Dear Rijeka, we're sorry. We’re sorry it’s taken the Travel Hogz this long to give an honest opinion of you. They apologize for failing to take heed of the unenthusiastic opinions of you from your next door neighbors in the city of Split. Regardless of their warning, for some reason instead, the Hogz moved forward with becoming inhabitants for a month and a half. Though unequivocally and not completely correct, you did take The Hogz by surprise with a few fond memories to cherish and reflect on. Small, asleep and industrial, a person really should be in a rush while visiting you unless complete isolation is on their agenda.
Miro drove the Hogz and Dogz one last time. A friendship and camaraderie that lasted for almost two years. It was a sad moment they never wanted to approach which was inevitable. A quick stop to say goodbye to Miro’s family and a 5 hour drive ahead to Rijeka. The Hogz were on their way to a humbling and breathtaking drive along the highways of Croatia.
They arrived late that night to a very spacious, charismatic and remodeled Airbnb where the hospitable host waited for them. He helped them up to the fourth floor which was five flights up and no elevator. By now, The Hogz knew the ground floor was 0 and the second floor is the first floor etc. That’s just Europe and a whole 'nother travel story! Beware of Europe's ground 0 calculations of staircases.
The host ordered pizza for them, had it delivered and also had the fridge stocked with wine and plenty snacks for the Hogz! Perfect! He was great! Turns out he was a musician and had even named his Airbnb after his production company. Very clever. This was by far the best looking, most comfortable Airbnb. Unfortunately, it was the worst layout when it came to the stairs because of the five flights of stairs and no elevator. The Hogz had to carry the e-scooters, groceries and the older Dog up and down the stairs several times a day. Great exercise you’d think, but it wreaked havoc on a nine millimeter herniated disc and sciatica that plagued them. Up and down at least 6\7 times a day and more. When one dog became incontinent for some odd reason, he was on a routine of going outside 6 times a day after a couple of accidents in the house. A few times over, Hog #2 sat crying in the stairwell dreading taking the dog down to use the potty because under her hips were so sore and stiff she could barely walk or stand. God almighty she would be glad when this part of the journey was over!!!
With a picturesque story feel, sitting arrogantly high and mighty above the popular sector of Rijeka, Trsat Castle was, once indeed, a 13th-century castle was by far the best attraction. In today’s modern time, you can sit at Trsat with a coffee in hand, often a live music to amuse you, and a spectacular view to amaze you. Trsat is also often used as a concert hall for the locals.
Trsat Castle was the daily go to for the Travel Hogz as they rode their scooters wind in hair they would pass neighboring restaurants, St. Mary’s Church, and Trsat cemetery dating back to the 17th century. As with most historical locations in Europe, the artwork and ruins are a well kept icons.
What's There to Eat Around Here?
You cannot order food at Trsat Castle. You can only order toast. Toast obviously isn't considered food according to those serving you at Trsat. So, the Hogz didn’t have food with their coffee. They had toast. Toast with melted cheese in between two slices of bread. Cheese toast. So…..food. Depending on what day it was, and who served them, they would order toast, only to be told they don’t serve food or toast. In some instances they were told you can't order toast. Ever! Knowing that they were just served toast (food) the day prior, the Hogz knew tourists were frowned upon on certain days with certain servers. So, once again, no food, just toast. Or not. Geeze. The Hogz couldn’t get used to the inconsistencies of Europe and how they would sometimes be treated because they thought the Hogz were tourists. They learned to just roll with it and simply ask for a familiar waiter or waitress.
Not much to see or do, The Travel Hogz could have seen and taken in Rijeka in the blink of an eye. Since they were there for the duration of one and a half months, they had to do something to keep boredom from turning them to stone. Scooting around they pretty much went for coffee at McDonalds in the town center every day, or the local mall where the cutest coffee shop was. Unfortunately, the cute coffee shop in the mall only took cash, something the Hogz never really carried. Annoying. They would go for dinner in the town center and often spent the afternoons at Trsat castle which was less than a 10 minute ride from their airbnb. How’s that for convenience.
