Lady Eleganza – Croatia and Adriatic Maiden Season

My wife and I have recently returned from an entirely different style cruising that had been on our ‘bucket list’ for some considerable time. Indeed, we had originally booked this very cruise for 2021 prior to it being postponed due to the Covid pandemic.

The cruise was onboard the recently built  Lady Eleganza…

******

with an itinerary that would take us from  Dubrovnik to the Croatian capital, Zagreb…

 

The Lady Eleganza is a 49 metre motor super yacht  that caters for just 34 guests in 18 cabins….

 

 

For this cruise we had booked a relatively spacious air conditioned cabin on the Main Deck, Cabin 5…

 

*****

 

….complete with a high quality and spacious en-suite…

An innovative ship card that gave access to both the cabin and the cabin safe…

…in addition to being the key to the operation of  the guests ‘Shoreside Status Monitor’…

On embarkation we were more than pleasantly surprised and  impressed with both the size of our cabin and the amount of upper deck space available for relaxation:  probably due to the fact that there is actually a further deck above the ‘Sun Deck’ on the official Deck Plan shown above. This is it…

*****

Needless to say it became our favourite spot when transiting between ports…..

The next deck down, the Sun Deck, also offered ample space…

*****

 

…complete with jacuzzi aft ….

…and further sun beds forward of the wheelhouse complex….

The ‘Upper Deck’ was home to the Restaurant…

*****

….with a small lounge area at the forward end…

 

A small bar area aft…

 

Leading to a spacious  ‘Al Fresco’ lounge area aft…

******

The Galley was also situated forward on the ‘Upper Deck’….

…as was a further sun bed area forward…

On a number of occasions during the itinerary we were informed that there would be a number of opportunities to take a swim. To this end the Lady Eleganza had a purpose built ‘Swimming Platform’…

 

******

More about this particular activity in the itinerary section of this review.

Dining onboard the Lady Eleganza did not completely conform with standard cruising routines. Part of the deal for this particular cruise was that only four evening meals would be provided onboard while the opportunity could be taken for guests to dine ashore on the other, nominated evenings.

Breakfasts and lunches were fully included and took the format of a buffet service…

*****

*****

Eggs of course were cooked to order….

Lunches were also a buffet affair, one example….

The Hake….

The Turkey with Gorgonzola Pastry…

…and the Fig Cake…

Two of the evening meals onboard were held ‘Al Fresco’ on the rearranged Sun Deck, one of which was billed as a  Balkan style BBQ….

*****

******

******

I will cover the food in my summary, suffice to say it was the one area of the cruise that did not live up to expectations.

Itinerary

When we originally booked we were scheduled to fly London to Dubrovnik with British Airways on the day we were due to join the ship. Having been made aware of the turmoil and cancellations involving flights out of London we contacted APT through our travel agent (ROL) and requested that we fly a day earlier as a safety precaution.This appeared not to be a problem and the only restriction on us was that we would have to arrange and pay our own accommodation for the extra night in Dubrovnik plus arrange our own Dubrovnik airport /accommodation / ship transfer.

This did not deter us one iota as we had always fancied spending a night in Dubrovnik: after the cruise ships had sailed.

 

Day 1  Wednesday 15 June 2022 – Dubrovnik

Our outbound journey went like clockwork. The APT complimentary Addison Lee  private transfer to Gatwick was efficiently undertaken and our BA flight,  Gatwick to Dubrovnik, took off on time and landed ahead of schedule.

We had opted for an apartment in Dubrovnik ‘Old Town’ – booked through Booking.com and on arrival at Dubrovnik airport we promptly settled for an Uber ride into town….

Our apartment turned out to be a spacious three roomed ‘gaff’ with ensuite facilities and a balcony. All situated less than 50 yards from Dubrovnik’s main street, Stradun…

Don’t be fooled by that picture of Stradun: it was taken at 7.00 am the following morning before the hordes of tourists descended.

A few photographs of the apartment…

******

….complete with a small kitchenette with washing machine etc.

Having visited Dubrovnik on four previous occasions I had become aware that there was one place I hadn’t discovered that offered a different aspect on  Dubrovnik’s photography. It was Fort Lovrijenac….

Fort Lovrijenac or St. Lawrence Fortress, often called “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar”, is a fortress and theatre outside the western wall of the city.  It sits some  37 metres above sea level.

