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srijeda, 21. prosinca 2011.

Rijeka And 'Kantrida Stadium' - An Unusual Stadium And Out Of Ordinary City

This is kind of old news, and if you reached this blog by Googling this stadium, then I'm sure you've already seen Kantrida Stadium in a bunch of similar lists over the years. Usually in blogs related to world soccer stadiums. Stadion Kantrida is the home field of NK Rijeka who play in the Croatian Soccer League (Prva Hrvatska Nogometna Liga). There a few more Croatian soccer stadiums that I've seen on various lists like this. (I left a few links below). However, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to throw in a few of my own photographs of Kantrida Stadium which I took this past summer on my Adriatic tour to Rijeka,(Pronounced Ree-yeka) Split and Zadar. Since I threw in some pics a few posts ago regarding Zagreb's Pleso Airport, I thought I would also throw in some of my photos of Rijeka as well.  What the hell?  Just sort of an all encompassing photo essay of Stadion Kantrida and the city of Rijeka. To see the complete list of unusual stadiums, click onto the source link...

(Update 2014 - A brand new modern stadium is going to be built on the site of Kantrida Stadium in the near future, with a capacity for around 15,000 seated spectators, which is just about right for a city the size of Rijeka. It's in the process of being built right now, so if you're planning on visiting Rijeka's historic Kantrida stadium in know the rest. See updated post about the new Kantrida Stadium being built new-karntrida-stadium-rijeka-update)

World's most unusual football stadiums

Stadion Kantrida along the Adriatic Sea in the Croatian city of Rijeka



Situated in the Croatian city of Rijeka and home to the club of the same name, this stadium might be small, holding only 10,000 fans, but is perfectly formed.

Like Braga's ground, one side of the arena is dwarfed by a giant cliff face. However, the Kantrida offers visual beauty on the other side as well, being perched alongside the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic Sea.

The setting is so beautiful that since 1990 it has hosted some of Croatia's home international matches.

The stadium was renovated twice, in 1951 and 1958. It formerly had a capacity of 25,000, but this was later reduced to around 10,000 (due to the gradual evolution of UEFA safety standards) and floodlights were installed in 1975.

In addition to hosting NK Rijeka matches, the stadium is also used for the annual Kvarner Riviera international youth football tournament, first held in 1953

I spent only 2 days in Rijeka this time, and didn't bring any extra lenses to do more panoramic and artistic shots, so basically all these are photos are just real-time view, snaphots basically. In retrospect I think they came out not bad anyway. You can click onto any of the images below for a larger view.

I only used a UV filter on all these pics, so you really do have to be there to experience the full effect. The salt air, the blue of the sea and sky.

This is just part of the complex that houses the NK Rijeka offices, training and locker room facilities and fan shop. I was going to pick up a jersey, but unfortunately it was closed for their 2 week summer break. I did pick up the newest Dinamo and Hajduk jerseys a few days later though.  Next time for sure.

Found some footage that shows Kantrida Stadium before the start of a soccer match.

Better quality footage of fans during a match.

Some fan made video and song about HNK Rijeka, the stadium and city.

I updated this post in Novemeber 2013 with this one. One of those timelapse videos that does a much better job showing the city than my pics below.

The rest of these photos are from earlier in the day and part of the next. I took almost 900 photographs during my time in Croatia for this trip, and well over 100 in Rijeka alone. Here are just a few that are mainly from the central downtown.....

Just down the road is the Kantrida Aquatic Center. Home of the 2008 European Short Course Swimming Championships. The scenery again is just amazing. I was chilling out and cooling off at the patio bar overlooking the complex, when I met some cool Croatian chicks who had some killer tats. We chatted, talked tats... 

The other Olympic size pool with the retractable roof closed. There are a total of 5 pools making up the Kantrida Swimming Complex.

This photo gives a great aerial view of the new beach promenade and surrounding area. This isn't my pic though because I didn't have a drone handy at the time. Image:

The short stroll to one of the new beaches down the road. An 'Armada' graffiti scene and the historic Croatian coat of arms along a wall. "Armada" is the name of the football supporters club of HNK Rijeka.

