Travel

Eat, hike, love Croatian style

Eat, hike, love Croatian style

This past September, I found myself in Croatia. Rovinji, to be more specific. Perfectly placed in suitably heart-shaped Istria, Rovinji hugs the Adriatic Sea. Previously seduced by Croatia’s beauty, I had a different plan for this trip. I was going to assimilate into the culture and scratch the surface of the gorgeous scenery.

hotelangelodoroboutique

I loved waking up and strolling into Old Town to sit with my cappuccino and ponder. I swear Croatia has the best coffee! I was fortunate enough to have @Hotel_angelo_doro host my stay and could not have asked for a better location – right in town. The hotel is convenient for shopping in the charming boutiques and dining at the best places that line the lanes and cobblestone streets. A first for me was to try one of their apartments. I’ve always hesitated with this because I like the accessibility of calling someone when I needed something. But this trip was about experiencing the real Croatia and living like a native. An apartment was the best way to absorb the local culture.

The following week, my new Rovinji home was at the Lone Hotel, on the other side of Old Town. Hotel Angelo Doro’s hospitality provided the transportation, a 10-minute golf cart ride as the streets, lanes, and alleyways were not planned for modern cars, as is the case for many cobblestone roads.

lonehotel

Lone Hotel is gorgeous and surrounded by greenery and has a turquoise swimming pool. It’s also family and pet friendly. There’s even a “kids club” and a playground. (I’d give it a 100-Star rating but travel industry standards dictate 5-Star as the highest.) I rented a bike for a little discovering on my own and found a white rock beach with tower-like sculptures of stone, or maybe more pyramid in style, covering the beach. Very intriguing.

eathikelovecroatianstylelunchview

I was back on my bike for more exploring when seduced by a secluded restaurant with this view. The composition of the clouds, the wave lapping the jetty, and the greenery in the background can’t be beat. [Sigh.]

Sometimes, it is great to explore and hustle and try for the #PhotoOfTheDay. This time, though, I opted to slow down, just be a local, and enjoy the sun, the breeze and the local cuisine. I did manage to engage in my favorite activities: boutique shopping and unforgettable dining experiences.

The Lone Hotel’s sister accommodation, the Hotel Monte Mulini, treated me to an unforgettable meal at their Wine Vault Restaurant, where gastronomy and art converge. The gastronomy part is a blend of traditional French cooking. The vault part is more than 550 wine labels under a single roof! The wines are from Croatia and all over the world. The Wine Vault Restaurant is not a drop-in kind of place, so call ahead.

After leaving Rovinj, I hiked across Croatia, starting in Pag. This was off the map! Literally. As in there was no map. I couldn’t have done it without @RoyalCroatianTours blazing the trail for me. Picture a jagged and rocky coastline. Now picture that covering the landscape far and wide. That was me hiking. All rocks, no path. But it was happy trails to me as @royalcroatiantours guides offer the perfect personalized touch of luxury to being in the great outdoors. For the next four days, we hiked everyday for 8+ hours. I couldn’t feel my legs by the second day, and the same with the third and fourth days.

On the hike at National Park, Paklenica, a surprise lunch was waiting for us on the top of the mountain. The menu was Peka, a style of Croatian cooking. A heavy pot with a domed lid is set in and covered with burning charcoal. It was a very special meal with @royalcroatiantours making the hike a very special occasion.

All the leg pain was worth it because I have beautiful images, videos, and fond memories of my time with my hiking friends. I love how our guide pushed me to go out of my comfort zone.  Yes, I wanted the pretty view and pictures, but I had to work for it. Thanks for challenging me. And thanks for the generous touch: @royalcroatiantours sent me a driver to my next destination.

royalcroatiantours

I parted my hiking friends and stayed in Zadar, my last Croatian stop.  The perfect home-away-from-home was with @hotelbastionzadar, whose staff was my family for the next five days. What did we talk about? We talked about social media, the United States, and Zadar, of course. Hotel Bastion Zadar was perfectly situated in town. Here I slowed down to take in the scenery and to get to know the locals and the town.

What I treasured about this trip was slowing down and not chasing stories and photos as much as I have in past years. I let the photo opportunity and stories come to me to percolate. Sometimes you need to slow down if you want to really absorb it all in.

I also had ample opportunity to reflect upon my Croatian crush. I will savor the memory and yearn for my return.

 

16 November 2016

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