Month: July 2016

Pula, Plitvice and thank God for Rijeka!

We had been waiting patiently for this. Holidays of late had been to visit family and this time we decided to throw caution to the wind and conquer another country. There were going to be a lot of firsts for us. We decided to try Norwegian Airways and got our return tickets for really cheap – GBP 58.00 return per person! No, not a typo – just amazing. They were also no delays (so not the Easyjet experience) and free wifi on board. Yes, the plane interior was not the best, old and on our return flight, what looked like porridge splattered on the side next to the window seat but hey, the journey lasted a total of about 2 hours and I wasn’t bothered. I mean, what’s a little crusty old food when you paid to get to a whole new country for the price of a train ticket? The captain was polite, informative and professional so seeing as he was taking me there, that was high on my priority list.

We hired a car. Another first. We were spending three nights in Pula at a plush apartment which we rented. Our accommodation, housed in an old historical building along with the street leading to it, was impressive. As we passed by using our GPS navigating the way, those houses spoke to me, each screaming out at me different anecdotes from their past. The friendly lady who owned the premise showed us in. She spent a lot of time explaining things about the town and how, because we had a car, we should explore further out and she gave us lots of ammunition for the days to come. We were both appreciative and excited.

First thing I wanted to do was check out the beaches. Just to have look so we could pick and choose where we would spend our second day lounging and taking some sun into our cheeks. God knows we needed it after having London to contend with for almost three years. I needed that Vitamin D! We got in our car and drove out for about 10 minutes to the beach we knew was there, close by.

Beach Hawaii was a sad sight. Now, I knew why they took the picture from that angle. Approximately 80 meters of white pebbles and although the water it led to was shimmering shades of blue, the little stretch was filled to the brim. Along the coast, there were lots of big boulders and rocks that people positioned themselves on so they could both sunbathe and plunge into the sea. There was wind and as a result, some currents and waves beating against the rocks. We did the math. New to this place + not used to the current and rocks + general disappointment = not happening. I did have a momentary relapse and decided to try convincing ‘husband’ that it was worth a try until he painted a picture for me. Of my head hitting against one of those big sharp rocks on Day 1 of our Croatian adventure.

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An ATM machine on the door which I found unique

We decided to explore the town on foot so we parked the car back at the apartment and made our way in. Although we expected to see a lot more buzz, it was a pleasant and calm walk. Once in the center, the pace became livelier. We decided on trying some local baked goods and pastries. Croatians know how to make coffee. Everywhere we went, wherever we ordered from, the coffee was fantastic. The people of Pula were a mixed breed. They seemed to not really want us around and even the waitress at the cafe seemed condescending, as if she was bothered by us in some way. There was eye rolling and what seemed like sarcasm when we tried to engage with her. It was at that point, we decided that we would keep any interaction to a minimum. I think it is important to note here that on all our travels, both my husband and I were sociable and we liked speaking to the locals. Never intrusive but just for the purpose of a cultural exchange or learning more about our surroundings. In Pula, we retreated to our space and avoided talking with any of them unless we had to. The nicest people we met there was the owner of our apartment, a young girl at the ice-cream parlour and the taxi driver that took us back to our haven.

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Gladiator Arena

The amphitheatre or arena in Pula was the attraction. I could imagine the Gladiators as I stood right next to the gates and underpasses where they would be waiting to meet their fate. My mind and φαντασία (fantasia) took a stroll and I wondered about them and their families. How many of them ever really made it out of there? Were there stooges and inexperienced young men and women? I could taste the fear and cruelty that must have occurred right there at that very spot. It made me melancholic. We didn’t stay to watch the orchestra although I am sure the acoustics would have been amazing. Knowing me, I would have heard screams and cries blended in with it.

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Risotto with scampi…yum

Over the next two nights, we would explore Croatian cuisine which is very similar to Italian. We ventured out to Rovinj, in particular, a wonderful restaurant called La Perla where we felt very welcomed. The owner was all smiles and whenever he spoke to my husband, he touched his back warmly. The service was excellent too and the food sumptuous and delicious. Some of the best risotto I have ever tasted.

We also visited Farabuto in Pula on our last night there and this left us feeling good because the proprietors of this family owned restaurant were definitely people who had exposure and a little more sophistication in their approach and handling of their guests. The fish soup…mama mia…to die for!

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Croatian Beer

Next stop…Plitvice. A three hour or so drive from Pula. We stayed at a typical Croatian cottage the first night but because it was dusty and my sinuses were doing the fandango, we left and found a hotel about 30 minutes away for our second night. From here, we visited the Plitvice Lakes which we paid GBP 40.00 to see.

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Plitvice Waterfalls

Was it beautiful? Hell yeah. Could we swim in the lakes on that hot summers day? No. They were a UNESCO protected site and us humans would have just messed the balance of everything with our rubbish left everywhere, tanning oils and the like. I didn’t think that the price was fair. Only because everyone should be able to visit. What about those who cannot afford that? It was only the next day in Rijeka, that I learnt from a nice man whilst lounging by the sea, that if we had driven 20 minutes in another direction from the lakes, we would have crossed over into Bosnia and there we could see waterfalls and lakes just like those of Plitvice, for free. To top it off, swimming was permitted. He also told us that drinking a beer in Bosnia was as cheap as two Kuna! Just to give you a comparison – they were an average of 25 Kuna in Croatia.

