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Meanwhile, as the world was going to pot

EPI and I were enjoying the easy life in Croatia – when we should have been at home chewing our fingernails. Scandalous, I know.

Our holiday in the sun – replete with sand, sun and sea – certainly did not evolve as I envisioned it. The fact was that, the week before we arrived, temps had been in the high 20s Centigrade [between 80 and 90 F] with lots of sun and beautiful weather, but literally the day before we arrived there had been a thunderstorm and – presto! – summertime was over. For the two weeks that we were there temps rarely went above 20°C [68F] – in fact were usually around 15-17°C – and there were only two days that were sunny enough to actually sunbathe by the pool – the rest were cloudy.

Obviously, then, we had to find other things to occupy our time, which wasn’t very difficult, as EPI and I can laze around with the best of them if we put our minds to it. The apartments we stayed in were part of a larger hotel complex and all the facilities at the hotel were at our disposal, including a top-notch fitness centre [that we made very good use of … you should see my biceps] and a wellness centre with saunas, jacuzzi, resting benches, etc. The only hitch with that was that you had to be nekkid [the hotel primarily catered to Germans as we discovered, and they’re used that kind of thing] which wasn’t a problem for our YT [on account of my previous German incarnation] nor EPI [who also has a previous German incarnation and moreover is Nicelandic and used to showering nekkid in front of people … albeit only other males] so that was all good.

Everything about the apartment we stayed in [they were in separate two-story houses, one apartment on ground level, one above] was designed to keep it as cool as possible, from the cool tiles on all floors to the windows and door that provided the only daylight in the kitchen-slash-living area being completely shuttered. Bizarrely, the shutters couldn’t even be opened to let daylight in [clearly the expectation was that the door would always be open, more or less] … so the entire time we were in the apartment we were a] freezing out butts off b] with the glaring [energy saving] electric lights on, even during the day. Under those conditions, you can believe that the toasty wellness centre was an attractive option.

The town we stayed in, Porec, has a population of around 20,000, which grows to around 70,000 during the summer, with tourists and everything. It’s a lovely town, 2,000 years old, with narrow streets and an ancient Basilica that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Porec

Pretty as Porec was, though, it had nothing on Rovinj, a town just south of there, also on the coast, which was incredibly picturesque and lovely.

Rovinj

We also rented a car and drove to Groznjan, a tiny village in inland Istria [the peninsula on which we stayed] that is the domain of artists and musicians and is utterly enchanting. Apparently they have music camps there for young people throughout the summer with continuous outdoor concerts that culminate in a jazz festival at the end of August, where all the concerts are free. There were so many amazing photo ops that I could have snapped a picture at every turn. It was also filled with cats [as were so many other places in Croatia] …

Groznjan snooze

Of which this guy has to be my favourite of them all. Bet you wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley, would you? Phwoar!

Get.out.of.my.face. NOW.

From there we headed to our next destination, which was Motovun, another small village set high atop a hill, originally for defense purposes. Apparently the Istria region was continually under siege throughout the ages because of its amazing natural resources … the Romans ruled there for a long period and much of the building material used to construct Venice, for example, was taken from there – primarily limestone.

Motovun

Lucky for us, we took a wrong turn while coming out of Groznjan [the Croats are like the Icelanders in that they’re pretty bad at setting up road signs] so we ended up driving along a winding country road that took us through part of a region known as ‘the new Tuscany’ [apparently foreigners are buying up property there like mad] and took us through lovely little villages like this one…

Hilltop village

Anyway, that’s probably enough for one post … and amazing as these experiences were, I have to say the highlight of the holiday was our day trip to Venice. More on that later.

WE HAVE FALL SUNSHINE
But it’s freezing cold, what with windchill and all that. Went out for a bike ride earlier and fell for the old ‘window weather’ ruse – i.e. the weather looked a lot better from the window than it actually is. A frequent occurrence in Niceland, I’m afraid. Temps at the moment are 7°C [45F], sunrise came at 7:34 this morning, sunset due for 6:59.

[PS. More photos from Croatia here.]

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  • Rozanne October 1, 2008, 12:12 am

    How lovely and ancient those towns look. Sorry the weather didn’t cooperate. They remind me of parts of northern Italy, which I guess isn’t surprising given the history.

    That cat looks like it’s been put through a wash and dry cycle, poor thing. I guess the Croats don’t have a tradition of neutering and spaying their kitties–hence the overpopulation.

  • sigga October 1, 2008, 12:03 pm

    It looks absolutely amazing.

  • alda October 1, 2008, 12:12 pm

    Rozanne – yes, this part of Croatia is under heavy influence from Italy. We particularly noticed it in the food – lots of pizza and pasta. And of course the architecture. And you’re right, I don’t think spaying and neutering is a big priority among Croatian cat owners.

    sigga – takk. it was. 🙂

  • mary October 1, 2008, 4:05 pm

    I looked at your pictures (lovely) and wondered if you went looking for cats, then saw the above comments!

  • Shannon October 1, 2008, 7:03 pm

    That is one mean cat. I wish he was mine. Gorgeous photos, too. 😉

  • CarolQ October 2, 2008, 8:13 am

    I love your photos, especially of the cobblestones; they look wet because they are so polished by centuries of leather footware.

    I couldn’t wait for my husband to see the cobblestones of Dubrovnik because the main street looks wet all the time. Needless to say, when we finally got there, it was raining and not only did the stones LOOK wet, they WERE. lol Guess we’ll just have to go back during a warm and dry time, just as you will.

  • Jessie October 3, 2008, 4:38 pm

    Beautiful pics! I’m sorry that it was so cold there. I would love to visit Croatia some day.

    That Oscar the Grouch cat photo is killing me! It is so cute (though I hope it didn’t actually growl at you). 🙂