Why I lost my heart in Rab

From Rovinj we drove the meandering coastal roads back to Rijeka. On the way we decided to spend some time exploring Velebit (the largest, but not the highest mountains in Croatia). We took a stunning drive as high as we could go and then proceeded to hike to the top. The view from the top is absolutely breathtaking! and you can actually see the islands off the coast of Croatia in the distance.

From Velebit we proceeded to take the ferry across the Adriatic Sea to the island of Rab, where the Gypsy’s mother and Grandmother live. The main town is beautiful and old and charming. Most of the town is not accessible by car, the homes are ancient and most of the town is protected by the National Heritage Council (i.e. if you want to do any home renovations or maintenance you have to get their permission first).

The island is mostly known for the old town of the same name, encircled by ancient walls. The town’s 4 church bell towers include the tower at the Cathedral Svete Marije (St. Mary) and the tower at the ruins of Sveti Ivan Church (St. John the Evangelist). The monastery at the 16th-century Church of St. Justine (Crkva Svete Justine) is now a museum of sacral objects.

The Adriatic sea does not have beaches like the ones we know in SA. There is no sand, but rather a variety of rocks and cement walkways. There are no waves and it’s much like swimming in a gigantic pool for the most part:) I also found the water to be extremely salty and as a result you can quite literally just kinda float around without even trying. It’s quite heavenly really and honestly I prefer this to our sandy beaches and brain scrambling waves when it comes to swimming.

 

While on Rab we explored several other areas on the island including Frkanj, which was probably my favourite. The area is marked by small, private beaches, beautiful rock formations and forests. We spent a good few days of our time on Rab exploring different areas along Frankj.

The Gypsy had been visiting nearly every year and shyly took me to a tree where he had carved our initials the previous year, shortly after we had started dating. He already knew at that point that it was forever….this guy though <3.

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We also visited Lopar, which actually has sandy beaches. To my knowledge these are however man-made.

On one of the days we decided to cycle through the reserve on Rab. We rented bicycles from the hotel in Rab and cycled a total of 25km (12.5 each way). It was probably one of the most beautiful cycling trips in my entire life and we were rewarded with incredible views and a swim in the sea at the halfway mark.

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I was also introduced to a lovely old man called Bogdan, who doesn’t speak a word of english, but is loosely related to the Gypsy’s family. This old man honestly put us all to shame. He’s well over 80 years old, still dives to more than 12m without any gear to catch octopus, fish and to collect shells and stones for his artwork and swims at least 5km each morning. He was kind enough to take us out deeper into the sea away from all the people to go swim and relax a few times and gifted us with a beautiful watercolour painting inspired by the island (which is now proudly hanging in our home).

Rab has quite a unique charm and, apart from the fact that our family lives there, we will definitely be returning this year because it’s simply one of the most beautiful places on earth. The people are amazing and friendly, the roman ruins are incredible and there are views for days no matter where you go.

After a stunning week and a half of relaxing, exploring, swimming and sunbathing we hit the road in our trusty little rental back to Belgrade. It was a long drive, but the border post is lovely…it’s quite literally like going through a drive through or a toll gate in SA. You waste the minimum amount of time and the immigration officers are super friendly. Then it was time to fly back to SA and as usual it’s always great to be home:) And who knew that less than 6 months later we’d be engaged and married six months after that?! It’s been a rollercoaster, but it’s been amazing and I look forward going back there with my husband this year:)

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Exploring Rovinj

After visiting Fruška Gora we returned to Belgrade for a few days to explore a bit more, do laundry and pack for our trip to Croatia. We then hit the long road traveling through Zagreb and Rijeka until we finally got to Rovinj.

Rovinj is a Croatian fishing port and truly the most charming little town. The old town stands on a headland, with houses tightly crowded down to the seafront. A tangle of cobbled streets leads to the hilltop church of St. Euphemia, whose towering steeple dominates the skyline. It is a breathtaking view (especially at sunset) and you can’t help but feel romantic and sentimental and relaxed and happy all at the same time.

