The Value of Money

The question that initially prompted my examination of four New York City JCCs’ accounting documents was: why did JCCs start taking government money to pay for programs and services? If, as I hypothesized, it was because JCCs needed the money, my analysis of the accounting documents had to show that these JCCs ran bigger and bigger deficits from year to year throughout the 1960s. I also hypothesized that these deficits occurred because, at the same time, the FJP was running bigger and bigger deficits and so was giving the JCCs less and less money.

Testing this guess required compiling and analyzing the FJP’s working account balance from between 1946 and 1973 (the year after which I had more difficulty finding this information). As I discussed in my post yesterday, I used Excel to compile FJP financial data into four columns. The first was the total amount that the FJP collected during its annual campaigns, and the second was the total amount of income FJP earned (the campaign contributions plus the income from  FJP's endowment and investments). A third column listed the total amount FJP disbursed in allocations to its beneficiary agencies plus the amount of money it spent on administrative overhead, and the final column listed the FJP’s end-of-year account balance.

All work is property of Avigail S. Oren. Please do not use without permission. 

I was surprised by what I found when I reviewed this fourth column. Without even needing a graph, I could see from the data that there was no clear pattern in the balance of working capital that FJP had at the end of every fiscal year. I had expected that they would begin to run big deficits in the late 1960s, explaining why JCCs began to need another source of money in the early 1970s. Surprisingly, however, deficits became neither more frequent nor more severe in the 1960s--in fact, FJP ended only three fiscal years with a surplus during the 1950s, but yielded a surplus in at least six years during the 1960s! More interestingly, the deficits occurred despite the fact that, with a few exceptions, the annual campaign brought in more and more money every year. 

I realized that the existence of a deficit was not the best indicator of the Federation's health. Using Excel, I was able to create a formula that calculated what percentage of FJP's total income came from their annual campaign contributions. In 1947, it was 88%, meaning that Federation was very reliant on its annual campaign that year, but twenty years later, in 1967, the campaign only accounted for 61% of FJP's total income. That revealed that not only was campaign income increasing overall, but revenue generated from the endowment and other investments was as well. If the Federation working account balance ran a deficit, it was not because they were taking in less money. Deficits were a function of FJP spending--if they chose to allocate more money to their agencies than they predicted they would make from their campaign and investments. That showed me that deficits may not have been the biggest concern of the FJP when it made its allocations to its beneficiary agencies, because they never reduced the total amount of their spending to close a deficit (for example, reducing their expenditures by $100,000 the year after running a $100,000 deficit). Usually they continued to increase their allocations, or perhaps made a marginal cut in order to prevent future losses.  

So if FJP was not concerned with running a negative balance in their operating budget, I wondered if there was another way to understand their fiscal health. It was clear from the language used by the Federation Distribution Committee that they felt concerned about financial losses--and even more clear, from the pleas made by the JCCs, that agencies needed more money and were having to cut programming and staff. So what was causing the consternation, if the numbers all appeared copacetic? I decided to turn from the FJP’s finances and look at the JCC’s.

In an attempt to figure it out how much bigger the JCC’s deficits were growing from year to year, I asked my sister, who works with accounts and budgets every day, to help me create an Excel formula that would show the percent change in the account balance that the individual agencies reported at the end of each year. She pointed out that this measure was not particularly helpful, because the value of money is not static.

I confess that this comment blew my mind. I had not even considered how inflation was warping the comparisons I was making from year to year. Now, after examining hyperinflation in the 1970s, I recognize how fortunate I am to live at a time when the dollar has experienced reasonable levels of inflation. I do not acutely feel the purchasing power of my income decreasing on a daily basis, and so I completely neglected the role of inflation in my historical analysis of JCC budgets.

As it turns out, inflation played a very significant role in why JCCs felt constrained by the tiny incremental increases (or, yes, sometimes decreases) in their FJP allocations. My colleague and friend Kevin C. Brown taught me how to use the U.S. government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator to adjust the nominal value of each allocation for inflation (I used 2016 as my comparative year to make it easier for readers to understand). I found that although FJP allocations were increasing, the purchasing power of these dollars decreased. And, at the same time, JCC’s personnel costs were increasing due to union contract renegotiations winning better pay for Jewish Center workers. FJP’s money did not go as far as it used to!

FJP Disbursements to Affiliated Agencies, Nominal versus Adjusted for Inflation to 2016 Dollars. All work is property of Avigail S. Oren. Please do not use without permission. 