Relatively easy to reach once outside Dubrovnik’s main entrance, The Pile Gate…

*****

….then a short walk along around the town’s West Harbour, taking in a view of the equally famous Fort Bokar…

******

Once inside Fort Lovrigenac one gets the picture and a great view over both the West Harbour and Fort Bokar….

…and appreciates those numerous photo opportunities…..

******

Prior to our departure from Dubrovnik we discovered that one of my grandchildren was holidaying there with his girlfriend. A couple of messages later and they agreed to meet up with us for dinner that evening – not before sampling Croatian wines in the trendy D’Vino Wine Bar a stones throw from our apartment…

before heading to the aptly named ‘Paradise Restaurant’ in one of the side streets of the Stradun…

******

The Paradise Restaurant Octopus Salad….

…and various Fish and Seafood main courses….

******

*****

A fabulous meal and evening rounded off back at the D’Vino Wine bar….

 

Day 2 – Thursday 16 June 2022  – Dubrovnik

The scheduled embarkation time for Lady Eleganza was 4.00 pm. We had, however, made a prior arrangement to drop off our luggage at the ship earlier.

I made the most of being in the ‘Old Town’ ahead of the tourists and set off quite early to see a somewhat different Dubrovnik. One particular place I was anxious to shoot without people crawling all over it was Onofrio’s Fountain…

 

One of those tourist attractions that generally get swamped with visitors, and can be found directly inside the Pile Gate entrance,  is the large, rounded polygonal shaped structure of Onofrio’s Large Fountain, with a cupola and 16 water taps and the design dates back to 1438.

The fountain is embellished by 16 stone carved masks and a statue of a dog.

It was all rather surreal sharing the Stradun with just the street cleaners and their  vehicles…

…as I headed for my next stop, the ‘Old Town Port’…

…in time to welcome the Azamara early bird visitors tendering ashore…

Returning to the apartment I picked up our breakfast from Dubrovnik’s most popular ‘Burek’ shop, Soles…

 

******

 

Uber again came up up trumps with our transfer to Dubrovnik’s Gruz Harbour and, as previously arranged, our luggage was taken onboard. We then set off to follow the waterfront around the harbour and out onto the Lapad Peninsular. It was an interesting walk with many reminders of Croatia’s recent troubled past on display….

Our eventual destination however was the Yacht Club Orsan restaurant which had been recommended to us by my grandson the previous evening…

As luck would have it we were allocated a nice waterside table…

 

…from where we continued our Dubrovnik seafood love affair…

Oysters followed by a Razor Fish and Mussel Squid Ink Risotto…

From the Orsan restaurant we had a good view across the harbour to the more traditional cruise ship berths and terminal…

A leisurely walk back and we were soon onboard Lady Eleganza, settling into our cabin and unpacking.

Lady Eleganza was programmed to remain in port overnight and early evening we joined our fellow guests for the Captains Welcome Dinner…

 

Day 3 –   Friday 17 June 2022 – Dubrovnik to Korcula

This morning there was an organised excursion into DubrovnikOld Town, but we decided that having done Dubrovnik to death…

One way to do Dubrovnik

…we would spend the morning relaxing up on the Sun Deck. At Midday all were back onboard and we let go our lines….

…and headed out past the Franjo Tudman Bridge…

…on to our next destination, Korcula…

….where we arrived minutes before 6.00 pm.

Once berthed alongside we disembarked for our guided tour of the town. Korcula was to be our first evening dining ashore experience and it fell to our guide to point out some of the more popular restaurants as we made our way around the town.

On the walk two particular structures interested me. First, within a few minutes of leaving the ship,  the Zakerjan Tower…

and the second, St Mark’s Cathedral….

Other places of interest included the home of Marco Polo…

 

...the Town Gate….

Some novel wall art…

 

and an insight the guide gave us to some original but rather ancient air conditioning technique …

Apparently those stone extrusions with small circles held curtain poles where residents would hang damp sheets which allowed breezes to funnel in through the window spaces while keeping the sun out.

The guided tour over we headed back to St Mark’s cathedral. While outside I had noted that it was possible to climb the bell tower…

…the challenge was on…

…and it was a worthwhile climb….

…as the views proved…

*****

 

*****

 

On the immediately above panoramic view it is possible to see the Lady Eleganza on the left, but of more interest to us at that moment was the image of the Zakerjan Tower central on the photograph.

