Bike & ride – get to know Istria on the healthiest means of transport
We already know almost everything about cycling; it doesn't pollute the environment, it is healthy, suitable for all ages and an ideal way of getting acquainted with the area you're staying in. Those who use their bikes throughout the year, be it for recreation or going to work, won't be hard to talk into exploring the surroundings of Novigrad and north-west Istria by bike. But, what about the rest of you? Can we persuade you to leave your car in your hotel or camp parking lot and visit some of the best nearby restaurants and agritourism facilities by bike?
We believe that we can do it, as, out of over 2,600 kilometres of cycling paths in the whole of Istria, some 500 are situated in the Novigrad area. Ask for your cycling map at your hotel or camp reception, tourist info-point or at rental points (by the Hotel Maestral**** beach or at the Camping Park Mareda Holiday Homes Zone) and you'll get a lot of information about different cycling paths (level of difficulty, distance, average time needed...) and landmarks you can see along the way.
For beginners or recreationalists who decide to exchange their car's power steering for a bike's steering powered by body strength, our suggestion is to choose easier tours of some 15-20 kilometres, on which there are several breaks for rest or a drink and at least one restaurant or agritourism facility. This is how you'll be able to, without any remorse, enjoy a truly excellent gastronomic offer, at the same time burning off excess calories. The beginning of September is an almost ideal time for recreational cycling. The weather is not so hot and the traffic is lighter, but still, if you ride along busier roads, do not forget safety; a helmet and a reflective waistcoat are always welcome parts of the equipment. For those most indecisive ones, cream on the top; in its offer, Laguna Novigrad also has several electric bikes; every incline or leg of the tour, when you get fed up with pedalling, will be done by the bike! Hey, we think that now there are no more excuses for avoiding the topic of cycling in Novigrad :)!
Special bike friendly offers can be found here: bike special offers
To more ambitious cyclists and professionals we should mention different cycling races which are organised almost all the year round. One of the larger races takes place at the weekend of 4th and 5th October. Istra Granfondo is a large autumn marathon with its start and finish points in Umag and Novigrad, offering an opportunity of having a fun weekend of sport and recreation. Of late, Granfondo has been a very popular form of road cycling event; it involves a spontaneous ride of a large number of participants, ranging from fully fit contestants to families and casual recreationalists. The Saturday ride, with the start and finish in Novigrad, is tailor-made for families with children, while the Sunday programme brings acrobatics on the 84 and even 161 kilometre-long routes.
You can get more information about the recreational and competitive leg 3 of the Istria Granfondo at: Istria Granfondo 2014 or at the reception of our bike friendly Hotel Maestral**** which, in addition to other facilities for cyclists, also provides a separate room for bicycle storage, servicing and washing.
We wish you a pleasant & safe ride!
Serena Williams, Patrick Vieira and Manchester City in Novigrad
This month, Novigrad was honoured to welcome some of the most famous world sports personalities. While in nearby Umag a jubilee 25th Croatia Open ATP tournament was being held, in Novigrad, Patrick Vieira and the prestigious Manchester City Soccer Academy were training. Although very little was known about her arrival in the beginning, the best world tennis player's stay soon became a true sensation in Novigrad. In between strenuous training and sightseeing of Istria, Serena Williams could be spotted in a relaxed mood in some Novigrad restaurant, shop, or in the Hotel Maestral fitness centre.
On the other hand, some 80 Manchester City players and accompanying staff trained hard on Laguna Novigrad soccer pitches for some 10 days and a few friendly matches were also staged. Novigrad and Manchester City are already good acquaintances, as the legendary French soccer player and leader of the MC youth team, Patrick Vieira, stayed in Novigrad last year and, as the impressions were good, they decided to do a part of their training on the Laguna Novigrad sports terrains again this season.
“We are returning to the same place because the facilities we had last year were brilliant, the manner in which they treated us here was fantastic and the accommodation was also very good. The whole of last year’s tour was very successful and there was no reason for us not to return and go through the same experience”, stated Patrick Vieira, and Jason Wilcox, U-18 City team's trainer also added “Our trip last year was fantastic, one of the best I have ever experienced both as a player and as a trainer.”
The celebrated soccer player and former Milan, Juventus, Arsenal, inter and City's midfielder also commented on the recently held World Cup in Brazil “Personally I would assess the championship as very good. In addition, the number of scored goals says enough about it and, above all, I particularly liked the fact that the referees had an open mind. So, they went to win, score as many goals as possible and this is why I found it very interesting. I am especially pleased that Germany won.”
A Frenchman on a long-term work contract in England also commented on the performances by France and England “When we speak of the Tricolores, we should always remember what happened in the South African Republic four years ago. This was an improvement, in any case. The French soccer image has changed, but we could not get any further than the quarter finals. We need more experience in order to get to a higher position as It concerns a young selection. But, as I said, a step forward, praise to Deschamps! England? A big disappointment for all the supporters and I am also one one of them, despite a tough group. There is nothing else left but to learn from their own mistakes and try to improve.” – commented Patrick Vieira.