Rijeka was once the capital of the steamship cargo industry and now remains mostly deserted industrial factories. Most of Rijeka is on a hill with windy roads and stairs to reach residential to city center . This makes it a bit of a geological anomaly or a pain in the caboose if you will! Although a pain, once at the bottom, you’ll enjoy Americanized shopping in Austro-Hungarian architecture.
Well....This Was a Bit Odd
A few times around town they noticed paintings on walls, souvenirs in boutique shops, and in hotels, small trinkets of an adorned black man. Later from research, they found out that it was a black slave who was adopted as a symbol of the City of Rijeka?????!! They call him morčić. Apparently, it's a very popular carnival costume today during festivals. Man... if BLM knew about this, not only would they be pissed off about the city's traditional symbol literally being a black slave, but they would not have condoned the Travel Hogz's visit there! You can only imagine how weird at least one of them felt to find out about this customary get up. However, the charms they wear are for good luck. It's one of those situations were your mouth flies open in disbelief and your eyes widen as if to say, "OOOOOOKKKKKKAAAY". Let's just say, we will leave this topic and transition to the next.
The Hogz were lucky enough to discover the Croation farmer’s market in the center of town, they tried delicious food at a WWII bunker turned into a restaurant, and accidentally stumbled upon a live outdoor fashion show. With front row seats from glass windows in a warm and cozy hotel coffee shop, the Hogz enjoying a yummy dinner during the fashion show. Awesome! Another childhood dream came true for Hogz #2 without even trying. What are the odds?? Again, as in Budapest and attending the Sting and Shaggy free concert.
Let’s talk transportation. Uber was scarcely abundant in Rijeka as the Hogz often would need a ride due to fatigue, cold weather in the evenings or grocery shopping while out exploring. Though the handle bars of the e-scooters were extremely helpful, they were limited in the capacity of groceries it could handle. A struggle up the many hills of Rijeka on the e-scooters to home was often apparent. So, an Uber was appropriate if, however, if they would show up. That was a problem a numerous amount of times and other cab apps were a problematic as well. They would take whatever worked at the given time but it was often a frustrating hit and miss.
The Hogz found a salon and mens barber who informed them of some other places the Hogz should explore a couple of hours away to subdue their boredom. You didn’t have to say it twice for them to be on it! They booked a 6 day staycation to Pula & Rovinj with the advice of Hog #1's barber. God bless his soul!
PULA - Things To See and Do
Coastal tiny towns with tons of history and lots to do! Pula first then Rovinj both set beside the glittering Adriatic Sea. Pula is home to world-class festivals, fresh and affordable cuisine, and location for the most complete ancient Roman colosseum in the world. Breakfast however, and credit cards are almost obsolete in Pula. So beware and travel there with cash!
The star of this town, of course, is the Roman colosseum Arena which was constructed between 27 BC-68 AD. It is the only Roman amphi theatre in the world with a complete circle wall and one of Croatia’s most cherished architectural gems. It still holds festivals and concerns to this day, and coincidentally Sting, the song artist, and Hogz 1’s favorite music artist, was there just a couple of years prior.
The Hogz Airbnb was only 2 blocks away from the arena. They not only explored the arena but the city center as well. If you don’t have cash, then it might be a bit of a problem at times because most places don’t accept credit cards. Here we go. Breakfast is hard to come by, but the Hogz happened to find a great place that served a terrific American breakfast and accepted credit cards. This ladies and gents is a golden moment.
There was an underground train station turned museum that lead from one side of the city to another. Cool …. literally. Pula’s pasta was amazing and it also had great pizza and gelato! A trip to the castle of Pula was on the agenda but unfortunately, it was closed for a private event, when they arrived, bummer!
Their last morning in Pula and off to kayaking. At the beach, there was a Tahitian style bar overlooking the translucent turquoise waters. As they waited for time to start the tour, witnessing their surroundings was surreal. Activities to learn to water ski, jump off water ski ramps, water slides and more. It was a Disneyland playground of water activities right into the Adriatic.
The tour began promptly with a small group and tips on the best way to kayak. They ventured far away from the sore and into the deep deep waters of the Adriatic. About 40 minutes later they arrive to the caves where the locals were cliff jumping and enjoying summer shenanigans. Into the caves they went for one of the most wonderful experiences. The guide pulled everyone ashore inside the dark cave and told a few historical stories of the cave.