The bell tower climb complete and sunset was approaching so we headed straight for the Zakerjan Tower…

…which just so happened to house a trendy Cocktail Bar atop the tower…

….that just happened to serve one of our favourite cocktails, Hugo.

The nearer it came to sunset….

…the busier it became….

Our next task had to be to find a suitable place to dine. We had made a note of a number of suitable looking places…

…but when the time came it was in fact the al fresco restaurant within site of the tower that got our vote….

….particularly when we learnt they had a selection fresh fish…

Having chosen to share the larger of those fish we were pleasantly surprised when the dish was served that they had thrown in the prawns complimentary – well, after all, we had bought a bottle of wine as well.

 

Bon appetite folks….

After an excellent meal we decided to retrace our earlier walk around Korcula and lap up the atmosphere, picking up a pair of their excellent Pistachio gelato on the way…

…and admiring the illuminated Old Town gate we had visited earlier in the evening….

….before returning to our ship.

Day 5 –   Saturday 18 June 2022 –  Korcula to Vis

At 6.30 am we bid farewell to Korcula Town and sailed with the coastline of Korcula Island on our port side and the Peljesac Peninsular on our starboard side heading in the direction of the island of Vis.  This is the island featured in the film “Mama Mia- Here We Go Again”.  We  arrived mid-afternoon….

*****

At around 3.30 pm we set off for a scenic drive across this isolated island which was obviously a yachts paradise. We headed first for the  King George III Fortress….

The historically symbolic stronghold of Fort George was the base for the navy of several different nations. Originally built by the British in 1813, and named after King George III, it was later used by the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Yugoslav Army.

*****

More recently the fortress has been remodelled into a bar, restaurant and a wedding/music venue…

Our next stop was at one of the island’s highest peaks which not only offered splendid views but also had a small memorial dedicated to the service of the Royal Air Force on the island during World

War II….

Vis served as a wartime Partisan Base during WWII and from our vantage point we could clearly see the old grass airfield used by allied air forces…

https://www.dalmatia.hr/blog/vis-and-its-military-history-world-war-ii-allied-airport/

 

Also from this advantage point we could see, in the opposite direction, the view across the bay to where we had previously visited the King George III fortress…

Our journey across the island continued in the direction of Komiža…

…a traditional Croatian fishing port on the Western coast of the island of Vis…

….complete with its old fortress clock tower….

*****

and once again we found  a dedication to those Allied Forces, this time out on the harbour breakwater ….

We returned to the Lady Eleganza back in Vis port…

…and following an onboard dinner my wife and I headed out in search of the nightlife….

By pure accident we fell upon one of the most amazing bars we have had the pleasure to discover on our travels…

******

It was called MVSEVM Vis, or so its ‘flyer’ stated ….

…and was a truly unique discovery.

The bar has a number of open plan rooms that hold an amazing private collection of naval related memorabilia and is fitted out with genuine 19th century furnishings.

We were well looked after by the owner’s son, Joseph…

…who’s enthusiasm for the place was truly infectious.

…while serving us with a delightfully cheeky Croatian Sauvignon Blanc….

We had a truly memorable experience at MVSEVM Vis and, once again, we continued with our record of being the last guests to return onboard that evening…

Sunday 19 June – Vis, Split and Sibinek

Departing Vis well before breakfast, we now continued to sail northwards towards our next stop, Split…

…where we arrived around 9.00 am.

Interesting to note as we arrived that one of the ships we had previously cruised on, though not to Split, was already in port, Silversea’s Silver Spirit…

We have visited Split on two other occasions and I have a dedicated review already on the blog…

 

 

 

We did join the arranged guided excursion as far as the Diocletian Palace….

******

….before breaking away with a view to climbing St Domnius Cathedral Bell Tower…

Alas we were to be thwarted, the Bell Tower was not scheduled to be open until midday – and we would be well out to sea by then, heading to our next port. We did, though, find some amusement at the  ‘Gregory of Nin’ Statue ….

 

….before heading back for the 11.45 sail away.

 

…to Sibinek, a planned sailing of five and a half hours. We made good speed and were approaching Sibinek  early. We had been informed that there was a possibility of a delay due to the traffic light navigation system operating along the St Anthony’s Channel…

…. a strait connecting Šibenik Bay to the Adriatic Sea.

On one side of the channel entrance is the Jadrija Lighthouse…

…with its lights showing green for us, and on the opposite side, the St Nicholas Fortress…

The stunning landscape of the Channel presented some great photographic opportunities….

