Motovun and Opatija

I didn’t get a chance yesterday to catch up on the news about the London Bridge attacks. The scale of the attacks, the location and the fact that the perpetrators lived amongst us made for chilling reading as I scanned the news this morning. The speed with which the police marksmen were able to contain the attacks was also pretty impressive even though within that short eight minutes the attackers managed to kill seven people and injure countless others. The third such attack in so many months. I wonder what these assailants hope to achieve by wreaking havoc and how much hatred must they harbour to do such evil deeds. It shows that Croatia is now a much more safer place for tourists than many of the major cities in Europe.

Our coach arrived on time to pick us up. We visited towns in the Istrian peninsula today. The first stop was Motovun, a medieval walled hilltop village. As I walk up the slope to reach the entrance to the village, the views reminded me of my trip to a similar town in Tuscany. The forests surrounding Motovun is famous for truffles and the vineyards also produce some good quality wines. Every year in July an international film festival is held in Motovun. Our tour guide told us about the legend of the giants of Motovun as he took us around the village. We were then treated to a wine and truffle tasting session in one of the local restaurants. A truffle is a fungus which grows underground and is an expensive delicacy. I have heard and read much about it, but have never tasted it. It was served today as shavings on top of an egg dish, along with bread and cheese. This was followed by dessert as well. This was the first time we have had a tasting session which ended up as a full meal and a delicious one at that.

We stopped at Moscenicka Draga, another small town, on our way to Opatija. Both are towns on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The beach is a pebbled one and so has been concreted over. As we walk along the sea front, the guide points out the important landmarks. In the olden days it used to be a fashionable place to visit. Chekhov used to be a visitor and his bust adorns the city along with other statues like the ‘Girl with the seagull’ and that of the ballerina, Isadora Duncan. The sun was at its peak by this point and luckily the church door was open. A sixteenth century Roman Catholic Church with its cool and dark interior was a welcome relief and we took this opportunity to sit and admire the interior artwork. The last stop was Villa Angiolina, one of the first tourist resorts in Opatija. It is now a tourism museum with a garden surrounding it. Many of the trees in the garden were planted by it’s then owner Ignio Scarpa in the 1800s.

An hour break for a cold drink and rest later we were on our way back to the hotel. Once again there was no time to take a dip in the sea before dinner. That will have to wait till Thursday I think.

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