As a result of this finding, my current answer to my initial question is that New York City JCCs did begin taking government money because their FJP allocations were decreasing—but not in nominal value. The allocations were no longer keeping up with JCC’s costs. Although I had assumed the issue was that FJP was not raising as much money during their annual campaigns, contributing to a deficit, the truth is that they raised about the same amount of money from year to year. Unfortunately, it just was not enough to keep up with inflation. 

Using Excel to Examine Historical Accounting Data

In yesterday’s post, I discussed how difficult it was to learn how to read the accounting tables in the multi-page budget worksheets submitted every year by each JCC (and all FJP beneficiary agencies) to the Federation Distribution Committee (FDC). I felt a brief moment of satisfaction when I managed to decode all the information included in these tables, but it quickly gave way to anxiety when I realized that there was much more data in each budget worksheet than my mind could keep track of—not to mention that I wanted to compare over twenty years of data. I needed to find a way to separate out the data I wanted to study from data that was a distraction.

Excel worksheets were the obvious solution to this problem. In one sheet, I could easily replicate the parts of the accounting tables that I wanted to study and input the relevant data for multiple years. For example, the first worksheet I created was to track the success of FJP's fundraising efforts. I began by compiling data on the total amount that FJP raised each year during their annual campaign. In the first column, I listed each fiscal year (FY), and in the second column I inserted the amount of dollars raised (which I found, with difficulty, in intermittent financial reports included in the minutes of the FJP Board of Trustees meetings, which the AJHS conveniently compiled and digitized for public use). This allowed me to track growth over time, without having to repeatedly consult individual archival documents. I made similar Excel sheets for each JCC that I am studying, to track the amount of the annual allocation they received from the FDC from year to year.

Federation Annual Campaign Totals By Year, 1946-1973. All work is property of Avigail S. Oren. Please do not use without permission. 

Even more valuable to me was the ability to modify the worksheets while I was working on them, particularly to add new columns as I realized that I wanted more data, or to generate new data with a formula. I did not anticipate how frequently I would use the formula functions, but I have found formulas especially helpful for calculating percentages. For example, when I began to wonder how dependent the FJP was on the success of its annual campaign, I decided to see if they had other forms of revenue. They did, and so I created a new column listing their total revenue each year, and then another new column where I calculated what percent of that total was made up of the annual campaign contributions. Unsurprisingly, as FJP’s various endowments and investments matured, the annual campaign comprised a smaller percent of their income. I would not have necessarily seen this, or intuited just how dramatic the decline was, if I had not used the formula function to calculate this percentage. 

Federation Annual Campaign Totals By Year, 1946-1973. All work is property of Avigail S. Oren. Please do not use without permission. 

The most helpful part of using Excel, for me, has been the ability to create graphs. Like most people, I find that data visualizations are easier to interpret than a long string of numbers. My sister, who has a B.A. in Business Administration, helped me create line graphs that respond to a number of different questions: some compare streams of income, some track surplus and deficits over time, and others compare the nominal value of a dollar amount (for example, the total amount of an agency’s allocation) to its value once adjusted for inflation.

Budget Details for the YM-YWHA of Washington Heights-Inwood, 1954-1970. All work is property of Avigail S. Oren. Please do not use without permission. 

Through the process of collecting and compiling this accounting data, I discovered so many new questions that I had never thought to ask before taking a deep dive into the weeds. It had never occurred to me, for example, that all income is not created equal. When I began my analysis, I simply looked at “total allocation” and “total income” as basic measures of a JCC’s financial health—similar to learning a human’s Body Mass Index and declaring them healthy or obese without examining the relationship between their height, weight, and age. It is significant whether a JCC ended its fiscal year with a deficit because they received a smaller allocation from the FDC or because they made less money from membership and special activities fees (their “other income”). I began calculating the allocation as a percent of the total income to see how dependent a JCC was each year on the money they received from Federation, as well as measuring the allocation as a percent of the total amount spent by the JCC that year to see how much of that allocation they needed in order to pay for their programs.

Without spending the time compiling, organizing, and creating visualizations of the historical accounting data from four different JCCs, I would have an overly simplified understanding of how each agency made its financial decisions. Check back tomorrow, when I will elaborate on how I discovered the important role that inflation played in JCC's financial decision making!

