Storm-bound in a tiny harbour on one of the outer islands of the Croatian archipelago is a good opportunity to update the blog. With thanks to all those who responded to the last one, it was very good to hear from you.
Our month in the Marina Santelena in Venice flew by. The weather throughout was superb and we were able to explore the city from the quiet and comfortable backwater of the marina at the very edge of the city.
We also managed some interesting cultural events. At La Fenice we were delighted by a splendid production of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore. Just the best fun, full of good singing and witty direction. It was so good that we booked in for La Traviata the next evening. This was a mistake. Hard to mess up a sure fire hit like Traviata, but they did.
Later we attended an excellent concert, Siegfried Idyll, Schubert’s second Symphony and Enigma Variations, under the inspired baton of Antonello Manacorda. It really was terrific.
On 4th. June, we left Exotica in her berth and took a train to Milan for three days. We stayed in a strange apartment squeezed into a thin building in the Mercanti right near the Duomo. It had the world’s smallest, oldest and most rickety lift.A squeeze for two passengers, without luggage.
Some extensive sightseeing ensued including the Castle Sforzesco and Michelangelo’s Pieta, Leonardo’s Last Supper and, of course, the Duomo, built entirely of local marble from 1390 took 600 years. The ornate Gothic marble spires were added in the 1800s, they are not structural so it’s possible to walk around the entire roof.
We paid rather a lot for a couple of tours, well worth being shown a city by a native dweller. Milan is about to have a referendum to vote for the return of the canals which are buried under the roads and piazzas. Milan was navigable by canal from the twelfth century. The process of covering them began in the 1930s, the last working boat plied the waters in 1977. The locals say Milan has more than their fair share of precipitation because of the water under the city!
The cloistered nuns choir behind the nave of Chiesa di San Maurizo al Monastero Maggiore, once the most important Benedictine convent. Used every Sunday from October to June to celebrate in the Byzantine Rite, in Greek, according to the Italo-Albanian tradition. Consecrated in 1518
A highlight was an evening at La Scala to see Fierrabras, the only opera by Franz Schubert that is ever performed and even then, very rarely. It happened to be opening night and La Scala certainly put on a very lavish performance with fine singing, elaborate sets and sumptuous costumes for this remarkably tuneful opera.
We returned for our final week in Venice. Living in Venice is living in an art gallery. Stocking up with wine and having some last-minute repairs done on the boat. We have found some excellent engineers and so the various leaks and the water maker have now been fixed.
Of course, among all the pleasures there have been some minor disasters. Terry, on line, managed to book the return train tickets to Milan in the wrong direction. There was no cancellation, so we passed, in both directions, Italian trains with empty first-class seats with our names on them.
Julie’s ticket for the vaparetto water ferry failed to register with the tap on. Unfortunately, one of the very few conductors was checking the tickets and hers didn’t register on his machine. Remonstrance with the authorities was to no avail and she ended up paying the 69 Euro fine or risk a criminal record in Italy. She considers it as her contribution to keeping Venice afloat.
On Saturday June 16th. at 5 am we left Marina Santelena for the last time and in a beautiful sunrise motored down the channel and away from Venice, passing four huge cruise ships on their way in.
We have now had three years in which we have spent at least a month in Venice but as the plan now is to head south to Greece we are saying farewell to some much-loved places in the northern Adriatic.
It was champagne sailing right across the Adriatic with the wind, N to NE 12-18, on the beam and Exotica flying along at a steady 8.5 knots. We have never had an entire passage without using the motor.
Thus, we were docked in Rovinj, on the coast of Istria shortly after lunch, but of course the Harbourmaster was closed between 1 – 5 pm. so we had to wait around for him to return. We then had to pay the sojourn tax which has just been raised by 400% since last year. Croatia has never been cheap but boating around here is now even more expensive and likely to deter many from coming. Sadly, this only applies to boat owners and will not affect the hundreds of charterers.
During the last week we put into the charming town of Pula, the largest town in Istria, to organise telephone and other communications, a night on our friend, Marino’s, mooring in Banjole with an excellent meal in the tiny restaurant above the shipyard, Konoba Pap, then had another invigorating sail leaving Istria for the last time and anchored in a favourite bay, Artuturi on Mali Losinj.
Continuing our southern passage, we sheltered in a comfortable small marina called Veli Rat on Dugi Otok to sit out the storm which had been forecast for June 22nd. There was plenty of rain and wind, but we closed all the hatches read books and watched the television.
For the next week we will explore this area of Central Croatia, the endless islands are quite spectacular.