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Telling stories, witnessing history.

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Un-retouched fresco from St. Anton

From the beginning of human history we have told stories with pictures. Our oral history made physical to share with more people, and future generations. With clays, charcoal, plant extracts on cave walls, on animal skins, on wood, and fiber woven from all manner of plants our stories vibrant in their youth and then fading with time, or in some instances covered with the works of later generations as newer stories take on greater importance in their telling. Do we even consider the overwriting of our collective stories?  I have been in the “smallest town in the world” of Hum and its slightly larger neighbor Roč in Istra, Croatia the last couple of days and nowhere have our stories and history collided so immediately before my eyes as here.

Before general populations possessed literacy the Church (i.e. the Roman Catholic Church) hired talented artists to adorn the walls of their Romanesque (and earlier) houses of God with the most 20150825_111821important lessons a particular bishopric wish to convey to its flock. Ascension. Damnation. The merits of living a pious life. Bearing witness to the horrific deaths of its martyrs. The lives of Saints. With this key (and others just like it) Jelena of the Roč Tourist Board (if so motivated to visit go through Mila in the Buzet TB to arrange) opened up its churches for me.

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Un-retouched image from Saint Roč

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Prepared in Roč, Glagoljica script was used for the Missal printed in 1483.

I am not a art historian. I am not a devout Catholic. What I am is curious and passionate about our collective cultural heritage and its preservation. In particular as we watch ISIS destroy the heritage of the cradle of civilisation it seems a race against time for us to stand physically before our cultural lineage. So sharing something so incredibly special is an honour for me and in sharing it I hope you do visit Istra, Croatia and experience the stunning beauty of these 800 year old frescoes in person. Three layers of frescoes (until recently it was thought there were only two – surprise!) adorn the nave of the Saint Roch nothing prepares you for the door of it to be opened, and literally step back to 13th century. Also requiring a keyholder in Roč is the Church of Saint Anton, and main church (for services) is the massive Saint Bartholomew (Crkva svetog Bartula).  For me, it would have been enough to come to Roč to see these but a trip to Hum is well worth staying two nights in the area to explore both towns. Why? Concurrent with the development of these beautiful frescoes was the formal creation of the Glagolitic script (not an alphabet, but an azbuka – the names of the first two letters of the script ) commonly referred to as ‘Old Church Slavonic’ which is the oldest of any Slavic script used for the translation of the Bible and Roč became the centre of this effort. To understand more of the origins of Glagolitic script, and the original practices of faith of what is now Croatia please take time to read this marvelous blog post by Gordana Kokić.

Each year at the end of June 60 exceptional 6th grade Croatian students are brought to Roč to study Glagolitic in a course called “The Small Glagolitic Academy”. My heart soared to learn that something well over 1000 years old is being honoured and still being taught.

On the main road between Roč and Hum is “Glagolitic Alley”. Eleven different sculptures (ten of stone, one of copper) are set into the midst of the Istrian landscape. Reverence for 20150825_115958Istra’s cultural heritage that inspires those of us drawn here to Terra Magica for reasons we can’t fully comprehend.

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Made in Croatia, characters of the Glagoljica script in Hum.

Our stories start with something we experience, something common or extraordinary that we feel compelled to capture by putting a single letter onto a blank page. Humankind hasn’t changed so very much since using charcoal on a cave wall. Our letters, one at a time form the basis of painting the picture of our experiences with words.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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A place in the clouds. Motovun.

a place in the clouds

View from the terrace of Villa Borgo, Motovun

A place in the clouds.

There is a lovely movie that I thought of when I wrote a tweet about the powerful emotions which Motovun has unleashed in me this week.

Where do I begin? The logistics that can be easily found anywhere? Images from the Internet? No matter what you expect by viewing thousands of these, none will do it justice. Until you see it, and more specifically experience Motovun, you will never “understand” and maybe some of you never will, and that is perfectly okay. I live without expectations, thus I am rarely disappointed. That expressed I am highly receptive to energies (both positive and negative) and from a purely 20150820_115622physical perspective ‘there is something VERY special here’. Something that has me vibrating at a higher frequency than perhaps I have ever felt anywhere before setting foot here six days ago. I can’t tell you what it is. Yet. But today, on the month anniversary of leaving the United States to participate in the Istrian Tourist Board’s #ShareIstria campaign with my business partner Ken Herron, I can tell you that the ache of leaving tomorrow morning for Buzet (a mere 22 kilometers away) might break my heart.

