So I have this can of cinnamon…

hvar-croatia

I bought a can of cinnamon at Trader Joe’s a year or two ago. The brand name is Szedeg and there’s a small drawing of an ancient church on the can. That’s the only clue of where or what Szedeg is. Where in the world is Szedeg?

Googling led me to a travel website on which I could lose an entire day. Although I don’t have time to write posts and edit photos now (11 days until this election is history!) I wanted to take time to share this with you.

The site is Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel for 2017.” http://www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel. It turns out that Szedeg is the third largest city in Hungary and that Lonely Planet recommends it as a “best place to visit.” I’m game!

Lonely Planet publishes excellent travel guides covering the world. Their website is deep and deeply helpful. The British version of Lonely Planet Magazine is my favorite travel mag. Recently LP began a new American version of that magazine that costs less in North America than the British version. It may be more focused on places of interest to us. You can find both of these at Books-a-Million and at many other bookstores. Or just read about these lovely places online and dream!

Did you vote yet?

Libbie

The photo at the top of this post is of the harbor at Hvar, Croatia, a place listed in the list of Best in Travel for 2017.

 

 

Rovinj, Croatia

Rovinj-passage

Nothing much has changed recently in the old town section of Rovinj. The latest buildings appear to date from the 1600s. One time I arrived on the magnificent Royal Clipper, approaching the city from the northern Adriatic in the early morning light. The tall tower of Saint Euphemia’s church stands in the center of the village, where it’s provided guidance to sailors for centuries. There’s no automobile traffic in the old town, where streets are paved with cobbles and are frequently too narrow to allow for anything wider than motor scooters and pedestrians. Pleasant cafés and small shops depend on tourists. It’s possible to rent an apartment in this section of Rovinj and I’ve recently done that. I look forward to returning for a longer stay in 2016.

Pictures are definitely better than my words for giving you a taste of Rovinj. I hope you’ll enjoy these.

Rovinj-view

Upon entering Rovinj we were drawn, as if by a magnet, to the proud old St. Euphemia’s church.

Rovinj-street

From the church we wandered through the old streets toward the center of the village.

Rovinj-market-2

I was drawn to the morning market, as I am in any village, town or city I visit.

Rovinj-street-2

A typical narrow street with laundry flying overhead.

Rovinj-entry

The entrance to some proud homeowner’s well-loved home.

Rovinj-passage-2

An art gallery in a passageway between ancient buildings.

Royal-Clipper

Too soon it was time to reboard the Royal Clipper to continue our cruise on the world’s largest clipper ship.

Have you been to Rovinj? To Croatia? Or do you have questions about going there? If so, I hope you’ll use the Comments section here to share your experience or to inquire.

Returning to Croatia

Rovinj-morning

My plans for my upcoming long journey around Europe include a tour of Croatia’s coastal villages and islands using ferries and buses. This will be my fourth trip there so I’m aware of how charming and historic these islands are. Some of them were settled by Greeks as early as 500 BC. Croatia was controlled by the Venetians for hundreds of years and their imprint can be seen in the architecture of even the smallest village.

croatia_map

Here’s a map of Croatia which shows its peculiar shape and its long northern Adriatic coastline. It’s been my dream for several years to spend weeks traveling from North to South along the coast of Croatia using the ferry system. Previously, when I tried to plan such a trip using the popular online ferry booking sites I couldn’t seem to find the connections I needed in the northern part of the country. Then I read this blog entry and discovered just how easily and inexpensively this could be done.

The ferry system linking the islands to one another and to the mainland is much more extensive than my earlier web search revealed and the cost is very low. In addition I’ve discovered that buses are a readily-available source of transportation which is helpful because railroads rare on the Croatian coast. I’m using AirBnB and other apartment booking sites to arrange my stays. I’ll be there in June so I’m not getting the lowest rates but I’m also not paying peak season July and August prices. I’m not going to Split or Dubrovnik because my previous visits there were disappointing: too many tourists and recently prices have become astronomical. Instead I’ll visit Istria, a triangular peninsula in the north of the country and several islands in the Adriatic. I’m really excited about these plans. Stick with me and my blog until June for frequent reports!

