The Retirees go Abroad – Croatia – Opatija Riviera – Lovrana and Moscenice

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Friday and the weather is fine with not a cloud in the sky. Only a half day trip today. We will go to Lovrana and Moscenice. We took the small bus today mainly because of the number in the tour group.

Lovran is a town in Istria, Croatia. It is situated on the western coast of the Kvarner Bay. Its name derives from Laurel (Laurus nobilis), as shown in the coat of arms. Lovran is one of the oldest coastal settlements on the eastern shore of Istrian peninsula. By the early Middle Ages it was an important urban and shipbuilding centre of northern Adriatic. Following the sudden development of port towns in the vicinity (Trieste, Pula, and Rijeka) which became the new and dominant urban centres in the region, Lovran lost its significance.

However, by the mid-19th century, the area gained prominence as it becomes a fashionable resort of Austro-Hungarian nobility. The long tradition of tourism is still strongly felt in the Lovran region, and it forms the backbone of the economy. The region is rich with cultural-historical heritage. A parish church with medieval frescoes and Glagolitic inscriptions, and the 14th century tower of St George’s Square within the old urban core, as well as rural ambiances and architectural edifices – namely turn-of-the-century villas with surrounding parks, are general points of interest.

Lovran includes an old town that was once fortified and evidence of the fortification can be seen today. Beside the old watch tower is the church of St George first founded in the 12th century. Both front the old town square which includes Mustacon a wooden relief over the door of a house to protect the inhabitants from evil. Only one of the old town gates exists today and outside of the old town is St Trinity Chapel. There is also a very good coffee shop where we enjoyed an iced coffee – best choice for a hot day.

Mošćenice is a village in the municipality of Mošćenička Dragain Primorje-Gorski Kotar County on the Istrian peninsula, close to Opatija, Croatia. I thought I would give all you secretly Croatian types a chances to get your tongue around a few Croatian names.

It is a typical hilltop village with stone houses and narrow streets situated 173 metres above Mošćenička Draga. From Mošćenice one has a nice view across the Kvarner Gulf to Rijeka and the islands of Krk and Cres. The village is connected to the Mošćenička Draga by road and 750 steps which lead from St. Ivan beach to the centre of the village. Besides the old St. Andrew church, places of interest are the local ethnographic museum and an old olive extraction mill.

The town is typically built as a concentrically conceived settlement with outer walls consisting of houses whose outside walls function as walls of the fortress. In such an enclosed environment, space is precious and all houses are built close to one another, separated by narrow streets and sometimes linked by covered passages. Much of the medieval structure is still visible now.

Our tour starts at the loggia outside the village. Here the village council met and the court was convened and the markets were held. From there we went through the gate under the Austro Hapsburg Crest. The village relied on refining olive oil for most of its life. One of the oil crushing plants from 500 years ago still exits and we were able to visit this establishment.

The parish church of St Andrew Apostle is very intriguing. The resident priest visited us at the church to speak to us in Croatian whilst our local guide translated. The church has been operating on this site since 800AD has been restored many times and added to by Italian soldiers during WW2 with frescos and repainting. It includes the remaining pillars from the original 8th century church and some odd objects including a cross adorned with all the instruments of the crucifixion of Christ.

Then a visit to the local ethnographic museum in the old watch house. Here we found that there is a Scotsman everywhere. If you look closely at the feet of the shepherds coat there is the Croatian form of the bag pipes which our guide said predated the Scots and Irish and made more of a din. The other costume is the typical married woman’s attire. A yellow sash indicated an engaged woman and white sash – a virgin? Perhaps just still looking said our guide.

Back to the hotel and down to the beach. The water is warm said our guide. Bullshit – bloody freezing but still we climbed in and swam around for about 1/2 an hour in water variously 6 feet to 25 feet deep. Then we sat in the sun, and watched the boats go by, before touring more of Opatija visiting the fountain and then the Museum of Tourism located in the first villa built at Opatija in 1820s with its impressive gardens and its Swiss Cottage in the yard. We also passed the Mozart Hotel the prettiest villa on the coast.

And so ended Friday.

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