travel

travel | venice on film

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Before I share some bits on the Venice Film Festival and our trip at the weekend I thought I would share some film photos I took while we were on our familymoon. I am really happy with how these ones came out. I think in future all photos of Venice should be taken with film.

My favourite is the photo I took of the little boy sitting (dangerously I might add) on the edge of the vaparetto stop with his captain’s hat and mini gondola. It isn’t a perfect picture but it just feels so right.

I also love how the black and white so perfectly captures the texture of the city.

Like this? Check out my thoughts on how shooting on film can improve your photography.

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Well the summer holidays are kind of at an end with me working (although I am hoping there are still a good month, or two!, of summer here still), but I thought it was time to share some of what I got up to in the summer. Aside from our familymoon which I will share photos of later (I only had my film camera for that), we did a few little trips on our own.

First up was one of our ‘local’ towns which is about an hour away called Aquiliea. It was an important town in Roman times, was one of the biggest cities in the world in the second century AD and was an important Christian centre during that period. Now the town is a lot more modest with a population of only 3,500. The main ‘pull’ of the town is the Roman town that is slowly being uncovered (where possible). There is a self-guided tour around the town on which you see the ancient forum, some roads and a harbour.

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There are also a beautiful basilica and a former convent that have absolutely beautiful fifth century mosaics that cover a large expanse of floor. The floor is kind of warped in some places but it is amazing how much of the mosaic is still around. It kind of makes me feel like I should take up mosaic. I am sure there are trendier ways of it being done than I remember from my childhood. Aren’t all those ‘old crafts’ cool now?

We climbed up the bell tower which isn’t too many steps, but they are always so narrow. I suppose back in the day it was just used by one guy going to ring a bell and who wasn’t competing with other tourists coming back down or going up.

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Plus there is a cute cat.

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And a pizza restaurant which advertises itself with a giant pizza slice.

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We didn’t go to the archeological museum but there is always next time.

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As humans I guess we need comparison. So often Tim and I will say to each other how somewhere reminds us of Cape Town or how the pizza isn’t as good as in Naples. Particularly when we travel we compare places to other places we have been and lived. There is even a scale of comparison: Would we go there again? Would we live there?

And so I must compare Pula to Trieste, the city I now live in. This is done on the basis that although we spent three nights in the city I promptly got sick and therefore only really experienced a few hours of it.

In some ways they have a similar history. They are both part of the Istrian Peninsula, Trieste forming the northern reach and Pula the southern tip. They were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Trieste its commercial harbour and Pula its military port, but had a large percentage of Italian speaking residents. After WWII Trieste (eventually) became part of Italy and Pula became part of Yugoslavia and then Croatia in 1991.

From my brief experience, Pula seems like Trieste’s slightly homelier and poorer relative. The buildings are a little more warn, the port is not as pomp and regal looking, the residential waste collection bins are more sporadic. But having realised this Pula got smart about attracting suitors and has built an excellent tourism industry for herself whereas Trieste seems to have sat down for apertivos to watch life amble along. I am sure that doesn’t seem very flattering to either city but I mean no offence.

Pula’s tourism office is definitely on the ball and the city is definitely a lot more lively than Trieste. When we walked around one evening after going to the very well maintained arena to watch a ‘gladiator fight’ the city was packed with people, the restaurants were busy and shops were open until about 11pm. In Trieste shops seem to be closed more than they are open. Honestly I think Trieste caters very well to its residents and it is a lovely city to live in but it could learn a little about tapping into it’s potential as a tourist destination.

I know I missed out on seeing a lot of things that Pula has to offer while I lay on the couch. My friends certainly seemed to have had grand adventures by bike around some beautiful coastline and had sightings of the world’s rarest mammal (they were beach companions of a monk seal for half a day). Next time I visit I trust I will get to experience more of that.

If you enjoyed this you might be interested in reading about more of my travels in Croatia and discover more about my local town, Trieste.

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We had our first summer visitor this week and we did a little bit of exploring. The weather put on a great show and we had to head to the beach. Now, when I say “beach” this is a bit different to what I grew up with at home, ie sand gradually giving way to sea, with waves either gentle or aggressive. The beaches here are cement stretches that turn to rocks with a drop into water where you can’t touch the ground. I have to say though, that even though the beaches themselves might not be as pretty to photograph I prefer the fact that I don’t get sand all over me when applying sunscreen and that there aren’t really waves which I am still kind of nervous of as an adult. Plus the water is much warmer than that in Cape Town.