I of course took the opportunity to go down the road a bit and check out the new Kantrida Promenade/Beach that was just recently built. It was just an early Tuesday morning so it wasnt packed yet, but started to be by the time I was leaving. It's just a stones throw from the swimming complex and looks fantastic. The water was so relaxing and I remembered to take home some pebbles as a souvenir too. I always do that when I go. I also brought back some from Split again, as well as Zadar and Lake Jarun in Zagreb. More on this place at a previous post HERE.

I chatted with the Lifeguards, who are just out of the picture to the right. At first they thought I was a tourist just doing the picture taking thing, then after chatting they thought I was Croatian, as in born there, but living and working in a nearby country for a while. They complimented me on my speaking Croatian. Then they asked how long it's been since I left Croatia, and I explained I'm a diaspora Croat. That's when they say "Oh, Amerikanac".  (That's what they call people from North America). I got 2 thumbs up again which made me feel pretty cool.

A nearby plaque showing the various types of marine life to be found nearby.

People slowly starting to show up.

The boring and bland city I came from, with it's pointless foodcourt fuckos was the furthest thing from my mind. (Imagine that, I actually didn't care if the A&W burgs were on special that day, how much the sparkly cellphone cases were, waiting in long line ups to buy a coffee, stuff like that). There was no matches going on here yet, but beach volleyball and handball are popular sports in Croatia and Europe also.

Surprisingly to some, Rijeka really isn't a "beach city" per se because it's known as a port city, that's why the new promenade is kind of cool. Usually you have to go a bit further away from the city center for more beachy type scenes, but they are in the vicinity and not too shabby.

It was late August, but the hot beach season on the Adriatic lasts right up until late September usually.  To the right just out of the picture is a cool cozy patio bar with music to chill out at with beers or whatever.

The day started off with about a 2 1/2 hour bus trip from Zagreb. A few stops and gorgeous scenery all the way through. (I don't use that word for scenery very often so it must have been scenic ). We made a quick stop in Karlovac too, so it was cool to get a glimpse and photo of Dubovac Castle again after quite some time. Quick pit stop for a rest break here. You wouldn't believe how cool these buses are, all over Croatia. Double-decker, mega leg room, air conditioning, the works, very comfortable. I actually prefer to take the bus down the coast and back (or train) instead of renting a car because of being able to freely view all the scenery and besides lots of hot single chicks take the buses and trains in Croatia. It's nothing at all like taking the bus from Regina to Calgary or Lethbridge, believe me.

No Tim Hortons, Wendy's or Burger Kings at these particular bus pit stops. Some really good food choices though, and always a patio where you can eat and enjoy the scenery. Warning to travellers - No donutburgers, beef jerky, bucket o' bacon or bacon donuts I'm afraid. You will have to go without during your time in Rijeka.

I arrived in Rijeka on a Monday, in the early part of the day around 9:00 am. (For some strange reason I wasn't thinking about cowboys, or cows or cowboy hats at all. Not even about being a comparable shopper at the Walmart). At night it really picks up, with all the surrounding patios and bars overflowing, music, smell of good eats. It's almost like a fashion show at night actually. Even street performers and stuff. It felt so great to be with my people, as the saying goes. This is also the main parade route for the annual Rijeka Karneval.

