Opatija, the Croatian Riviera
The day again starts with rain, but we have 150 miles to go and we settle in to enjoy the drive and the views. The surroundings become progressively lusher and more forested the further north we drive. The drive commences on a freeway that eventually curves eastward toward Zagreb. At that point we leave the freeway and head west towards the coast. One of the guys has brought along a CD of a comedian which helps to while away the time.
We reach Opatija at about 1pm, and drive our huge bus along the city waterfront with all the grand hotels to our lunch restaurant. Our driver gets huge applause after he negotiates through some very tight places and gets us to our hotel after lunch.
Opatija fronts the Gulf of Kvarner on the Istrian Peninsula, close to Italy. It has the most stunning coastal views in Croatia, backed as it is by Mt. Ucka, whose forested hills slope down to the sea. It was the most fashionable seaside resort town during the Hapsburgs Austro-Hungarian Empire. Kings and Queens, and notables from Isadora Duncan to Gustav Mahler, Puccini, Chekov, and many others hung out here in its heyday. It is delightful to see the once grand residences lining the seaside that are now converted into elegant hotels, ours among them.
Our afternoon is free to enjoy the town, and by 4pm everyone has disbursed in small groups to explore and enjoy coffee on the waterfront. I make sure everyone is settled, then nose about and take photographs on my own. I spy a couple of the guys having coffee at the Wagner Café, so I join them. Once again the weather has cooperated, and the partly cloudy skies add to the drama of my photos. As I post them, the nearly full moon is rising above the sea and shining into my hotel window. Sheer heaven! Enjoy the photos!