Cycling from Opatija to Lovran

Opatija - a Croatian seaside city, only 150km away from our hometown Ljubljana, came on my radar a few years ago, when I was buying flight tickets to Ecuador. Where is the connection, you wonder? Well, at that time, I just starte new job, which meant not many free days - to be precise I only got 6 days off and that was just enough for IAESTE conference, which took place in Quito that year. So I went to local travel agent to buy my tickets, I told him the dates and destination and he looked at me in disbelief: "You want to go to Ecuador for ONE week? But people go to Opatija for longer!" :) After buying my tickets I googled Opatija and I really liked what I saw, hence decided that I need to check it out some day.

Back to our cycling trip: it wasn't difficult or exhausting, we didn't ascend any high passes or cycled extremely long distance ... no, it was rather relaxing but truly BEAUTIFUL! Warm spring sunshine, nice views and a bit of recreation ...

Cycling along the sea, Opatija
We cycled the Lungomare path, also known as  Obalno šetalište Franz Josef I, which connects Opatija with small village Lovran about 6km to the south. This with rocks paved path is pedestrian only during high season, but in springtime it's ok to cycle it, since there are not that many people.

Lungomare path is ideal for leisure cycling
Cycling is really leisure there: no steep uphills or downhills, no windy turns, and even the distance is not too long - only 6km one way, so 12km if you do it like we did - from Opatija to Lovran and back again :)
And we used our time also to do some sightseing in Opatija - historically and architecturally very rich city.

Tunnels on the way
Did you know that Opatija became popular tourist resort in the times of Austro-Hungarian empire, when the elite discovered it and started visiting it for vacations. The city was close enough to Vienna, it was peaceful enough to ensure them some relaxing time away from stressful work and well, the views over the sea and the possibility to swim and sail were also pros.

View from Opatija (no Photoshop, no filter!)
Well, it's not really sand beach, but the water is equally nice
A sightseeing tour in Opatija should not skip Hotel Kvarner, the oldest hotel in the city, built in 1884 and still operating. It's one of more iconic Austro-Hungarian buildings in Opatija and also one of the best preserved.
Hotel Kvarne
Another must-see this is Cerkev sv. Jakova (Church of St. James) which dates back to 14th century. At that time it was a seat of Benedictine abbey and gave the name to the city later (opatija in Croatian means abbey). Till today the church has been renovated many times so it is impossible to see nay remains from the origilan building. But it doesn't make it any less interesting! The church is really nice: in white stones, with beautiful garden and views over the sea. Interior is also bright with huge apse that gives the feeling of an enormous church.

Interior of the church
The last thing on your must-see list in Oparija should be the icon of the city: Maiden with the seagull - smaller sculpture of a young lady standing on the rocks and carrying a tragic story with it.
Maiden with the Seagul overlooking the sea
In 1891 Austrian count Kasselstadt sailed the sea near Opatija, got caught by the storm and perished tragically. His family in grief ordered a sculpture of Madona del Mare to be put on the rocks closest to the place of his shipwreck. However also the sculpture was damaged by the salt, sea, winds and rain. By the 1956 it was so bad, that the authorities decided to renovate it and store it in the museum. Now an empty space was filled with new statue - Maden with the seagull. This one is still there confronting the harsh sea and looking pretty for visitors.
Original sculpture- Madona del Mare
You need an escape from a busy city life? Weather forecast is sunny? Head to Opatija and enjoy ;)

Katarina enjoying the sun.
Few photos for the finnish :)
After out cycling trip from Opatija to Lovran and back ...
... on the Lido terrace
... we went to get some more sun ... FYI: Adidas shoes are awesome! ;)



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