by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, some fleeing artisans came to Venice. This happened again when the Ottomans took Constantinople in 1453, supplying Venice with still more glassworkers. By the sixteenth century, Venetian artisans had gained even greater control over the color and transparency of their glass, and had mastered a variety of decorative techniques.

Despite efforts to keep Venetian glassmaking techniques within Venice, they became known elsewhere, and Venetian-style glassware was produced in other Italian cities and other countries of Europe.

Some of the most important brands of glass in the world today are still produced in the historical glass factories on Murano. They are : Venini, Barovier & Toso, Pauly, Seguso. Barovier & Toso is considered one of the 100 oldest companies in the world, formed in 1295.

Anthony Lujan Photography
Serving Inland Empire, Orange and Los Angeles Counties
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