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A brief overview of Croatia’s charms

Somehow the weather gods were not alerted to the fact that we were coming to Croatia. It’s been absolutely freezing here – well, at least in terms of what you expect when you book a holiday in the sun. Typically temps have been around 16-20C which would be tolerable if it wasn’t for the fact that our apartment seems to have been designed to keep the cold IN. Seriously – we’re turning the stove on for mere warmth. We’ve had two partial days by the pool which have been OK but any thoughts of going in any sort of water or sea have been banished as soon as they, er, surface. So all my lovely warm-weather clothes that I was so looking forward to donning remain unused at the bottom of my suitcase, while the wool pashmina, jeans, pullover and Spring Court sneakers I brought with me from Niceland have had been trotted out every single evening. And I’m totally pining for my lopapeysa – my Icelandic wool sweater. Boo!

On the upside, this hotel has amazing fitness facilities, so although we shall probably return to Iceland pasty and white, we’ll be in excellent shape!

I had no real expectations of Croatia before I arrived and I must say that the first few days I was rather underwhelmed. This country has only recently come out from communist rule so there is not much in the way of a service-oriented society … some people are downright miserable and virtually curse at the prospect of having to wait on you, whereas others are OK and a handful positively lovely. However, Croatia captured my heart completely two days ago when we rented a car and drove into the countryside to explore what is being called ‘The new Tuscany’ … the small villages and vinyards of the Istrian peninsula, on which we are staying. We visited one village – Groznija – that is without question the most lovely little town I have ever visited … and another called Motovun, which sits high atop a hill and has amazing charm. We visited wine purveyors and tasted Grappa and wines and it was all so rustic and lovely. Croatia is like what I imagine southern Europe was a couple of decades ago and which I still experienced somewhat in Portugal. Rustic, simple and easygoing – although pretty suspicous of the influx of tourists.

Porec, meanwhile, where we are staying, is also gorgeous … it’s ancient, the old town literally 2,000 years old and the streets are all paved with marble stones that have been polished to a high gloss by the millions of feet that have walked on them throughout the centuries. There’s a definite Italian slant to the food and everything else here [although sadly not the fashion] … lots of pasta and pizza, which are very good. Wonderful olive oil, good local wines and the pride of Istria – truffles [which we have yet to taste]. Last night we had dinner in the Pizzeria Dali [for those of you familiar with Porec] – sat at the end of a long rustic table and were soon joined by a large group of tourists, who turned out to be Norwegians. Long story short, it turned into an impromptu dinner party and was loads of fun.

That’s the very brief rundown – up next week, a day trip to Venice. More anon!

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  • Kate September 21, 2008, 9:41 pm

    look forward to hearing more holiday news!!! hope you’re gonna get some proper sunshine this coming week 🙂

  • hildigunnur September 21, 2008, 10:44 pm

    We’re going to Berlin next Thursday, better pack the lopapeysa and some fleece 😛

  • Sirry September 22, 2008, 5:05 am

    I went to Prague in Czechoslovakia before ‘The Wall’ came down, and people were in general hostile and service was horrendous. My friend was elbowed in her stomach walking down a street back then. Weird!
    I went again to Prague, after the wall came down now to the Czech Republic, and service had improved tremendously. The Czech’s realized we’d be bringing them gold for their merchandise, instead of bartering or buying things for a few cents.
    The HUGE downside though the second time were all the tourists. It was horrible.
    So I’d rather have bad service now and then while traveling than not being able to enjoy the scenery at all and hearing Italian and German and Japanese on every single street corner.

    Sorry about the chill in the air
    Northeast USA is about 75F today falling to mere 59 with northern winds from Canada brrrrr. First day of fall is upon us already 🙁

  • Rachael September 22, 2008, 12:28 pm

    I went to Croatia many, many years ago when it was part of Yugoslavia. It was really beautiful – I remember Porec and Motovun very well, I thought Motovun esecially was magical, the views from the city walls were stunning. I don’t remember the Croatian customer service being particularly bad but then I would have been in my early teens and wouldn’t have cared about that sort of thing very much… I remember I really liked the cakes though. Do they still do nice cakes in Croatia? 🙂

  • Rachel September 22, 2008, 5:07 pm

    My mum was pretty annoyed about the (lack of) service when we stayed in Trogir a few years ago.Everyone in Porec was nice though- apart from one woman who asked if we were English,and upon getting confirmation,called my dad a hooligan- lovely!
    Does the Diamant still have its fabulous indoor swimming pool? I love the outdoor one,but inside is miles better due to the lack of kids 🙂

  • maja September 26, 2008, 7:36 am

    Sounds like you’re making the most of it!

  • Ólöf Auður September 27, 2008, 10:25 pm

    Hi my darling Alda!
    I know you and dad are having the best of times although the weather could be better;) Dad sent me a message and told me you were sailing to Venice…. that’s such a romantic city;)
    Look forward to hear from you when you come home… Kisses, Ólöf*