A Travellerspoint blog

The Beach

Ahhhhhhhh

semi-overcast 42 °C

It was up early this morning - yuck! There was a huge list of things that needed to be done in town this morning but I wanted to sleep in! My legs were sore (but a good sore) from yesterday's jaunts. Excellent exercise visiting these old hilltop towns. Today is the day to buy the washing machine and fridge. We waited till today because there was a special that if you bought items on Monday, 17% was taken off the price. What I find nice here as well is that the ticketed price includes the taxes. No hidden surprises ;0)

So after breakfast we headed to town to do what needed to be done. Why did I get up so early and agree to this? Simple - I wanted to go to the beach! I have been waiting to go almost since day one and now that day has arrived. I hope to go again before I leave but one never knows. Since we were not coming back home after shopping we had to wear our suits under our clothes and bring all the beach paraphanalia with us. We could do a quick stop at a WC before hitting the beach as where we were going was known only to locals and does not have amenities there.

We could have gone to one of the many public beaches, however, they are usually very crowded and many have fees to enter. Irma knew about this local beach about one hour away and it is tiny and fairly secluded. There are very rarely tourists there unless a local brings them there (like me ;0) - yet again ... I am a citizen of this country so that makes me a local too - lol.

The day was overcast in Brdo - meaning some white fluffy clouds making their presence known. I was hoping it would be different at the beach - it was! Practically nary a cloud in sight. As with most beaches along the coast - sand is rarely found. Stones and rock slabs make up the coastline - beaches included ;0)

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The view of the adriatic was stunning. The blue of the sky in contrast with the blue of the water with the silhouette of the mountain - ahhhh .... heaven. I used a different camera for the beach as this one could take pictures underwater. I did not take any this time, however, plan to if we go back again.

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Both Irma and I enjoyed a packed lunch we brought with us and once replete --- off to soak our sun warmed bodies. We each took turns going in the sea so we could watch each others belongings. There were not many people at the beach, however, we did not want to take any chances on our stuff disappearing. I think I counted the most at any given time was about twelve people - not bad eh? The water was crystal clear - as far out as I went. No matter where I looked down I could see everything to the bottom - mostly rocks though ;0)

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The salt water kept me afloat and after a swim it was hard to get my feet back down under the water - they kept wanting to pop up back to the surface - LOL. It was a challenge too walking on the stones of the beach and it is a very good idea to wear water shoes (which I luckily had) - otherwise sore feet would prevail ;0) Imagine the millions of years that the water tumbled these rocks into fine smooth specimens. Irma even found a small sample of green sea glass --- next time I will wander around a bit and search for some nice rocks to bring back home and maybe I too will be fortunate to stumble upon some sea glass. See how smooth these rocks are!

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Irma and I stayed only a short while as she had a slight headache. She wanted to stay as she loves the water as I do. Here at the beach was perfectly sunny and scorching. In the short time we were there I really added to my tan! I was sad to leave because as a sun worshipper I could have stayed there for at least another couple of hours. I really wanted to take underwater photos because I was anxious to see this little fuji underwater camera in action. Note to self: when out shopping the next time - buy eye goggles so that when I open my eyes underwater I can see more than a fog (due to the salt). Above water looking down = no problem and with goggles I will be able to see clearly underwater as well.

Now Brdo is only an hour away and although nice and hot and sunny at the beach, it was cloudy and overcast by the time we arrived home. We had filled up a couple of bottles of water with sea water so both Laura and my dad could benefit from its therapeutic use. And so ends another day --- with longing thoughts of returning hopefully once more to enjoy the warm hot rays on my body as well as experiencing the refreshing coolness of the sea. Maybe next time I will enjoy a hot stone therapy - lying bare backed on the sun baked stones and letting the heat penetrate to the deepest core of my body...

Posted by purplebaptisia 04:27 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Buzet & Hum

sunny 33 °C

Today is going to be a busy day and boy am I looking forward to it. We are going to visit not one but two places today (yay). Two old towns set upon hills and each with its own distinct vibe. It is very interesting to me how different they are - as you see the pictures pay attention to the cobblestones, the steepness (Hum was very steep - you need good walking shoes here otherwise you can slip - especially if damp).

