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Day 6: Opatija

Our intention for today was to explore a bit more of Opatija and walk along the sea to Lovran, the next village down the coast. As we discovered yesterday, Opatija is a bit like Bridgnorth (in terms of the number of staircases to get one from part of town to the next!) but unlike Bridgnorth it doesn't have the benefit of having a cliff railway. We therefore wanted to make the most of the fact that we were already at a reasonably high elevation from our apartment, and see the hilliest sights before descending down to sea level.

We had read in the guidebook that there was a pleasant woodland walk above Opatija and from a map we saw in town yesterday it looked like the trail started not far away from our street. What we hadn't taken into account was that what looked like an innocuous road on the map was actually a long staircase, and so we unexpectedly found ourselves climbing even higher.


We were soon rewarded with some beautiful views out to sea though.


Before too long we found ourselves on the forest path. The path is called Šetalište Carmen Sylva and has an interesting story attached to it, as it was created at the end of the nineteenth century at the request of the Romanian King Carol. Having come on holiday to Opatija, he had gone riding in the woods above the town and quickly found he was completely lost. The next day he went to the local authorities to complain about the fact that none of the paths were marked. They explained (rather cunningly!) that they didn't have enough money to do that, which resulted in the king making a large donation towards path-marking. The money was eventually used to create the path, which was named after the king's wife Carmen Sylva.


It was a nice shady walk through the trees, but there was arguably a bit too much woodland and not enough viewpoints. It was only occassionally that we got some glimpses of the sea.


When we had finished walking through the forest we decided to head back towards the town and get a closer look at the domed church we had seem from afar the day before.


We could see it from miles away now we were further up the hill, but it took us a while to find the right road to get to it.


The church, which is called Crkva Marijina Navještenja (the church of the annunciation), was constructed in the early twentieth century when tourism in Opatija had really taken off and the existing parish church was deemed to be too small to meet the needs of all the visitors.


It's in a beautiful location, with views across Opatija and down to the sea...


...and it also has some turrets which look like they would be more at home on a castle!


Mission accomplished, we headed back down to ground level in Opatija and found a nice restaurant to have lunch.


Tim had a mixed grill while I had ćevapčići and we followed it up with some nutella pancakes. The lady who served us was friendly and at the end of the meal she unexpectedly brought us two glasses of rakija, whiche she explained in Croatian were on the house. It was very kind of her and would have been rude to refuse, but there was a slight problem in even the faintest sniff of spirits makes Tim feel unwell. Rakija doesn't actually have much of a smell, so he had a little taste of it but wasn't able to take more than a sip. I ended up drinking both so as not to cause offence but wow, it was strong! As soon as I put the glass to my mouth to take a sip my lips started tingling and it soon felt like my throat was on fire. The lady didn't seem to be offering free rakija to any of the other guests in the restaurant, all of whom seemed to be speaking to her in German, so perhaps this is an unexpected hazard of speaking to people in Croatian which we need to be aware of!

The plan for the afternoon was to walk along the coast to Lovran. There is a path which runs for 12km along the coast between Volovsko and Lovran, known in Croatian as "Obalno Šetalište Franza Josefa" and in Italian by the slightly prettier name "Lungomare". Work began on constructing the pathway in 1885, with the aim of providing a scenic seaside walk for the increasing number of tourists who were coming to Opatija as a health resort. The section from Opatija to Lovran was completed in 1911.


Needless to say, there were some wonderful views of the sea as we walked along the coast.


There were a few other people taking a stroll and walking dogs, but overall it was quite peaceful and not too busy.


The walk certainly made it clear that Opatija isn't a good destination for anyone looking for a beach holiday; the coastline is very rocky.


There were some people sunbathing on the rocky outcrops, but they didn't look terribly comfortable to us.


As we progressed around the coast, we could see Lovran appearing in the distance.


We also had a view of a large island which we *think* is Cres, the island which we will be travelling to on Sunday.


We stopped for a drink in Lovran before turning around and walking back to Opatija.


It was a pretty walk, although it felt a little longer on the way back.


In total we walked 13 miles today, so we were glad to get back to the apartment and have a rest!


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