…in particular a number of old submarine pens…

*****

*****

…and two places that, following the cruise director’s port briefing, kind of excited me –  the fortresses that dominated the bay, St Michaels (on the left) St John’s (on the right)…

….and with a little zoom….

In the city of Šibenik there are four fortresses, each of which has views of the city, sea and nearby islands.

Our earlier than planned arrival opened a window of opportunity. I had established that the guided tour would not be brought forward and that the forts were not included in the tour. That offered me a 90 Minute window to see what I could achieve on my own.

From the ship’s berth I could see St Michael’s Fortress, some 60 Metres above sea level…

…so had a good idea of the general direction and, armed with a tourist map of Šibenik off I set along the waterfront.

I was soon starting my ascent past the Cathedral of St James ….

and continued upwards…

…through the maze of narrow streets and steps past the Cave of Our Lady of Lourdes…

…till I eventually stumbled upon the St. Ana Cemetery…

…which surrounds part of the walls of the fortress….

situated on a steep hill above the old historic center of the city. Its strategically favorable and dominant position made it the central part of Šibenik fortification system

Disappointment, though, when I discovered at the fortress gates that entrance to the fortress was not possible: it is closed on a Sunday.

Undaunted, and referring once again to my tourist map, I made the decision to tackle the higher climb to the other fortress, St John’s, which sits at at a height of 120 Metres above sea level.

To put it in perspective I’ve marked the rough route on this illustration…

Having found my way to the fire station adjacent the ‘Road Route’ arrow I then followed the winding roadway that zig-zagged up the hill, passing a third fort, Barone ….

*****

…and continuing along a rough track…

…till reaching my goal. I enjoyed the view…

******

…particularly the one that illustrates the St. Anthony Channel…

…seen above central over St. Michael’s Fortress.

The descent was, of course, considerably easier and, because I no longer wished to visit St. Michael’s Fortress, I could stick to one of the more direct main roads back into the centre of Sibenik.

Indeed, I arrived with minutes to spare to join the ship’s guided group tour. Some photographs from the  guided walk around the town….

*****

The bunting around the town had been produced by local children to celebrate an historical festival.

*****

Later in the evening we dined ‘Al Fresco’ onboard Lady Eleganza on the Sun Deck…

…while after dinner my wife and I headed ashore to savour the local entertainment and late night atmosphere…

*****

 

Monday 20 June – Sibinek and Zadar

 

We stayed berthed at Sibenik overnight and after breakfast we boarded a coach that took us on a 30 minute drive for a guided visit  the Krka National Park…

Krka National Park is situated along the Krka River 18 kilometres north of the city and covers some 142 square kilometres. It is known for a series of 7 waterfalls, flora, fauna and historical and archaeological remains. In the south, Skradinski Buk waterfall is flanked by traditional watermills.

A nature trail boardwalk passes  many striking cascades….

******

 

 

During our walk we toured one of the preserved water mills, clearly visible being the old dike and water supply channels….

…to the six ‘milling wheels’ inside the restored mill…

******

Viewpoints abound on the trails that guide the visitor to all the waterfalls…

*****

Our visit to the Krka National Park complete we returned to the Lady Eleganza and by midday we were sailing back through the St. Anthony Channel heading for our next port of call, Zadar…

…where we arrived late afternoon,  berthing at 5.00 pm.

One of the joys of cruising on a ship this size was the close proximity it could sail to the coastline. Amply illustrated above and in the next two photographs which also show two of the town’s visitor highlight that we had on our list, the Forum Romanum and Anastasia Bell Tower….

…and the site of the Zadar Sea Organ….

(more about the Sea Organ later)

We berthed at a very convenient spot a short distance from both the Gradski Most (City Bridge) – connecting the historic old town of Zadar with the modern new town, and one of the old city gates built into the city walls…

Zadar was one of the designated ‘Dine Ashore’ ports and not being early eaters a recce of the old town was in order.

Needless to say yours truly had one particular place in mind, that Anastasia Bell Tower…

The bell tower is an integral part of the Cathedral of St. Anastasia, a Roman Catholic cathedral  and the largest church in all of Dalmatia.

Standing  56 metres high with some 180 steps to reach the top…

 

…the freestanding bell tower offers amazing views over the city and out to sea….