In each place I could feel the energies of a time long gone by. To stand in the middle of the square and close my eyes and simply imagine the horses, people, market place etc was exhilerating. The streets, pathways and stairs along with everything else made me think of the hardships these people went through yet for them it was simply ... life!

As we traveled up the steep hills to these quaint towns, I wondered how these people made their way there and built the whole town without technology as we enjoy today. I truly was in awe and what struck me as well was how the old merged with the new. Not necessarily new buildings, although upkeep has been necessary to keep things from crumbling away (like our own house in Brdo). People still live in these places - Buzet offers a hotel and places to eat as does Hum and both have souvenir shops.

The beauty of the landscapes coming and going was awesome. The scenery from vantage points of both places offered spectacular views. No wonder they built on hills .... of course I'm sure the view was not what they were interested in ---- staving off attacking enemies from vantage points was the raison d'etre ;0) So join in with me as I explore these two towns that belong to the part of Croatia known as Istria (or Istra as the Italians say).

Buzet

This little town (pronounced Boozet) is known as the truffle-hunting center and has its own festival in september. Fall is usually the truffle (tartuf) hunting season (the white truffles that is - black truffles are being hunted as I write). Most people utilize dogs for this; in the past pigs were trained for the job. The problems with the pigs is that they enjoy the truffles (subterranean fungus) as much (if not more) than humans so it was always a challenge to dig them up before the pigs did (and ate them) - lol. Whether this is folklore or not I don't know but is interesting nevertheless. Laura prefers the white truffles (more delicate and not so overwhelming a taste she finds) and usually has declined the offering of the black ones that are hunted on the wooded areas of the family property.

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As you can see, the town was built on a hilltop as most villages are. Buzet is the second largest town in the Istrian interior. It is unfortunate that many old hilltop settlements slowly fall apart while the new population settle in the new towns below. As I mentioned - the old and the new.

Another example of the old and new is this building. It has been renovated and converted into a hotel ---- the facade is lovely. I did not think to go inside so only have to presume that it too has retained the charm of the old days yet with the convenience of modern upgrades. What I thought was a neat idea by the hotel was to use a cut out in the stone wall (which had the appearance of being (in the past as) a lookout post) and used the space to place a small table and chairs. The view from this vantage point was mesmerizing.

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We walked around and as it was Sunday we found ourselves in the throng of church followers exiting the service. Imagine this: cars parked in every conceivable space - the church emptying its dedicated followers, everyone crowding into this main square and noone being able to move - LOL. I stood back (what choice did I have - I was trapped) and watched this organized confused state work itself out somehow. Cars moved in all directions and people just stood around and moved only if a car came too close. Almost everyone was patient ---- a way of life every sunday. People talking outside the church, drivers trying to unpark their cars and make their way inch by agonizing inch to the exit - and there was only one way out. Not one soul was in a hurry. I was though ;0) I wanted to see this church - it was huge. Its opulance was easy to notice (not like our little church in Brdo - although for its size and dedicated patrons it had its own charm and cultural wealth contained within). The clock tower of Buzet was also impressive. I like taking pictures of the clock towers as I find these structures of major importance to each village and it is interesting to see how each town has designed it.

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It was so hot and sunny I was almost drenched before we were halfway through exploring this fine speciman of a town. I kept looking for spots of shade and nary a one could be found ;0( Okay then - a couple of pounds less I have to carry around on my body after the sauna experience of the day - lol. I'm glad for two things --- one is that my purse is really a slingback/backpack style and that leaves my hands free so I can easily keep sweeping away the sweat (errr - I guess perspiration is a better word befitting a lady) off my brow and second is that ever present bottle of water I keep in my purse. It was sooooooooo hard to not gulp the whole thing in one shot --- after all, I still had another town to visit after Buzet ;0)

After walking a while soaking in the beauty of the cobblestones and old buildings and reading plaques describing the different buildings and their usage in days gone by, we happened upon a souvenir shop (did you doubt it?)! The shop did not offer anything really unique (which is what I look for), however you could sample some different liqueurs and that was fun. What was nice was a small wall plaque outlining the shape of Istria with the main/important places hilited. Buzet is also known for the local area liqueur called Biska (mistletoe-flavoured brandy). They did have some in this shop however I did not want to buy such a huge bottle.

