The view over Hvar Town. Image by: Ivo Biocina
Yachts and parties aren't the only thing on offer.
On the third day of my week-long journey through Croatia, I picked up a local phrase: “Ste uzimanje masnoća iz mene” – or “You’re taking the fat out of me.” Although the literal translation sounds like something you’d say to your personal trainer, it’s actually a lighthearted way to say “You’re making me jealous.” And that’s exactly what I was doing, according to my friends via Snapchat, as I shared a play-by-play of my day exploring Hvar – a ruggedly picturesque island off the country’s southern coast.
The port at Hvar Town. Image by: Getty
Hvar’s draws are plentiful: secluded pebbly beaches, weather so sunny it borders on obnoxious and a wine-making legacy dating back more than 2,000 years. The most famous feature of all, however, is the pretty 13th-century port town that shares the island’s name. Thanks to the surge in the Croatian Riviera’s popularity as a summer getaway spot, Hvar Town has earned a reputation for two things: yachts and youth. The former, moored in Hvar’s rocky inlet, are unapologetically lavish (who needs a helicopter pad?), while the latter emerge at night and travel in packs toward the neon lights and thumping beats emanating from the clubs that hug the island’s shoreline. Hvar Town is party central.
The writer in Hvar.
Which is why my guide, Sinisa, took it upon himself to show me “secret” Hvar with an off-road tour of the parts of the island that are often overlooked by visitors and locals alike. So while the previous night’s revellers were still sleeping off their après-beach apricot radlers, I was in Sinisa’s road-battered Toyota 4Runner, driving down dusty paths flanked by olive trees, in pursuit of Hvar’s alternative attractions.
The village of Malo Grablje.
The first stop was Malo Grablje, an eerily idyllic ghost village located in the island’s interior. The tiny settlement was largely abandoned in the 1920s when the local grape crops failed. In the early ’50s, the last holdouts – a man and his goat – finally packed up and moved on. The crumbling stone houses are overgrown with wild capers; it seemed like the village was under a spell and that life would resume if I simply pressed a “play” button. I imagined that the communal olive press would start up again and an elderly man would appear to ask what I was doing in his yard, his goat giving me the side eye.
After a brief stop at the nearby straight-from-a-postcard village of Velo Grablje (not quite abandoned – population: seven), it was time for another perspective. I bounced in my seat as we drove up a precarious cliffside path to Sveti Nikola, Hvar’s highest peak, and its tiny chapel and even tinier weather station. From the 628-metre height, the Adriatic appeared boundless beyond the bulging tops of the neighbouring isles Brac and Vis on one side; on the other, Hvar’s craggy landscape, with its ancient vineyards and sleepy townships, opened up before me. They are views you could never see from the deck of a 60-metre yacht, and I revelled in the fact. Then, the “aha” moment: I figured out what the helicopter pad was for. It was my turn to feel jealous.
One way to get to Hvar is to fly into Zagreb and then take a boat from the southern port town of Split. Here’s how to make the most of your time.
Ban Jelacic Square. Image by: Istock
Don’t overlook the country’s capital city, located east of the Adriatic coast, which combines striking Austro-Hungarian palaces, a vibrant arts scene and plenty of foodie delights.
St. Mark's Church. Image by: Istock
MORNING Grab a cheese bureka (a flaky savoury pastry) in the city’s Lower Town neighbourhood and claim a bench in the verdant Ribnjak Park, a quiet spot hidden behind Zagreb Cathedral. Then, after a brief stop to admire the ornate art-nouveau facades of Ban Jelacic Square, climb the stairs to Upper Town, the city’s historic heart. The coloured-tile roof of St. Mark’s Church is a must-see.
The Dolac food market.
AFTERNOON Head to the Dolac open-air food market, known as the “belly of Zagreb,” for lunch. On the menu? Whatever catches your eye, like nutty sheep cheese with lavender honey. For shopping, check out the Croatian Design Superstore. The name is a bit misleading (the shop is more quaint boutique than Costco), but it’s well stocked with local designs. You’ll find leather accessories by Kon2re and zany printed sweatshirts by Ana Krolo.