******

The views are simply fascinating. The deep blue Adriatic coupled with the dazzling red rooftops of Zadar…

There was a considerable advantage to having the ship so close to the centre of the Old Town. We returned onboard for a wash and brush up, donned our glad rags, and headed back into town where we  first settled at an outstanding position in the easily accessible ‘Peoples Square’…

…where we availed ourselves of numerous G&Ts…

…people watching and awaiting the first signs of sunset approaching. We had also spotted a restaurant on a side street off Peoples Square that took our fancy….

At the calculated minute we set off for the area at the end of the small town peninsular where the Sea Organ and ‘Greeting to the Sun Monument’ are situated. Crowds had already formed on the stepped front of the Sea Organ….

Anticipating the crowds I’d taken a photograph of the Greeting to the Sun Monument earlier during my late  afternoon recce…

As the sunset approached…

…we enjoyed and captured, with the help of a friendly Korean fellow photographer, a memorable moment…

While we did hear the Sea Organ it is probably more illustrative if I include this Youtube clip that I found to give a better illustration of what its all about….

The sunset over we headed back to the ‘Peoples Square’ and were lucky enough to be able to grab an ‘al fresco’ table at our previously chosen restaurant….

…not in the least perturbed by the signage on the adjacent wall….

*******

******

The local Sauvignon Blanc was excellent as was the Tuna Carpaccio….

…and the Sea Bass en Papillote…

******

Having lingered over our meal it was getting reasonably late so we decided to head back to the Lady Eleganza. Our attention, however, became drawn to the musical activity on the  Gradski Most (City Bridge) which appeared to be a hive of activity. Venturing across we found a number of busking  musicians …

…. which proved the perfect culmination to our evening….

 

Tuesday 21 June –  Zadar to  Rab

The first activity today was a scheduled hour and a half guided walk through the Zadar Old Town. As we had covered quite a lot the previous afternoon, and there were some particular places of interest to us that we wished to see,  we opted to go it alone following an early breakfast.

Once through the  nearest wall gate to the City Bridge…

We turned a sharp left and followed the internal city wall to the Fish Market…

….which proved a most interesting visit…

From there we headed through the student quarter to Bastion Grimani…..

…. which in turn leads to  Five Wells Square….

The Renaissance Five Wells Square in Zadar is encircled by the western Medieval wall and the Captain’s Tower, as illustrated in the photograph aboveabove.

During the 16th century, the Venetians helped the city withstand Turkish sieges by building a large drinking water cistern with five ornamental wellheads

The central steps in the above photograph lead into Queen Jelena Madijevka Park from where there is a excellent  view overlooking the Land gate and Old Port…

Steps lead down to both the Land Gate…

…and the walkway around the Old Port…

…which eventually leads back to Zadar’s waterfront promenade that we passed on our approach by sea…

The large white buildings belong to Zadar University…

Rounding off our walk we headed back through the Student Quarter with its fine and quirky array of cafes, restaurants and shops till we came upon, once more, the old Roman Forum…

All aboard time was set at 11.00 am and we duly cast off and headed out to the Adriatic for our next destination, passing on the way the Azamara Onward which was calling at Zadar that day….

Farewell Zadar, you proved a fabulous visit…

 

Some 6 hours of cruising along the Croatian coast line we came within site of our next destination,

Rab.

On many occasions awarded the title of  the best tourist destination in the Adriatic, the town of Rab sits on a narrow sliver of land protruding towards the mainland.  Bounded by ancient city walls and recognisable  by four church towers that form the familiar outline,  Rab is depicted as a ship with four masts…

 

*****

We were allocated a berth right at the end of the jetty…

******

(Can you spot us?)

Rab was scheduled to be our final ‘Dine Ashore’ port of call. Within 30 minutes of arriving we were escorted by a local guide on an hour and a half walking tour….

*****

 

…which took in the ‘viewpoint’ indicated in this photograph….

…the old town walls….

…the narrow streets with a varied selection of shops….

….and a good sprinkling of interesting restaurants….

 

Once again, on the guided tour’s completion,  my wife and I opted to return to the ship to wash and brush up before heading out to eat. I personally had another photographic task that I wished to undertake. On our walk I had noted  the The Bell Tower of St. Mary …

 

…which, according to the notice on the door,  was scheduled to open to the public between 9.30 and 13.00 and then 19.30 and 22.30.

The bell tower of St. Mary, close to the church of St. Mary’s Ascension is the largest of the four towers, and it is possible to climb the 26 metres to the highest level, taking one  above the  bells.

