JenSop: The Singing Travel Pro!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.


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Our Very Own Happily Ever After

May 28th was a fantastic day – we had our wonderful wedding in Milos’ hometown of Crikvenica, Croatia. (At the Hotel Marina in Selce, to be exact.)

 

The planning started even before we got engaged (back on Feb. 13, 2015), as some of you might remember from previous blog posts.  I chose a color palette of lavender and mint green, and I got some wonderful decorative items while back in the U.S. during winter and spring.  I was so pleased with how the hotel made our modest decorations come together in such a beautiful and elegant way.

 

Our wedding day weather was warm and sunny with happiness all around.  Of course we had lots to do – the week leading up to the wedding was crazy stressful.  I had just gotten into town after my two week tour on Monday evening (5 days before the wedding), but Milos had been there a few days already and had  started getting things in order.  But no matter how well prepared you are, there are always last minute things to keep you busy leading right up through the wedding day.

 

The ceremony was on the “beach” of the Hotel Marina: a flat concrete area on the water’s edge.  We bought an archway that was decorated with flowers to serve as the “altar” at the end of the aisle between the beach umbrellas made of palm fronds.  Our reception was just above on the lower terrace of the hotel itself.

 

Despite the stress and busy-ness, everything came together spectacularly.  The florist created some gorgeous bouquets – mine looked exactly like the photo I had shown her from Pinterest.  The photographer was professional, easy-going, and exceptionally talented.  We were able to choose the photos for our album AND get a full USB stick of ALL 800-something of our photos just days after the wedding.  The hotel served delicious food and also organized a gorgeous yet simple wedding cake – again, exactly to my specifications.  (And it tasted great!)

 

My friend and bridesmaid Rebecca was a super woman – not only doing my hair, but my sister’s and her own all within our limited given time frame.  We also sang a super duet during the ceremony to “Panis Angelicus.” My sister ran around and was a great wedding day assistant.  All three of my dresses made me feel beautifully bridal, each in their own special way.  (I’ll categorize the three as feminine boho (#1), elegantly classic (#2), and comfortably sexy (#3).

 

Milos looked so amazingly handsome in his light grey suit and lavender tie.  We took some awesome pics together: some near Kastel in the middle of town, some near the seaside park by his childhood house, and some at Lanterna – an old fisherman’s house on the sea.  And of course, we got great photos of people having fun at the reception on the terrace.

 

I didn’t have a lot of folks on my side make the trip to Croatia, but I was so grateful and appreciative for those that could.  We had a FANTASTIC time reliving our younger days out on the dance floor.  (I had put lots of good dance songs on the list from the 80’s and early 90’s.)  The party went until 5:30am, when the few of us remaining decided to take a quick swim in the sea as the sun came up.

 

The most important parts: everyone had a great time and we are now so excited to start our lives together as husband and wife.  After all, a wedding is only a day, but a marriage is a lifetime.  And we are so excited to have that lifetime together.  ❤

 

Here are some photos from our happy day!

 


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Croatia: Suggested Itineraries

Quite a number of folks are planning extended trips around Croatia when they come to our wedding next year, so I thought I’d put together a quick reference to help everyone make their travel plans.  I’m including all the places we’ve been, plus a couple extras too.  For each place that we’ve visited, you can click through to read more comprehensive information about the location.

 

Because this post is first and foremost intended for my friends and family coming over for the wedding, I’ll be using Crikvenica as the starting-off point for frame of reference.  But others will find this post a great place to start when it comes to planning a trip around Croatia.  Bear in mind also that Croatia is a small country, and driving times are relatively short compared to U.S. standards.  (For reference, Croatia is about the size of West Virginia.)

Croatia Map

 

 

Crikvenica – Milos’ hometown of Crikvenica (pronounced tsreek-ven-eet-sah) has started to become a second home for me.  It’s located on the north-western seaside, quite close to the Istrian peninsula.  The town has beaches upon beaches all up and down its length.  It’s also home to a number of excellent dining establishments.  (Click HERE for a full list and review, but some faves at a glance: Burin, Zrinski, Domino, and Kantunic.)