Right next to the shop was a small downward sloping entrance that led to a small interior section --- it looked more private so I did not venture forth, however, I was impressed with the width size .... sheesh - people were tiny back then ;0) It did open up once past the archway and I don't think there would have been a problem walking there as there weren't any signs indicating we couldn't. I'm not sure the picture will do justice to what I described.

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As we continued to explore and take in the vibe of this town - there were reminders everywhere that people still actually lived there and called the old hilltop town Buzet home! You could see electrical wires everywhere - a satellite dish or two and many clothes lines hung with freshly washed clothes and sheets. Locals were about doing their thing - one elderly lady had a cat attached to a leash and she was grooming it. It was difficult to take a picture that didn't have a car in it as they were parked in every conceivable space.
Here are a couple of pictures that show the quaintness of this town - sans voitures ;0)

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At some point we reached an archway that indicated we were in the east part of town. This archway is what remains of the medieval ramparts and you can see the staircase that leads to the top (now replete with apartments and thriving inhabitants) - boy they must enjoy the view each day (I know I would)!

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And this is the resounding beauty of what awaits on the other side of the ramparts - a most spectacular view of Mirna Valley. I would come to Buzet simply to take in this view = breathtaking ... I guess you can see I love nature - LOL. And this ends the tour of Buzet.

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Hum

1. Glagolitic Alley
There is a small but long road that leads into the hilltop (what else?) town of Hum. It goes through rolling pastures and houses practically in the middle of the roadway (after all, the houses were there first and the roads were paved where the orginal roads were built). Quite picturesque. This road is known as Glagolitic alley. Here is an example of the main concrete sculpture at the junction of the highway and this small road.

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Glago -what you ask? Ha - you have the same question I did. I hadn't a clue as to what this was so I did what I do best .... I looked it up! The tourbook I have has a great description. It is a type of script that goes back to the ninth century monks (Cyril & Methodius). They developed their own alphabet (to sound better phonetically) to translate the gospel into the slav language. In the long run it didn't catch on but was adopted by croatian priests by followers of the monks who brought it to the adriatic seaboard. Other followers brought it elsewhere and had been renamed Cyrllic (modified version of glagolitic) and is still used today in a few countries. Popes tolerated this new language versus alienating the adriatic clergy. Eventually this language became obscure but is enjoying a resurgence along the coast, however, more as a tourist appeal.

So now that you have a bit of history, I will show you what sculptures were present along the road leading to Hum. I did not buy a souvnenir book of the letters as it would have eventually collected dust as my enthusiasm wore off - so I cannot decipher what some of the sayings were and what the individual letters are. You can look it up on the internet if it intrigues you ;0) The only letter I know is the letter 's'- it looks very much like a mushroom .... oh the irony of it all - LOL. I DESPISE mushrooms ;0)

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2. The town:

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Hum (pronounced Hoom) is the self-proclaimed 'smallest town in the world' with a population of only fourteen (and yes there are fourteen addresses - Irma counted them). As a town it has all the attributes such as walls-gate-church etc. I will tell you right off that I absolutley loved this small town. You go in through the gates - hang a right and follow the path that leads eventually to the left and before you know it you have come full circle. But oh boy what a circle. The cobblestones have become worn after all the years and the pathways are very steep - the legs get a great workout ;0) Good traction shoes are a must. I enjoyed every minute of investigating this quaint place. It is so different from Buzet - a vibe all its own.

It is a walled in community and you can see the gate here - it is the way in and out. You can read the history of the gate in the photo as well as what one of the doors looks like with the peasant calendar.

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Just inside the gate one can see the small slit openings in the wall used for I am assuming guns to shoot the enemy. Once past the gates though - wonderment .... I stood there and became lost in time. I sensed such a happiness in spite of what must have been a hard working life. I couldn't help but wonder at the strength of these people of Istria. My grandmother was like that - hard working and simply accepting that it was the way it was and a life was made and lived. Yes there was hardship but there was happiness in the simplicity of it all. Gee - sometimes it makes me want to let it all go and return to a simpler way of life .... then reality kicks in - lol. What would I do without what I have become accustomed to? Perhaps I would adapt yet if I am honest - I enjoy learning and hearing people's stories and I see how all this is ingrained in the weaving of my fabric, however, I cannot go back - I can only go forward.