If we were presenting some new software or a smartphone, this is what the title of our new product "Mareda" would look like, one of the most beautiful Istrian campsites which we have considerably upgraded this season.
Since this summer, Camping Park Mareda is our second camp rated with a high 4-star category. Our guests would already have noticed last year that we had something special in store when we presented our tidal swimming pool and new pitches with mobile homes. Our offer is now completed, and we can offer the high 4-star Mareda camp standard with pride.
We have upgraded the whole camp; reception, sanitary points, surrounding areas and pitches.On almost 30 hectares a camp site arranged in a modern way with 168 mobile homes and 1,000 pitches ranging from between 80 and 180 square metres await our guests. We have also complemented the popular Holiday homes zone which this year features 64 new mobile homes (39 Relax Premium and 25 Premium homes) with two swimming pools each with a surface area of 100 m² and a new gourmet point “MarBar”. Families with small children will appreciate the new children's playground and the teen & kids party zone, while the older ones can ask for a concierge service, which is offered for the first time in our camps. The camp is covered with the Wi-Fi signal, so, via Skype, WhatsApp or any other application, you can keep in touch with your friends and family without fear of expensive roaming.
Although we are still surrounded by a dense forest, 4 kilometres away from the centre of Novigrad, and strive to keep our guests away from stress and urban life hustle and bustle, Mareda does not lag behind the trends. There are lots of new things, some immediately visible and some hardly noticeable. Thus the title of this post gains its sense "Mareda 2.0"; tomorrow maybe even 3.0 and so on, as our aim is to continually upgrade our offer and facilities, blend the best of traditional with new. We will be happy when you feel the need to, after breakfast picked from our garden, download a new book onto your Kindle or iPad and, in doing so, not even think about how these things were not possible before... In our opinion, this should be the philosophy of modern camping; enjoyment with all the advantages of home, yet so close to intact nature and surrounded by a host of activities which fill your free time.
We believe that we are succeeding in this and are looking forward to your stay at the new Mareda (link on photo gallery).
P.S. And bugs? Most probably they are somewhere there; we do not imagine that we are perfect, but, with your help, suggestions and criticism, we are doing our best to bring them to a minimum. :)
or 5 things you can do in Novigrad
OK, let’s make it clear at the beginning, this time we’re not entirely honest and those of us who live in Novigrad and all who have visited it at least once, know that this little town and its surrounding area offer much more than the usual 5 or 10 things that you have to or mustn’t do if you want this or that...But, as this blog isn’t like the texts in Cosmopolitan or some other lifestyle portal, we have borrowed just the title from them.
Novigrad is a destination which, by its offer, decelerates your, anyway faster life rhythm; to slow down at least a few times a year, explore and make plans without plans, is a welcome resetting of our body and mind. This is why, this time, a few pieces of information about the places and events you can experience in Novigrad, you’ll have to discover on you own, as no blog, brochure or smart phone application (luckily) can yet replace your impressions or experience...
We’re starting from the sea (let’s be honest, most of you anyhow come here because of that), 1-Punto Mare is a new beach and a starting point for all summer activities in Novigrad. We are opening this new beach with an attractive tidal bathing area this summer and, apart from the fun & beach zone with numerous recreational and gourmet facilities, in the summer months, different concerts, workshops and various of our animators’ entertainment programmes will be staged here throughout the summer (a little more next time about our hardworking girls and lads who take care of your kids while you’re resting,). Habit has it that after the first day or two of a stay in one place, one pines for different facilities and spaces. Our 2-sports facilities fit in well here, as tens of kilometres of cycling paths in Novigrad and the surrounding area simply impose on you the thought of forgetting your car or camper until you’re due to go home. For those of you who are a little more endurable, there is also a kayak/canoe tour, which goes from Punto Mare to the confluence of the Mirna River into the sea. Antenal is truly a unique space and, should you row a little further, you’ll enter the tame course of the Mirna River, which will, through fertile fields, take you as far as the foot of the town of Motovun, perhaps the most famous and most beautiful small Istrian town on a hill. For those who aren’t inclined to experiment, there are football pitches, tennis, mini golf and the whole array of recreational facilities, for all, aged between 9 and 99.
We’ve exhausted you nicely? Hey, that’s our intention; after a day spent on a bike, playing football or in a kayak, it’s time for the Istrian cuisine. It’s already written about it enough (we started in our previous blog, about asparagus) and many Novigrad restaurants and agrotourisms can hardly wait to be discovered or reaffirmed. 3-Gourmet trip starts in our à la carte restaurant Oliveto, which is situated within the Hotel Maestral**** complex. There, you’ll also be acquainted with our extra virgin olive oil “Vergal”, which we cultivate in several locations in the surroundings of the town and which is 100% our product. The gourmet offer is also presented through Gourmet Passport, a system of loyalty and a guide through the best restaurants and agrotourisms of north-west Istria. The best way to experience this is the Gnam Gnam festival, an event which takes place in Novigrad every year, from April through to September. The festival is dedicated to a specific, or a group of foodstuffs, characteristic for this area. The first in the series, in April, is dedicated to wild asparagus, in May to Sardelafest, celebrating sardines and other blue fish and the first Friday in June is dedicated to the Night of the Novigrad scallop, to the St. Jacque’s mussel, for which rumour has it that the one from the Novigrad aquatorium is the best in the world (due to the mixing of salty sea water and fresh river water at the Mirna River confluence with the Adriatic sea). In July and August, there are two more events, marked by seafood, just like the last event the Sea on the Plate.