We decided to take a little boat trip across the harbour to the fishing village of Muggia. I hadn’t yet visited so it was new for me too, which is always fun.

The beach is a strip that admittedly looks onto the industrial complex that stretches between Trieste and Muggia although the water itself is clear and lovely! It is the village itself that is quite lovely. We didn’t go into any of the churches (as we were in shorts) and ignored the sign for the medieval castle assuming it would probably just be a shell. After wondering around and snapping pictures for about 15 minutes we simply found somewhere to eat and settled down for about an hour in the heat of the day.

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We settled on ‘Trattoria Splendor’ which seemed like somewhere the locals headed and had a simple but delicious pasta with mushrooms. The lady (who we assumed was the owner) thought we were absolutely crazy for wanting to sit outside (in the shade) when it was so cool inside. After muttering a lot while taking our orders she promptly sent her husband out with our drinks and food. He was a delightful flirty old gent of the kind that you find quite endearing. I would recommend anyone to try it out if you just so happen to be in the area, the menu is predominantly meaty however.

I’m looking forward to heading back with other visitors in the coming months, and maybe I’ll duck inside one of the churches.

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In case you are packing your bags for Croatia this summer I thought I would share some spots that we enjoyed.

Staying

We stayed in a beautiful Airbnb which I could have happily lived in. The owners met us at the parking garage down the road and pointed out things along the way. The house used to belong to the lady’s grandparents who used to be bakers, which made the house even more charming to me. It is just above the old town and has an impressive view of one of the towers as well as a cute garden filled with lemon trees, orange trees and rose bushes. Just take a moment to image how amazing it smelled. There were lovely details around and lots of care had been taken in putting the house together. Unsurprising as the couple had only moved out of the apartment 10 days before to be in the countryside!

There are two double bedrooms but I would suggest that it is better for a family or group of non-couple friends as the room are only divided by a (frosted) glass door.

Eating

On our previous visit Tim and I had been disappointed by only ever seeming to have the option of grilled vegetables which were more like vegetables swimming in oil.

On this occasion we visited the vegetarian restaurant in town called Nishta. It is a pretty small restaurant with an ‘eclectic’ interior but the food was excellent. I tried a bit of everyone’s meal and there was a great variety of options. I went for a Thai noodle curry (not something you can find in Trieste) and we shared some puddings. The rice pudding was not to my taste but there was a traditional fig thing which was amazing.

Perhaps a rather eccentric choice being in Croatia, we went to a Bosnian restaurant called Taj Mahal which seemed to be Moroccan in decor than Indian. The food, however, was very good. Tim and I got a sort of smorgasbord of options with a spinach and cheese pie, mushrooms with a traditional cheese and (yes) grilled vegetables. I also got some extra cheese to have with the most amazing bread. Seriously, worth the visit just for that. Our friends had a traditional sausage dish called cevapcici which they thoroughly enjoyed.

Drinking

I’ve mentioned it before but the Wine Bar Razonoda is definitely worth a visit too. It only serves Croatian wines and the sommelier provided us with information about the wines we tried. They also had a small bar menu with local cheeses, olives, breads, etc which were very good.

Have you been to Dubrovnik? Any suggestions? Or are you planning on heading there soon?

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On our road trip to Dubrovnik last weekend we stopped in the little village of Vinjerac for the night. We arrived late but stayed for a few hours in the morning to enjoy a coffee, took a wonder around the village and picked up a slice of cheese borack from the little village market.

The village is one of those places that I don’t think ever had a ‘hey day’. Poor farm lands, a fishing community, the road in only being paved in the 1980s, emigration to the larger towns with bigger possibilities.

But it is these little places inbetween where you get to breath. Greet the other patron of the single coffee shop/bar with a curt nod. This is probably what he does every morning. Have a local resident communicate with hand signals that you can photograph her flowers too. Look through windows where people don’t live, and haven’t for decades. Stand on the stony shore and look out to sea. Joke with friends, wonder at the history of a place, wonder if you will find asparagus in the ‘wild’, toy with the idea of coming back, or never leaving.