 

 

 

Near Crikvenica:

Rijeka – The closest large city to Crikvenica is a busy port town, with an extensive history of ship-building.  It’s located about 20 minutes away if you take the highway (vs. staying on the sea-side road.) Lots of restaurants, shops, and bars.  (Our favorite restaurant is Spagho, located near the marina area. Highly recommended!) A busy student town, Rijeka is a great place to go for nightlife. (During winter, we head to Rijeka almost every weekend.) It’s also the location of the world’s third largest Carnival celebration (after Rio and Venice.)  Located right next to Rijeka is Opatija, an historically popular resort town.

 

 

Krk – The town of Krk is located on the island of Krk.  It has an impressive fort/castle and a charming old town.  I thoroughly enjoyed exploring its narrow pedestrian streets and walking along its shoreline.  (Plus, there were adorable kitties all throughout the town!) The perfect combination of old world charm and exquisite blue waters.  Lots of beach areas too.

 

 

Heading west from Crikvenica (towards Italy, on the Istrian Peninsula):

Motovun – Built on a hill rising up from a picturesque valley, Motovun is a great destination for a day trip into Croatia’s past.  It’s located inland in the heart of the Istrian peninsula.  Be ready for some climbing, as you will need to walk up the little streets to the peak of the hill to fully explore the town.  You’ll be rewarded with not only an interesting look into history, but fantastic views as well.

 

 

Porec – A quaint seaside town that is very similar to Crikvenica in its character, but with more Venetian influences due to its proximity to the Italian city. It has a really lovely and expansive old town area, and an imposing city wall encircling it.  The Basilica is located on one side of the old town, adding to the charm. Porec has great places to eat as well!  (We recommend Konoba Aba.)

 

 

Rovinj – Rovinj’s old town is nestled on a small hill that protrudes out into the sea.  Rising up in the center is the Church of St. Euphemia.  The architecture here also reminded us of Venice.  Porec and Rovinj are located very close to each other, so I’d recommend staying in one, and visiting the other as a day trip. We also saw lots of adorable little feline city residents here.

 

 

Pula – Located at the southwestern tip of the Istrian Peninsula, Pula is probably best known for its ancient Roman connections.  During the time of Julius Caesar, it was a significant port city, and it’s great ampitheatre is still mostly standing today.

 

****This area in general (Istria) specializes in truffles, olive oils,  and excellent wines.  Be sure to sample some while you’re there!

 

 

 

Heading south from Crikvenica:

 

Plitvice Lakes National Park – One of the most beautiful natural wonders, Plitvice is worth more than a day’s visit.  Majestic waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, winding trails – so many things to see and explore. This is one of our planet’s “not-to-be-missed” treasures.  (Be sure to wear comfortable sturdy shoes, as you will do a lot of walking.) It’s located a bit more inland, but worth the drive away from the coast.  We’ve been here in the spring (link above in the title) and in the winter (link HERE) and both times were spectacular in their own right.

 

 

Zadar – Zadar marks the northern most point of the Dalmatian region of Croatia.  The old town is located on a peninsula that runs parallel to the mainland.  We had some of our finest dining experiences in Zadar: Rafaelo, Kastel, Kornat. It’s not exactly much of a beach destination, but if you’re interested in history, the old town is fantastic, and you can even frolic on some ancient Roman ruins that are nestled between cafes, right by the seaside.  It also boasts the modern marvels of the Sea Organ and the Greeting to the Sun.  From Zadar, you can take quick trips out to some of the islands to get some prime beach time – Saharun Beach on Dugi Otok is just one such example.

 

 

Krka National Park – Another stunningly beautiful natural wonder, Krka is a bit smaller in scale when compared to Plitvice, but it has a little perk that Plitvice doesn’t have: visitors can swim where the main waterfalls empty into the lake.  If you’re a fan of nature, Krka is a wonderful little stop along your Croatian itinerary.  We recommend staying overnight in the nearby town of Skradin to make the most of both locations.

