Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Canal in Rijeka, Croatia.
The Clock tower in the city center of Rijeka.
Opatija, Croatia...paradise!! Pictures do not do it justice!
Allie and I in Opatija along the coast....the perfect day :)
A street in Opatija, so picturesque!

So after a weekend in Rimini and San Marino, we decided to take it a little easy this past weekend…October 2nd-4th. On Friday night Allie and I were pretty exhausted from the week and she specifically had a rough day, so we decided to have a “make Allie’s day better” night! It was a lot of fun, exactly what we both needed…we drank wine, watched a movie (which we do not have a TV, so my laptop sitting on top of my rolling chair in the middle of the living room has been our TV. It actually works out nicely!), and made a box cake that her mom had sent her in the mail. Funfetti….the best box cake ever! So we had a great relaxing night at home, exactly what we needed J

 Friday afternoon we decided to take a last minute day trip Saturday….I did some research and actually planned a successful trip in Europe! I was so proud of myself! It is actually a lot harder to visit places than I thought from Trieste. It is great location wise, being in the middle of so many great countries, but because it isn’t one of the major cities it really limits the amount of trains, airplanes, and buses that go through the city. But I found a bus that took us from Trieste to Rijeka, Croatia directly….only a 2 hour bus ride and 6 Euro each way!!

 So Saturday morning we hopped on an early bus, having no idea what to expect, and headed to Croatia for the day! While driving to Rijeka though, we passed this INCREDIBLE looking Caribbean/European like town…so we decided we had to get back there somehow! Once getting to Rijeka, it turned out to be a little different than we expected. Rijeka is more of a “big city” feel, it has a canal, but really is not along the water like most well known Croatian towns. The city has a lot of history and you can definitely see it in all the buildings, there was also a lot of graffiti. The city was beautiful though and we managed to navigate our way around the entire city and all its major landmarks with just one map! We saw the famous Croatian National Theater, the Croatia National History Museum, an open air market, the canal, a well-known palace, and old Roman arch, and some gorgeous churches.  We packed our lunches to save money and came across a little park to eat lunch in….it was such a perfect day!!

 Somehow, despite me and Allie’s amazing way to get lost whatever we do, we found out how to catch a bus from Rijeka back to that great city we passed through on the bus ride there, Opatija. We were really proud of ourselves when we realized that we had actually made it to the city we were intending to go and did not get 40 minutes off course! But OH MY GOODNESS Opatija is one of the most beautiful cities I have EVER been too….absolutely GORGEOUS, it really feels like paradise!!! It is this tiny city on a peninsula in Croatia, the water is so clear and crystal blue, all the buildings and homes are these beautiful bright colors, there is one main road in all of Opatija, and it is lined with tons of unique and very picturesque cafés, bars, and restaurants.  The PERFECT place for a relaxing weekend to do nothing but lay on the beach and eat at fun restaurants! J

 We got into the city and were so taken aback by how beautiful it was, we ended up sitting by the coast and taking an unexpected 30 min nap along the water…just laying on the ground with only our backpacks as pillows…it was SO WONDERFUL!! I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day…it was so peaceful and so beautiful! We ended the day by walking around the city and getting a drink at a café along the water. While walking around though we came across a wedding in this tiny, old chapel along the coast….oh my gosh my heart was just melting!!! What a dream??? J Then! 5 minuets later in the building right next door we saw 2 other brides!! We have no idea what was happening, but we got a good laugh out of it…man weddings just really seem to follow me everywhere lately!! I had to laugh! J

 We took the 5pm bus home and got back at 7 to still have a wonderful relaxing evening at home. The next morning I went to church and it was so great!!! Matt spoke all in Italian this week though, but I could follow along somewhat ok with his sermon by looking up the verses he posted. I LOVE the worship part of church though! I just think it is so amazing that you can literally be million miles across the world and people worship the same God you do, in different language…and you can sing to him at the SAME time, in different languages, and in such different ways. It is SUCH a neat experience! It was this one girl’s last day at the church though so they had a celebration and lots of praying for her before leaving church…then we all went to lunch after! And as I am am learning more all the time, Italians take a LONG time to do anything! After church (which started at 10) I ended up getting home at 4pm after a wonderfully long afternoon of church, pizza, gelato and great times with the entire congregation at church (which is about 30 people haha!). Sunday was such a GREAT day! So overall, yet another an incredible weekend!

Rimini, Italy and San Marino

4 of the 6 of us girls that were on the trip...eating lunch right off the side of a mountain! I cannot believe I am getting to do this stuff...I am so blessed!
Me and Allie, my roomate, in San Marino.
A fun street in Rimini, Italy...exploring the city!