Hmmm? I thought. No pickup trucks, no beef jerky, no 7-11's, no crappy coffee shops, et all.  Just like I remembered from the last time, and from the summers I spent there as a kid. Yep, this felt like home. As you can probably tell, this part of downtown Rijeka is strictly pedestrians only, but parking isn't too far away. Larger cities in Croatia are like that in the central parts. No fumes, car stereo wars, honking, hit and runs etc. I strictly remember shopping around here with an Aunt when I was around 12 and along with various Croatian musical acts, Abba, Fleetwood Mac, ELO, Blondie, the Eagles and KMFDM were playing at the cafe and patio area we stopped at for drinks. I actually saw my very first Bruce Lee movie at a theater in this city, my very first taste of shrimp and my very first pizza topped with olives, mushrooms, Croatian cheeses and šunka/ham also. (because before that it was usually just pepperoni slices)

Everywhere you go in Rijeka (and Croatian cities in general) you don't have to go far before you hit a Tisak. It would be surprising to walk 5 minutes and not come across one. There you can buy your cigs, snacks, gum, papers, lottery tickets, post cards, condoms, magazines, batteries, bus tickets, drinks, maps, comics, you name it and they probably have it. 

Croatians love their daily news as well as sports, politics and entertainment/gossip/fashion magazines. (And of course KL!K magazine and similar magazines as well). Rijeka is no different in keeping up with the latest.

Ice cream is always a big seller in the summer. In Rijeka, wraps and different kinds of sandwiches with top quality deli meats and cheeses are also popular to take on the go. Pizza and pastries as well.

Lots of the side streets are really cozy. Shops, boutiques, hair salons, foodie stores and tucked away places to have drinks, nestled  next to each other, tucked in amongst the really cool looking architecture and facades.

The downtown Rijeka fish market. Like other cities along the coast, fresh fish and seafood are a must. Most of the offers were swimming in the sea just a few hours before. From many kinds of fish to shrimp, squid, mussels, and octopus. Fresh shrimp or frozen..hmmm? Nothing like making fresh out of the sea pohane lignje and rak. (calamari and crab)

There's just so many different kinds of seafood and especially fish, so many kinds of fish that I don't even know all their names. (Fortunately the fish market doesn't sell any angler fish)

The bus ride from downtown Rijeka to Kantrida Stadium was about 20 minutes. From there it was just a short walk down the road to the Kantrida promenade/beach and swimming complex.  Lots of  charming looking homes all the way with the all important gorgeous view of the Adriatic Sea (which was directly behind me in this photo) to admire in the mornings. A place to sit on your balcony in the mornings with your kava and keksi.

Partial view of the surroundings. As you walk down and approach near waterfront and see the scenery, you will pinch yourself and wonder why the hell you still have your return airline ticket.

Photographers tip, when you have plenty of memory on your card, a convex mirror can alway make for a new perspective and interesting creative photograph. Click pic for larger view of the amazing 3 dimensional stonework pattern embedded into the wall directly behind me.

I decided to throw in this recent photo in 2015 for a better view, just basically my neutral walking around look. This particular one I took after coming back from a local Walmart and the reason I look so obtuse is because I trimmed by sideburns in the morning so quick they were uneven, which made me look like a ridiculous absurd fucko. Also, no I don't have a freakish and bulbous head as you can see, contrary to an email from an internet troll I received. (I Googled around the term and I wasn't even close to a bulbous anything type, so obviously the person doesn't even know what bulbous means, although my dick head is bulbous and shiny and that's a fact which is a good thing). It's because it was a convex mirror I already said that's why.

In the early part of the afternoon on my 1st day, things started to get a bit more busy.  Lots of shops to check out, and the bars, cafes and patios starting to fill up. No crackheads, No bingo halls, no smelly peep shows and used kleenex's all over the sidewalks, no boarded up buildings, no drug rehab clinics, no various roaming pointless galavanters like I was used to. 

Every corner you turn in downtown Rijeka, and you come across more tucked away shops, patios, cool fountains and statues. People never have to travel far to pick up fresh meats, cheeses and produce either. More basic info Here.

 The Croatian National Theatre - Ivan Zajc (Hrvatsko narodno kazalište Ivan pl. Zajc) in downtown Rijeka.

A scene one will come across many times in Croatia, pretty well all over Europe actually. Motorcycles and those electric scooters are also a popular way to get around.

A few blocks away from the city center later in the afternoon. Rijeka has had paved roads now for almost 11 1/2  years.

