Unique Travel Destination- Opatija, Croatia's Kvarner Region
I woke up to find a new email in my inbox, that was back in March, saying that I had won an award for the coverage of a Dubrovnik in Winter, you can read it here. In the beginning, I didn't even believe it, and it took a couple of hours to sink in and to actually feel the gratitude and the excitement. I was invited to the Golden Pen Award Ceremony by the Croatian National Tourist Board in May, which was taking place on the island of Losinj- the island of vitality. I packed my bag and went to the island of exceptional beauty, food, and aromas!
But first, we got to explore Opatija Riviera, I vividly remember the long evening stroll along the Lungomare seafront. The soft warm light, the breeze from the sea and the blossoming trees with the delightful aromas make this place so special. You've got to see it for yourself!
WHAT TO SEE:
The Lungomare seafront promenade runs along the coast for 12km, from Volosko past Opatija and all the way to Lovran. Take a stroll in the evening when the sun is about to set. That's the time when the air gets a bit crisper and take a deep breath of the blossoming trees along the path- the delightful scents create an additional aromatherapy experience. My favorite spot along the promenade was the bench facing the sea and the jasmine tree behind, that was the most tranquil moment.
The Angiolina Park is the Central Park in Opatija. It covers almost 4 hectares and due to the mild climate, it is home to 159 plant species that are originated from the Far East, South America, Australia and other parts of the world. Thus, interestingly, the popular in the 19th century Japanese Camellia flower had become the distinctive symbol of Opatija, I mean just look at this bloom, it is the case where more is more and it is just fine.
St. Jacob’s Church is the oldest building in Opatija and it dates back to 15th century. As an architectural designer, I always seem to be finding the interest in the alterations and modifications of the buildings The building had been altered several times over the centuries and has very little of its original architecture and it is still in use today - besides prayers and masses, chamber concerts are also held here.
During the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, Opatija had been one of Europe's most important health resorts. Opatija soon became a favorite meeting place for the nobility. Kings and emperors - Franz Joseph and William II, the Queen of Romania Elisabeth who used to publish poems under the pseudonym of Carmen Sylva. Writers- A. P. Chekhov and James Joyce. The ballet dancer Isadora Duncan, and the composers Gustav Mahler and Giacomo Puccini - used to stay here. To see and be seen – this was the motto for those who came to Opatija. Thus Opatija has the most beautiful hotels and villas, hotel Kvarner being the very first hotel, built in the end of 19th century, and until this very day, it is the site of the most festive events and balls held in Opatija. Needless to say - I wish the contemporary hotels would look this cozy on the outside.
WHERE TO EAT:
A dinner in Villa Ariston- is the cherry on the cake while staying in the Opatija- the food, the views, the atmosphere is just outstanding and delicious! We were lucky with the sunset on that day- the sky and the horizon got dramatic shades of the purples and blues- it was just like a painting and it felt a little surreal to be standing there and admiring the view. The perfect ending to the day!
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The next day we made it to the island of Cres