The climb was worth it…

…with an even better  view of the Lady Eleganza’s berth….

******

I even spotted my good lady waving ….

….below before she grabbed us some seats in the bar at ground level…

…where I eventually joined her for a couple of G&Ts…

Suitably watered we headed through the narrow streets to one of the more traditional Croatian Konoba restaurants we had spotted earlier on our walk…

This particular one, Konoba Kod Kineza, came highly recommended and we grabbed a nice table on their upper terrace…

to enjoy an Octopus Starter…

….followed by Pasticada Njoki…

 

Pašticada is a popular and the ultimate dish from the region of Dalmatia. Traditional Dalmatian pašticada (or Dalmatinska pašticada) is slow-cooked beef prepared in a rich red sweet and sour sauce, usually served with gnocchi, and while traditionally a ‘peasants’ dish it is often  prepared for important feasts, including weddings and baptisms.

Our late night walk back to the Lady Eleganza threw up one last photo opportunity, The Bell Tower illuminated…

 

Wednesday 22 June –  Rab to Opatija

We slipped our lines at 08.00 am and departed Rab. As we started to move my attention was drawn to another cruise ship that was tendering her passengers into Rab, Seabourn Quest…

*****

After some three and a half hours sailing Captain Neno found a secluded bay off the island of Krk for the third and final swim stop of our cruise……

During these stops the crew made available a couple of paddle boards for those keen enough to have a go.  Otherwise it was just great fun to take a cooling dip…

*****

At approximately 2.30 pm we arrived at Opatija…

…which is famous for its  Franz Joseph I Promenade, known locally as the Lungomare. It is some 12 Kilometres long and connects to the south the picturesque fishing village of Volosko with Opatija and further on northwards with Ičići, Ika and Lovran.

Our interest lay in the southern section and we set off from our berth along the promenade in the direction of Opatija centre…

 

The Lungomare passed many beautiful beaches in and around Opatija, town landmarks such as the Villa Angiolina and its surrounding park, and the statue of the Girl with the Seagull…

The Umjetnički paviljon…

and the fisherman statue at Opatija’s small harbour…

But once again we were on a mission. I had brought with us our Guide book to Croatia…

 

…which informed us that Opatija was once a fashionable Austro-Hungarian seaside resort. There was also a  mention of a certain  picturesque village at the southern end of the Lungomare, Volosko…

…and that was our target destination. With limited time we made the decision to ride Uber to Volosko …

 

and walk back to Opatija along the Lungomare…

…billed as an enchanting seafront promenade that stretches along the coast of Kvarner Bay. Our plan and decision to start from Volosko paid off. Volosko itself was a delightful little spot and fully lived up to its write up….

*****

Our only regret being that we did not really have time to linger and enjoy the atmosphere that prevailed around the waterside cafes and bars.

And so we set off along the ‘Lungomare’….

…passing bathing spots and many magnificent refurbished  19th Century historical villas…

…some not so well looked after…

…and hotels…

…and places of historical interest….

…until eventually we returned to Lady Eleganza’s berth…

On our return home I found the following website of particular interest…

https://www.visitopatija.com/en/lungomare-coastal-promenade-a-walk-by-the-sea-from-volosko-to-lovran-p477

As we returned onboard the staff were busy preparing the venue

…for the final al fresco ‘Captain’s Farewell Dinner’…

A couple of local musicians turned up to entertain us…

…and we enjoyed the evening which certainly proved a few degrees more convivial than the ‘Welcome Onboard’  dinner a week earlier. The Starter, Mille Feuilles Pate…

…and the main course, Tenderloin Scalopine….

…and a chance to say farewell to the two delightful Thai waitresses, Sara and Mae,  who worked hard keeping my wine glass replenished…

 

Thursday 23 June –  Opatija to Zagreb

Following an early breakfast we duly boarded our transfer coach for Zagreb as the crew mustered on the jetty to wave us off…

The transfer took some two and a half hours. Only two couples were scheduled to spend the night in Zagreb while the remainder were taken to Zagreb’s airport for their onward flights.

