Opatija is one of the most fashionable summer resorts in the Kvarner bay with a really long tradition as a tourist destination. Back in the 19th century Austro-Hungarian aristocracy built a bunch of beautiful and spacious villas, that are nowadays transformed and adapted into luxurious hotels all along the famous Opatija Lungomare Promenade. At some point, Opatija was assigned to Italy, so even if locals don’t speak Italian, their dialect is rich with Italianisms – it seems like they have their own word for almost everything and it’s charming only if you were exposed to this dialect long enough, otherwise it will drive you mad I have a family there, so every time when my cousins took me the beach, I was so impressed by the architecture and always wanted to spend my summer in one of the villas. And yes, I have a few favorites.
Hope Vedran is taking notes on this one.
So, last weekend we were invited to participate at RetrOpatija Festival as street performers, as part of Back to Swing Zagreb. We imagined it like some kind of a pre-holiday, so we went there to have fun and to entertain the visitors. We packed our bags and sailed off early in the morning, and didn’t miss to stop at Hotel Risnjak in Delnice for a cup of coffee, some pancakes and deers. Joy!
After we made all the arrangements for the evening, we went for a swim. The whole sea coast is pretty rocky, but the view is very picturesque with all those hotels and villas, parks and statues… the most famous one is Maiden with a Seagull. Or in our case, Maiden with two Seagulls. I saw that extra seagull, run back all the way to get my camera and thought how cool it was, he waited for me to take that picture! Later, I googled the statue and found a bunch of similar photos, because seagulls are obviously attracted by this spot -but, anyway:
So close, yet so far – hang on Krleža, old buddy, old pal! Maybe some day…
A little bit later, the rain had started, so we picked our stuff and went to the restaurant to get something to eat. And yeah, I managed to get us a parking ticket. I paid for the ticket over the phone, but for the wrong car. Before that I was bragging about my James Bond moment, because at one point, I swam back as quick as I can, exactly at the time when the parking ticket expired and saved the day. Or so I thought.
However, we dressed up and went to the center of Opatija – the moment the rain stopped the street was full of people, spreading their joy like those random Japanese tourists on the picture below:
The festival was envisioned like a time machine through all music epochs of the twentieth century – from the Charleston in the 20’s, 50’s Swing and Twist, 60’s Rockabilly, 70’s disco, 80’s rock and 90’s pop – everything was there. The whole main street was closed for the traffic and turned into big stage for the street performers, pin-up girls, barbers, old timers… Restaurant, coffee bars, hotels, wine bars – they all participated with their own mini retro-inspired programs, turning their space into thematic points where people could enjoy the music, dance or try some food served the old fashioned way.
Back to Swing crew held two dance workshops at one of the points – Rockabilly Jive by Benny and Sanja and Collegiate shag by Dado and Daria. Everybody was invited to join in, but most people like to watch from the safe distance Luckily, swingers from Rijeka weren’t shy and we hope they had a great time with us!
They attracted a lot of people and warmed them for The River Sharks concert.
We were cruising along the street and danced whenever we heard a good tune. I’m not a very big fan of dancing in the street, but I must say – when the atmosphere is right – it feels kinda liberating.
Around midnight most of the restaurants and bars started to close up, so we moved to Opatija Summer Stage – it was such a blast from the past! They put an enormous disco ball above the dance floor and a big screen with music videos of the greatest disco hits (which reminded me on my teenage days and Studio 54 in Tvornica), some 80’s rock and pop music of the 90’s. Also, when we decided that 90’s should categorize as retro? A friend of mine told me how she recently listened to some radio show that reminiscent you of old times, and they played Nirvana. Nirvana! If that’s old, that means I’m old -.-
Anyway, DJs chose great music, but we would definitely love it even more if some of the songs weren’t literally cut in half just when we were getting in the groove and wanted to show everybody that we still know all the lyrics. Pretty soon everybody got possessed with evil disco fever and I couldn’t help myself, but to record some highlights. It’s pure gold. No wonder we stayed till the very end.
We were lucky that one of our friends actually lives nearby, so we cancelled our accommodation and occupied her place to get a little sleep. After that it was all fun and games, we decided to spend our day at the beach, get some lunch, and some stylish nap at the Music Pavilion.
We had a blast! When I think we almost stayed in Zagreb to watch movies…