I must admit, Croatia had never been on any bucket list of places I had to visit. Also, sadly, up until last year I probably couldn’t have placed where it was on a world map. But thanks to the wonderful opportunity of being asked to teach and perform at this year’s SOTW Festival, I got to experience a less visited region of the country in a very unique way.
Thumbing through numerous guide books on Croatia left me feeling a little wary. The general consensus of most travel writers was to bypass the Rijeka region altogether and move on to more interesting locations like Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Split. Looking back on my experience I say Rijeka was getting overlooked because it’s not as flashy. Imagine traveling to California and your friends are excited to hear your stories about San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego but you spent all of your time around coastal Long Beach. It’s a great place that nobody every talks about (I should know I live here).
That is exactly how I felt about Rijeka. It’s the perfect place to stay and not feel like a tourist and enjoy less traveled and trampled coastline for a couple of days. It offers a walkable town center, excellent and affordable food and drink, accessible nearby resort towns (Opatija) and historical coastal villages (Pula), and an inexpensive ($20 USD round trip), picturesque bus trip through Slovenia to Trieste, Italy. It is definitely worth a visit.
I learned so much about teaching from my fellow instructors whom are masters at their art; Capoeira, Hula, Bharatanatyam, Tahitian, Bollywood, Lindy Hop, Middle Eastern and Salsa. Each instructor gave so much more than I ever expected to learn in an intensive/workshop format. Classes included history, intense technique, specific styling, short choreographies and performance tips. Students ended most classes dripping in sweat with a new found appreciation for each style they participated in. The festival culminated in a two hour gala performance that included dance groups from Zagreb and Rijeka, not a bad deal for the road less traveled.