The road trip through the Istrian Peninsula enjoys a break in the Croatian Adriatic city of Rijeka. Our hotel is right off the Adriatic where hotel guests can jump off the first level into the Sea. No beach, no shore, just dive right into the Adriatic. Brave enough? Not me. If it’s that deep, I can’t help thinking SHARKS. Besides, it takes a confident swimmer to dive into these blue waters. Many of the hotel guests enjoyed the Adriatic as shown in the photos below. And then there are restaurants lining the edge which we’ve tried. Good seafood but the service was awfully slow. The waiter said they have a “small kitchen” to explain away the delay. I was tempted to say they should downsize the restaurant in proportion to what the kitchen can serve. But we’re on holiday so I won’t sweat over that. 🙄

Rijeka is a big city. After the capital Zagreb and Split, it ranks 3rd largest. The Old Town boasts of a Korzo, the main promenade, where lies the City Clock Tower, a theatre, and at the other end the port area. This promenade is where the biggest Croatian Carnival is held annually on the Sunday just before Lent. Very Mardi Gras. Think Rio. Or perhaps more Venetian, like its former ruler. Lined with many shopping opps, cafes and bars, it is easy to spend a couple of hours here. Further down near the seaport is the lovely Capuchin Church of Our Lady of Lourdes. And passing through the City Clock Tower and the Roman Arch, one finds a maze of streets leading to the 17th-century St. Vitus Cathedral, a couple more churches and a few lovely courtyards.

Like most big cities, these major attractions draw in the crowds but Rijeka still is very much under the tourist radar. If at all, most tourists I saw seem to be mostly Croatian locals from other provinces or Europeans from other states. Of the 2 churches and 1 Cathedral we visited, not one was open. A pity. Of the 3, I would have wanted to see the interior of the Capuchin Church but we only managed to scale the sweeping staircase for a view of the seaport across the street. As for St. Vitus Cathedral, the 100 kuna Croatian currency depicts an image of this Rijeka Cathedral on the reverse side — the only baroque rotunda church architecture in Croatia. Check its similarity to the Venetian Church — Santa Maria Salute right across the Basilica of San Marco.

The city is well-marked, with all those brown-coloured markers showing the direction to city sites. Besides, most attractions are clustered around the Korzo. We missed the Rijeka Tunnel though. From St. Vitus Cathedral there ought to be this 350 meter-pedestrian tunnel to the Dolac primary school in the Old Town. No luck. But we chanced upon the Roman Arch or the Old Gateway as we walked from St. Vitus Cathedral to the City Clock Tower. Another testimony to the vastness of the Roman Empire. Oh, Caesar!