 

 

Skradin – Nestled along the edge of Krka National Park is a wonderful little port town called Skradin.  At first glance, one might only notice the busy marina area, but if you wander in through the narrow pedestrian streets, you’ll be given a wonderful treat!  Quaint cafes, restaurants, and shops await you.  Take the short hike up the hill to the fort in the center of town to take in some spectacular views.  We totally recommend doing an overnight in Skradin so you can take in its charm, while also using it as a home base as you explore Krka National Park.

 

 

Split – The city of Split is a bustling tourist area for good reason.  Not only is it a fantastic destination in its own right, but it’s a central jumping off point for many island excursions, with busy ferries taking folks all around the Adriatic Sea.  Probably one of the most stunning and magnificent sites in Split is the Diocletian Palace in the old town.  It was constructed by the Roman Emperor in the early 4th century AD, and continues to be one of the most valuable surviving ruins from that period still in existence today.  Although not a beach destination, Split is an absolute must for any history buff.  You can easily take a bus or ferry to one of the many numerous beach towns along the coast or on one of the islands.

 

 

Brela – If you’re looking for a quiet relaxing beach sojourn, Brela is the place for you. With miles of exquisite beaches, cozy coves, and stunning scenery, you’re guaranteed to find a place to relax and escape from the world around you.  It’s a great day trip destination, or a place to settle in for a couple days if peace and quiet are what you’re looking for.

 

 

Makarska – One of our favorite vacation get-a-ways, Makarska is a great combination of beach and nightlife.  It has just enough old town area to give it soul and personality, with a bustling sea-side promenade and busy outdoor market area. It’s also well-located when it comes to taking day trips around the region.  If you’re looking for a place to stay in Makarska, we highly recommend Apartments Alagic!

 

 

Dubrovnik – One of the most visited destinations in Croatia is the southern Dalmatian port city of Dubrovnik.  It’s a regular stop on many large cruise ships, and has gained even more attention due to the popular show Game of Thrones being filmed there.  It’s imposing city walls combine with splendid Baroque, Renaissance, and Gothic style architecture.

 

No matter where you go, you’re bound to have a fantastic trip: exciting adventure, delicious cuisine, crystal seas, and ancient history await you!

 


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Nature by the Sea

Vacation may be over, but we still have all our new memories and photos to remind us of how wonderful it was.  One of the enjoyable aspects of going to the beach at our favorite cove in Miloš’ town of Crikvenica, was observing nature doing it’s thing all around us.

For those not familiar with my blog, here’s a photo of our favorite cove.  It’s one of the nude beach areas on the peninsula above town, called Kačjak.  Many of you will remember that I’ve posted about it before as one of our fave spots – which is why Miloš chose it to be the place where he proposed to me.  We always spread a towel out on that mini-rock island in the water.

 

Our favorite cove in Crikvenica

Our favorite cove in Crikvenica – where Miloš proposed.

 

We decided to have fun and rename the rocky island “Crab’s Landing,” as we saw SO many crabs out and about eating and exploring as the day waned and the sun got lower in the sky.  Of course, some just didn’t show up on camera, as the lighting and angles weren’t always ideal. And of course there was the time when we saw two crabs having an epic battle, only to stop as soon as I got my phone out to take a pic.  But I did capture quite a few, including a lucky crab that caught a fish when the school swam by.  There was even one crab that decided to dine on the callous on my heel as I sat there. What’s so interesting is how they blend in so well with the colors and surroundings around them.  When they’re not moving, you sometimes don’t even see them.

 

Crabs!  Can you spot them all?

Crabs! Can you spot them all?

 

This crab caught a fish!

This crab caught a fish!

 

Crab shell

Crab shell

 

 

Crab

Crab

 

And on several of the days, there were large schools of little fish swimming all around us.

 

Miloš hanging out with the fish!

Miloš hanging out with the fish!

 

More fish!

More fish!

 

 

 

And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw in a few pics of the water and surroundings…

 

Beautiful water

Beautiful water

 

The sun going down - view from our favorite spot

The sun going down – view from our favorite spot.

 

I love being surrounded by nature in all its beauty – the life, the colors, the energy.  Next time you’re out and about, take a closer look at the world around you – don’t miss all of its amazing details!

 

Until next time, when I’ll share with you our evening in the charming town of Skradin, Croatia.