I am sitting here listening to Gibonni on YouTube as I type (what else could I be expected to be listening to?). A lovely breeze off the Adriatic an hour away to the west wafts through the open window of Villa Borgo kissing my skin. I have been working on this blog post mentally all week, and most of the day I have been ‘trying’ to capture what I have experienced here. It’s nearly impossible. When I set out two years ago on the path of discovery to find a REAL place to call home – not merely a place in which to accept mail and to reside – I thought it would be in Croatia someplace near the Adriatic, likely in Dalmatia. As much as I have swooned under the soaring heights of Scotland’s Munros and having skied on a great many hills across the United States and Canada I never imagined wanting to make my final permanent home at an elevation of more than 100 feet above sea level, least of all an hour away from falling from my bed to swim at dawn in salt water, but here I am.

20150818_145416-2Here in Motovun. Ancient stone streets. 441 metres of citadel walls and arches and its-never-been-conquered-by-an-invading-army-at-any-time-in-history. Five churches. Motovun perched above the Mirna River valley with its rich agricultural economy that produces 70% of all of the fresh produce in Istria surely is blessed by the heavens, here I fell into the rhythm of the place with the greatest of ease of any place, anywhere, I have ever visited or lived.

Of course gastronomes come for the truffles and the exquisitely prepared regional cuisine made of the freshest organic and slow food standards heartassociated with agroturizim here in Istria. I don’t think you can have a bad meal in Istria – anywhere. Though some meals which I have enjoyed both as part of the ShareIstria campaign and in the following three weeks have been beyond exquisite. Let it be understood that Istrian hospitality, while capable of offering tasting menus of perfectly prepared gourmet experiences you will still be stuffed at the end of any meal as though you were at your grandmother’s table and she thinks you look thin and pale. ;) It’s said in Istria if you can still say the words “Ne mogu više “I can’t eat another bite” you still have room to eat more and another helping will be put on your plate. May I suggest you go to my Twitter account and search for #ShareIstria and #Motovun for a sampling of pictures of #foodporn which will surely prompt you to book a flight tomorrow.

I had a chance idea to (quite literally force) the inclusion of Klapa Motovun (they are new to Twitter please give them some love!) onto the ShareIstria campaign, I had no idea doing such would lead to my being Motovun’s guest for seven nights and foster a passionate desire to 20150820_211144~2become a Motovun citizen. The guys (of Klapa Motovun) having previously sung (at my request) Gibonni’s Lipa Moja in Vdonjan invited me to their rehearsal in Motovun’s iconic St. Stephan’s church, and surprised me in singing it again. This was basically a private concert in a sanctuary so perfect acoustically that the angels painted in frescoes on the soaring ceiling above surely were made real flesh and blood for four minutes. Such experiences cannot be purchased for any amount of money. These gifts alter the most essential aspect of who we are because they are given freely and from the heart; I have never felt so rich.

Yesterday I made the mayor of Motovun’s mother and sister both cry as I explained how I felt about their town. After speaking to Goran over a glass of his freshly squeezed grapefruit/orange/lemon 20150822_170717juice I followed a very elderly white haired lady as she methodically picked her way up the cobble-stoned hill that TripAdvisor reviewers have complained about doing – evidently she does this every day in her dress and cardigan and flat soled slippers. I found the most beautiful sewer grate on the planet, carved of stone, set into cobbles as I walked. Houses inhabited for four hundred (or more) years where nothing has really changed an ancient stone (or gorgeous antique metal) bench by the door can be found for ‘mental health purposes’. Despite the frenzy of activity and industry there’s 20150822_165006always enough time to talk, to be kind, to be a community of neighbours thoroughly welcoming of the astonishing scope of people from all over the world. All drawn inexplicably to this tiny town atop a 277 metre hill with the longest staircase in Istria – 1052 steps – which looks much as it did in the 12th and 13th centuries.

