Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Novigrad and Groznjan

After days of rain and drizzly, we finally had a significant break in the weather.  We rented a car and headed for the hills. 

First Stop:  The end point of Lim Canal.  

Second Stop:  Novigrad, a town on the coast we had tried to visit two years ago.  On that visit, we were caught in a downpour of Biblical proportions.  Today, the sun was streaming.

The town is not nearly as picturesque as Rovinj, but it does have a colorful history.  

And it has a church! Many of the old churches on the Istrian Peninsula have been rebuilt so many times that the original structures are completely gone, but St. Pelagius, with its triple-naved basilica, dates from the 8th century.  The present church was constructed in the 15th and 16th centuries.  Beneath the presbytery there is a Romanesque crypt. I would really like to see it.

So . . . OK.  On the first attempt, we couldn't even park the car for fear it would wash into the ocean.  On the second attempt, the church door was firmly locked with no indication of when it might reopen.  The young man in the gift shop shrugged his shoulders and told me that perhaps they would open the church for mass in the evening, but perhaps not.  Hard to tell.

I needed a drink! 

One last look at the bell tower, 

a quick walk around town and I was ready to move on.

Especially after I caught a glimpse of this huge cumulonimbus cloud. After all, I know what rain looks like in this part of Istria!

Back on the road

The two churches of Buje.  We've got to schedule a trip to this little town in the future.  But for now, we push on into the hills

until finally, the narrow gravel road came to an end. I can't imagine what was behind the detour sign, but it must have been dreadful.  The detour was an even more narrow dirt road full of rocks that our little rental could just barely clear.

 With storm clouds drifting ever closer

we could finally see Groznjan in the distance.

After considerable effort, we located the apartment.  It should have been ever so easy to find, but without any signs at all - no hotel sign, no street sign, it took some real imagination.

Well worth the effort. The apartment is located in the ruins of an old castle, on the far side of courtyard.  Beyond this door was an extremely efficient little studio.

with everything you could need

and a private garden. Just time for a brief look around the garden and off we went to explore the village.

I'll let you read all about the village and its complicated history at the link above. Here, I'll just share the photos we made that first afternoon and evening.  I think my readers will see why we loved this little village.

The clouds kept gathering in the sky and rolling through the valley all afternoon. 

One little detail of that afternoon was too humorous. I have to share.

This was our second trip to Groznjan.  Just as with Novigrad, the first trip was made in the rain.  Very few shops were open, and the church doors were firmly closed.

Clearly, the doors were open this time and I could hear a woman singing.  Happy Day!  Not too fast.  The inner doors were closed and locked.  I was not to be locked out of church twice in one day.  I put the eye of my little iPad up to the window and hit the video button.

You can lock me out, but you can't stop my iPad!

We had dinner at Bastia and it was delicious! Tomato soup, and two kinds of pasta that we cheerfully passed and shared and chocolate mousse for dessert.

Next morning, we had breakfast in our little apartment while listening to the rain.  When the rain stopped we strolled around admiring art work and taking a few more pictures of little scenes. 

I couldn't imagine living here, but the town has great visual appeal.

And it has ancient olive trees.  

The weather was not improving and shops were closing. It was time to drive back to Rovinj. We turned in the rental car and walked to Mario's for dinner.  

They are the folks with the great doggy bags. All of your leftover fish, bread, and a half liter of white wine in a water bottle.  I can tell you that the next day, the fish flavored up some creamy risotto, the bread got toasted, and the wine made it all better.

What's for dinner at your house?