Lovely Opatija

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June 25th 2017
Published: July 16th 2017
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I am looking out my window at an expanse of the beautiful Adriatic Sea. How I was lucky enough to get such a fantastic view of the Adriatic from my room is a mystery, but I am so thankful for it. Flat and calm, reflecting the variably cloudy sky, a few pleasure boats are scattered here and there on this calm, early Sunday morning. I've already been on a walk along the Lungomare, a mostly paved promenade that stretches for miles alongside this part of the Adriatic, connecting little resort seaside towns. At first my walk was peaceful and quiet, but as I strolled along, enjoying the gorgeous views, more and more people appeared and music began to be broadcast from the many hotels along this route. I prefer quiet, especially when most others' choice of music is not compatible with contemplative musings. And as the sun rose higher, it began to get hot. So I turned back and meandered through a few of the many parks here in Opatija, back to our hotel and my beautiful window scene.

We arrived late yesterday afternoon, after a long bus ride along narrow serpentine roads, travelling from the Plitvice Lakes National Park. Croatia is blessed with many jewels, and the Plitvice Lakes NP, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, definitely ranks among the top on the list. There we walked a short loop on the upper lakes; after a very short ride across a pretty lake on a passenger ferry boat we were free to explore this part of the park at our own pace. Unused to travelling in a group almost 24/7, I headed off, outpacing the others, and immediately felt at home among the trees. At first there were few people on the path, and I enjoyed walking through the forests, delighting in the stunning turquoise colors of the lake waters, marvelling at the structure of the old wooden steps, built with just enough clearance for rushing streams to pass underneath. The cascades and waterfalls are magnificent! People were now crowding the narrow trails, but seeing so many waterfalls all starting from one area (I counted 14 from one point), and the path winding closer and closer until we were just across from the cacades and could feel their splashing mist, it was a joy to be there even among the growing crowds. I would have preferred solitude, of course, as people get so enraptured by watching such beauty (and photographing it) that they forget they are blocking others who are sharing the same trails, who also wish to enjoy what they are witnessing. Lack of serenity aside, I could have spent several happy days walking in this park, exploring and delighting in this magnificence. Plitvice Lakes National Park is a treasure.

Opatija itself is a busy little gem. A resort town nestled on the Adriatic, you can walk past its stores in a few minutes, or you can spend time walking by the sea, or swimming off the docks. I found a few beaches, hidden in coves, and many seaside restaurants. We ate at the yacht club one night; the food was fine but I cannot recommend their house wine. Opatija is located in western Croatia on the Istrian peninsula, on the Kvarner Gulf, on the incredibly stunning Adriatic coast. It has been a seaside vacation resort for well over a century, but I am only learning of it now. One of its symbols is the Maiden With the Seagull, a lovely airy sculpture situated on a promontory along part of the Lungomare. Opatija has many little parks holding several sculptures; it is a delight to meander through these refreshing islands of greenery, stopping to admire or question these works of art. I had planned on swimming in the Adriatic here, but the heat of our first busy day vanished in torrential downpours on the second, dropping the temperatures 20 degrees F in an hour, leaving the air clean and dry, the sky adorned with an enormous rainbow. There was no question of my swimming in less than very hot weather, so a few of us took off our sandals and kicked our feet in the water, ankles deep immersed in the Adriatic.


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