I finally, 10 hours after starting the writing of this blog post, did a search for “energy + Motovun” which got me this reference to something called “Dragon’s Furrows” and from there, suddenly, I had clarity about the sensation of feeling swamped with the energy of Motovun.

“an interesting study about “dragon’s furrows” in Istria. It’s about the directions of energy meridians and their converging points which are the sources of positive Earth energy. Energetic relations to the landscape, as Pogacnik stated, were known by the oldest civilizations, and their life, as well as buildings were organized due to the “dragon’s furrows” and their converging points. In this “Pogacnik system”, Motovun was the most powerful source of positive energy in Istria where three “dragon’s furrows” converge.”

The ‘how’ remains to be revealed but I believe I have come home to the place my soul has been seeking to return to my whole life (or lives).

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Poignant reminders

Very often we land in exactly the place we are supposed to be.

20150817_213736Sometimes my life experience seems a bit too extreme, even for me, but without this extraordinary dichotomy I wouldn’t be one tenth of the person I am; at an exponential level I was reminded of this earlier this week.

I had traveled by bus from Dalmatia back to Istra. Dalmatia will always be my Croatian equivalent of Heidelberg (my first German city). Dalmatia is stunningly beautiful but just not as green as someone from the Great Lakes region of New York state requires to be ‘whole’, whereas Istra is VERY green. Istra just so happens to also have a vibrant agroturizum sector so necessary to my soul. And perhaps because Istra has been at crossroads of more historic trade its populations are a bit more cosmopolitan in their collective mindset (I met a man on Hvar from Zagreb who told me he had lived there and worked there for 10 years and was still considered an outsider, can’t even imagine what Dalmatians would make of “me” on a permanent basis) so truly welcomed is what I feel here.

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My Pula rescue committee! Hvala draga.

I was motion sick en route. I arrived in Pula only to find that my AirBnB host had over booked leaving me stranded on a dead-end street with a small mountain of luggage. Discovered by one of the neighbours, she in turn was joined by three other women all of whom were completely distraught that I was both physically ill, in their city without accommodations and took on anger toward the AirBnB host (for many infractions against the neighbourhood and humanity in general it seems) and they set upon a path to make this as right as they possibly could. I found my luggage and my person stuffed into a small blue car and transported to Pula’s waterfront and a hostel. And, in truth, arriving at the hostel my heart felt like a cold hard stone. I had leapt into the void without a plan and the reasonably soft landing anticipated had failed to materialize. Materialize being the critical word. What actually do we ‘need’? The hostel was to be my reminder.

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From left to right, back row: Mia, Marianka, Alina and front row: Katharina, Alison and Beatrice (Bea)

It was critically important for me to recognise in that moment that I had chosen to strip away everything known to me and to make a pilgrimage of reinvention, to give up ‘things’ just like these young people who stay in hostels, they travel with all their possessions in a backpack across Europe eating pasta day after day, seeing and experiencing different cultures and are truly happy. Equally important was the concept of ‘in the moment’. Stripping away any expectations and simply resting (to the extent possible sleeping in a dormitory with eight bunks – let alone a co-ed one – for the very first time EVER IN MY LIFE). I was safe, had a hot shower, Wi-Fi and a soft (enough) bed. The next day I was moved to another room and found myself easily fall into friendships 20150817_221646with a group of twenty-something young women – Marianka, Alison, Alina and Katharina – I invited them to make a community dinner, they contributed and I made tortellini Alfredo. There was laughter. There were tears. Stories of broken hearts and Twin Flames. They reminded me of all that lay before them, in fact before all of us, and if not chronologically then at least in spirit I am twenty-something once again because they have invited me to be such. The next night three of us wandered Pula’s streets, had gelato, Alison had a massage near the Golden Arch, and I had the pleasure of introducing Marianka and Alison to Pula native son Stjepan Hauser of 2Cellos (who had not a clue in the universe who he was, making this truly a “normal” experience for him).