Just one of many cool looking fountains in downtown Rijeka. A place to rest in the shade, or just sit and admire the scenery and other attractive assets. Street performers are not uncommon to be seen passing by as well.

The view from the Rijeka Bus Station. Just down the road is the Rijeka Train Station. If you keep going you eventually will hit Kantrida Stadium. I was tempted to buy a ticket for the short trip to Pula, but already had reservations made and was leaving later that night.

Just a typical bus stop in downtown Rijeka. Every bus trip is like a cheap tourist ride. Every trip there's so much to see. Fantastic views of the Adriatic, city center, waterfronts and surrounding islands when I headed for Kantrida.

Later at the same bus stop.

People at another nearby bus stop.

The place I was staying at was just a short stroll up and past those stairs.

I didn't travel all the way to Europe just to go to a McDonalds, but I figured what the hell? I had about an hour before my tattoo appointment. Without trying to sound bias, the Rijeka and Zagreb McDonalds that I visited had the best service and most enjoyable and cleanest atmosphere I've seen in a long time. The menu has added items that one doesn't find on this side of the pond as well. How many McDonalds have škampi (battered shrimp) on the menu? The reader on this side of the pond will probably immediately notice something not quite right, strange and out of place about this McDonalds also, like being transported to the 90's or 80's. (No not that, something else eerily strange compared to your local McDonalds). That's right boys and girls, the straw dispensers are on the front counter instead of off to the side with the condiments and napkins.

My tattoo appointment was just across the street. 

To the left is a sign for one of the local tattoo/piercing shops. I went and scheduled an appointment for the following day at one. Plenty of tattooed and pierced women in Rijeka. A lot actually. It's a very hip and progressive city. A center for musicians, artists, writers, dancers and creative people in general. I didn't see any gaggles of mutants wandering around either. An ice cold Cedevita goes down good on a hot day too

Warning to travelers - coffeenews doesn't have a particularly large readership there. Better pack some in your carry-on bag for the trivia questions.

Always lots of fresh produce to find at any of the local fruit and vegetable markets. Croatians are like that in general as well, no matter what town or city. There's always a big central outdoor fruit and vegetable market and meat/fish markets in the central area of the city. Freshness is very important and preferred to canned products whenever possible. You get to haggle with them to work out deals.

In dowtown Rijeka it seems every alley you go down or corner you turn, you come across another patio or pub or some kind of cafe. It's incredible. It's like that everywhere. I don't know if Rijeka even has a gutter/alleyway. This is somewhere to go if you want to get away from the busy main areas.

Another example, if you think you're going to find some dark alley way to do whatever or for a shortcut or find a shopping cart to take home, forget about it. Every corner you turn you bump into yet another patio or cafe/bar again, it's awful and terrible and practically like hell. So there are plenty of cozy places like this to get away from the really busy areas. Amusing and interesting story about this pic that I'm not going to tell you about and never will.

Just off of the main 'Korzo' meeting place. At night every seat will be taken. If you were to walk straight ahead a few minutes, you would then come to the Adriatic. Unlike the malls around here, you can walk around all day and not get bothered to go join even 1 Lemon Party. (which is a good thing, trust me). My few days in Rijeka flew by just way too fast again.

I took a quick trek into the Maritime and History Museum of the Hrvatsko Primrje region and Rijeka. Admission was cheap and I got a bunch of cool photos. I checked out the displays of ancient swords, arrows, jewelry, pots, utensils and clothing. Part of the Vinodol tour includes an interesting video about the history of the nearby and surrounding Vinodol area, which like Rijeka is a part of the same Primorje-Gorski Kotar County including some islands, in the Middle Ages the Vinodol area was as important and even more so than Trsat/Rijeka because it included a number of settlements. The Vinodol tour explores the lives and times of the first Croatian tribes who lived here in the Early Middle Ages, even from the times that the Croatian realms bordered the Lombard kingdom. Physical remains, artifacts and other archaeological evidences which represent an unbreakable continuous link from before and during the Croatian Kingdom of the past and to the present of today. (I'm into that medieval kind of stuff sometimes)

The museum also has one of only five recovered life jackets in the world from the RMS Titanic and it's the only one found in Europe. See HERE for more about that interesting story.