I loved the way the people built this town. It is functional and picturesque. Today some inhabitants have opened up some apartments (they must be charming) and they have a restaurant on the premises and not one but two souvenir shops both offering different items of interest. One of the shops were selling small figurines of the gagolitic characters and I tried to buy one for each letter of my first name ---- the letter 'y' does not exist -- so forget that venture! The other souvenir shop has incorporated a small museum of items these people used in their daily lives.

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This shop offered free tastings of jam and Biska. I tried a great jam but I found it little pricey for the amount. I also tasted two types of Biska - a mistletoe flavoured brandy ... one from the oak I believe and the other from the apple tree. Both delicious, however, the apple was sweeter.

Walking the roads and seeing how the town was put together made my trigger finger with the camera vey happy! I took so many pictures I surprised myself (thank you digital cameras). Please enjoy some scenes of what I experienced and I hope you can feel a little of what I felt. If not, then you must simply come and experience for yourself.

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I must show you a remnant of the past that I find cute (and very useful during the time). Here is a barn door with a hole carved out in the lower right. Care to guess for what?

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If you guessed a cat entry/exit then you win the prize! Such an important animal of the day. Catching vermin was crucial - they were cats not like today. They were working animals in their own rights. Note that this is an original door (like most if not all found in the town).

We had just about reached the end of the town when we came upon the clock tower and church. As you already know (because I said so at some point ;0), I like clock towers and Hum's was no exception. We stepped into the church for a quick looksee and although simply decorated, for a small town one could see the great faith they had and still have. I wanted to take a picture of the clock tower and so I did!

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Irma and I were near the tower and both of us could hear this buzzing sound. I couldn't pinpoint from where it was coming until we came closer to the source. Wasn't it a swarm of bees hanging around the clock tower! I wondered if they had a nest in there - Irma didn't think so. She grew up having several beehives on the property and knew the sound. She said it sounded as if a new queen left another nest and took part of the workers with her and was looking to set up a new nest. Wonder what the town folk would say if this is so.... And so ends another day. We were pooped and happy to leave and yet funnily enough I feel as if I took a part of that town home with me - in my heart.

Till next time!

Posted by purplebaptisia 03:51 Archived in Croatia Comments (1)

Church Day

sunny 30 °C

I found out that every second saturday is Church services up the hill. I debated going, however, decided it would be a good experience. The church is not all that big but quite beautiful.

Inscription showing date church was established

Inscription showing date church was established

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Irma and I went to the 4pm service and although it has been a while since I've attended mass, I must say that things don't change. I didn't understand the language spoken yet understood everything going on. Some things really do not change. The priest had a deep reverberating voice and when he sang (at the beginning and end of mass) his melodic tones penetrated every cell in my body. The way the church is set up is that he conducts service under a dome-like structure and it acts as an amplifier for his voice. And since the family pew was up close - I really received the full effect of his singing. This was a new experience for me.

One tradition that still holds over today was one that I had not heard of before. On your way out the church once mass was over, anyone who had deceased buried in the cemetary grabbed a handful of holy water. They then made their way to the cemetary plots and sprinkled the holy water over them to bless them (as Irma did over her parents plots).

In the past - as with all small villages I surmise - church day was not only a day to get together and pray and to receive the priest's blessing, it was also a time of socializing. After all, with the houses so far apart one didn't socialize on a regular basis. This was the day to get together and meet each other and catch up on news about your neighbors - and not only from your village either. Today was no exception. I was introduced to people who know my father and I was able to speak to those who spoke italian and/or english. Unfortunately for me, most spoke the local dialect and although I understood a few words I was unable to speak it. The socializing took just as long (if not longer) than the mass itself. This was an intersting experience.

Today was also the day for people to drop by and pay us a visit. Guerino from down in Draga (2 km away) popped in for a bit. He came bearing a wonderful homemade wine. Quite delicious I must say. We all chit chatted for a bit and that was nice. Later after mass, Both Alfio and Silva dropped by. They too came bearing gifts. Freshly picked green beens and onions from their garden. We had that for supper prepared with a little garlic and boy oh boy - talk about sweet and delicious. I could have eaten only that for supper. I left all of them to chat on the patio as I could not participate. No problem though - I did my own stuff after I took pictures of them all.

