Next stop on the Croatian road trip: Opatija

After dodging the rain in Zagreb, we got back in our rental car, fired up the satnav thing (which had served us pretty well on the way to the Hague and back), and set off for Opatija.


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P6051571We were working on kind of a last-minute schedule, so the selection of available hotels/apartments was limited. Sarah found us two rooms for two nights at the Hotel Imperial, on the main drag in Opatija, Maršala Tita, just across the street from the Adriatic. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Then we learned from some tour-guide materials at the local tourist office (or perhaps it was Scott’s own independent research?) that it really was from the Austro-Hungarian Empire area — and it seemed like the whole area was set up as a resort complex and infrastructure supporting it for Austrian nobility. No real surprise then, that Croatia became the resort of choice for communist leaders after World War II. Aside from the WLAN in the lobby area, it appeared to be in those conditions still (though we could see it would take a lot of money, but it would be a glorious hotel if someone were to make the investment to restore and modernize it). I wonder if shower curtains were a symbol of bourgeois capitalist scum? Neither the Zurikas’ room nor ours were equipped with them, though there were rings and hooks and things.

P6041562_tweaked_exposureWeather still wasn’t great here (until our last evening and morning there, on which these pictures were taken), but we did at least manage to avoid the rain occasionally. We got our amusement from a terribly bad restaurant we considered, and then rejected, after discarding a suggestion Sarah or Jul or someone had found online, and then, in the end, decided to patronize after all — which was a mistake. (You can see I was pretty uninvolved with the planning — I just did the driving). Fortunately, after that we learned our lesson and paid more attention to the recommendations and had much better luck, especially once we got to Rovinj.

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We took a 10km walk along the seaside partially in the rain. It’s paved the whole way. Maybe the on-again, off-again rain was a blessing, because I can see how that path would be glorious in good weather, and clogged with all kinds of tourists. Our destination on the walk was Lovran, and lunch at the Bellavista restaurant. I got about 500g of squid. At the bad restaurant the night before, I had already had fried calamari, so this time I tried it grilled. I didn’t do the math on that one; I should have figured that “grilled” meant “whole.” It was good, but there was an awful lot of it. And the flavor was nice, even if the texture was rubberier than deep-fried.

P6041532The little town of Lovran was cute and a fair indicator of what was awaiting us on the next leg of the trip in Rovinj.

Roman Virdi has some really nice shots of Opatija here, some of which must have come from our hotel as well.

Here’s the Opatija segment slideshow:

Notes from a drive through Istria and Friuli — Part 1

Zagreb Bench DudesBeen kinda quiet around here, hmm? We’ve been busy. After work on Tuesday last week, I scooped up a rental car from near the office — upgraded from the Ford Focus class to the Mazda 5 class, which was a very good idea, as it turns out, since we made use of the extra luggage room and the dual sliding passenger doors were handy for tight parking — dashed home to pick up Sarah, and bopped down to Munich to crash out at Chez zurika.com. Along the way, we discovered that a small van-like vehicle such as that Mazda 5 is NOT suitable for one of those stacked parking spaces. Fortunately we figured that out before causing any damage to the car or their stacky thing. We got up early the next morning and got the show on the road to Zagreb.


Größere Kartenansicht

The drive down was rather uneventful, apart from the rain. We each got a passport stamp at the crossing from Slovenia into Croatia, so that was cool and finally arrived outside of downtown Zagreb at the spiffy Hotel Jarun. The receptionist there was quite friendly and helpful and pointed us in the right direction to the tram to get downtown, where we quickly appreciated the city’s charm.

Here are some notes I jotted at the time:

  • Lights on in the rain, else potential 150€ fine (tip from border dude between SLO and HR).
  • Steel-faced border crossing between Slovenia and Croatia. Not very friendly. Does that matter? Another stamp in the passports, at long as they’re still a candidate country.
  • About 7.25 kuna to the Euro at time of writing. Food seems cheaper (restaurant pricing) but retail clothing doesn’t (much) – at least based on window shopping.
  • One-way tram ride costs about a € for one zone. It’s a good 15-20 minute tram ride into downtown Zagreb from Jarun.
  • If you have a one-way paper ticket, look for the ticket-stamper machine in the front car of the tram. Seems most people travel on passes or other magnetic-read tickets.
  • Hotel Jarun is clean and new and well-equiped. Nice techy stuff like big TV and free WLAN (not that we used either much due to being exhausted upon arrival last night after dinner and exploring). Generous shower, decent breakfast offerings.
  • Old town seems cute, mix of old and well-maintained and obviously new-but-made-to-look-old or newly-restored buildings.
  • Don’t like not having a book; our rentention of basic phrases from a podcast J+S brought was miserable.

Here’s the Zagreb slide show:

Traveling around Croatia

We’ve been in Croatia for the past 2-3 days. The weather seems determined to work against us, but we are also determined to have a good time. There were some cute places to eat and walk around in Zagreb. Since yesterday afternoon we’ve been trying not to get rained on in Opatija, on the coast. We’ll see what today has to offer. Pictures to follow when we have time to sort them out and upload them; stay tuned.