Making Sense of Federation of Jewish Philanthropy (FJP) Agency Budgets

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I knew that in order to discover why JCCs in New York City began taking government money in the 1960s and ‘70s I would need to read through the accounts and budgets that they submitted to the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York (FJP) during those years. These documents can all be found at the Center for Jewish History; the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York Collection is one of the most expansive, comprehensive, and informative collections held by the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS).

Jewish philanthropic societies, known as Federations, were established beginning in 1895 and proliferated across the United States in the first two decades of the twentieth century. For more on this history, I highly recommend reading Deborah Dash Moore’s classic At Home in America, which discusses the formation of the FJP in chapter six. Federations took on the responsibility for communal fundraising and planning, with the intent of eliminating duplication of agencies, services, and donor solicitation. They created a more efficient system for soliciting donations, eschewing bazaars and raffles and galas for an annual campaign, during which they collected pledges and cash donations from Jewish individuals throughout their metropolitan area. Federation beneficiaries were prohibited from conducting their own fundraising campaigns and obligated to support the Federation’s annual fundraising efforts. Most JCCs, for example, stipulated in their by-laws that members of their Board of Directors make an annual pledge to Federation. Agencies benefitted from this coordination and came to depend on an annual allocation to support their operations and overhead—particularly the maintenance of highly utilized buildings that experienced extensive wear and tear.

New York City's JCCs were guaranteed an annual allocation because they were Federation beneficiary agencies, but the amount could fluctuate from year to year. Each beneficiary agency went through an annual budget review by the Federation Distribution Committee (FDC) to determine how much they would be allocated. This was true for beneficiaries in all of the Federation functional groups, not just JCCs.

The Annual Agency Files are organized by year, and each agency has its own file folder containing the materials that the FDC’s review process generated each year. At minimum, the file folder always contains a multi-page budget worksheets (chronicling that agency’s income and spending for the last fiscal year) and the budget recommendation that the FDC made for that agency for the upcoming fiscal year. Usually the folder also includes: minutes from meetings between the FDC and agency leaders; correspondence about the allocation or requests for additional funds; and an annual document in which an agency responded to FDC questions about specific functions or trends at the agency. Sometimes additional reporting was also added to the folder. This qualitative material is valuable for historians interested in how social welfare agencies prioritized and changed their activities over time, and it is not difficult to parse if one is familiar with organizational history and archival materials. By contrast, when I first encountered the accounting documents, I had absolutely no idea what I was looking at.

From my own experience as a financially independent adult, I understood a few basics about budgeting:

·      All income is listed together, and all expenditures are listed together.

·      “Housing” costs include more than just a rent or mortgage payment. Buildings and spaces are expensive to maintain.

·      There are fixed costs (rent/mortgage) and variable costs (emergency repairs).

·      Labor is always the most expensive item in a budget.

·      The goal is to spend less than you make.

A budget for an institution the size and scope of a community center follows similar principles, but is like a family budget on steroids: the costs are much higher, and there are many more of them. Through slow and careful reading of over twenty years of budgets and accounts for four JCCs, I began to assemble a basic understanding of a) how accounting tables function; b) how JCC finances work; and c) what the FJP wanted to know about their agencies’ financial operation and health.

The easiest place to begin investigating how the budget tables worked was to take one JCC's budget from a given year and to examine the section listing their income, because their funding did not come from very many places. Although they charged an annual membership fee and smaller fees for other special programs (like dance or music classes, or drama programs, for example), the majority of the money that New York City JCCs made came in the form of their annual allocation from the FJP. As a result, there were very few line items, and most were pretty self-evident from their short description—day camp fees, art classes, and towel and locker rentals being a few examples.

Expenditures make up the vast majority of each budget, particularly salary lines and overhead costs for the building and administration of JCC programs (such as utilities, educational supplies, and insurance). The first two pages of the budget list the total amount spent for each line item, but on later pages the individual expenses are broken out and elaborated upon. The total amount spent on salaries, for example, would be listed the first page, but on later pages each individual role (like Executive Director or Group Worker) would be listed along with the annual salary paid or the employee’s rate per hour and number of hours worked. This was also done with administrative expenses and maintenance costs, so it’s possible to trace how much an agency spent each year on items as varied as telephone calls, food, publicity materials or repainting the walls. I haven't looked deeply at this but if anyone is interested in labor costs in voluntary agencies, or the effects that aging buildings can have on non-profit entities, these budgets offer a wealth of information.