The Croatian Design Superstore.
EVENING Book a table at Vinodol’s walled-off terrace in Lower Town. Peka, a traditional Croatian meat-and-veggie dish cooked under a cast-iron dome, pairs nicely with a glass of the country’s underrated red wine made from indigenous high-altitude Plavac Mali grapes.
Zagreb's Zrinjevac Park. Image by: Istock
LATE NIGHT Finish your day the same way you started it: at a park. Zrinjevac comes alive at night, with couples and families coming out for a starlit stroll under the plane trees. If you’re still hungry, try some freshly grilled corn from one of the street vendors.
Croatia’s second-largest city leads a double life. Where else do raucous bars share walls with ancient Roman residences?
Diocletian's Palace. Image by: Istock
EXPLORE Diocletian’s Palace was built in the fourth century by one of the few Roman emperors to enjoy retirement. Some 1,700 years later, the Unesco World Heritage Site served as home to Daenerys’ brood of dragons. But you don’t need to be a classics nerd or a Game of Thrones fan to appreciate the labyrinthine halls, which are packed with restaurants, shops and people.
A view of Split from Marjan Forest Park. Image by: Istock
HIKE Marjan Forest Park is just steps away from Split’s main strip. If you’re up for a bit of a walk, the pine woods are worth breaking a sweat for. They look dark and imposing from a distance, but the hilly hike offers an escape from the bustle of the town’s high-traffic port and some of the best sea views in the area.
Split's trendy Bokeria.
EAT Set in an old hardware store in Split’s historic Old Town, trendy Bokeria is the go-to for elevated Mediterranean fare – think risotto with pesto and capers and sea bass ceviche made with local ingredients.
FLIGHT PLAN Air Transat offers flight and hotel options for two- or three-stop stays in Croatia. I chose the three-stop option (Zagreb, Split and Hvar) and found that I had enough time to seek out adventures despite the multiple transfers.
WHEN TO GO July is considered high season; expect crowds of bacchanals wherever you venture. A visit in late August will find the beach towns winding down for the season.
Céline spring 2017 RTW Image by: Imaxtree
One writer's take on the oft-misunderstood shoe that is “safe but not sensible.”
Fashion watchers say that the kitten heel is ubiquitous this spring, but is it? Since the kitten heel is neither as flat as a crepe nor as high as a flagpole, much gets dumped into its medium-sized category that isn’t kitten, or, really, even feline, at all. In fact, it’s easier to say what a kitten heel isn’t than what it is.
It is certainly not a stiletto. Neither is it square, squat, sturdy or stacked, even if it’s medium height. What makes the Dior slingback with logo strap, Prada sandal, pointy Acne Studios slingback, Loewe moccasin and Céline babushka slipper kitteny is the indentation right at the top of the heel, called the “seat.” It makes the heel look like a comma. Sometimes, it’s so bent in that it looks like a cartoon shoe that has skidded to a screeching halt. And although the heel is shaped like an hourglass, it is imperatively skinny because a fat hourglass-shaped heel is for high kicks and tap dancing. “They give your leg a pretty silhouette,” says my friend Sabine. “And if you have full calves, kitten heels make them taper away and disappear.”
Christian Dior spring 2017 RTW (Imaxtree.com)
Kittens are great in-between shoes. They are safe but not sensible, dressy but not ditzy, stylish but not slavish. Which is why they were the heel of choice for Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy (and still are for Michelle Obama).
But what do we really think about the kitten heel? It isn’t a heel that inspires heated passion. By nature a compromise shoe, the kitten emerged in the 1950s as a “training” heel for younger girls. Designed for one’s first tentative steps in what was then the high-speed foot race for husbands and high heels, kittens are cute, tasteful, elegant and demure. They are the Baby Duck that comes before champagne. They are the quinceañera of footwear.