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Carmela

But sitting at two separate small tables in the Riva Hostel of Pula, first with Carmela, a young woman from the perfect small, medieval Istrian town of Svetvincenat (population 200 or so), and then a bit later with Hayley and Josh, a young couple from Vancouver, British Columbia the resonance of my life’s journey smacked me right upside my head. The content of our conversations couldn’t have be more different but for one thing – all three of these young people (as much as Katharina and Marianka had also conveyed) felt that my presence there had been orchestrated to pass kernels of wisdom from my life (twice as long as each of 20150818_090134theirs), 20150818_090204to “give more than you take” from our planet and all that you encounter, and finally to experience life in possibilities and not dwell in the negative.  It is hard not to be humbled in recognising that while I might not have consciously chosen to sleep in a hostel that my presence was demanded there.  When I left on Monday morning for Motovun I was different. As they stood in the windows of an Austro-Hungarian Empire building and blew kisses and waved goodbye I was a better version of myself because of each of these young people had embraced me physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. Life lessons, and the poignant reminders we need, are always waiting for us in unexpected places, in the very moments we ‘think’ we should be some other place.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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#IstraKT – Commarglo – Social Media Marketing – Čarobno!

Bill Ellis, Abundance (horse chomping at its bit).

While we still deployed our pre-marketing content in concert with the previous 10 weeks’ teams, I have been like a horse chomping at its bit for the last two months waiting for “our week” of the #ShareIstria contest to begin.

The #IstraKT team (of myself and my business partner Ken Herron), set our feet onto Istrian soil 24 July. Officially commencing at 00:00:01 25 July and ending 23:59:59 31 July we planned our week (where our social media efforts would actually count toward the competition) to be as though we were actually running a marketing campaign for them, and not simply capturing images of our experiences as scheduled by @VisitIstra.  We also recognised that our differentiation was in providing content on vastly different social media platforms from those efforts we had witnessed with more about Istra herself which would hopefully be more evocative and offer greater depth realising epic amplification. To say we are pleased with the results would be an understatement. No one will know who actually won the #ShareIstria contest until the Istrian Tourist Board (ITB) announces the results on 1 September.  That expressed, we know that regardless of the outcome, we ran a fabulous social media marketing effort for the ITB and are rightfully proud of our contribution to their campaign.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 11.52.08 amFor the time being let me share our analytics from Twitter. I feel that we should level set for anyone reading this along the lines of investment prospectus fine print, ‘previous performance is not indicative of future earnings’.

We planned for every eventuality (save for a serious lack of sleep and dropping my laptop shattering the screen on Wednesday night) and we executed nearly flawlessly. At the end of our week we had delivered a combined 3577 tweets resulting in 27,137, 344 impressions. 1321 (36.95%) of our tweets included hyperlinks, but interestingly enough the tweets with the most engagement were those which provided a convergence of old school marketing and social media. Our pic#wishyouwerehere postcard effort for the person who created the most amplification for #IstraKT team each day was a huge success – clearly there is something rather charming and nostalgic about getting a physical postcard from a faraway place which beats an Instagram hands down.

pic (1)A six-second Vine video of our liaison Goran earned over 800 views before the contest ended (and resulted in two proposals of marriage for him, he’s already happily married but was flattered) and it currently has realised more than 1400 loops.  (“Comments included “Is he single?,” “I like!!!.” and “Yummers!”)

The video from our visit to the Gustolato “Dream Lab” most clicked through for their website. We created a #loveletter video which served to wrap up our efforts in a very pretty package (even if you have never visited Istra you should cry it’s so beautiful!).

In the end, the estimated value we created for ITB is something north of $500,000.00.  Yes, we did it for the experience, for the bragging rights, to showcase what (agency) Commarglo and (tool) Outbox Pro can do, for a chance to win the €10,000, but mostly, now, we recognise that we really did all of this because we have fallen under the spell of Istra. We would like, very much, for you to take our experience and visit soon. 

If you enjoy my blog please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Hugs

Left cheek kiss, right cheek kiss. Kiss the very ground.

