Dubrovnik Croatia

Dubrovnik – easyvoyage.co.uk

I arrived in Dubrovnik yesterday afternoon to clear skies and a Mediterranean climate warmer than Berlin but nippy at night. My apartment is in the hills overlooking Croatia’s stunning Dalmatian Coast, Old Medieval City, and Adriatic Sea.

Dubrovnik Franciscan Monastery

Getting anywhere requires climbing lots of stone steps. Although Old City and the Franciscan Monastery are less than a half mile away, it’s all downhill and then, you guessed it, up, up, up on the way back – good exercise.

Defense Walls Dubrovnik Medieval Fortress

In June 2013, I passed through Dubrovnik quickly on the way to Split, Zagreb, Rijeka, and Opǎtija – hectic and only a short day, not sure that counts as a “real visit“. Glad to have more quality time here, and it’s off-season so there aren’t many tourists.

Steps Old City Dubrovnik

I walked to Old City for dinner last night and then had the fun surprise of seeing the Gypsy Kings perform at Orlando’s Column right in the middle of everything!! I’ve long been a fan and to see them performing in such a spectacular outdoor setting was fantastic – love their music! There was a crowd but not overwhelming. Old Town has a beautiful Christmas Market and Winter Festival where the New Year celebration will take place tomorrow!

Dubrovnik from My Apartment

On the way back I forgot which steps took me down to Old City : o( and got lost in the dark. After a long day I ran out of energy, took the easy way out, and called Uber… My landlord, a former ballerina, is active in the community and has great pointers on hiking, tours, restaurants, and cultural activities. More later after I settle in a bit – it’s a huge change from Berlin! I’ll be in Dubrovnik through January.

Dubrovnik Croatia – Croatia.hr

Gypsy Kings Performing at Orlando’s Column Old City

Opǎtija Croatia

 Opǎtija

Opǎtija

I arrived in Opǎtija (means abbey in Croatian) last night and in characteristic fashion got lost finding my hotel. The train from Zagreb to Rijeka arrived at about 9:30 pm. It was impossible to find a taxi, so I took a local bus. When I got off the bus, no one was in sight. Some high school girls passing by helped me find the secluded hotel (giggling all the way). I was grateful and gave them a big hug.

Maiden with the Seagull

Maiden with the Seagull

Hotel Imperial

Hotel Imperial

This morning I decided to change hotels. Accommodations in Opǎtija are pricey but I found an interesting, reasonably priced renovated Austro-Hungarian hotel. It’s in a great location across the street from the beach and Angiolina Park and surrounded by old churches and the sound of tolling bells. The architecture is amazing with 20 foot ceilings in the rooms and more like 30+ in the open areas. The huge dome ceiling in the dining room is a masterpiece. These are nearby attractions:

  • Benedictine Abbey of Saint James – 14th century
  • Neo-Romanesque Church of the Annunciation
  • Villa Angiolina built in 1844 by Iginio Scarpa and now a museum
  • 12 km (7.5 mi) coastal foot path along the Opǎtija Riviera
  • Famous Maiden with the Seagull statue by Zvonko Car
  • Učka Mountain and nature park
Opǎtija

Opǎtija

Opǎtija (aka the Pearl of the Adriatic) is a 20 minute drive southwest of Rijeka along the Adriatic coast. It’s near the Gulf of Kvarner at the foot of Učka Mountain with a population of about 13,000. Because of its beauty and temperate climate the location is a popular European summer and winter resort. The city is surrounded by bay laurel woods and a rocky coast that leads from Volosko through Opǎtija, Ićići, Ika, Lovran, Mošćenička Draga, and other medieval villages.

Villa Angiolina

Villa Angiolina

Učka Mountain

Učka Mountain

There is much to see and do after I get orientated – very different atmosphere than Zagreb. It feels like I’m getting deep into Europe now.

More later…

Zagreb Croatia

The Cathedral

Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Yesterday I explored beautiful Zagreb by foot and tram. The tram system is efficient and gets you where you need to go painlessly. The main impediment to getting around was the 90 degree heat, but Zagreb’s abundant green areas and parks are great places to escape the blazing sun.

Ban Jelačić Square

Ban Jelačić Square

After walking around Kaptol district and Ban Jelačić Square I climbed a medieval stairway and passed through Strossmayer Promenade to Upper Town (Gornji Grad). The area was busy with people enjoying Sunday afternoon in cafés and galleries. I saw a sign for a Picasso exhibition at the Klovicevi Dvori Gallery.

Picasso

Portrait of Dora Maar – Masterpieces from the Paris Picasso Museum

The Master Pieces From the Picasso Museum in Paris exhibit is appearing in a Zagreb gallery until July 7. The exhibition includes over a hundred paintings, sculptures, photographs, and documents depicting Picasso’s work and life. I haven’t seen Picasso’s work up close before, so it was a treat!

Croatia Map

Zagreb “grew out of the medieval communities of Kaptol and Gradec. Its present-day appearance and many of the city’s buildings are grand, peach-colored monuments to the self-esteem of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Outwardly Zagreb shares the refined urban culture of central Europe – organized transportation, clean streets, and impeccably manicured parks – but behind the city’s genteel façade teems a complex blend of central European, Mediterranean, and Balkan cultures.”

Mirogoj

Mirogoj Cemetery

Zagreb’s population is close to one million. I’ll compare it to other Central and Eastern European cities like Ljubljana, Budapest, Vienna, and Prague as this trip continues.

National Theater

Croatian National Theater

The soaring twin towers of the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Kaptol District are exquisite! One tower is undergoing renovation and the process could last for many years. The the 11th century Treasury of Zagreb is next to the cathedral.

the treasury

Treasury of Zagreb

I visited Mirogoj Cemetery Park, another major landmark in Zagreb. Austrian Architect Hermann Bollé designed the beautiful main building, arcades, and entryway church. The cemetery inters members of all religious groups. Many famous Croatians are buried there. It has dense, lush gardens and is really a beautiful place!

Art Pavilion

Art Pavilion

I stumbled on a brochure about a ballet at the Croatian National Theater tomorrow evening and bought a ticket. “As part of its traditional coöperation with the Zagreb Music Biennale, the Ballet of the Croatian National Theatre will, for the first time, première a triple bill for the 27th Zagreb Music Biennale – choreographed by a welcome guest, Edward Clug – Art Director of Maribor Slovene National Theatre (SNG) Ballet – to the music of Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky.” Sounds divine and the Theater is in a fantastic old building!

Rijeka

Thursday, I leave Zagreb via train and head to Rijeka (rye-ache-ah). Rijeka is Croatia’s main seaport and a favorite vacation spot for many Europeans.

Rijeka Opatija City Break