At the top of each budget, the FDC tallied the total amount of income earned by the agency, added to it the amount of the allocation that they disbursed to that JCC for the fiscal year, and then subtracted the total expenses.  In some years, a surplus would remain—but I have found that it was much more common for agencies to run deficits. It was expected that the allocation would cover the JCC’s overhead costs, its administrative costs, and subsidize most of its program. The agency was responsible for raising the balance through membership and program fees. If an agency added new programs, or hired more people, or bought expensive equipment—even if it was absolutely necessary in order to keep the doors open and serve their members—the Board of Directors was responsible for covering the added costs that contributed to a deficit.

In addition to the allocation, the FDC also provided special reserve funds to JCCs for non-recurrent expenses, like to cover start-up costs for new programs, make improvements to facilities, or hire a consultant. Agencies did not always fully indent the reserves they were granted. Federation did careful audits, so there are also plenty of documents in each folder from consultations made by a building inspection firm they used. Every reserve allocation had to be carefully justified. The budgets also demonstrate that the FDC added additional lines to each allocation to pay for employees' insurance and retirement contributions so that the agency did not have to indent their allocation to pay into Social Security or Medicare. Historians interested in employee compensation could use these budgets to track how social welfare organizations covered such costs. Finally, the budgets also include statistical information on JCC membership and enrollment in programs like the nursery school, day camp, and senior center.

If this description makes these documents seem organized or simple, I must confess that there are several pitfalls to examining them over a long durée. The template of the budget sheets changed over time as the FDC changed its accounting practices, making certain comparisons difficult. Also, frustratingly, if the JCC ran any programs that were funded entirely by another source of income (meaning it received zero dollars of support from Federation), the agency did not have to list that form of income. The Federation budgets worksheets, unfortunately, are not a complete accounting record for each agency. 

The FJP Annual Agency Files are nonetheless valuable sources to anyone interested in the history of New York City, social welfare, or American Jewish communal politics. The frequency with which agencies ran deficits raises questions about how, and on what, these agencies spent most of their FJP allocation. By digging into the back pages of the budgets, it’s clear just how many items JCCs had to pay for beyond salaries and space rental—and thus, how often they had to prioritize program maintenance over innovation

Forensic Accounting

Early on in my dissertation research I noticed that, in the 1960s and '70s, JCCs in New York City began to receive money from the government to pay for programs like Head Start preschool classes and senior citizens centers. The question for me then became, why? Why would a Jewish agency funded by private Jewish philanthropy and devoted to serving the local Jewish community take public money? Especially considering that public money must be used to serve the public, not only one distinct group of Americans.

I had a few hypotheses:

  1. They needed the money. Maybe, because of suburbanization, fewer people were joining the JCC and so they were making less money from membership dues? Maybe, because of suburbanization again, fewer people were living in New York and so fewer donations were being made to support the city's Jewish communal organizations?
  2. They wanted to provide more social services. Maybe the social workers that staffed and lead these JCCs wanted to improve the lives of their members? Maybe they wanted to improve their communities? Maybe they believed it was more important to take care of the public good and welfare of society than to maintain the JCC as an exclusively Jewish space?

I suspected that the answer was not so simple, and that the truth would be a combination of several of these hypotheses. While I could read about the opinions, decisions, and actions of JCC workers and leaders in the minutes of JCC board meetings, or in their annual reports, or in professional journal articles they wrote about their experiences, I could only find information about money in one place: their annual accounting audits.  

That's how I found myself, in February 2015, digging through archival boxes filled with budget spreadsheets from four different JCCs located throughout Manhattan and the Bronx: Educational Alliance, the YM-YWHA of the Bronx, the YM-YWHA of Washington Heights-Inwood, and Bronx House. I took thousands of pictures of legal-sized paper divided into elaborate tables filled with numbers. I had no idea what I was looking for, nor what I was looking at, so I just snapped the photos and hoped that I could figure it all out later.  

A year and a half later, I finally reached the point in the dissertation where I was ready to write about how the JCC financed their programs. About a month ago I began to read through the documents I'd photographed, and I realized that I had a lot to learn before I could understand what I was looking at. It wasn't just terminology like "a/c" (accounts current) or conventions (fiscal years versus calendar years) but also basic mathematical and economic principles. 