As part of APT’s loyalty programme we were entitled to our choice of either a complimentary pre-cruise destination or a post-cruise destination stay. We had chosen Zagreb on the grounds we had never visited the city before. APT arranged hotel accommodation at the Zagreb Sheraton…

We were keen to make the most of our day so having checked in we headed out on our Zagreb discovery plan, again with the aid of our Croatia Guide book. Our first stop in order of proximity to the hotel was  Zagreb’s Art Pavillion…

…on King  Tomislav  Square. A good call as well as it was only a short walk to King Tomislav’s Statue…

…which sits directly opposite Zagreb’s main railway station. Also opposite the railway station was the very grand and superior Esplanade Hotel…

Trams are by far the most popular form of transport around Zagreb…

…however, as we soon came to appreciate, the places we planned to visit were all in reasonable walking distance so we opted for Shank’s Pony.

Our guide book indicated that a long green park area connects the railway station to the old town of Zagreb, Trg Nikola Šubić Zrinski, also known as Zrinjevac. It said that it was one of the most beautiful and romantic parks in the Croatian capital. As our prime aim was the ‘Old Town’ we followed the Zrinjevac: which while affording us a degree of shade also threw up some interesting sights.

Zagreb has a deep cultural history and that is reflected in their various arts and cultural galleries like this  one we passed while walking the Zrinjevac, known as The Gallery of Masters…

 

Continuing on our way we came across this interesting piece that we hadn’t had any prior knowledge of…

It is the rather unusual relic,  Zrinjevac Meteorological Column…

This 135 year old ‘weather station’ was built by the physician and amateur meteorologist Adolf Holzer and  outfitted with scientific instruments to record temperature, humidity, and air pressure over time with the motive of studying the effects of the climate on human health.

A further short walk and we were Ban Jelacic Square…

It is the central square in the city of Zagreb and the gateway to the ‘Old Town’. Once Zagreb’s  main market place, it now stands at the centre of its social life and the most popular meeting points are “under the clock” on the west side of the square, and “under the horse’s tail” – a reference to the equestrian statue of Ban Jelačić in the square’s centre.

Literally around the corner from the square is Zagreb’s Roman Catholic Cathedral…

The Cathedral, on the Kaptol, is a Roman Catholic cathedral-church and not only the second tallest building in Croatia but also the most monumental sacral building in Gothic style southeast of the Alps. It is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and to kings Saint Stephen and Saint Ladislaus.

Directly opposite and just a 3 minute walk away,  we found the Mesnica Neno Dolac which, loosely translated equates to ‘a farmer’s market’….

…which proved a perfect spot to bring onboard some traditional Croatian sustenance and liquid refreshment…

*****

…before we headed off to see more sites on our list of must dos.

We were about to enter the Old Town proper and to do so we were going to pass through the ‘Old Stone Gate’…

That’s it up there to the right of St George’s Horse’s tail. Indeed, this very scene was featured in our guide book except for the fact it was taken at night and there was snow on the ground. It was amusing to note that St George and the Dragon featured in Zagreb…

Onwards we proceeded  through the Old Stone Gate…

….where the next place of interest just happened to be the Croatian parliament Building…

(The Old Stone Gate house can be seen just to the bottom right of the Parliament Building)

Sharing the same square as the Parliament building is the imposing medieval style church of St Mark…

…and by taking the street opposite the church, Ćirilometodska ul.3, for some 150 metres, we fell upon yet another of our target sites, The Lotrščak Tower…

 

The tower, which dates to the 13th century, was built to guard the southern gate of the Gradec town wall. The name is derived from Latin campana latrunculorum, meaning “thieves’ bell”, referring to a bell hung in the tower in 1646 to signal the closing of the town gates.

Never one to turn down the challenge of a tower or steeple, yours truly embarked on the full visit…

Chuffed to bits to get a shot in with St. Mark’s Church as a backdrop. There were other great views over Zagreb to be had though, like back at the Cathedral…

…and over the lower city…

…while capturing not only the shortest funicular in the world, but the oldest…

the Uspinjača…

Our afternoon was drawing to a close and we had plans for the evening so we headed  back to our hotel for a short siesta,  but not before spotting the rather impressive Croatian National Bank building…

Our pre-cruise research had indicated that the best nightlife area in Zagreb centred around  Tkalčićeva Street…

It is situated in the Old Town area just a block behind Ban Jelacic Square. As we had discovered on our walk this afternoon, that was about a 25 minute walk from our hotel, or a £3.50 Uber ride…

It being a lovely sunny evening so we decided we would take in a little more of Zagreb and walk. We were pleased we did because we found a very different atmosphere on and around  Ban Jelacic Square for a start.