“Going back to a simpler life based on living by sufficiency rather than excess is not a step backward. Rather, returning to a simpler way allows us to regain our dignity, puts us in touch with the land, and makes us value human contact again.”
— Yvon Chouinard

No where I have ever visited more acutely embraces the primal need of Chouinard’s words as HugsCroatia; physical human contact is a standard of ‘being’ here, vastly unlike the requisite three feet of personal space which Americans demand. Each greeting begins with this – you place your hands on the upper arms of the person standing before you, lean in to close the space between you, place your left cheek against theirs kiss, then the right, and kiss. You connect, you share physical space, you communicate with your heart as well as your whole being. If you are less than presenting yourself in ‘fullness of being’ you will be felt. Authenticity reigns supreme in this physical connectedness. I love this. I absolutely, unconditionally, LOVE THIS.

I sit here, four days back in Croatia after an absence of five and a half months, and I feel whole again. Really whole. I shed tears of gratitude for the wondrous gift of being here. I light candles in churches for the same reason. I stand calf deep in fountains in her cities and towns and the Adriatic (there is no time for a swim right now). I walk barefoot on Rovinj’s sidewalks in darkness and Pula’s streets in blazing July heat. I see fig and olive trees full of fruit and weep. The scent of the air dense with the sea, and earth’s minerals, pine, lavender and citrus assaults my senses and my heart.  I pull the energy of the land and its people into my being through every possible means as though I would perish from thirst and hunger should I fail. I am HOME.

When we arrived in Venice, (my business partner Ken Herron and I are in Istria, Croatia participating in the #ShareIstria campaign – the final week of a total of eleven – as #IstraKT), I was utterly exhausted. I was drained from the machinations of the culture of the USA, as well as the indifference and greed and IMHO the truly wrongheadedness of core values.  I was weary from the (foolish?) decision to simultaneously give up my apartment, put my things into storage, and stay not for the single week of the contest but through October. To embrace Croatia again, fully, and make sure that this is the path I will take – to make her my permanent home. [The truth is that were it not for remarkable friends in Rochester, NY I would not have been able to get on the plane to get here – they were still picking up the pieces of my life (and my shoes!) and putting these into storage for me as I simply ran out of time to do everything – my angels on Earth, I love you for this enormous gift more than you can know.]

The very first Croatian ‘touch’ on this return trip for me was on my left forearm. Our driver Glen, hired by the Istrian Tourist Board to collect us in Venice, did this several times as he listened to me speak of his country during our three hour drive to Rovinj. This was not uncomfortable to me, this is a balm. This tells me in the most elemental way that someone not only hears what I am saying but wants to reinforce the importance of my words to them on a personal level of what I am saying without using words of their own. I told Ken “I get petted a lot in Croatia.” I haven’t quite figured out the why of this, but it means the world to me that my energy is such that people feel comfortable in doing this.

We drove through Italy to Slovenia, stop at the border to get our passports stamped, drive on 20150724_114904-2perhaps 200 yards, and cross into Croatia, another stamp. ‘Dobar dan’ is expressed, smiles exchanged, our passports handed back to us.  A large sign another 200 yards ahead welcomes us to Croatia. My throat clenches, my eyes fill. I look behind our car quickly but there is traffic, no opportunity to get out of the car, kneel, and kiss the ground (I have now quietly attended to this ritual of a traveler returning home.)

From the 24th to today, the 28th, I have greeted each Croatian I encounter through an introduction not with a handshake but with this intimate touch and kisses on the their cheeks.  Our handler Goran said that I am the first person from all of the #ShareIstria teams to do this; I am shocked. How can anyone come into a culture and not make a tiny effort to know? Yet my reaction isn’t prideful. Rather it is concern that I might have offended. No, no, no he says, it is appreciated. Croatians generally, Istrians in particular right now, make me feel beyond welcomed, as we hug and kiss I better understand this (the second time around) the context of closing the space even further with me on parting company, Istrians are making me feel as though I am a native daughter returning to the nest after being away too long. For all those I have met along the journey to be here, amongst you again, your kindness and hospitality swamp my heart in the best possible way. Hvala lipo.

We would love your support of our participation in the #ShareIstria contest I hope you will follow us as #IstraKT (across social media platforms Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and help amplify our various posts on social media. Hvala lipo. Aj bog.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Today’s new word is FKK, (no, it’s not Croatian).