Givenchy spring 2017 RTW (Imaxtree.com)
That said, cats have their claws and so do kittens. When the heel is spiky and the toe pointy, like last fall’s white Balenciaga bootie, it can be an interesting, aggressive shoe. Diana Rigg wore a black leather bodysuit and kitten booties as she kung-fu-chopped villains in the ’60s TV show The Avengers. Sharp kitten heels, torn fishnets, bird’s-nest pompadours and gobs of black eyeliner was how punk icons Exene Cervenka, Siouxsie Sioux and PJ Harvey rolled in the 1980s and early 1990s. These were not women of moderate taste, as the kitten heel is wont to express. This shows that it’s a shoe with plenty of wiggle room for personality and, possibly, even rebellion—a shoe exactly suited to our times.
Rolling around in Chanel lipgloss? Oui, s'il vous plaît.
After charming tout le monde when she closed the Chanel Couture show last month in a pink frothy wedding dress, Lily-Rose Depp is up to her darling ways yet again. And since it can only go uphill from being Karl's muse, why not make it even sweeter with a makeup campaign?
In this highly-addictive video below, Depp is living all of our dreams—rolling around in a pile of Chanel Rouge Coco Gloss, which lands on counter March 3rd. Depp is the newest face of Chanel makeup.
Chanel Rouge Coco Gloss is available in 24 shades—from the inky plum "Confusion" to "Melted Honey", a gilded beige. The collection also includes three lipstick topcoats. For those desperate to get the gloss in their makeup pouches before the launch (we feel you), head directly to Holt Renfrew in Toronto on March 1st. Aside from pre-launch access, you'll be able to lounge in the Coco Café—the chicest pop up that evokes a café in Paris. It will be bursting with all things Instagrammable, including a lip lollipop bar (we're listening), photo station, mani bar, nail photo booth and makeup classes.
As well, the stickers featured in this GIF will be available for purchase next month from the App Store. Chic!
As told to ELLE Canada.
I’ve always known that I don’t want children, even when I was as young as eight or nine. When I played house, I’d pretend I lived downtown with my boyfriend and dog — no babies or kids. My Barbies lived with their friends or had a pet. I was a lifeguard during high school and university, but I never instructed the small children. It was a running joke — everyone knew not to give the babies or the little kids to me to teach. When I got older, conversations about having a family came up in my relationships, but I always told guys I couldn’t see myself having kids.
“I’m 32 now. A lot of my good friends have babies; they’re cute, but I don’t necessarily want to hold them or interact with them. I just don’t feel that connection. And I like my freedom — I like being able to go out after work and have drinks with friends or splurge on that Gucci purse. Luckily, my parents have never pressured me. They’re fine if they have no grandkids; they’ve always told me to live my own life.
“I started thinking about getting my tubes tied when I was in my early 20s. I went on the pill when I was 18 — mostly to help with severe period cramps. Then, two and a half years in, I started to spot. It was like having another period: I was always wearing tampons or panty liners. Not fun. So I tried going off and then back on the pill and switching brands. It just didn’t agree with my body. That was when the doctor suggested permanently going off. Once I did, it took a few months to have a normal period and cycle.
“I approached my gynecologist shortly after. It was one of those times when you’re sitting in the waiting room forever and when you finally get called, it feels like the doctor is ready to run out the door as soon as you start talking. ‘We’ll figure this out,’ she said, although she was shaking her head no as she spoke, her short curly hair bouncing. ‘Use condoms for now.’ So I did, most of the time. (There were a few times when things got out of control and I had to take the morning-after pill.) I suspect my gynecologist thought I would grow out of wanting my tubes tied. She suggested trying the pill again or even an IUD with a low dose of hormones, but I didn’t want to go through that for three or four months and have it not work. I’d also read that hormones can make you moody or bloat or get acne, and I’d heard so many urban legends about IUDs hurting or popping out. Neither option seemed worth it to me.
“When I moved to Toronto in my mid-20s, I got a new doctor and told her that I wanted the procedure. Again, I got the same response: ‘It’s not something we really recommend’ or ‘Why do you want to do this? It’s permanent.’ Last spring, when I went for my physical, she reluctantly referred me to a gynecologist. He was polite but blunt when I explained my situation. ‘Whoa, let’s chat about this,’ he said. ‘I get where you’re coming from, but I’m not doing this. It’s risky, and I don’t feel the need.’ The argument? He didn’t want me to have unnecessary surgery if I had no health issues. He also reminded me that tubal ligation is permanent and suggested that my partner get a vasectomy because it’s less invasive.