Warning to travellers - There are no Walmarts, Tim Hortons or Hooters in the city of Rijeka. Real hooters are free to see everywhere in the summer anytime though, especially at the beaches and bars. That's why they're right there on the front, almost eye level. (I walked into a Hooters once and surprisingly I didn't see any hooters at all, instead it was all filled with just guys. (Some of the guys had hooters though, I kid you not) The women in Croatia and large parts of Europe aren't all hung up on trying to masculinize themselves. I think a Hooters opening up in Croatia would probably not make any money at all, it would be like opening up a store in the desert that sells sand. Probably the only way one could open up there is if they were to make cheap humongous portions like Flintstone mammoth burgers or Brontosaurus steaks. 

 Outside the Rijeka Train Station. There was some kind of Russian tour group in there. I was inquiring about taking a train to Split the next day, the price was about the same but I opted for the night bus this time instead, the bus would take me into Split just as the sun was coming up, perfect timing. (The modern buses are very spacious and comfortable I should add, and it makes some 10-15 minute stops along the way in some of the other cools coastal towns)

Beside the train station. we were going to go to the historic Trsat district that night, but unfortunately I was leaving later that night for Split. If I was staying another day I would have gone for sure. I visited there when I was 12, but it would have been cool to see Trsat Castle again and take some cool photos. There's cafe's, bars and patios all around there now. Next time for sure. There's some good photos here.

In Rijeka just as in other parts of Croatia, there are large super markets to be found for groceries. However, people pick up fresh items more frequently. Because there are deli's, bakery's, markets practically everywhere, one doesn't have to stock up on wonderbread and other items on weekends. Fresh bread and pastries are very important because there's a bakery always close by. (I'm pretty sure people must get sick of tourists walking around taking photos of the downtown all the time, because I was by far not the only one)

The entrance to the tattoo shop where I got my tattoo, just off the main korzo/walkway

This was as close to a gutter/alleyway as I could find downtown. The "WC" stands for water closet/restroom, so you don't even have to go take a pee by the garbage bins. 

The McDonald's and outdoor patio I was at is just to the left out of the picture.

The guy under the arches was a street guitar performer, he played some pretty good tunes and I chatted with him for a bit, he gave me some good tips. (Look through the arches, down the alleyway it's more f***ing bars, shops, cafes and outdoor patios just like hell on earth. Blink and you'll miss one)

Stone paved pedestrian walkways worn shiny smooth over the centuries.

Back by that Tisak again,  just ahead is the market and main fish market just around the corner. There's always stalls that sell souvenirs, clothing, linen, purses, belts, sunglasses etc, as well.

The statue of Ivan Zajc in front of the Croatian National Theatre - Ivan Zajc. (Hrvatsko narodno kazalište Ivan pl. Zajc)

This is the guy who did my very 1st "Made in Croatia tattoo".  More on that at a previous post HERE.

Rijeka is a major shipbuilding center. A short walk from the city center one can reach the harbor and find many areas to walk or sit and enjoy the view or even go fishing. There's nearby places to eat and drink with some cool views. The sunset looked amazing.

 Saying bye to a very special friend. She helps manage one of the local hostels. There you can find travellers from all over the world. Cheap daily rates, very clean, full kitchens, showers, internet, TV, very secure. Usually they're just a short walk from the center of town where all the action is. Also super helpful with directions, what to see, booking tickets and tips and less well known exciting activiocities.

Middle of the night rest stop after my 2nd day in Rijeka. Around 4 am but people were still sitting at patios, eating at the nearby pub/eatery and even strolling around and by the water.  I think this was Šibenik if memory serves me correctly. My next destination, arriving just as the sun was rising on the horizon was the city of Split, and the start of another chapter. (Funny story about the first 2 minutes after getting off the bus in Split that I'm also not going to tell you about....)

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