My cousin George had one mission statement for my father while here in Istria ... to find the best Rakija around!! I call this 'Fire Water'. Well George - he doesn't have to look any further - it has been found! Alfio also brought with him his own homemade Rakija and dad said it honestly is the best he has ever tasted. He likes it so much that he has staked claim to the bottle Alfio brought. I said whoa there - what about your sisters ... don't they have a say in this? He didn't say anything but later in the evening he innocently (sure) asks them what they are planning to do with the Rakia? He asks but really is saying he wants it -- they said it was his to keep. They know what makes him happy. Rakija making is as traditional here as is winemaking to the italians and now my dad is a happy camper for sure. It is not my thing but I did taste it and it was smoooooooth ;0)

We ate supper outside tonite and had polenta with a veal sauce and those yummy green beans and of course a nice white wine accompanied the meal. Irma made a few phone calls and I updated the blog. I did a little reading on the places we will visit tomorrow. It should be interesting. Till then - doviđenja.

Posted by purplebaptisia 12:39 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Down Time

... over two days.

semi-overcast 25 °C

Since it was a holiday there really was not much to do. I am sure there were many touristy places to go to, however, everyone wanted to stay home and relax. Chores needed to be done and snoozing was big on the list today - by everyone ... now THAT is indeed an important chore imho ;0) I mean, with the lovely heat of the sun and gentle breezes wafting lightly across our faces and the scenic mountains in the distance, how could we not sit back and simply soak it all in?! It would be sinful not to.

Irma had paperwork to catch up on, Laura went to rest and dad certainly snoozed on and off most of the afternoon while sitting under the canopy of grape vines. As for me, I finally decided to venture to Brajdice to suntan as I had planned a couple of days ago. I waited till the heat of the sun was a notch less than scorching, then headed up there with beach blanket, lotion, spray bottle (to keep me lightly misted in this heat) and water bottle to soothe my parched throat as the sun dehydrated me slowly but surely - lol. It was an experience I am not willing to repeat - at least not in that area.

Brajdice

Brajdice

I thought the land was much flatter than it appeared. It was not easy finding a spot where I would not be lying at a weird angle - not conducive to suntanning let me tell you! In addition I had the pleasure of being in the company of ants - ugh. Not many mind you but just enough to detract from enjoying the experience of lying in the sun. I tolerated this for an hour then gave up. Next time it will be the beach - rocks and all ;0)

I was curious as to why that parcel of land was nicknamed Brajdice and of course the answer was simple. In the days prior my grandparents this land was worked as farmland to sustain the family - and land worked is a loose translation of the word Brajda. In following years it came to be used for other reasons as explained earlier and nicknamed Brajdice.

Now I thought I would show you a few pictures around the house so you have a better idea of what it is I am experiencing. I don't have pictures of the inside yet but you can imagine the outer walls of the house are two feet thick and the interior walls are about 18 inches. You know what that means of course? Air conditioned house - the natural way - lol. The dog Morica has this figured out very well. When she is too hot she begs to go in to cool off ;0) Here is the view of the house from the bottom of the 'driveway'.

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Imagine in days gone by that steers would pull up a wagonload of hay up this driveway and hang a right past Brajdice till they reached the barn. And when I say wagonload - I mean it was so high that one could never climb on top of it - it was at least 10 meters high. Once the barn was reached my grandfather would get on top (with the aid of the ledge at the barn site) and start pitching the hay. I have very distinct memories of this from when I last visited and was in awe of how high up he was. Of course being a child made this feat appear much more magical than I guess it was.

This is the family house where we are all staying. Over the years it has been renovated in order to keep it functional. After all this house was built around 1928 and upgrades are needed in order to keep it from falling to the ground. It was built as an add-on to the original house that is easily over 200 years old.

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View Left of the house

View Left of the house

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View to the front of the house

View to the right of the house

View to the right of the house

Here is the view from the back looking to the front. You can see the original house and the new house built on. The old house must be maintained as to destroy it would compromise the integrity of the new house. Between the old and new is where the chicken coop used to be.

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When I open my windows in the morning this is the scenery what awaits my viewing pleasure.

