I’m finally getting around to my Croatia posts again…I’ve been far too busy carrying on with normal life and my yoga blog ‘Kiss my Asana‘ to go back and blog about my Croatia trip, but I will focus a little bit on getting it all out there as soon as possible.
Novalja is a town north of Pag Island, known for its bars, clubs and partying. Allegedly.
I saw bars and a hint of some clubs somewhere, but definitely was not feeling the party vibe on my one day spent there. It could be that it was at the end of my holiday and I was so relaxed and holidayed that my party-radar was faulty. It could also have been the kitsch disco balls in every shop along the promenade that shone to the beat of really bad techno music that put me off.
Either way, it was a pleasant little town to visit and we actually found some decent smoothies and yummy vegetarian food there! Croatia is not particularly known for their salad-making skills, so when we found a chickpea salad on the menu at La Paloma cafe on the square, salivation was definitely happening.
A nice little day-trip, I must say.
The ferry from Rijeka to Rab Island to Pag Island stops at Novalja and the last bus to Pag Town from Novalja is at 6pm in the evening from the main bus station. The main bus station is not where the ferry arrives, it is about 15 minutes walk inland.
There is only one ferry daily between Rab and Pag and this departs at around 6 or 7 in the evening.
On the way home from work today I decided to stop at the local park, just because.
I need to do that more often. It was so nice to just be out in nature, block out the cars going past, take in the (almost fresh) air and just take photos.
The sun was beginning to set and it inflamed the dried-out leaves along the riverside into a fiery orange…stunning!
We miss these little pleasure every day when we’re rushing around between work and home, work and home.
Let’s all just calm down and appreciate what is around us, shall we?
I saw this on Pinterest just now and thought I’d share it with you peeps:
So I don’t eat meat.
Is that such an issue? I am constantly ragged about the fact that I choose not to put animal meat into my body and it annoys me to no end, so this is my little rant to release all of that negative energy.
I live in South Africa, which means that a lot of the culture in this country surrounds meat – hunting it, eating it, drying it, braaing it, which makes it a big issue to some people when they meet a vegetarian. So let me address a few “oh my god, you’re a vegetarian” comments:
1. Why would you choose to stop eating meat?
There are honestly hundreds of reasons for not eating meat, which I have never pushed onto anyone at all. If you are interested in understanding this, there is a brilliant list here on the Greenside Cafe website which state very simply 101 reasons to go veg. Some will really make you think more about what you put into your own body and also the impact that it has on the world we live in, so I hope you do read it.
2. But what do you eat?
This is my absolute favourite. Because clearly if you don’t eat meat, there is nothing in the world that you can eat and you will starve and die a slow, tasteless death. Vegetarian food is far tastier than any meat dish I have ever had (I have not been vegetarian my whole life, so yes, I have eaten meat before and no, I don’t miss it). Vegetarian food is so much tastier than meat dishes because it doesn’t rely on the taste of animal juices for its flavour. You actually have to think about the different tastes and textures that you are putting into your food and end up with a far more creative and flavourful meal. They are also far healthier because as a vegetarian, you always need to ensure that you are getting enough protein, fats, omegas etc. in your food and so actually design your meals around nutrition as well as taste.
3. So how do you go to a braai without meat?
The last time I checked, a braai (barbecue) in South Africa was about the social gathering, not the meat.
4. So how do you get your protein?
You would actually be surprised at how little protein you actually need in a day and at how many different kinds of foods contain protein. I’m not going to go into a technical discussion here, but yes it is possible to get enough of the right kind of protein without needing meat.
5. Isn’t it boring?
Refer to point 2 above. I LOVE food, and I mean really LOVE food. No, it isn’t boring, it’s very very interesting…try it, I dare you.
6. Do you mind if other people eat meat around you?
Of course not! Who am I to judge other people’s eating choices?
7. But is that healthy?
Seriously, it’s nothing to freak out about.
In the end, it is my body and my own well-being and I definitely get to decide what I put into my body without having to explain myself at every meal. If someone doesn’t like olives, for instance, it would really not be a big deal, you would just say “Oh”. But say the “V” word and the whole world falls apart.
My body, my mind, my decisions.
Here are some more Gaping Void winners I came across in my constant love-hate battle with the Corporate World (quite negative today, but take it with a pinch of salt and a good chuckle):
Pula is a very cute city. Right at the Southern tip of Istria, it is Istria’s largest city and bosts some pretty decent Roman Ruins and a Roman amphitheatre that dominates the town centre and is often used for concerts and events.
