Sunday, June 8, 2008

Out of Croatia

As we were travelling more it became harder to keep up this blog, so I am writing it from home.

Pula is on the coast, very close to Italy. There are some remarkable Roman ruins there, which is the main reason we went there.

We wandered through a flea market - all kinds of things for sale from Communist memorabilia, to dishes, jewelery, books, dishes, coins (including a mint set of Montreal Olympic coins). In the main square there were Croatian dancers. It's always delightful to see the dancers, costumes and hear the music. At the side of the square is a Roman arch dating from the 1st century. We walked up to the amphitheatre. The walls are all still standing. It seems many of the stones from the seats were looted in the Middle Ages for other building projects. Quite something to be in that space, to think of the events that transpired there, to feel the echoes of another time. We visited some other Roman ruins in the city - another arch, a theatre, a fairly intact Roman mosaic floor, a temple. The temple had been badly damaged in 1944 and has been reconstructed. One wall looks like a badly put together jigsaw puzzle. The town hall next door dates from the 13th century.

It is always a challenge to find food. There are many cafes which serve coffee and alcohol and maybe deserts, but far fewer restaurants. It is lovely to sit in a cafe, slowly sipping, savouring a cup of coffee and just letting time pass. Pula seems to shut down on a Saturday afternoon. Most of the cafes closed.

We drove to Opatije through gorgeous views. Each time you pass through the mountain ranges, through heart-stopping zigzag curves, reaching the top of the mountain and seeing across to all the other mountains. Opatije is on the coast, across the bay from Rijeka. The town is a real resort - once the favourite spot for Austrians in the late 1800s, there are many large villas, many of which are now hotels. The buildings, in darker pastel colours have ornate balconies and lovely iron work. We had a splendid dinner on a terrace right by the sea. The sun, first making Rijeka across the bay look golden, left traces of pink in the sky. The sea seemed turquoise. As it darken the lights across the bay started to shimmer.

We left Opatije and drove down to Krk, a town on the island of Krk. It's a small town with a medieval section, pedestrian streets, parts of the old city wall remaining. There was a folk festival when we arrived and we heard music and saw dancers from Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and Italy. Always delightful. It's nice to see the instruments, two oboe-like instruments, a vielle and guitars. And the bass player seemed to hold his bass sideways - maybe easier to pluck it that way. We ate lunch by the harbour - a mix of pleasure boats and small fishing boats.

Then off to Zagreb to return the car and get ready for our early flight Monday.

Travelling on....

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