Monday, October 31, 2011

Last Day in Rovinj

The plan was to stay in Rovinj through October 31, and when the Jack O'Lantern went up on our Apartment Sign, we knew the end was near.  Every day we were there was over shadowed by Mom's illness, but our Croatian experiences shown through.  We are already looking forward to another visit in 2012.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Motovun and Groznjan

Before reading my description of this side trip, you might want to check out another blogger.
Unlike me, this gal actually has some facts.  I just have impressions.
We managed to take public transportation everywhere we went on this trip except for the trip to the Istrian hill towns of Motovun and Groznjan.  With no public bus or rail options, we rented a car and drove, opting for the hilly country roads instead of the huge freeway which ran parallel just a couple of miles to the west. 

Motovun was easy to spot from quite a distance.  This is about as good an example of "hill town" as you can expect to find any where.

Reading about a castle and approaching it in real life are two entirely different things.  We knew our hotel was located in an old castle at the very top of the hill, but facing this wall was a bit intimidating.  Read about the castle at

The following pictures were taken as we walked around the hill, through the castle, up and down the narrow streets.  The scenery was spectacular and combined with the misty, cloudy weather one could imagine the fairy tale setting as it must have been long, long ago.

It was truffle season and after sampling some of those little gems at dinner, we knew we had to visit the home of the largest truffle ever found.  I wish I could share the taste sensation of truffles on this blog.  Technology seems to be lagging in this area.  I can provide a great visual at

After visiting the truffle museum and making our small purchases (quantity not cost), we set out for our next town, Groznjan.  On the way, I got this great shot of truffle hunter with her dogs.

Groznjan was lovely, a lot more tourist friendly than Movotun which is much more like a real working town than a tourist trap.  However, before we could begin to enjoy the village, the rain started coming down in buckets.

We persevered, snapping pictures through the rain, but it just wasn't letting up.  Finally, we gave up and got back on the road.

As luck would have it, we encountered just enough sunshine to take this picture of the lovely fall foliage.  Pretty nice, huh?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Some Favorite Rovinj Memories

Cooking with octopus.

Crabs just out of reach
 The market - open six days a week - everything fresh!

The park we visited at least once a week. These two sites have some good information about the park.

The town

And always the ocean.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Walking the Streets of Rovinj

The charming guy with the million dollar smile is Leo.  He makes the world's best latte macchiato.  Perfect!

Cafe Bar Katarina is on the way to almost everywhere we want to go so we see Leo almost every day.  If we go down the street and off to the right, it's even on the way to Rovinj Yacht Marina and Rovinj Small Boat Harbor, where you can see almost any kind of boat you can imagine.
Pleasure boats
 Small boats - some pleasure, some fishing, some pleasure/fishing
And bigger boats.  The biggest of the fishing boats dock at the harbor on the other side of town.

Walking the streets of Rovinj is like walking through an art gallery.  It is quite common for artists to nail or pin their work to the outside wall of their home or studio.  See something you like?  It's probably for sale.

The narrow streets are off limits to all vehicles.  The only way up through the town to the church is on foot.  It isn't a difficult climb, especially with so many visual distractions, but it is a climb.

Walking though the city gate at the bottom of the hill puts the pedestrian on flat footing right at the small boat harbor.  What a lovely place! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Venice is a place that should be on every one's Bucket List.  I never thought of decay as being particularly romantic until I traveled the canals of Venice.  Picture grand homes sinking into the mud, their faded colors even paler in the glare of a sunset, glimpses of chandeliers through windows coated with decades of grime, crumbling facades, and the relentless slapping of water against troubled foundations.  Venice is truly one of the most romantic places I have ever visited.  Perhaps it is the obvious reminder of our own mortality and the delicate life of our possessions that forces a person to reflect on the overwhelming importance of our interpersonal relationships - which more often not leads to thoughts of romance.

St. Mark's square is a highlight not to be missed.  The grandeur, is guaranteed to enchant, no matter what your feelings might be regarding opulence, architecture, or religion.  No photos were permitted inside the church, but this web site features many of the most dramatic features:      For more information, the wikipedia article is excellent.'s_Basilica

The square itself is excellent for people watching.  Tourists from all over the world and from every imaginable faith crowd into the square day after day expecting to be amazed.  They are rarely disappointed.

So, if you aren't blown away by the architecture and art; if you aren't impressed with the international parade of costumes, you certainly won't be able to resist the coffee and music.  The coffee is fabulous, and they throw in live orchestra music for free.  No extra charge for the chair either.  Quite a bargain at $8.00 a cup, especially if you sip it very slowly and make it last.

Life in Venice is not easy for the residents.  Can you imagine depending on boats to transport everything from hotel laundry to caskets?  Even crossing the canals is a pain for pedestrians who must either take a water taxi or hike up to the nearest bridge which often means walking several blocks away from the canal you are trying to cross.

Think about managing a stroller, groceries, and a bottle of wine over these bridges.  No wonder young people are moving away in droves.  Need work done on your building?  First you must get in line for a crane - on a boat of course.