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Plitvice Lakes

Arriving in Rijeka was a great choice! We loved the place and the people. The town was much bigger than the likes of Pula but it wasn’t that. It was the whole vibe of the place with its quaint restaurants and superb food plus service, pretty squares and architecture. I loved the doors and stone walls. This was a place I could see myself visiting again for a long laid back weekend. The hotel itself was a lovely place to stay because it gave us the sea as our own private swimming pool. We literally walked down a set of steps and there were sun chairs and umbrellas on one side and then steps leading into the ocean. This made up for all those days without having our time in the Adriatic sea.

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The full moon view from our balcony

As if the universe was rewarding us, we got to sit by a full moon on our first night there and be greeted by a huge fish in the middle of the ocean that came to the surface twice and went back under. It was so exciting because it was like it could feel us and we could feel it.

That’s why I love journeys into the unknown because you never really know what you are going to get and it really becomes an exploration. Enjoying the experience with one of my partners in crime is a bonus of course because nothing would have been the same without him. Even if we couldn’t relate to our surroundings all the time, we at least had each other. Rijeka was the icing on our cake and besides eating and drinking Malvazia wine, all we did was to take in the rays, feel immense gratitude and dive deep into the big brilliant blue.

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Our balcony into the sea

Shared Journeys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Browsing and Blogging

I took a walk today and visited some of the blogs that I follow. Many inspired me, just to see how much they have grown and developed. Reading and catching up was fun. I was surprised however, to find that some of my favourite blogs have not posted since December last year. I don’t know why I was so surprised because I myself have been busy with life and not bothered with my blog for a while. I know how I got caught up and I know how my thoughts were often with this blog even if I didn’t act on it. I can only hope that they will return and I will get to read more about their adventures and reconnect. Somehow, it matters to me that they do. I liken it to seeing an old friend after a while of not being in touch. I look forward to it.

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Next week, I start a new job. Something I sought out for myself because I wasn’t happy where I was after almost two years. It was crushing at first because I thought of my current company as family and would have happily stayed with them for the rest of my working career but then when the going gets tough, I have always found that true colours in people and the environment around me shine bright and its up to me to see the signs for what they are. I fought and resisted these hints from the universe for a long while because I so wanted it to work but I was only fooling myself.

What you resists, persists.

I know it but yet many a time, I find myself resisting. Some times I catch it faster than others and I have the courage to face it and move towards another direction but other times, I keep up the fight and hit against brick walls, coming out with bruises and cuts. The good thing is, even if I am no Wolverine, eventually they heal and I get wiser and stronger and when I am on the other side, I always ask myself “What were you thinking?” It’s always easier in hindsight isn’t it? After all, I then had all the information and evidence I needed to see clearer and be smarter. I am making a mental note right now to remember this next time my 11-year-old daughter tells me that she needs a phone and that I just don’t understand. I must try to be less condescending and relate to her more. Perhaps, through listening, I will get through to her that life will go on and that it may be that we don’t get her entirely but that there are more principled and better ways to get what she wants.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Internal Posts, Jane the Virgin and Oscar

It has been a longer time than my last disappearance and trust me, there were tons of posts that I made in the imprint of my mind. I have a few random notes here and there when inspiration hit and I was busy doing other things. Still, I am here because as much as life and the rat race has taken over along with all its pressures and predicaments – my ethereal self has been here, posting. In fact, it was up to her, there would be a post at least every night before bed because even though I had a fit about two years ago and decided to destroy all my diaries, ones that I kept from the age of ten, I do consider this blog a catharsis and process so pertinent to my journey. So the question arises then, “Why after neglecting it for so long…why now, have I suddenly returned?”

Funnily enough, it wasn’t a profound moment or deep and meaningful book. It was Jane the Virgin. She inspired me. Not the plot or simple and funny telenovela storyline but more the visual of her in front of her unbranded computer tapping away and creating  her romance novels and thesis or essays. Somehow that started the ball rolling. I suppose it helped that I did a binge watch and finished two seasons in four days. The image was drilled into me. That’s 44 episodes by the way! Granted, they were approximately 40 minutes each but that in total is 1760 minutes in total. That’s about 29.3333333 hours. That’s more than a whole day of watching episodes. Yes, I have just come back from holiday and I have had a few days to myself and instead of doing something life changing and fruitful – I decided to take on Jane the Virgin. I thought to myself, if I could do that and watch a television character and a fellow writer, with all of what she had going on in her life, what wth being an artifically inseminated virgin, constantly dealing with drama, crime lords, sabotage, romance and whilst waitressing, studying and being a mother as well – I figured that I could take a little time out of my life to do what I love doing. I owe it to myself. After all, I spent more than 24 hours doing jack all.

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The thing is, as much as I make fun of it, jokes aside…I really believe that everything happens for a reason and the combination of Jane and Oscar brought me back here. Oscar who? My chiropractor. At least he just became my chiropractor yesterday. It was my first session ever and my God! In a matter of a few minutes and after a little spine and neck manipulation (at least that’s what I call it) – my posture went from zero to hero. He pushed and cracked away and the tension that I have felt in my neck and shoulders for years, just lifted off me like he was some magical healer. He also asked me questions about my life and thoughts as he did his thing. He noticed things that specialist doctors and medical doctors have never asked me. He got me thinking about how my mind and stress have created physical reactions in my body and health. I am actually looking forward to my next session in three weeks. A chiropractor beats a dentist anytime. They rock! So does quirky Jane, that gorgeous baby of hers named Matteo and her crazy nutty familia.