Today was quite the day. I was originally going to hangout in Opatija all day on my own. After really looking at my trusty Rick Steves´ guidebook, I realized I could do all I wanted here in a few hours plus get some time to just soak it up. So I decided to do the Istria Peninsula trip. I am very glad I did because I had a great time and enjoyed some fabulous spots. I also spent time with another tour mate named Sonia who is from Toronto. She´s good people.
So the first stop was Pula. My buddy Rick recommends giving Pula two to three hours to see the sights. I agree, though I liked the place enough to want to spend some chill time there. The first stop was the Amphitheater. It was pretty impression and is the sixth largest Roman amphitheater. It´s supposed to be one of the best preserved. There is a small part it took workers five years to clean. The local guide joked that it was because her culture takes two to three, two hour breaks everyday.
On a side note, I really love meeting local guides. They have so much interesting history outside of the history books. For example, Nada mentioned things from her early years at certain locations, which brings the area more to life. As a kid, of course the amphitheater would be a big playground. She also mentioned that her grandfather, father, herself, and her kids were all born in Pula. But her grandfather was born when it was part of Austria. Her dad was born when it was part of Italy. She was born when it was part of Yugoslavia, and her kids were born as it is now, Croatia. A lot of change for one region over the last decades.
I will actually be going to a history lecture series about the Great War as part of the UW Alumni History Lecture Series. My mind is drawing a blank of the names of the leaders who divided ˝Eastern Europe˝ after WWI, but whoever they were, they did a bad job, but I digress.
Anyway, the amphitheater did not disappoint. Pictures will not do it justice. After that, Sonia and went for a walk, which I discovered ended up being the self-guided tour laid out by Rick Steves. The parts I liked the most were the Forum, which included the Temple of Augustus. There was also the Arch of Sergius, which Michelangelo loved. All in all I enjoyed strolling in the alleys and back alleys of the Old Town. It is probably bad, but I really only have an interest in the old part of cities. There was also a nice market with a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Oh, I did not learn until on the way here how much olive growing is done here.
We stopped for lunch in Rovinj. I had a pretty heavy breakfast so I skipped lunch all together and opted to walk around. I like their Old Town. I took some pictures that I believe capture the essence. I wanted to walk up to the Church of St. Euphemia, which is believed to contain the relics of St. Euphemia. There is also a bell tower, which I decided to walk up the 192 stairs to. I was a little hesitant after seeing the somewhat narrow wood steps, but I made it without incident and was rewarded with some beautiful views of the city and the sea. After that, I wandered around the Old Town some more. There was a nice market.
Rovinj and Pula are both places with good vibes. It was also pretty easy to capture the history there in a short time.
We also stopped in Porec, which was just okay. I was able to see the Euphrasian Basilica, which also had a museum and a bell tower that I walked up with Sonia. Good views. I figure this is good training as I need to get in shape for when I walk the Seattle Half Marathon in November. The basilica was cool and had some nice Byzantine mosaics. The Old Town there was okay. I think Rick Steves´ may have had some influence because he was not impressed.
Then we arrived back in Opatija. I took the time to walk along the water, which was very peaceful. I also sat and cleared my head for a while. The water makes a very beautiful lapping sound as it hits the rocks. I wanted to see a statue called Greetings to the Sea, which is of a woman surrounded by seagulls. I was able to see it, but it was dark so my attempts at pictures were no good. I basically hit up the waterfront beach called Slatina and the promenade called Lungamore. I caught a small part of the Angialina Park. It was very nice. This city is beautiful and peaceful. I will add it to Lucerne, Venice, and Santorini as possible honeymoons spots. I also have the ring, dress, and bridesmaids’ dresses picked out – smile.
Oh, and we passed by a fjord, which was amazing. I think my first time seeing an area that was actually referred to as a fjord.
And Opatija has some pretty amazing architecture. There are some really nice villas. Anyway the place is just amazing. Somewhere worth coming back to. I did want to see the Abbey of St. James but it was closed when I got there.
That is all for now. I will edit later!