Showing posts with label sailing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sailing. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Adriatic Sea and the Ancient Past of Pula-Day Four in Istria

It was a beautiful day in the high 70s, with the sun shining over the aqua water of the Adriatic Sea. The only thing my friend Lynn and I had to decide was what we wanted to do at the beach the next few hours.

I felt like I was in a dream when I woke up in our little cottage in Bi Village. It was day four of our Share Istria adventure and we were in Fazana, Croatia, just a short walk from the Adriatic Sea.

What made it even more of a dream was that we had a free morning, something I rarely got on a press trip. We could have a leisurely breakfast at the Bi Village restaurant – a nice selection of fruit, cheese, rolls, pastries, and eggs – and then enjoy the beach.

I was trying to decide whether to go windsurfing or paddle boarding as we enjoyed the view on the long walkway that went along the sand on this Fazana beach.

It was a little disappointing when we arrived at the watersports area and Antonio told us the conditions weren’t right for either, but he offered to take us sailing. I wasn’t going to argue with floating on this beautiful scene in front of me.

Lynn and I took turns sailing and relaxing on the beach. It was a beautiful setting and that thought would continue when we headed to Pineta Mare Restaurant, which was also on the water.

Two of the men from our trip, Nicolas and Rocky, joined us for lunch on the patio overlooking the sea.  Rocky ordered a big bowl of muscles and the rest of us shared huge bowls of pasta, a fettuccine with truffles and a gnocchi in a cheese sauce. Both were delicious.

Lynn went back to our house to shower first and I decided to take the long way. I stopped at one of the Bi Village pools for some laps and then headed to shower and change.

Goran, our guide from Visit Istria Tourism, picked us up in the familiar van and we made a short drive to Pula.

Our first stop was at the Pula Arena Amphitheatre. This ancient Roman masterpiece is something I remembered well from my first trip. In fact, there’s a photo of it hanging in my living room.  

The Amphitheatre had actually gone through some changes since my visit nine years prior. It was now actually being used for shows and a weekly re-enactment of a gladiator fight.

A museum was also added to the bottom floor of the Pula Arena. It contained the plans of the Amphitheatre and quite a few Roman artifacts. Within this very ancient setting was modern technology – the ability to take a self-guided tour with headphones.

The Pula Arena is far from the only remnants of Ancient Rome in this Croatian city. Artifacts are everywhere. We actually saw the newest discovery, found when someone was attempting to clear the ground and put up a new building. 

Unfortunately for the owner, any time anything is found that is from the ancient period the land becomes part of the city.

Another thing that I recognized was the Arch of the Sergii, which happens to be even older than the Arc de Triumph. It led into the colorful piazza I also had previously taken photos of.

We then walked across to Parco Tito, named for Josip Broz “Tito,” a Croatian who was a controversial political leader, but a supporter of his home country.

We also walked by the beautiful Cathedral Assumption Virgin Mary and the office building that still bears five flags for the five empires that owned this land – Austrian, Italian, Yugoslavian, and Croatian.

The next part of our tour was in the more modern section of Pula. We went past cafes and clubs lining the streets, and the Mozart Theatre, before heading back to the Amphitheatre for sunset photos.

We were a little early so we didn’t quite get the sunset look, but I decided a selfie was appropriate, and then did another with Lynn. After all, how often am I going to be in an Ancient Roman arena?!

Dinner was at Kantina Restaurant in Pula. Lynn and I, who are both allergic to seafood, had a tasty beef dish. It was served with some flavorful yams, something we hadn’t had yet in Istria.

After dinner, we went to dock to see light show over the shipyard, but it started raining. The show is done every evening, weather permitting, with thousands of color combinations.


We headed back to Bi Village to get some sleep and get ready for a full day of sightseeing ahead in Istria,Croatia

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Moet & Chandon Champagne Welcome to America’s Cup

When it comes to sports, I’ve covered tennis and a little gymnastics. My knowledge of yacht racing was non-existent, but what’s a gal to say when she’s invited to play (and drink champagne) with Moet & Chandon at the America’s Cup Finals in Newport, Rhode Island? Yes, of course.

I was due to arrive at Boston airport late afternoon, but weather problems (a threat of storms, not actual rain) kept my flight grounded a bit longer than expected. By the time the car service got me to Newport, the rest of my group had already left for the America’s Cup Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner.

This was not just a “dinner,” it was in the back of the Marble House Mansion, built in the late 19th century for the Vanderbilts. The evening was being hosted by Louis Vuitton and the tables were flowing with Moet & Chandon Champagne. Everyone who had ever participated in the world of boat racing was there and the ceremony for this year’s inductees had already started by the time I took my place with Stephane Baschiera, CEO of Moët & Chandon, Ludovic du Plessis, Vice President of Moët Chandon USA and Graham Boyes, CMO of Moët Hennessy USA.

Also at my table were the five fellow journalists I was sharing this adventure with, as well as public relations representatives of the champagne company. We enjoyed the food (especially the decadent Red Velvet Molten Cake) and bubbly and then stuck around a bit to dance to an unexpectedly incredible band.

Back at The Hotel Viking, I found a commemorative America’s Cup Moet & Chandon bottle of champagne, along with an ice bucket and two glasses. I smiled at it as I dozed off to sleep, dreaming about our itinerary for the next day.

Morning came too soon, but it was a beautiful day in Newport. I ordered breakfast from room service as I had a bit of time before we were taking off for our sail. I had been excited to hear we would be on Moet & Chandon America II, sailing through Newport Harbor on this yacht that participated in the 1987 America’s Cup Race off the Australian Coast.

I was not disappointed with the ride. The sun was shining as we helped sail the boat (I took the wheel for awhile) between boats both participating in and watching the morning practice. We finished the sail with champagne in gold goblets, a fitting send off before we headed down to the main venue.

After lunch we went to Fort Adams to the America’s Cup Village to watch the semifinal races from Club 45, the VIP restaurant that was overflowing with food and Champagne. We stayed until the end, happy to see the Americans had made the final, and headed back to the hotel to get ready for the evening festivities.

We began the night at yet another famed mansion, The Breakers. It was here that we were poured Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 1983, in celebration of the last time this event was in Newport. Among those toasting with us were the city’s Mayor Stephen Waluk, Ludovic du Plessis, sailing icons Russell Coutts and Jimmy Spithill, and U.S. Sailing President Gary Jobson.

The cocktail hour was followed by dinner at the Mansion, which consisted of various stations and passed hors d'oeuvres around the incredible grounds. We were introduced to all of the racing teams and even got to mingle with some of them, before calling it an early night. Everyone needed to get ready for the morning finals of the race.