Saturday, December 20, 2014

Adriatic Tour–Romantic Rovinj

P1010017IMG_0273All of this tour was trip of a lifetime, but there are a few places that will stay in my heart.  One of them was Rovinj, Croatia and we were only there a few hours.  I so wanted to spend more time in this special little town.  Spilling out into the Adriatic and surrounded by fishing boats, the old town is filled with small cobbled alleys sometimes leading you to some new interesting location and sometimes ending abruptly.  Little sobes (apartments for rent and oh, so, cute!—Wanda has her eye on the one in the photo right), art galleries, and restaurants line the streets and alleys.  And like a tiered wedding cake, the top (hill-top) is adorned—in this instance with a bell-towered church.

IMG_0271IMG_0269A pleasant cultural and architectural mash-up between Italian and Austrian.  Austrians enjoyed the location as a vacation destination during the Hapsburg rule (pre-World War I) and Italians during their ownership between World Wars. 

Sigh.  Just a few more days, please!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Magic Moment–#21 School Christmas Program

child_angelIn elementary school, we had a very talented music teacher.  I cannot remember her name, but I remember what she accomplished.  All year long we sang, but Christmas was special.  And one song we practiced over and over.  On the big night of the Christmas Program, all of us dressed in satin white, delicate wings attached to our little backs, and a halo perched on our heads.  Standing tall on the auditorium tiered bleachers with all the parents sitting in folding chairs below.  The lights dimmed and we sang with perfection “Fall on your knees. O hear the angels voices.  O night divine.  O night when Christ was born.  O night divine. O Holy Night.”  Our voices filled the big room and echoed off the walls.  Loudly, loudly, and then ending softly with “O Holy Night.” 

The parents immediately stood and clapped loudly.  Not able to contain themselves they rushed forward to claim their children and hug them proudly.  My Mom and Dad were crying and exclaimed they had never heard anything so beautiful.  It was beautiful.  I could feel it.  Only 7 years old and I still remember the moment 53 years later. 

Adriatic Tour–Pula’s Roman Amphitheater

Pula_AmphitheaterThe Pula Amphitheatre located on the coast of Croatia is remarkably intact.  [Photo taken by Adria Hirsch from our tour group.]  It was crowded with tourists the day we visited; but I suspect it is less crowded than the more well-known structures like Rome’s Colosseum .  Visit to the “basement” of the amphitheater where once lions and other exotic animals and gladiators waited before their turn for a battle to the end.  All for the enjoyment of the elite and ordinary civilians--around 20,000 could fill this arena--although I find it hard to understand the watching pleasure as the beasts tear a human apart.  Today’s events include music concerts and film festivals. 

IMG_0263The subterranean level also displays found intact jugs or amphorae some still containing olive oil and wine.  The bottoms rounded to allow rocking in the bottom of the ship.  Think about it—this is close to 2,000 years old.  Hard to wrap your head around, isn’t it?

Throughout the old town (Pula is a big city; the tourist portion is small and very easy to walk) you find more remnants of the Ancient Romans.  Seems every time an “empty” lot is readied for a new building more ruins are found.  Very much a working city, Pula has a grittier and busier feel to it than the places we have visited so far.  Still a beautiful place by the Adriatic. 

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