Tkalčićeva Street is around a kilometre long and proved to be just wall to wall bars, clubs, cafes and restaurants…

…with a great ambiance, buzz and variety of venues. Even the side streets drew one in…

There was even a little history commemorated along the way…

(Note the old sun dial on the wall behind)

Where on earth does one start?

Cafe Bar Prestige….

…which actually turned out a well timed choice…

…to watch the goings on while enjoying a local beer…

Next we found near the top end  The Blues & Booze Bar…

whose tables appeared quite unique…

Having downed copious quantities of beers and gins and with the light slowly fading we retraced our steps to a restaurant we had spotted earlier, Nikki’s House Restaurant…

*****

There was no arguing about choice, we were ravenous by now and opted for the 4th dish down…

…the Croatian platter for two….

…and here it comes……eek!

WOW…

Needless to say we failed to complete the course but it was the challenge and enjoyment of what our fellow diners were having and there’s no doubt we’d tackle it again under the same circumstances.

It was mutually decided that having eaten so much it was better to walk as much as possible of it off and once again skip the trusty Uber ride. In a way that paid dividends as we experienced the  Zagreb night life heading back to our hotel…

*****

 

*****

Zagreb proved to be an excellent experience. It has a multitude of places of interest, is relatively easy to navigate, and most places worth seeing are within easy walking distance. It is also a lively city with a great atmosphere that surprisingly proved inexpensive and great fun.

 

Friday 24 June –  Zagreb to Home

Having covered so much ground the previous day we had little enthusiasm to venture away from our hotel. We hada leisurely start with a late breakfast at the hotel and were ready by late morning for the APT arranged private transfer to Zagreb airport…

A relatively small airport where everything was pretty efficient leading to a speedy check in and transfer through to departures. Our BA flight was on time and the only hiccup was after landing at Heathrow where there was a 20 minute wait on the tarmac for a gate to become available. I guess with all  other problems  being experienced at that time we were pretty lucky.

Our APT complimentary transfer home was again with Addison Lee: they are extremely efficient,  particularly in their communications with clients.

 

Summary:

 

In terms of overall enjoyment and value for money this cruise proved to be one of the best we have enjoyed: up Ian our top ten. It was a break from our traditional cruising style but as itineraries and new places to visit goes, this certainly ticked all boxes. The balance of activity and relaxation was perfect.

The Lady Eleganza was immaculate throughout with more than adequate space in the cabin and on the upper decks. The sailing routine with port visits early and later in the day was perfect: as was the ‘sea time’ between with leisurely transit sailing along magnificent coastlines. What a joy to sail into a port in daylight at a sensible hour.

We fully embraced the principle, and indeed we were excited about,  the programmed ‘dine ashore’ opportunities on a number of evenings. The only real criticism we had was that, having cruised on three previous occasions with APT, the food on the Lady Eleganza did not live up to expectations. That is not to say it was below any standard: it just didn’t have any wow factor or variety and was relatively basic fare.

The perennial question, would we cruise in this style again? No doubt whatsoever, just give us an itinerary with a selection of new places to visit and we’d sign up immediately.

This cruise was booked through Readers Offers Limited.

If you have enjoyed this review of Lady Eleganza’s Croatian Coastal Sojourn  and would like to be amongst the first to hear of new reviews including an upcoming   Celebrity Silhouette cruise,  plus  Solent Richard’s next guide to the Canadian port of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, in his ‘One way to do…’ series,  why not join over 550  followers by clicking on the ‘Follow’ link on the front page.

You will be alerted by email immediately a new post appears.

 

©2020 – 23 * Solent Richard’s Cruise Blog * All Rights Reserved

Duplication in part or whole without prior written consent is prohibited by international laws.

 

Disclosure to potential conflict of interest:

It is common throughout the travel industry for travel journalists and many cruise bloggers to be provided with complimentary cruises for the purpose of their reviews.

Solent Richard has no ‘conflict of interest’ as he is not an accredited journalist, he pays for his cruises, and is happy to confirm that all his reviews are his own given without fear or favour.

2 responses to “Lady Eleganza – Croatia and Adriatic Maiden Season

  1. Yet another comprehensive and brilliantly written review. I’ve been meaning to return to Croatia for some time (my last but one visit was to old Yugoslavia months before the war) plus I am becoming increasingly interested in smaller cruising craft so your review greatly assisted both desires. Every cruise (except one, begins with V, ends in N) you have reviewed has made me want to replicate the experience. Thank you for taking the time to put these together and sharing with us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.