I never expected that, in becoming a professional historian, I would find myself practicing a form of forensic accounting. My work may not be intended for the court of law, but I am piecing together how funds were made and spent in order to establish evidence for an argument. As someone who is not particularly facile with mathematics, accounting, or economics, I would not have expected to enjoy this foray into quantitative analysis. Surprisingly, I’ve actually loved it! It has forced me to learn new skills (especially in Excel), brush up on old ones (basic math calculations), and to think in new ways about the value and purchasing power of the dollar. So this week, I will be posting a series about how to work with historical budgets and accounting documents—particularly those created by the agencies of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York (FJP)—and how to analyze them to support historical arguments.

Stay tuned!

A Croatia Itinerary and General Travel Advice

My sister and I very much enjoyed our trip to Croatia, and since many friends have asked for suggestions and advice for traveling through the country I thought I would share our itinerary and appraisals. This plan works for a trip lasting eight days, of which the first and last are devoted to travel--it could also be extended and modified. We recommend flying directly to Venice unless you can find convenient connections into a more local airport. We rented a car at Marco Polo Airport in Venice and highly recommend the flexibility that came with having a car. 

Travel Day: Arrive in Venice 

I was already in Venice for my workshop, but my sister arrived from Marco Polo Airport around 8:00 PM. This worked well for her, because she got dinner and a few drinks and was able to get a good night's sleep.

If you sleep well on flights, a red-eye could work for this itinerary. Depending on your arrival time, spend the day in Venice or stay in Mestre and try to get a good night's sleep.

Trip Day 1: Pick up rental car, Ikea, Zadar

Advice and Accolades:

1. Renting a car at Marco Polo worked very well. Is it fully legal according to Hertz’ rental policy to cross the borders of Slovenia and Croatia with the car and the price was extremely affordable if you know how to drive a manual transmission (there is a $35/day upcharge for an automatic). It was a bit busy, and you should plan to wait for a while, but once you receive your car and manage to navigate out of the hellish parking garage, it’s very very easy to get on the highway towards Trieste/Slovenia/Croatia. We used Google Maps on our GPS the entire time and had no problems. Create your itinerary while on wifi, and it will still work when you turn off your roaming cellular data.

2. You must buy a vignette to pass through Slovenia—it’s a tax to use their highway. It costs 15 Euro and must be purchased with cash. Every rest stop on the highway towards Trieste sells them.

3. There is an Ikea and a lovely mall at the Gorizia exit of Highway E70. It's a perfect place to stop and pee in a nice clean bathroom and buy some beach towels!

4. The area of Zadar right by the pedestrian bridge to the historic old city--where we stayed for three nights in an AirBnB--looks like a Soviet wasteland. Although it is not charming, it is very safe and comfortable. There is a small but very well stocked supermarket facing the water about 100 meters from the bridge, between a café and a fishing supply store. We bought our lunch there every day, and were thrilled with their selection of meats, cheeses, breads, fruit, and candy. The staff speaks perfunctory English and they were very kind. Hint: Bring your own bag, and try to pay with smaller bills.

Trip Day 2: Petrćane, wine tasting, Nin, Pag, Šimuni

Advice and Accolades:

1. For a quick beach trip from Zadar, try Petrćane. It’s a stone beach, so wear Chacos or Tevas. Just off the road to the beach is a vineyard. The wines are good and worth tasting, but the view is the real draw.

2. Lavender grows throughout Croatia. If you see a plant, break of a few sprigs and leave them on your dashboard. It will make the car smell wonderful.

3. Skip the beach in Nin. It’s a sand beach, which means it gets very, very hot in the afternoons. 

4. From Zadar, spend an afternoon on the island of Pag. The beach in the city of Pag offers a truly spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. This is also a rock beach, so bring water shoes. Hint: Have coins to pay for parking, the meters do not take bills.

5. If Pag is too crowded, or you’re looking for an ocean-facing beach rather than a cove beach, Šimuni is a stunning option. Also a rock beach. Make sure to eat a meal at Ribarska Koliba Šimuni. Get grilled fish, and the Fisherman’s Delight for dessert. 