Pula cafe 100differentplaces blog

Pula cafe, photo credit: 100 DIFFERENT PLACES© Melanie Hahn 2015

Unless the Bura (Bora) is blowing (and often when it is) Croatians are outside – living. They are gathered in cafes under huge umbrellas and awnings, sunglasses donned – hats optional, they are in their gardens, and walking, sometimes dancing, doing their shopping, sailing, scuba diving, riding horses, fishing, swimming and sunning. The concept of a ‘sitting room’ (aka living room) is beyond foreign and does not exist in any of my Croatian experiences to date (thus the reason I have sold nearly all of the normal accouterments found in an American living room). If you are inside with Croatians you are gathered around their dining table eating and talking, drinking (coffee or Rakia or homemade wines – the families of most Dalmatians of my acquaintance have been making wine for between 400 and 700 years) and talking some more. The TV is most likely on in the background in either environment and the atmosphere will be raucous and passionate if football is ‘on’.

But more about being outside.

The thing is that Croatia boasts 3,630 miles or 5,840 kms of coastline so even with an onslaught of tourists (last year 11.3 million) visiting from all over the world from June to August you and yours will not be fighting for beachfront to claim or open water to enjoy. An astonishing amount of her coast is treacherously rocky outcroppings, a good portion golden and creamy white pebbled and finally some sand crescents so beautiful you might never wish to leave especially when coupled with waters so pure they are listed amongst the top in Europe for cleanliness and sunrises and sunsets that still all capacity for words. All along the coast home-owners extend their properties into the Adriatic with charming piers, sometimes enclosing the sea water (yet providing drainage) so that small children can splash safely at high tide in the heat of the summer afternoons. There is a very pleasant landward breeze that cools Croatia ‘in the season’ is called the Maestral.

Now, I am not a country bumpkin. I got over, and embraced (in theory), the ‘bare it all’ mindset of Europeans on my first trip to Budapest and the Hotel Gellert Baths but I must confess that I had never heard the word Freikörperkultur before this trip to Croatia; when your traveling companion, Ken Herron, tells you he spent a summer ostensibly ‘studying’ in Germany you learn all kinds of new things. So here we are, in Istria, doing our best to expand both our horizons, and yours, sharing all with you so that when you come you have the benefit of our experience and to save you some embarrassing (and costly) mistakes in protocol.

Nudists

Photo: Edita Druskovic

Understand this, there are three kinds of beaches to be enjoyed in Croatia – all appropriately marked – those with bathing suits, those where bathing suits are optional and those which for those who practice Freikörperkultur populate (the embedded link takes you to those nine nudist beaches in Istria). The first is self-speaking, take off your clothes here and get arrested. The second is nuanced; the third, if you show up and have bathing clothing on will get you a citation for not abiding by ‘terms of use’.

Further there are 114 Blue Flag Beaches in Croatia (again, reference how pristine the water is) and Istria has 40 of these very special beaches which maintain the highest possible environmental management and quality standards criteria (a new list of awardees is announced each 5 June).

So yesterday, as we arrived in Croatia, I powered through some work and took a much needed nap (making me late for dinner!) and Ken set off to explore Rovinj’s beaches. While I went to see 2Cellos after dinner last night, Ken went to bed. I was up late, posting this YouTube video from the concert, and he was up early. I am packed, but can’t find my diamond earrings, but haven’t had breakfast yet twobecause I am writing this – I best hurry it’s 8AM.

I have no idea if Ken went FKK yesterday or this morning – it’s like “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” but as we enter the first official day of our participation in the #ShareIstria contest I hope you will follow us as #IstraKT (across social media platforms Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and help amplify our various posts on social media.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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How do you #ShareIstria? You bring #Croatia to the #LILshow!

Regardless of our digital age or something far older, connections matter. The networks which beget those connections can foster REALLY-COOL-STUFF-HAPPENING!

I have been asked, a LOT, if I am Croatian, or if I have any Croatian blood. I have been asked why I care so much, why I love Croatia, why I would give up my American life to try and make a difference for her? I have been toldLiburnia “you don’t realise how Mediterranean you are”. It has been suggested that I ‘look’ like the pre-Illyrians race of the Liburnian people. The Poles are culturally and ethnically close to Croats – cousins, if you like. Although seven generations removed from ‘the old countries’ I am half Polish, with my typically American mash-up of French, English, Irish, Scots and German making up the balance of my heritage. None of this explains the deep grounding I feel for the Croatian people, the land itself, and of course the Adriatic, but it is resonant and to honour that resonance I must ‘do’.