“I’ve been with my partner for six years, and we’re still using condoms. The thing is, my boyfriend has always wanted kids. In the early days of our relationship, I told him that I didn’t want to be a mother; we agreed that we would see where the relationship went regardless. We’re still together, but what if he’d had a vasectomy because he thought he was meant to be with me and then we broke up and he couldn’t have kids with someone else? I don’t think it’s fair to ask him to have one.
“After that appointment, I followed up with my doctor and asked for a referral to another gynecologist, just to get another opinion. It was the same story. ‘Why don’t you freeze your eggs before you get your tubes tied?’ this doctor suggested in the nondescript examining room, peering at me over his glasses. I was annoyed, but I calmly outlined my concerns: The process is costly and, more important, an unnecessary backup for me.
“What bothers me most is that both gynecologists were listening but they weren’t actually taking me seriously. I’ve gone through all the proper channels—first my doctor and then referrals—and I’ve never felt that what I wanted was a priority. I feel defeated, like even if I were to push and say ‘I want to do this now,’ they’ve already made up their minds and won’t do it.
“It’s not like I need them to agree with what I want; I just need someone to perform the surgery. So I’m in limbo. I’m hesitant to even ask my doctor to refer me to someone else because the gynecologists were so adamant. The experience has also made me wonder if a man my age would ever be treated so dismissively if he wanted permanent birth control. Yes, I know the procedure is less invasive and potentially reversible, but both sexes should be able to make this call themselves. It’s old-fashioned to think otherwise. It’s 2017. Not every woman dreams of being a mom. And it’s time doctors caught up with that reality.”
A doctor pledges to “first do no harm,” so you can imagine the conundrum tubal ligation (the technical term for tying your tubes) presents. “Every gynecologist has probably had somebody in tears in his or her office saying she wished she’d never had a tubal, and I think that can affect the way you feel when you’re counselling the next patient,” says Dr. Ashley Waddington, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Queen’s University. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 percent of women under the age of 30 who have had the surgery say they regret it. That figure falls to 6 percent in older age brackets.
“Some doctors have interpreted that [stat] as ‘We won’t even offer this to people under 30,’” says Waddington, who argues that young women who haven’t had children should have the same access as anyone else to the surgery. “If somebody really wants their tubes tied and I think they are adequately informed, I will provide the surgery.” The key word is “informed.“ Here’s what gynecologists want you to know:
Tubal ligation is permanent. In most procedures, two small incisions are made in the abdomen and the fallopian tubes are clipped or cauterized to prevent eggs from entering. While technically this can be reversed, it’s not covered and can cost you up to $6,000, and there is no guarantee it will work because scarring can permanently damage the tubes.
There are risks. Getting your tubes tied is quick surgery — about 30 minutes — but it’s still surgery. You’ll be under general anaesthetic, and the surgeon is operating near your organs. (Note: With the newer hysteroscopic tubal—in which the fallopian tubes are accessed through the vagina—typically only local freezing is required, but it’s not available in every hospital.) “In my experience, you’ll never find a surgeon who would choose surgery if there is an equally effective alternative method,” says Waddington.
You have contraception options. The experts we spoke to all recommend the IUD; statistically, it is slightly more effective at preventing pregnancy than tubal ligation. (Not to mention it can also make your periods lighter, and, while it doesn’t last a lifetime, you’ll get at least five years.) The vasectomy, meanwhile, was touted as the top form of permanent contraception. It’s an outpatient procedure (read “super-fast and not dangerous”) that requires only local freezing, and the failure rate is very low (one in 2,000).
The takeaway? It’s your call and yours alone. “Once a doctor has explained all the risks and benefits, it’s a woman’s decision,” says Dr. Amanda Black, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Ottawa and chair of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada’s Contraception Awareness Program. Getting your tubes tied doesn’t require spousal consent, but a doctor has to refer you to a gynecologist. If your gynecologist refuses, Waddington recommends requesting a referral to a family-planning specialist, who may be more open to doing the procedure.