 


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Sunday in Croatia

With the caroling season post-work all done for now, I’m back in Europe – in Croatia with Miloš!  I arrived on Thursday, and got a wonderful surprise at the airport.  You see, Miloš had told me he wasn’t going to be able to pick me up at the airport because he had to stay in town to help his mom and get ready for my arrival.  Plus, he said that the car wasn’t allowed to drive out to that part of the country because it didn’t have winter tires.  (They do have strict laws here about driving in the winter with the wrong tires.)  Anyway, it was no big deal ultimately, as I had done the bus option plenty of times.  It’s not complicated and goes straight to Crikvenica.

Well, when I had my layover in Munich (which, by the way, their airport improved their wifi – now you can get 24 hours free wifi as opposed to the previous 30 minutes), I tried calling Miloš to chat with him, but no answer… hmmmm….  But I figured he was sleeping or something.  When I landed in Zagreb, I logged on to their free wifi (only 15 min – booo!)  I called Miloš on Viber (free calling and messaging app) to let him know I had arrived.  I told him I’d see him in a few hours, I grabbed my bags, and I headed to the exchange office to get some money switched.

While in line at the exchange office, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  I just assumed I had dropped something and someone was trying to get my attention.  BUT – it was Miloš!  He TOTALLY surprised me!  Turns out that he just needed to have tire chains in the car in case of getting pulled over – it was okay for him to be driving the car without winter tires.  (Plus, the weather was well above freezing anyway.)  I screamed “Baby!” really loudly when I saw him and got a super awesome huge hug.  (We had gone over three weeks apart this time.)  🙂  What can I say – fantastic surprise!

Upon arrival in Crikvenica, we went straight to the apartment where his mom had already prepared dinner – homemade beef noodle soup and lasagna.  Delicious as always!

This weekend, we went out in Rijeka on Friday night (great dinner at Spagho) and went to Maškare on Saturday night.  (New Maškare blog post coming soon!)

Today we took a long walk out to Kačjak (the peninsula above town) and back.  We got some wonderful pics while out on our walk.  I thought I’d share them with you!  (Click on the individual photos to see them enlarged.)

 


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Of the sea and sky…

This past week, Miloš and I were back in his hometown of Crikvenica, Croatia.  This year, he got a second vacation from the ship, and albeit shorter this time, we took advantage of the late summer break to enjoy some time together.  The weather ran the gamut from hot and sunny to windy, cool, and rainy.  We made the most of it, though, even when the weather was not ideal.

 

I thought I’d share some photos from the week, but this time with a different focus in mind…. just the natural beauty of the sky and the sea.

As you might remember me mentioning before, our favorite swimming spots are out on the nude beach areas of Kačjak – the peninsula just above town.  But don’t worry – all pics are G rated.

 

 

 

July 2014 – Croatia photo highlights

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Hi all! As promised, I’m putting together some photos from our time in Croatia earlier this month.  We spent time in Miloš’ hometown of Crikvenica, plus we headed down to Makarska again.  (Including a day trip to Brela, just north of Makarska.)  Hope you enjoy our photos!

 

(If you hover over each pic, you’ll see its description.  Click on a pic, and you’ll see the large full size version, with the option to page through all the pics in their full size.  Also, if you read this post from the actual post itself, and not the homepage, you’ll see my featured photo of Makarska at the top of the page.  And I DO encourage you to view it from the individual post perspective, as the photos are larger that way.)

 

This gallery contains 49 photos


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Dining in Crikvenica and Selce, Croatia

Restaurants in Crikvenica and Selce

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Considering the number of reviews we’ve written on our dining experiences in Croatia, I thought it was about time that I posted a blog entry just on some of the dining options in Miloš’ hometown of Crikvenica.  (Remember how to say it?  “Tsreek-VEN-eet-sah.”)

Located along the northern coastal area of the country, about 20 minutes south of Rijeka, Crikvenica is a popular summer tourist area on the northern Adriatic, with beaches and beautiful coves stretching for miles. 

This area of Croatia is well known for olive oils, truffles, cheese, and prosciutto.  Home cooking is alive and well, and that tradition is carried over into many of the area’s restaurants. 

RESTAURANTS….

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