Everywhere, there is art! Sculpture . . . Architecture . . . 

The absurd . . .

Avant garde . . .

And, seriously traditional side by side with the satiric sneer . . .

My  favorite church Santa Maria della Salute.

One boat ride after another

 One particularly sweet memory has no visual aide. We attended a production of The Barber of Seville staged in three different rooms of one of those fading, sinking mansions. What a treat! Obviously, a tremendous amount of effort had been put into the restoration and preservation of the mansion. I had never seen so much art in a private home from ceilings to walls, to door jambs, to floors, it was exquisite. What a showpiece it must have been in its day.

Venice is not one of those places I would yearn to visit year after year, but I am so happy to have had the opportunity to walk her streets, to ride her water taxis, to explore her churches, to visit her museums, to ogle her art, and to glory in a final sunset.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What a Dork!

I was feeling so puffed up for having posted the pictures from the first few days in Rovinj, I thought I would go ahead and work on some of the later pictures.  And, then, with one false move, they were gone.  I had pushed the wrong button and erased every picture made after the last posting.

Some of them were just shots of Red Island and the town of Rovinj.  They can pretty much be replaced because almost everyday here has the same relentless sunshine and beautiful ocean. 

Some of the shots were in Pula and Stanley has reassured me we can return for retakes of those.

Some won't be so easy to replace: 
The storm of horizontal rain and the absolutely spectacular sunset that followed
The cruise ship that was in port all day yesterday
Me up to my elbows first in squid and then in octopus
My first effort at preparing fresh sardines

Oh, well . . . stay tuned for new Rovinj adventures as well as the occasional effort to recreate the best of the last few days.

At least my camera card is nice and clean.  It's ready for action!

Lesson learned:  Pushing buttons is very easy to do.  Be long on consideration of the consequences; short on actually pushing the button!

Rovinj - First Few Days

We slipped out of Italy and into Slovenia without so much as a blip, but making the move from Slovenia (a European Union country) and Croatia (still only a candidate) required a immigration stop and a passport stamp. 
The bus sped on, past postcard sized villages and giant swaths of fields, until - as last, we came to Rovinj.

Every single day, has ended with a spectacular sunset.  From our little apartment at 17 Vitomira, we have a lovely view of the sun setting over the Adriatic, just to the left of St. Euphemia's towering steeple. 
Rovinj is an active fishing village with an impressive fleet of fishing boats.  We arrived at the end of one of the most productive seasons along this particular course.  Sardines.  Wonderful little fish that fry up or grill beautifully.  All they need is a squirt of lemon juice and they turn to the tastiest little morsels you can imagine.
In this collage, the boat has just arrived.  It's been out all night attracting the little guys with giant spotlights.  The little fish are being scooped up into small styrofoam boxes, topped with crushed ice and packed in a waiting truck for shipment. 
Several people were buying fish directly from the boat for their restaurants.  I couldn't imagine troubling those guys for the 1/2 kilo I wanted so we purchased ours a little later from the fish market.
All sizes of excursion boats service Rovinj, including a passenger ferry that travels between Rovinj and Venice several times a week during the summer.  Smaller boats take visitors to several neighboring islands, on fish picnics up the canal, and the occasional cruise ship docks here for the day, as well.
This is an interesting boat.  It delivers freight to the nearby islands, and brings their trash and recyclables to Rovinj on the return trip.  Rovinj has a mega recycling operation for paper, glass, plastic, and cardboard. 
Here comes a boat with its signature flock of seagulls.  Hmmm . . . they must have had a successful night.
Tourists and fishermen certainly make up the bulk of traffic in Rovinj, but from time to time Hollywood comes around.  International film-makers are hard pressed to find settings more romantic than this tiny Medieval town with steps that dip into the ocean and an ancient steeple that punches a hole in the sky. 

We wandered completely unaware into a shoot.  As you can see, no matter what the plot or setting for your romantic story, it takes a boat-load of sound and light equipment, the requisite hair and make-up girl and, of course, the smoldering bad boy love interest.  I haven't caught sight of the virginal young woman character yet. 
This is a good example of the upstairs-downstairs beauty of Rovinj.  That's the ocean in the photo on the left; the sky in the photo on the right.  The whole town is a Stair Master!

Just walking around town . . .

While I was inside getting a pedicure, Stanley saw a blond woman taking this this old car for a spin down the street.  Later, we saw it all ready for transport.  Perhaps it was part of the movie, or perhaps the blond just wanted to go for a drive along the wharf in Rovinj.  It's hard to tell.

Aside from the ocean and the sky and the village itself, one of the most attractive points of interest is a 100 acre wooded park with extensive trails - some travel right along the coast and others take the visitor deep into the woods, across grassy meadows, and past an old stone quarry.
The quarry was abandoned long ago, but it was the source for much of the stone used in the creation of Venice.  Today it is favorite site for free-climbing.

Back through the trees . . .

And to the wharf for white wine and calamari at our favorite fish restaurant Skiver de Marco.

I promise to ease up on the sunset pictures in the future, but I have to include this one!

More Rovinj soon!