6. Croatian sunsets are impressively red-pink, and Pag is a great place from which to view the setting sun.

Trip Day 3: Krka National Park, Skradin, Šibenik, Sea Organ

Advice and Accolades:

1. Krka is worth visiting once in your lifetime, although it’s pretty limited for hiking. Try and arrive by 9 AM, and go via the Skradin entrance. You will pay something like 40 kuna to park at the edge of the small town, and then walk about 5 minutes to the waterfront. Boats leave every half hour, and from the upper level of the boat you get a nice breeze and a great view of the blue-green water. Begin with a swim at the waterfall (water shoes highly recommended, it’s very rocky) and then dry off as you walk the 40-ish minute loop to the upper waterfalls. There are many places to take photos, and it’s one of the few places I’ve ever been where I genuinely wished I had a selfie stick. Hint: There’s a student discount for the park entry. Plan to stay in the park around 2 hours (not including boat rides). 

2. There’s a lovely jewelry store in Skradin with affordable pieces made by local artists. Great place to pick up gifts! It's located on Ul. dr. Franje Tuđmana very near the church square. 

3. It’s a beautiful drive to Šibenik, and not very far. The beach there is rocky, and the view wont blow you away like in Pag or Šimuni, but it’s a lot less crowded and after Krka, you may just want to sit back and chill. 

4. The sea organ in Zadar is not to be missed. Even if you do not stay in Zadar, make an effort to stop and see it. A truly unique piece of art, which makes enchanting if not harmonious sounds. There are also a few vendors along the water offering wares that are not painfully touristy.

Trip Day 4: Kuterevo Bear Sanctuary, Pula

Advice and Accolades:

1. The bear sanctuary in Kuterevo is NOT to be missed. In addition to viewing the bears, on the drive from the highway you get to see Croatian farming villages and to get a sense of the country’s agricultural production. Hint: Try to arrive before noon, when it gets very hot and the bears move into the wooded shade of their habitats to rest. It is free, but you may bring a donation of fruit for the bears, or buy some postcards or bear-related products sold by the volunteers staffing the sanctuary.

2. Pula is lovely for an evening, but I wouldn’t stay for more than a day. The beach is nice, but many are better. We did have an excellent meal at Pizzeria Barkun

Day 5: Rovinij, Motovun, Grozjnan, Trieste

Rovinij (Photo Credit: Maya Oren)

Advice and Accolades:

1. Stay in Rovinij! We wish we had stayed there instead of in Pula or Trieste. The Lone Bay Beach/Mulini Beach Resort (a Blue Flag beach) is stunning—truly the nicest beach we have ever visited, both in the quality of the water and swimming and because it’s a platform (cemented) beach rather than a sand/rocky beach. Arrive in late morning, swim and tan, and then eat lunch and have drinks or coffee at the Mulini Beach Bar and Café

2. Motovun requires parking and taking a shuttle bus up to the city. From a distance, we observed the bus winding up the hill—it didn’t convince us to visit. We instead tried wines at Vinarija Tomaz and very much enjoyed the rosé, white wine, and teran (red). 

3. Grozjnan is easier to access than Motovun and is also a great example of a medieval hilltop fort town. The cobbled streets are a bit treacherous, but it’s exciting to wander the streets and visit artists studios. Hint: Don’t plan to stay and eat/drink—the mosquitos are vicious. 

4. Don’t go to Trieste in summertime. It’s hot, there are mosquitos, and the views of the water in Croatia are better. Hint: If you do go to Trieste, don’t plan to go on a Sunday because most everything is closed in the morning. Also, spend the money and stay in the Savoia Excelsior Hotel. After a few days of beach slumming, take a long bath or shower, wrap yourself in a robe, and watch the enormous TV while you dry off. Get drinks at the bar in the lobby, and pass out in the incredibly comfortable bed. In the morning, work out in their very nice gym, and don’t miss the included breakfast—it’s decadent, delicious, and serves American coffee.

Day 6: Porec*, Venice

Advice and Accolades:

1. Because we were not enjoying the heat in Trieste, we drove back to Croatia for the day. The beaches in Poreč are not as nice as Rovinij, but they are also Blue Flag beaches and the water is a very clear green-blue. There are a mix of rock and cement platform (our preference) areas to choose from. 

2. If you have an early-morning flight from the Venice airport, the Venice Resort Hotel is not fancy but is very clean and a good value. It’s a 5-minute drive from the airport (if even that long). Have dinner nearby at Colors, a pizzeria. Nothing fancy, but then again, nothing by an airport ever is particularly nice. Hint: they have free, strong wifi!

* I apologize for the anglicized spelling. SquareSpace will not let me insert symbols. 

Travel Day: Depart from Venice