Hog 2 wondered why someone would litter inside the cave by throwing paper in the water. “ How ratchet”, she thought as she approached the floating white opaque object with the flashlight on of her iPhone. Maybe she shouldn’t touch it she thought. There could be yucky germs on it. The closer she got the more she questioned the shape. “Is that paper she shouted?” More people started to gather and look, as it floated towards her. Right before bending over, someone said “No….that’s a jelly fish!”. She sneaked and ran frantically to the shore from knee deep waters in the dark Erie cave. Then the fear kicked in. What else could be in this cave? It’s dark and you can barely see with the headlamps everyone was wearing. So what if there are……BATS! She slowly turned her phone light upwards. YUP sure enough there were some black objects flying around and some perched on the ceiling. “GET ME OUTTA HERE!” She mumbled under her breathe as she tensed up. The guide casually started asking people if they wanted photos. Thank goodness it was a small group so they could hurry and get the heck outta there!
Finally, back in the kayaks and they headed back through a narrow tunnel to get out. T'was fun even with bats hovering above. Off to another location to watch cliff jumpers and swimming, snorkeling with a bit of snacks provided with the tour. All in all it was the perfect adventure. The next morning they were off to Rovinj .
Only 45 minutes away, they arrived at a decent hour unknowingly where their Airbnb was located and not only hard to find but a 20 minute walk from where the Get Transfer driver dropped them off. No cars were allowed past a certain point so they had to walk quite a bit with luggage and the Dogz. Where were you on that one Ms. Airbnb hostess???!!!
After getting near the flat, the hostess finally came to greet them and lead them up. Beautiful building, awesome decor at the front door with ruins under a glass window in the floor. But the stairs…..more stairs, narrow, almost straight up and one person at a time. "Oh no!", Thought Hog 2, hips and sciatica are already ruined and now this? Hog one had to carry the older travel Dog up the straight and narrow stairwell. When will this stair monotony end???? Well, they were in Europe, so never!
An Almost Filleted Travel Hog - Back in Rijeka
The Hogz were keeping busy daily by exploring untraveled grounds including an abandoned train station/rail yard. As they zipped down a mostly deserted street with train docks, the thrill for curiosity grew stronger. Hog #2 was ahead flying on her e-scooter and feeling the refreshing breeze in her face. Yet, somewhere in the faint distance she could barely make out the road ahead. Slowing down a bit but a little too late she saw a thick wire rope! She hit it at a slight angle pushing her torso over the rope and the e-scooter slams into her. The rope went across her torso almost flipping her over the rope. Hog # 1 swerved and almost hit her at the last second. OWWWWWCH! Darned near cut in half, or so she thought.
A Wire rope burn and horrible pain in the lower abs, she knew she was done for. Within seconds bruising and blood began to show through scrapes on the area. Stinging and in pain they made it to the nearby Ljekarna (pharmacy) for antiseptic and bandages. Something resembling internal bleeding began and worry rose. It went on for days. She finally was able to find an English speaking Dr. He took a couple of ultrasounds and saw no abnormalities in the liver. Ok, but bleeding still coming from within. A referral to an OBGYN ensued. An exam with good results showed nothing wrong but a concern for the bleeding. This went on for almost another week. The OBGYN suggested treatment of endometrial if the bleeding didn’t cease. Unfortunately, it was almost time for the Hogz to depart to the next country in about a week. Luckily for her, it eventually stopped. The bruising disappeared as well. Thank goodness she was ok. Whew! That was close!
Dear Rijeka, It's Time To Bid You Farewell
Goodby's were still a bit hard to offer. It was also time to part with their trusty e-scooters as they could not fly with them to Spain. With the help of Miro listing the scooters on a local site, the Hogz sold their trusty scooters for a pretty good price. Not too shabby for a couple of goofy travelers. The Dogz once again needed WOOF Airlines to fly them to the next destination….Valencia Spain. They were picked up a few days prior to the Hogz’s flight and delivered to the Airbnb the same day the Hogz arrived into Spain. Rijeka, you were a good lesson for the Hogz and travelers to come.