We spent hours exploring the old town and made our way to the hilltop to St. Euphemia at sunset. It was BEAUTIFUL to say the least. There were a number of visitors, but I think my favourite thing was the casual musician entertaining us with soft guitar music as the sun gently set over the water.

We managed to enjoy an amazing dinner in a little restaurant over the water and the food was quite spectacular. As always…fish is served including heads and scales and everything (a new experience on this trip for this little South African) but it was spectacularly prepared and worth the “eeeeuw”-factor. Also…piiiiiizzzzzaaaa and lemon beer were a firm favourite!

During our stay we also ventured a visit to a charming nearby town called Pula. Pula is a seafront city on the tip of Croatia’s Peninsula and is known for its protected harbor, beach-lined coast and Roman ruins. The Roman ruins being one of the main reasons we decided to visit this quiet little town. Did you know that amongst these ruins is a Colosseum?! Much smaller of course than the one in Rome, but impressive nonetheless and definitely worth a visit! And of course we consumed our bodyweight in Burek and Lemon beer to fight the hunger and heat.

Dear 2017…

I feel like a walking, talking cliché whenever I write posts like these. Currently everyone is furiously writing (or wrote, if you’re an over achiever) a post about the year that was. But the fact is: I enjoy writing them. They remind me of what I’ve been through this year and what I’ve achieved. Sometimes I even remember about things that were significant which I completely forgot about…and it’s nice to spend some time thinking bout what I’ve done the last 12 months and to start the year on a clean slate.

So here is a summary of the year that was 2017:

  • Firstly, and I think most importantly as it was definitely the highlight of my year, I GOT ENGAGED! I can’t even begin to tell you how happy this made me and how excited I am to spend the rest of my life with my Gypsy. Wedding planning is currently in full swing in this house and everyone is getting in on the highly animated discussions about it.
  • During the past 12 months I spent more time out of the country than in it (literally). Countries visited and passed through this year include: USA, England (passed through), Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Kenya, Serbia, Croatia and the UAE (stop overs). My travels also included a few weeks in CT, but this is obviously not a different country (even though it feels like it sometimes).
  • I had the most amazing holiday traveling in Serbia and Croatia with my Gypsy. I explored so much and got to experience so much in his home countries…I can’t WAIT to go back. That place is incredible.
  • I had endless trouble with my MINI this year and had to fork out in excess of R50k in total in repairs and services….this was NOT so much fun.
  • As a result of the above I sold my darling little MINI after 6 wonderful years and bought a new car.
  • My darling nephews turned 2 and 5 respectively and my darling godson also turned 2.
  • I lost some friends (by choice) and made some amazing new ones.
  • Professionally I kicked ass (sadly there is very little I can elaborate here as a result of the nature of my job).
  • A bad guy got away (through no fault of ours) through public sector uselessness. I HATE it when the bad guys get away.
  • I saw Kilimanjaro (from an airplane…but still!)
  • I continued on my cycling journey (although not as much as I would have liked as constantly being out of the country was a bit of a challenge)
  • My dad’s best friend of 41 years passed away…he was pretty much family.
  • Mostly being out of the country meant that I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked with family and friends.
  • I bought a pastamaker and started making my own pasta. This might sound like something small and insignificant, but I’m pretty obsessed with the whole thing right now.
  • Got to see in the new year (2017) with my American tribe and my parents.
  • I started sewing again and made some beautiful things to wear.
  • Did I mention that I got engaged?

The list isn’t spectacularly long this year. Mostly because traveling so much for work made it hard. I know a lot of people had a really rough 2017 and honestly it wasn’t the easiest year. I faced a lot of professional and personal down times and being away from my people so much due to work related travel was hard. But overall it was a GOOD year and am unable to find any reasons to hold a grudge against 2017.

For those of you who had a rough 2017 I sincerely hope and pray that 2018 will be better. That you will be overwhelmed by blessings and adventures. For those of you that had a good 2017, I pray that you will have an even better 2018 and that the year will be filled with amazing things. Love and blessings and adventure. But most of all I hope that 2018 will be filled laughter and acceptance and people who bring out the best in each of you. Because we all deserve a little laughter.

Happy 2018 my lovelies!