The photo at the top of this page was taken from the deck of the magnificent Royal Clipper upon entering Rovinj, Croatia

Resources:

This is a very helpful site for those interested in Croatia – even if you won’t be going there soon: http://www.chasingthedonkey.com/

This is the link to the post I found that convinced me to find a way to make my Croatia dream trip happen – and made it easy too! http://www.chasingthedonkey.com/how-to-create-your-dream-croatia-island-hopping-itinerary/

And this is the blog of the couple who wrote the guest blog entry on Chasing the Donkey that inspired me. http://forgetsomeday.com/travel/croatia/

One of the most helpful sites for complete information about travel to Croatia is http://www.visit-croatia.co.uk/. It includes extensive information about using ferries and buses there. (http://www.visit-croatia.co.uk/index.php/travelling-around-croatia/bus-travel-in-croatia/)

Losinj Croatia

Veli Losinj

Veli Losinj

“Croatia’s best-kept secret: The tiny island of Losinj is big on wellness, secluded beaches and tranquil fishing villages.” This headline from the British online newspaper, The Mail, describes one of the islands I’ll be visiting while on my upcoming Star Clipper cruise. I’m excited about exploring Losinj!

Later this month I’ll be sailing into Losinj on a clipper ship and I’ll enjoy a day of exploring several of the small villages on the island. Venetian in character (in keeping with the history of Croatia) these little known places draw more vacationers each year. Fishing villages for centuries (and today), the principle towns called Mali Losinj and Veli Losinj also showcase the homes of wealthy 19th century ship captains and the villas of Austrian aristocrats who discovered the charms of these islands long ago.

Some of today’s visitors arrive in their yachts. Others rent apartments and villas for their summer vacations and enjoy the long white sand and pebble beaches that outline the island. Veli Zal is a blue flag beach near Mail Losinj that may be the site of the last beach day of summer 2014 for some in our group. As the Mail article states, the island is “littered” with spas. In Veli Losinj the old church tower dating from 1445 now houses a museum and art gallery. Another gallery can be found in the former church of Our Lady of the Angels which was built in 1510. I’ve learned about one or two restaurants worth searching out. Discovering these small communities is indeed something I look forward to.

Resources:

The article quoted above in the Mail Online provides interesting information about Losinj.

Find a gallery of gorgeous pictures here. And for dozens more go to images.google.com and search for “Losinj.”

The website of the official tourist office for Losinj is helpful.

There are several online agencies on the island managing vacation rental cottages and apartments and offering other services to visitor. These include Puntarka Travel Agency (this site contains much information about Losinj) and www.losinj-croatia.com/.

Korcula Croatia

Korcula Croatia

Sailing into Korcula Croatia

Sailing into the medieval town of Korcula on an island of the same name in the Adriatic,  it’s easy to believe that we’re sailing back in time. The island appears to be little changed from the time of Marco Polo, said to have been born here in the year 1254. Still guarded by its walls and turrets, the small village (population under 3,000) is built entirely of stone, laced by narrow passageways where laundry flies like flags overhead.

When I was there I was particularly fascinated by the carved edifice of the small cathedral. Built around 1300 AD, there are almost-obscene sculptures of Adam and Eve along with a very fanciful carved elephant, a crocodile, a winged dragon, gargoyles and monsters.

I’m returning to Korcula soon.  Perhaps this time I’ll wander outside the village, exploring the island during our long port call.  Or I may just spend the day wandering through the passages with camera in hand.  There will be time to return for lunch at a small restaurant on the edge of the island called Jelovnik for the freshest fish, Croatian potato salad, delightful local wine.  Again I’ll dine outdoors, over looking the blue Adriatic.

Resources:

One of my favorite blogs is written by an Australian ex-pat who now lives in Croatia. She calls her blog Chasing the Donkey and calls herself “Mrs. Donkey.” Find her most interesting blog by clicking here.  The link will take you directly to her page of Croatian language help.

Lots of good info here: http://www.korculainfo.com/

This government tourist agency site has gorgeous pictures: http://www.visitkorcula.eu/#

A newly introduced ferry service runs twice a week, May to October, between Split – Milna – Hvar – Korcula – Dubrovnik. click here to check timetable and prices

Sadly we’ll miss the Korkyra Baroque Festival, a recently-established international music festival. Now in its third year, it will run in Korcula from 6-12 September 2014. (English information here)