A frantic Christmas Eve

Trip Start Nov 09, 2007
Trip End Feb 03, 2008

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Flag of Croatia  ,
Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The ferry from Split to Rijeka was a very smooth trip. We caught the ferry as expected at 7.30 at night. We were able to board at 6.30, which allowed us plenty of time to find our cabins and heft our bags into place. We then bagsed a place in the lounge and waited to set sail. By the time it was about 7:10 and we realised that it would b a good idea to have some water for the trip, as well as maybe some snacks. Cameron and I made a last minute dash back to the supermarket to pick up a few things and made it safely onto the boat with a few minutes to spare.
We set sail and then went downstairs to the restaurant. Surprisingly, the menu was pretty much the same in terms of both variety and price. I had expected everything to cost more and taste worse, but I was pleasantly surprised. After dinner we went back to our cabins and settled in for a very smooth trip. We arrived into Rijeka at 7 in the morning, exactly as expected and made our way to the bus station - about a 5 minute walk. The number 32 runs from Rijeka to Opatija and as luck would have it we only had to wait about 5 minutes for a bus to turn up.
My first impression of Rijeka was that it is quite a grand looking city, with many fine buildings. A lot of the guidebooks don't have many kind words for Rijeka but I thought it looked like it was worth a look another day. Thirty minutes after boarding our bus we were in Opatija. I called our host Kristijan Komel and he met us at the bus station and took us to our apartment - about a 60 second walk from the bus station. He very kindly let us in to our apartment several hours before we were entitled to be there which was fantastic. We had a big day ahead of us and getting this kind of head start was great. Our apartment is very nice and has a fantastic location, as central in Opatija as you can get.
Jess let me know her panic list - she had to buy a present for me (of course a top priority), we needed to book somewhere for Christmas dinner and we had to organise an excursion to the Plitvice Lakes. Christmas Eve is a special day throughout Europe and it meant that the shops would all shut early, about 3 o'clock, so we had to get a move on.
I went to a couple of tourist agencies and the first one told me that no one would be operating trips to Plitvice and the second one said we could have a trip, but it would be more than $100 per person. Just as I was giving up hope of seeing this UNESCO listed national park, our host Kristijan came through for us and was able to find a friend who is a guide who could do the trip for a total of just 1400 kuna (about $300). I jumped at the chance and asked him to book it in for us.
Next was the Christmas dinner venue. I asked at the Tourist Information while Jess went and took care of Priority 1. The lady there suggested a couple of places and we checked them both out as we walked around the town. I thought that The Bevanda on the waterfront would be an excellent venue - at least I hoped it would be.
We all had a couple of last minute things to buy, and we also needed to go to the supermarket to pick up some supplies for the next few days for when the shops would be closed. Opatija is a very pretty town, with amazing buildings from the Austro-Hungarian period. There are so many grand hotels here it's easy to see what a glorious place it must have been in its heyday. Even now it must be a happening place in the summertime.
Unfortunately one of the few days of rain that we have had on this trip meant that our last minute preparations were a little bit hampered but we didn't let that get in the way. Jess and I had bought a tiny Christmas tree in Split and some lightweight decorations, so the girls had some fun getting things ready for Santa, and we all did a bit of wrapping and preparing but despite all of this it was probably the most relaxed Christmas preparation that we have had for a long time. For the first time since I can remember I was in bed before midnight!
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