As a shopping destination, Croatia is not the trendiest place, but does produce some interesting items that are good to take home as gifts or foryour store-cupboard. Croatia has had a long tradition of skilled handicraft production, and the best of this is the lace work and embroidery The embroidery is found almost everywhere: a characteristic design in a red stitching on a white background, used on table linens, pillowcases and blouses. Pag lace is the most famous in the countrywhich uses a skill dating back to the Renaissance. The lace is made on a long cylindrical cushion by lace-makers who interpret designs handed down through the generations.

Lavender and other herbs made into fragrant oils or bound into sachets make a good and inexpensive gift. Some of the best lavender products come from the island of Hvar.Another good (if heavy) gift are the stone products from the island of Brač, which are usually in the form of candlesticks, ashtrays or vases. Penkala writing instruments (named after Eduard Penkala, the Croatian inventor of the first mechanical pencil and the first solid-ink fountain pen) can be found in most stationery stores and tourist shops, as can cravats — Croatia just happens to be the home of the cravat.

Some of the best souvenirs tend to be edible or drinkable, particularly wines and speciality liqueurs such as Bremet liquor or brandies with herbs in the bottles. Croatian wines are not well known abroad, mainly because they are produced in such small quantities, but they are surprisingly good; as is rakija, a distilled spirit made from a grape base that is normally drunk as an aperitif or digestive.Among the white wines, a good choice is Pošip and Grk (from Korcula),Vugava, Malvazija and Traminac. For reds, try the Dingac, Plava and Babic.

Cheeses are excellent, particularly those from the island of Pag, but be sure to get them in sealed packages or they may be confiscated at Customs. Croatian truffles (tartufi) and truffle-based products (like oils) are a good buy, as are herbal teas, which are usually available freshly dried in the markets. If you're driving, buy some onions –the sweet, sweet onions of Croatia are a very special treat. Ajvar is another taste sensation: a red, creamy paste made of ripe red peppers that is wonderful on sandwiches.You can buy it in jars. For the sweet tooth, Paprenjak is a traditional aromatic pastry nade of honey, walnuts and pepper that even comes in specially designed boxes or bags. -Specializing in Cheap Flights F