It has a very Italian feel and was a fabulous place to start our Istrian adventure. I had my first taste of real Italian ice cream (oh my holy soul, it was delicious) and the pizza perfectly made by an Italian mama in the kitchen I’m sure (Jupiter Restaurant).
It is a busy commercial city and there are no beaches in the city, but a good visit nonetheless.
We hired a car from here to drive around Istria, so were only there for a day.
We stayed at the Hotel Riviera, a very grand-looking hotel just outside the city centre. The white net curtains were a faded shade of grey, and Victorian-style red carpets were well used, to say the least. When we saw the long, cold corridors and padded room doors, it was a bit uncertain if this was a hotel or a mental institution, and very much reminded me of The Shining , so really was quite a thrill!
When we asked the car hire salesman if the roads are safe, he said “Of course” and shrugged, saying “Much like Turkey”. Four sets of big scared eyes left that office on a suicide mission through the narrow roads of Istria, in the hopes of staying alive long enough to taste some truffles and have a glass of Istrian wine.
The first destination of my Croatian holiday was the Plitvice Lakes in Central Croatia – Croatia’s biggest national park and a World Heritage site.
It was an absolute must-see for my trip to Croatia, especially after seeing pictures of this park beforehand, but as with any other World Heritage site, it was absoultely flooded with tourists. I have a slight case of touristaphobia, so one day in the park was enough for me. It was such a shame, actually, because I could have spent another day at least wandering around those beautiful waterfalls and lakes but the tour groups and crowds (and lack of a resemblance of decent food) definitely ruined it for me.
The park was really amazing though, and the day that we spent there was overcast and drizzly, so there was a gorgeous misty, dreamy look to the lakes and waterfalls. It gave it an almost mystical feel that was really special (until you were trodden on by a screaming Italian anklebiter).
Feast your eyes on these pics… (none of my photos have been filtered or colour enhanced – they are all the natural colours as you see it there)…
There are 3 hotels at the entrance to Entrance 2 of the Lakes. You can book beforehand at a Plitvice Tourist Office if you need to. There is also apparently accomodation in one of the villages near Entrance 1 (Rastovaca), but you would need to walk through the village to find houses with a “Zimmer” sign and enquire about this – you can’t book beforehand.
We opted for the pre-booked hotel option (due to a marathon being run that weekend through the park) and it was decent. We stayed in the Bellevue hotel (there is no decent website for them – you will need to book at a Plitvice tourist office). It was relatively cheap and simple, the staff not so friendly and the breakfast was almost edible.
There are not a lot of eating options in the park and you would need to eat at a hotel if you want an actual meal, but this really wasn’t particularly tasty or edible, really.
You can get to the Lakes by bus quite easily. I know that there were buses every 3 hours from Zagreb and there were also regular ones to and from Split. To get to Istria from Plitvice, you would need to take a bus from Plitvice to Karlovac (a stop along the Zagreb route) and then another bus to Pula.
I will not go into the whole saga that left me stranded in Frankfurt on the way home from Croatia, “courtesy” of Lufthansa Airlines, but nevertheless ended up with a day to kill in Frankfurt.
Being Germany’s financial centre, I didn’t expect much, but had a lot of time to wait until my flight back home to Jozi, so spent the day wandering the streets in Frankfurt. It turned out to be such a lovely city and I am glad that I had the opportunity to see it in between airport dramas.
The transport system is impeccable, the streets clean and the architecture really beautiful. There are plenty of museums and cafes, and a stroll along the river Main was really pleasant. The Jewish museum is quite interesting and devotes itself to portraying the history of Jewish communities in Frankfurt and Germany, complete with photos of the old Jewish quarters between the 15th and 18th century. LOVE city pics of the big cities way back in the day and comparing it to what it looks like today.
The main bridge in Frankfurt, the Eiserner Steg Bridge, is covered with gorgeous little “love locks” – where sweethearts affix padlocks to bridge railings to symbolise their everlasting love…sweet!
All in all, it was a really lovely city to experience, even though it was under rather unpleasant circumstances!
I would not suggest flying Lufthansa at all, especially if in Alliance with SAA. Every flight I had with them there was some sort of big issue and my baggage was lost twice (still waiting for them to find it).
If you do decide to travel with them from Johannesburg into Europe, fly via Munich as there are more daily flights between Munich and JHB in case you miss your connection.
The train leaves from the Airport Terminal 1 in Frankfurt airport and goes straight into Frankfurt city centre. Choose the ‘Frankfurt Hbf’ option for your ticket.