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Posts Tagged ‘Croatia’

Romance in Rovinj

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I swear, I didn’t mean for it to happen. I didn’t come to Croatia looking for love. OK, maybe in the back of my mind, I hoped, I craved for a summer fling. I had heard it was a place ripe for affairs of the heart, a place for romance and escape. I knew there were many before me that discovered an unsuspecting admiration and yearning to return. I admit, it was love at first sight.

I arrived in Rovinj, a medieval hill town on the coast, in the Istrian region of Croatia, on a Sunday evening, just as the sun was set and the music and rhythm of the evening began to build. Istria is the northwest region of the country, untouched by the war with Serbia. It’s an easy trip, for 70 Euros I took the high speed ferry from Venice. I walked 50 meters down the main dock and smack into a vibrant, harbor front community that wreaked of fresh fish grilling at the festival in the main square, along with the melodic mix of Italian, German, English and Croatian spoken among the tourists, the families and locals. The desire to nestle myself into this enclave for boating, sailing, fishing, art and majestic history was immediate.

The Roman influence is evident, Rovinj was once a Venetian stronghold. Roman ruins dot the coastline towns and web of islands. The white, rocky beaches are meandering coves that run along the coastline. The history and craft of Batana wooden boat building is protected by UNESCO for their durability and continued use. I had the pleasure of a sunset cruise, thanks to the staff at the Batana Boat Museum.

My five days exploring the area, renting a bike to venture along the beaches and paths, touring the National Park island of Brijuni, drinking aperol spritz at the many waterfront cafes was intense and action packed. And isn’t that typical of a new love? It’s overwhelming at first, you can’t get enough of spending time, soaking up all the bliss and anticipation. I’m sure this region has its quirks, it’s downside. But I am willing to accept it for what it is, swim in the newness.

My taste of Croatia was a mere appetizer. I knew I would miss Dubrovnik, Split and the amazing Dalmatian coast. It will have to be a long-distant romance for now. Knowing that the word is getting out about this place, I hope it can retain its uniqueness, it’s eclectic spirit. I’m a hopeless romantic – I will welcome the changes and look forward to the day I come back, for a candle lit, seaside three course meal.

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What does taking a vacation mean to you? Does it have to be to a beach, or foreign country? Or perhaps it’s turning off your cell phone and simply not checking emails from work for two days. I assume vacation means many things to different people.

This week I decided to take a vacation within a vacation. Pretty indulgent, right? But the truth is, I never saw my travels this summer as a vacation in terms of frivolously whiling away my time under a palm tree drinking rum cocktails with paper umbrellas. I guess that’s a very stereotypical take on what many picture as a vacation activity.

Travel, the process of going away and exploring parts unknown, has become an essential part of this artist’s life. Its part of my work, my vocation, how I find inspiration and ideas for educating and sharing with others. It just happens to be the kind of work I happily wake up to every day. But I don’t work 9 to 5 and people assume because I like what I do, it must be a hobby. Unfortunately, anything worth doing, is never easy. I often work for sixteen hours straight, or stretches that run from 2-7 a.m. And the time in front of the easel is just the tip of the iceberg.

For the last two weeks, I worked fourteen days straight researching, viewing, listening, tasting, touching, hearing, breathing, smelling, making, talking about, arguing about, throwing out, tearing up and dreaming about art. I decided I needed/wanted a change of scenery to recharge the batteries. I did what Italians, and other Europeans of late do to get away for a summer break, I hopped on a high-speed ferry (www.venezialines.it) out of Venice and dropped myself onto the Istrian coast of Croatia. For several days, the equivalent of a long weekend, I will call Rovinj (pronounced ro-ving, or ro-vin-ya) my home away from my home away from home.

Ironically, this is an artist town. The colors reflected off the Adriatic and medieval cliff side buildings are stunning. These narrow cobbled streets are home to amazing artists and their studios/galleries. It’s understandable considering the inspiring landscape in their backyard. As I put finishing touches on my thesis work, centered on the boat symbol in our culture and psyche, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Batana Boat Museum. Rovinj is at the center of a historical flat-bottom boat making culture. I’m pretty sure this has just become a working vacation!

In a sense, if a vacation is vacating one’s regular life to step away from every day comforts, to learn, to open your heart and mind to the unique riches of the world, then I’m in for one wild ride. The truth is, though, we can all take a vacation any day of the year. Just take a different route to work today, sign up to help out a local charity or take a new class. In fact, when was the last time you went and sprawled yourself out in your backyard grass? Made cartoon animals out of the clouds?

Who’s to say that’s not taking a vacation, if not for a few moments each day?

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