September 13, 2018 — Ražanac blows — in a good way!
Dalmatia’s idyllic summers have a pissed-off, ugly sibling: The Bura, a wicked wind which swoops down from the Velebit Mountains every winter at astonishing speed and chilling temperatures.
Its arrival turns shingles into potential projectiles. It rips facades off buildings. Trucks topple and ferries stop running. Whole stretches of highway shut down.
The Bura’s a force of nature so uncontrollable and ghastly, it is the de facto end point to any talk of year-round tourism on the Dalmatian coast.
Yet… Tourists love filming themselves standing in it.
One town wants to make winter’s most-unpleasant visitor a part of its brand: Ražanac, a historic little enclave just northeast of Zadar. Among its many charms? It is one of only two towns in all of Dalmatia which face the mountains which unleash the Bura. The town’s Tourism Board hopes to marry the trademark wind to Ražanac’s overall brand.
“The games of bura, salt, sun and sea as well as winds sometimes stronger than 170 kilometers per hour are fantastic and cannot be shown with any technology but must simply be experienced on the spot,” Ražanac’s tourism director Ante Miletić told Zadarski List.
On the long list of Dalmatia’s “Must Visits”, Ražanac hardly ever earns a mention. Yet it’s been doing a Yeomen’s job of attracting its share of visitors. It recorded 21,000 arrivals through the first eight months this year, a three percent increase from last year. It also had 195,000 overnight stays, a five percent jump over the same period in 2017. A vast majority of those guests — about 85 percent — were foreigners.
Those guests, according to Miletić, may be keen to visit Ražanac outside of the summer months. And the Bura? Instead of trying to bypass the unavoidable, the wind has become the epicenter of the Tourism Board’s plan.
“The extension of the tourist season is possible only if we all get together and offer tourists concrete content like the almost overwhelming experience of our Bura,” Miletić said.
Overwhelming? Bit of an understatement.
When it hits, the Bura can maintain a steady 60 kilometers an hour — on a slow day — with gusts which can surpass 180 kilometers an hour. Monstrous waves crash along the shore, while the steadier wind skims the surface of the Adriatic then sprays it across the whole town.
Oh, and the Bura is a bone-chilling cold which pierces the best of jackets.
Most locals stay inside when the Bura hits, if they can make it to their front door.
It seems a daft idea to marry the town’s idyllic pebble beaches and quiet, warm season to the hellish tempest which consumes it every winter. Call it a case of meteorological Stockholm Syndrome.
Yet Miletić sees an opportunity in the adrenaline-junkie sect of tourists. The ones who cycle along the coasts. The trekkers tackling Velebit. And yes, those tourists hold on for dear life as the Bura tries to sweep them off Pag’s bridge.
Will Ražanac find a way to turn a blowhard into a money-maker? Or is the breeze getting to their collective heads?