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After everyone was well rested and tummies full after supper we all relaxed under the bright stars of the night. Morica was ever faithful in protecting us and every so often would jump up and run into the darkness chasing away whatever she felt was encroaching on her territory. At times she can be so funny. The neighbors love to give her treats and she proudly shows them off to us then it is serious business in finding a place to hide and/or bury her treat. She finds a place during the daytime but then retrieves it at night and begins the ritual all over again. Back and forth she goes until she disappears into the inky darkness only to return empty mouthed - yeah ... success - now no creature can steal her treat!

At 10pm Croatian time I asked dad if he wanted to listen to news from back home. So undercover of darkness under the twinkling stars I connected to the internet and hooked into the radio station CJAD 800 back in Montreal. We were surprised to hear that it was going to drop to 16 degrees celcius that night --- brrrr. I will take the balmy scorching 30 degrees here anyday -lol. And so this ends this day.

Now is Friday and I will say happy St-Jean Baptiste for those who celebrate this day back in Montreal. If nothing else, having a stat holiday on a Friday means a long weekend ;0)

Today Irma and Laura left the house early to attend to important matters and to do shopping. They are looking at buying a washing machine and potentially a new fridge. This left dad, Morica and myself alone at the house to enjoy the day in whatever way we saw fit. Today is the first overcast day since I've been here. We keep hoping for rain but nary a drop in sight ;0( The bora (eastern) winds are blowing .... brrr. Not that it was really cold, however staying in the shade meant I had to warm up whenever the sun peaked out. Other than that what a pleasant day it was. This is clearest I have been able to see the valley as most days there is a slight haze so the view is not as clear.

After breakfast dad decided keep limber and do some exercises. Morica was busy doing her exercises as well - HAH = snoozing next to him ;0) As for me I played around with the camera and tried to remember on how to work the self-timer. It has been a long time since I used this feature. I also brought with me a tiny adjustable tripod. I was anxious to try it out so I wrapped the three legs around the fence - pointed and activated the self-timer ... perfect!! This mini tripod is great for getting different angle shots where a straight tripod would not afford the same opportunity. I will be testing out this tripod for some evening shots where a real steady hand is needed. The only thing is that with a heavier camera one must position it carefully or you might end up with lopsided pictures as the camera tilts due to its weight. For smaller cameras it is perfect.

Now I am getting itchy feet to do more exploring, however, I understand that household duties come first and I must be patient. It's hard though I must admit. So to occupy my time I started flipping through my Tourist book "The rough guide to Croatia" and went to the Istria (Istra) section. I am getting a feel for where I would like to go. My father was curious and asked me to read descriptions of certain places he was most familiar with.

After a while we were both becoming parched - Beer time!! Oh yeah I like beer, however I must be in the mood to have one as it tastes even better when one sort of craves it. My father is more of a wine drinker but he was in the mood for one as well. We bought a couple of types of local beer - one from Buzet and the other from Zagreb. Didn't we finish both!

I have to say that I much preferred the beer from Buzet versus Zagreb. It was more flavorful and smooth on the palate. The one from Zagreb was a touch harsher/stronger tasting and perhaps a tad watery (this is of course my personal opinion). As we always say: eat and drink locally and in season. Well, Buzet is certainly more local than Zagreb and as for in season - well ... beer is ALWAYS in season - LOL

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And so the afternoon passed quickly and soon enough Irma and Laura returned after visiting no less than ten places in just a few hours - whew! After supper Irma and I discussed what places we could visit in the upcoming days and I felt better knowing we would be on the move again ;0) Tonite we ate in as the bora winds (coming from Mount Ucka) created a chill in the air that would have made it unpleasant to eat under the stars. We all had a lovely supper inside and as everyone was pooped we all tucked in fairly early and so tomorrow is another day.

Posted by purplebaptisia 10:22 Archived in Croatia Comments (1)

Mount Ucka

sunny 30 °C

The best drinking waters from these parts come from the mountains - and that means we have to go get it. After all, the mountain won't come to us - lol. So today is the day to go up - up - up the mountain to get that lovely elixir that is life sustaining. From the house it takes about 30 minutes to get there over winding roads. So Irma and myself and a trunkload of empty bottles of varying sizes meandered our way to the Spina (pronounced shpina = faucet) that will give us fresh, cool, unpolluted water and guess what? --- it's FREE! ... and ...we can take as much as our hearts desire (or as is limited by the amount of containers brought)!

To meander the roads is quite easy - it starts the moment we leave the house. There is a long semi-winding single car lane that leads to the highway at the bottom of this big hill.

