Our drive from Zagreb to Istria was relatively quick and painless, and it took us through some picturesque hills. The first coastal city we passed was Rijeka, whose communist-era skyscrapers had us cursing Tito. Luckily Opatija’s architecture was more visually pleasing.
Hotel Imperial was built in 1885; circa 1970, it seems, they decided they had the money to modernize one part of the hotel, and they chose the reception desk. The ceiling of our room was approximately 50 feet tall; the furnishings, including the mattresses, might have been original. The coffee at breakfast was undrinkable. Overall not my favorite hotel, but it had its old world charms, and its location in the center of town was most convenient.
Opatija is a reasonably cute little seaside town, if a little generic in its appeal. My favorite spot was the Lido beach bar (M. Tita 156), one of the nicest settings I’ve ever seen for sitting by the sea and drinking. We also enjoyed a decent dinner at Vongola, a restaurant on the water.
One morning we put on our walking shoes and headed off to Lovran via the Franz Josef Promenade, a 12-kilometer-long paved walking path by the sea.
At times it resembled an Eastern Bloc ode to cement, but for the most part the promenade offered up a nice stroll past some lovely views.
In Lovran we enjoyed a yummy lunch of fresh seafood at Bellavista before wandering through the small maze of buildings that makes up Lovran’s old town, which was tumbledown in the most picturesque way possible. A leisurely coffee by the sea topped off our visit. We hopped a bus back to Opatija for the evening’s activities.
So far Croatia is living up to its ‘The Mediterranean as it once was’ slogan.