My interest in the Neretva river appeared approximately one year ago. One day I was browsing the Internet and stumbled upon a web page offering Photo safari on the river Neretva (in the southern part of Croatia, near Dubrovnik) – a whole day program. ‘Oh what a fun day it would be’ I thought to myself…. But time passed, Neretva was too far from Zagreb to just sit in a car and go on a day trip (it’s approximately 5-6 hours of drive, depending on the breaks you make and speed you’re driving) so I never went there and nothing happened. That’s until this summer. Sometimes life gives you a little bit of a push you need and things work out for themselves. So this summer I met new friends and they told me they know the owner of the place, he was their friend and that I should go. They gave me his phone number and I arranged the day trip in just a few minutes.
I headed to the river Neretva and a place called Momići from the town of Split. It’s one hour and a half drive – via highway, you drive to the end of it in the direction of Dubrovnik (the exit place is called Kula Norinska) and then via local road to the place called Momići. I went with my friends and when we arrived our host Vedran welcomed us at his restaurant called Lopoč. He arranged the whole day for us, so the first stop was the Museum of Nature in the nearby town of Metković. It took us another 10 minutes of drive but during that time we had a chance to meet our host. His father started a business with the restaurant, and as he is a man of vision, he combined the dining experience of local authentic cuisine with the traditional boat ride experience. He connected the best features of his home town and surroundings to one unique experience.
The museum of Nature in Metković exhibits all the species that inhabit that rich area – like numerous kinds of birds (duck, owl, stork, hawk, woodpecker, eagle, pelican …), insects, butterflies, snakes … Their collection of the stuffed birds is among the biggest collection in Europe and a unique testimonial of the very rich nature of that area. It has more than 340 items and, among them, 218 out of 310 that are registered by now in the area of Neretva river. The most interesting are, the endangered ones and the protected species in Europe like: a stork, black stork, hawl and the biggest owl in Europe called ‘Ušara’. So it is a real paradise for all bird lovers.
This modernly equipped and interactive museum is fun because, among other things, you can hear what all the birds sound like. The famous Croatian ornithologist and preparator, Dragutin Rucner, was a very important contributor to the collection. It’s interesting that he was a musician by vocation – so that’s why, during their work of collecting sounds, he is the only one that successfully distinguished male from female birds, and the old from the young ones.
After the warm welcome and very interesting tour of the museum we continued our day trip visiting a little village called Vid and the Archaeological museum Narona.
The story is really fascinating – a man, while cleaning his stables, approximately 21 years ago, found the remains of the ancient Roman temple and 17 statues. The statues were very well preserved and in real size. They represent Roman emperors and members of their families. The location of the Roman temple Auguseum was exactly under his stables. Besides the statues, archaeologists also found lots of objects from everyday life – jewellery, pots, money, coins, pieces of glass objects – probably dining objects etc. Total of 900 items have been displayed and they tell a story of the history of the city from the 3rd century BC until the 15th century. This was really a great surprise to me, I wasn’t expecting such a rich and beautiful piece of ancient history behind the museum building walls in that small town. They made a museum in a such a way so the remains of the walls of the temple stayed as they found them (it’s called “in situ”). Who knows what is more to be discovered there – maybe we’ll know in the future, but for now the neighbours won’t let the archaeological team dig their stables and back yards.
The museum tour was over and it was time to enjoy the nature. From the little town of Vid we went on a boat ride along the Norin – a (smaller) part of Neretva river. We were in a traditional wooden boats (called “lađa”) and our host prepared for us a delicious starter: traditional doughnuts called “uštipci”, cheese, ham, pate, homemade brandy, refreshing fruits. The day was very hot but beautiful because there was a constant light, gentle breeze so it was very pleasant.
While sailing down the river we enjoyed every shade of green and blue, every bird in its elegant movement, a dive into the river, or sound of their music. It was nature in its best colours. And that was the time to take lots (I mean lots) of photos. While seated in the boat you are constantly discovering beautiful details, like birds mentioned in the museum, fish, colourful plants, landscapes, mountains, magnificent colours of the sky … and you want to capture all of your beautiful impressions with a camera (or smartphone – in my case), and have it forever.
The boat took us to an excursion spot where we took off and had lunch. Our lunch and waiter also arrived by boat. Their traditional meal is called “brudet” and it is made of frogs and eel. It is very delicious and spicy.
After lunch we were just enjoying the splendid nature and chatting. My friend Ana was the bravest among us, and took a swim in the river. It was such a great day, the one you don’t want to end….
Our day trip ended with another boat ride to the meeting point. We had refreshment in the Lopoč restaurant and hit the road back to Split.
At the end of the day I was full of impressions – amazing nature and life around the river, stunning history and a story of ancient times, great hosts and hospitality. Definitely a place worth visiting and I would recommend it to all (especially nature and bird lovers).