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Many times luck is our side not to come face to face with another car coming in the opposite direction. What happens if we do? Well, we all get out of the cars and wrestle each other to the ground to see who gets the right of way --- LOL ... NOT!! There are some spots that are just wide enough that two cars can barely squeeze by each other, and other times someone will just have to back up till they locate that sweet spot so both can pass by.

Once we reach the highway then it is a quick ride till we reach Mount Ucka (pronounced oochka).

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The scenery along the way is quite lovely and oh so country ;0) The scenery on the way up and down Mt Ucka is spectacular and diverse. Talk about curvy roads - in some places hairpin is not the word!

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The first order of business is to stop at the lookout and get a cappuccino at the restaurant located there. After all we need sustenance in order to fill up the gazillion empty bottles we brought.

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The cappuccino was quite delicious - honestly one of the best I have ever had and only about $1.65 cdn (you cannot find a great cappuccino for that price in Montreal).

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This is not the peak where there is an observation tower (we will visit this another day) but another lower spot that still offers a beautiful view of Rijeka (Fiume) providing the day is clear. Today the day is hazy and the view although quite nice, is not too clear. Well - I will have just have to come back another day when we do another water run ;0)

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There was an interesting building across from the restaurant and I wanted to know what it was. As it turns out it is like a hostel, however, not just anyone can use it. Mt Ucka is a Nature Park and as such has many hikers and backpackers going through it. This hostel is geared strictly for the backpackers making their way through the mountain - such a neat idea!

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Once I finished exploring it was time to continue on with we came here for - water! We approached a water fountain I thought was the one we were going use to fill our bottles but - not so. What we came up upon was a historical fountain called Water of Joseph II.

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This is no longer being used by the people as a water supply even though the water does come from the mountain. Tourists who do not know still use it as drinking water and I guess it is at their risk. It probably is good but is not government regulated and this means it is not tested regularly to make sure it is void of contaminents. It is an old structure and would cost too much to maintain and upkeep to the level necessary. I have taken pictures of its description so you can read for yourself its historical importance and why it has not been closed and boarded up.

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If you continue up the road another few hundred meters then you come to the Spina that is used by the surrounding towns and villages and also by the tourists that know of its existance.

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Sometimes one is lucky and you are the only ones there (as we were) or you must wait your turn in line. This faucet is regulated and tested by the governmant and if there were any dangers we would know about it. Boy that would be such a tremendous loss to the entire surrounding area I can only imagine...

The scenery around the spina is quite captivating as you can see. People do live on the mountain - many do so year-round.

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Irma and I went to work and started filling one by one the bottles we brought. The faucet sprayed quite a bit so a funnel was necessary for the bottles where the opening was too small to accomodate the tip of the faucet. For the 5L and 15L container it was a snap filling. Where I kept running into a glitch was on remembering which way to turn off the faucet. It runs counter to how we do it and I turned it 'on' full force when I meant to turn it 'off'. Hmmm - what a soaking I took - lol. after the first time you think I would have learned - I didn't!!!! I was so careful but just when I thought I had it - wham-bam-I did it again. Oops...all wet...oh well - it WAS refreshing nonetheless. What could I do but laugh at myself - I'm not sure Irma found it funny as she had to scramble out of the way - LOL.

Oops... all wet .... oh well

Oops... all wet .... oh well

And this takes of today's adventure. As most (family and friends) know, I have injured myself somehow some time back and have been going to physio twice a week for a while now. My physiotherapist has done wonders in preparing me for this European trip. I have to say that as good as she is my muscles and tendons need rest inbetween excursions otherwise I would be down for the count and I do not want that. I want to keep exploring and since I will be here another few weeks I will do just that - take things slow. I have strengthened my muscles quite a bit to my surprise in just these few short days. The terrain here is hilly and walking it is doing wonders in strengthening the muscles and tendons that my physio has been working on.

So what am I really trying to say you ask?? Ahhh ... all this means is that I will not be venturing forth every single day. Since tomorrow is a holiday I will stay at home and rest up for the next excursion. By the way, I only just found out that Saturday coming (25th) is another holiday --- boy, three holidays in a short span (1st-national; 2nd-church and 3rd-government). Till next time - doviđenja.

Posted by purplebaptisia 12:15 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

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