From the Archive: Destination Spotlight, PULA, Croatia

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Image Credit

I still can’t quite believe that I am going to Croatia. It’s not a place I ever expected to go, nor did I think it would happen in the course of my research but here we are. Pula (or Pola) is on the Istrian peninsula of Croatia and was/is a prominent port on the Adriatic. In antiquity, Pula was one of the most important ports for maintaining Roman supply lines during various excursions into the hinterlands of the Balkans and further into Eastern Europe.

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Temple of Augustus and Roma, circa 2 AD 

Nowadays it is still a port, and a prominent vacation location. Its VERY well preserved Roman remains, its place on the Adriatic, as well as nearby attractions for those that like the outdoors draw folks to Pula…mainly other Europeans.

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Pula’s Amphitheatre…take that Flavian Amphitheatre (aka the Colosseum)

My goal here really is Pula’s Roman remains. Amphitheater. Arches. Temples. Villas. Pula has it all. I know next to nothing about Croatia more generally. In fact, I just recently figured out (I’m so embarrassed to admit this) that I will have to go through SLOVENIA to get to Croatia from Italy. Slovenia has a tiny little strip of land that reaches the Adriatic that divides Italy from Croatian’s Istrian peninsula. I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to claim that I “have been to Slovenia”; is driving through a country the same as an airport visit?

The arch that I’m going to visit is on its way to becoming one of my favorites. In many ways, this little guy is an enigma. It’s super early and super well preserved…not a combination we usually have in arch world.

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The Arch of the Sergii 

What’s the most unexpected or unique travel experience or opportunity you’ve had?

This is fifth in a series of blog posts that I will be doing to talk about where I am going during this trip, why I am going there, and what I’m expecting to see.

Paris * Besançon * London * Venice 

From the Archive: Destination Spotlight, Paris

This is a first of a series of blog posts that I will be doing to talk about where I am going during this trip, why I am going there, and what I’m expecting to see. 

Paris was my first international destination – and for a long time the only place I’d really been in Europe. I visited for the first time in 2004 and then I returned in 2005 for my semester-long study abroad. As cheesy and corny as it sounds, this city has my heart like no other. I’ve yet to visit a place that challenges Paris’s supremacy in my heart.

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Some of its primacy definitely is tied up with how I feel it connects to me as a person. I regard Paris as the first place I learned how to be myself as an adult. At the age of 19, I got on a plane and flew to France for months…I remember standing in the security line at Dulles watching my dad leave the airport and getting very emotional; two Russian grandmas comforted me very sweetly and made me feel less alone. As I think back on that now, I am constantly surprised that my younger self handled it relatively well; 30 year-old-me definitely would not have been as chill about the semester abroad.

Paris has some great personal memories…I did some amazing things, spoke the best French of my life (the state of it is so sad now in comparison), and met some truly fantastic people (including one of my oldest and bestest friends, Ashley!) Our small group of R-MC and Goucher folks, plus the ones we picked up in our language classes, had some amazing times together.

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But Paris – the place Paris…I literally can’t imagine a place I love more. The main touristy areas full of history, each arrondissement with its own personality and rhythm, from the grand Haussmannian boulevards, to the narrow twisting streets of the Quartier Latin, to slightly too pristine Champs d’Elysée, I love how this city *feels*. So going back for me this trip is HUGE. It’s been over ten years. It will be different; a lot has happened to Paris and me in the past decade. I’m hoping it will be like reconnecting with an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile, but you pick up where you left off.

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For this trip, Paris is serving two purposes. One, I get to start the trip in a place that is at least nominally familiar and I will be able to navigate it without large amounts of stress (hopefully). Two, it will serve as a kind of home base; I will arrive in Europe and depart to the US from Paris. I will travel to a few other locations in the north(ish) of France from there as well as make use of some library collections in Paris.

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I can’t lie though; returning to Paris definitely feels more like a personal pleasure than something expressly connected to work. Paris me manque toujours. Ma chère amie, à bientôt!

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This blog was originally posted here

From the Archive: When Plans Go Awry

I am only able to plan my trip in fits and bursts. I’m afraid if I go too fast, I’ll get careless and make a costly error. I feel like I made one of those errors today, but perhaps it was a case of reading and receiving old information, or the info I’m looking at now was recently updated.

My trip to Croatia is probably one of the most unique opportunities I’ve ever had. I’ve been planning, loosely, for this trip since February or March. All of the internet and print resources informed me that the best way to get to Pula, Croatia is by ferry, which runs April through the end of October.

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Pula is on the tip of Croatia’s peninsula, and ferry IS the most direct route. But apparently, in 2016, as opposed to previous years (I think), the ferries are ending at the end of September. I will arrive in this area in early/mid October..Previously, I thought it to be plenty of time to hitch a ferry from Venice across the Adriatic..enjoying a great view and experience all the while. But alas. ‘Twas not to be. All of the ferry schedules I can find confirm…no ferries after September.

After taking a step back for a few minutes, minutes that were filled with incredibly intense panic, I realized that all was not lost. I shall simply take a train from Venice to Trieste, and bus from Trieste to Pula. A bit longer perhaps, but MUCH cheaper, and instead of seeing the sea, I’ll see the countryside.  I’ll see plenty of the sea in Venice, Pula, Rimini, Ravenna, Fano, and Ancona.

I confess myself disappointed, but it is not the end of the world. Hopefully this is the only travel related snafu (knock on ALL the wood); with so many legs of the journey, I feel like some mixups are to be expected.

I think I’m done planning for the day!

This blog was originally posted here