We are, (speaking of myself in the 3rd person like I am royalty and certain friends will laugh so hard at this that they will spew their ice cold beverages at their computer screens!), while still ‘sort of’ sitting on the social media roman_painting_1marketing sidelines), very close to bringing a seemingly random online ‘content’ introduction into a real life connection, the net result producing a considerable marketing opportunity.

2013 October, OKCupid, a man shares a YouTube video with me.  I was captivated, I wasn’t the only one. The video went viral. Savvy use of social networks result in Sir Elton John offering his ‘patronage’ and the global fame and success that accompanies such. Females of all ages and gay men alike swoon. Straight men ‘get into it’ because they cover ACDC – brilliantly. In the midst of all of this I share ‘my’ discovery with my best girlfriend while drinking fantastically cold Martini’s and she suggests we make the ultimate road trip to fly to Istanbul to see their concert. (As sobriety is regained we quickly experienced a ‘level set’ having taken stock of the price of nearly last minute airline tickets.)

Fast forward, May 2015. My friend Ken and I are now contestants in @VisitIstra’s #ShareIstria contest as team #IstraKT. But we are more than that, we are also marketing people. Ken is particularly amazing at leveraging all that social media has to offer, while my niche is how a little research will generally net the strategic ‘sweet spot’ for just about anything, we both execute nearly flawlessly. We share a firm conviction of the ethos of #GiveMoreThanYouTake.

“Hey Ken, GUESS WHAT?!” (I can hear him moan on the other end of the phone before I even tell him “what”.) But, but, BUT – this would be GREAT! Logistics impossibilities and synergies aside Ken, just BELIEVE it will happen, he doubts, I never falter.

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Stjepan Hauser (left) and Luka Šulić (right) are 2Cellos

Rovinj-Croatia Dragan Todorović

Rovinj, Istra, Croatia sunset. Photo credit: Dragan Todorović

A faint percentage of you reading this will ‘know’ long before you have read this sentence that I have been writing of 2Cellos. For the rest of you, the weekly listeners of Carol McManus’ LinkedIn Lady Show that my friend Ken Herron co-hosts, you are about to learn how two classically trained musicians have turned their cellos into a generations-defying crossover sensation and it all started with a YouTube video (sort of). 2Cellos will be making an appearance on the 22 July #LILShow in support of their playing Rovinj Jazz Festival organised and hosted by Maistra, along with Maistra representatives and both will be talking about their use of social media to build their brands. OH. BUT. WAIT. THERE. IS. MORE. Something which will make everyone with a breathe of life in their bodies want to know where Rovinj is but also do everything humanly possible to be there the night of 24 July. I will, (kicking dirt figuratively), leave that to Ken and Carol.

If you are not yet familiar with Luka and Stjepan allow me the privilege of sharing a few video selections as an introduction – humour you can understand even without a command of language, energy that comes playing from an iconic cultural song Mesečina, their ACDC cover of Back in Black and my personal hymn Benedictus (which has repeatedly appeared on my journey of coming ‘home’ to Croatia with each step I have taken).

Networks offer opportunity, while building connections into relationships can be powerful catalysts for change. The Balkans still have a lot of healing to realise. There is still pain from the ex-Yugoslav War. There is still epic corruption that is generated from a society denied so much for so long that makes people do desperate things at the expense of the whole of society. But Croatia has an unparalleled beauty both physically and within the souls of her people, something so ancient and pure that your breath is taken from you at each example of it  – reverence, awe, being humbled all at once. Perhaps in offering this it is enough explanation at a visceral level of “why Croatia” until you experience her yourself.

Please follow our adventures on Twitter @Kenherron @TeresaFritschi @Commarglo (our new consulting agency) and especially with the hashtag #IstraKT (which we hope you will RT and share with reckless abandon). #WishYouWereHere

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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