The First Tower of San Marino- we got to climb all the way to the top, beautiful views!
View from the top of the first Tower- you can see the Second castle in the distance...does not even look real!

Two weekends ago we went to Rimini, Italy and San Marino (which is a tiny country in the middle of Italy…yes, it is its own country!!) for a few days. The trip definitely had some bumps in the road, but overall it was a great weekend!

 We decided very last minuet Thursday night to go ahead and join some other girls on the trip…I figured why not? I am only here once right! So we brought our stuff to school with us Friday and left straight from school for the train station in Trieste. It took us about 5 hours total to get to Rimini, with 2 stops in between.  Friday night we FINALLY got to Rimini at midnight. We though we could easily get to the hotel, but it turns out, as usual, it was more difficult than expected! Thankfully we found the two nicest ladies that spoke a tiny bit of English, and they literally walked us across the entire city directly to our hotel!

 Rimini is a great beach town off the East Coast of Italy, one of the most popular beach towns in Italy. We stayed at Hotel Bahama, this very nice, tiny hotel right by the water.  There was a mix up with our reservation when we got in so late, so we had to wait for about another hour at the hotel for them to sort things out…mind you this is us trying to communicate in very broken English and Italian to somehow come to an agreement.  They ended up giving us 2 rooms instead of 1 though, which turned out GREAT! So the next morning, after our complimentary breakfast J, we headed off for a quick day trip to San Marino. It is actually its own country right in the middle of Italy…how cool is that?!!? I am so so glad we decided to go there, it was by far my favorite part of the weekend! The city is absolutely gorgeous and has such great character. It is on the top of a mountain with 3 castles and towers along the very top; all the streets are cobblestone with rustic shops and cafés lining every road. It was the most beautiful and quaint city…my new favorite country! Then, we had an incredible lunch literally right off the side of a cliff….visiting all these places truly feels like a dream!

 Once we got back to Rimini, we went straight to the beach! It was a little chilly out, but perfect weather for a nap on the beach J Everyone got into the water but me haha, those Northern girls said the water felt like a bathtub…I thought my hand was going to fall off from the icey water! So I opted for a more enjoyable nap on the sand J But it was a great, relaxing afternoon by the water. Later that night we went to a late dinner, which always takes about 3 hours in Italy. Never expect to get out of a dinner any sooner than 3 hours after you get there! This is one of the things I love about the Italian culture though, meals are an event- meant to spend time with people and enjoy each other’s company. It really makes me realize how rushed American people are, always thinking about the next place to be the next person to see. This is one of the things I LOVE about living abroad! I definitely think that living overseas had slowed me down a little….I am so thankful, I can be pretty fast paced, not stopping to REALLY enjoy things, so this is so good for me J

 Now this is when everything started to go down hill….after dinner….oh goodness. Allie, Kelly, and I decided to head back from dinner early, a few of the girls went to a few bars...we decided to opt out.  So we are in this city we JUST got to yesterday and obviously still learning our way around! Well we got on the 4 bus, which the hotel told us would get us back there. Well little did we know that this bus was the 4 slash (4/)….and unfortunately Allie and me had just learned the hard way back in Trieste the week before- never get on a slash bus!!!! Well, it happened again, by accident, and somehow we ended up 40 minuets outside of Rimini with the bus driver having to call us a Cab. 45 Euros and 2 hours later we were safe back at the hotel, but wow that was an adventure! That was the first and only time I have ever felt unsafe while over here though…so it was a learning experience to say the least!

 The next morning Allie and me went for a run along the beach and it was great! I have been running a lot more since I got here, just because I do not want to spend money on a gym. Allie is the perfect running partner; she really is getting me into shape! I really have gotten back into routine though and I am LOVING it! We decided this weekend that we are going to run the Trieste Half Marathon in May…we are really excited! So after breakfast we go to check out from the hotel. Unfortunately it turns out that the man that quoted us our price on the rooms Friday night was not there. Long story short- Italians are VERY temperamental people and we have a few feisty girls in our group, that DID not make for a good combination. So a few of the girls ended up getting into a screaming match with the hotel because they refused to honor our price that was online and the man agreed to. We ended up compromising and paying a little extra, but not as much as they were asking. So all ended well, but it definitely made for a weekend of many mishaps!

 Overall, I am really glad we went, San Marino was definitely worth it, but I do not think I would go back to Rimini again…especially after how GORGEOUS the beaches are in Croatia this week! (more on that to come J)  So many lessons learned in another Italian adventure  J