After we’ve made an effort for you not to be left hungry, but thanks to the sports drill and not to take a few kilogrammes more home, the cultural dimension, 4-Novigrad Lapidarium Museum, with its rich permanent exhibition, but also numerous photographic, painting and sculpture exhibitions from figurative to abstract art will satisfy the majority of tastes. OK, maybe we’re not Guggenheim in Bilbao, but to stay in Novigrad and not to visit the Lapidarium would be a real shame.
The cream on the top comes last; at the beginning of summer, a new north-west Istria attraction is being opened; 5-Aquapark Istralandia. This interesting water world spreads over a surface area of 80,000 m² and is situated five kilometres away from the coast, at the junction with the Istrian Ypsilon (Nova Vas), on the road between Novigrad and Brtonigla. Istralandia will offer to families a series of facilities and excitement on 20 different toboggans and accompanying facilities for the youngest ones ranging through to adrenaline freaks. There's also the biggest swimming pool with artificial waves in this part of Europe, where you can surf, swim or hover on air boats.
Kids will enjoy themselves in a shallow children's pool with water castle, open and closed toboggans, water effects and sprinklers, as well as water play areas, while, for the adults, there is a large hydro-massage swimming pool on two levels, with waterfalls, benches and beds for relaxation and with water massage...one more reason for Novigrad to become a top family destination.
See you in Novigrad!
Her Highness - Asparagus
Asparagus officinalis or asparagus is a perennial herbaceous plant from the family of Asparagaceae. Asparagus is a typical spring vegetable and the best herald of the waking of nature after the winter hibernation and we have been using it for as long as anyone can remember. Through time, different medicinal, aphrodisiac and even miraculous properties were attributed to it; but we can, however, say with certainty that asparagus is a healthy and low calorie foodstuff, accessible to everyone. As a self-grown and autochthonous plant, asparagus raised many generations of Istrians; the mere thought of fritaja or polenta with asparagus will remind many people of their childhood and Istrian nans’ and grandpas’ delicacies which guests enjoy today in numerous restaurants and agrotourism facilities throughout Istria.
There are two types of asparagus: green and white. Green asparagus is mostly tender, soft and more flavoursome than the white asparagus, which is usually cultivated covered with foil, thus not receiving the sunlight and pigment which would give it colour. Wild asparagus are a little bitter and their ingredients accelerate recovery following illness and also have a diuretic effect, stimulating cleansing of the body. The specific asparagus aroma is one of the seasonings which enrich the Istrian cuisine, giving it diversity and originality for which it has become widely famous. While Istrians prepare it in many different ways in their homes; for example, in fritajas (scrambled eggs) using free-range eggs, top restaurants offer asparagus in risotto or home-made pasta dishes, in combination with meat or fish, prosciutto… to tasty desserts which will delight even the most demanding of guests. In cooking, home-grown asparagus is used whole, while in wild asparagus, the wooden part of it is discarded. Home-grown asparagus is cooked for 5 - 8 minutes, depending on its thickness and the wild one, even less, 1 - 2 minutes.
In Istria, we do not forget our staple asparagus, so, for the fifth year running, we organise “The Days of Istrian Asparagus” when the best restaurants of north-west Istria, between 24th March and 15th May, offer imaginative and tasty asparagus-based delicacies. Apart from this, in the hamlet of Kaštel, near the border with Slovenia, in the wake of Easter, “Šparogada”, a traditional local festival, where Her Highness Asparagus plays the leading role, this year takes place for the 17th time. As well as the competition in asparagus picking or in finding the longest asparagus, professional chefs compete in the preparation of dishes with asparagus, complemented by olive oil and highly acclaimed Istrian wines.
You can find in literature that asparagus is used in over 250 recipes and, for our part at the end, we would recommend that you prepare this Asparagus Salad
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp mustard
- 1 tsp freshly chopped marjoram
- 1 tsp powdered garlic
- 1 kg asparagus
- 1 large pepper, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Gently boil the vinegar until half of the liquid has evaporated. Pour it into a bowl and mix well with mustard, marjoram, olive oil and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Boil asparagus in salted water for approx. 4 minutes. Drain and rinse twice in cold water.
Pour the prepared dressing over the asparagus and peppers, sprinkle with walnuts.
Asparagus is also celebrated in songs, listen to what the “Croatian asparagus blues” sounds like at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RdY_nMF9GU
Laguna Novigrad marketing team