Statue of Gueseppe Tartini
(I think that was his name...)
Yesterday, after partying with a big group of Erasmus (European) students on Friday night, I took off with about 18 of them to a beautiful little town called Piran. The day started out pretty slowly, as they didn't realize how long it would take to rent cars. Car rental places are a little reluctant I think when a group of 18 or so 20 year old show up! Anyway, one girl, Malic, from Austria had her own car there, so after about an hour and a half of waiting for the rest of the group, 5 of us decided to take off on our own.
One of the neatest things about our little group was that we were all different nationalities! There was Malic from Austria, our trusty driver. Sylvia is from Poland and she navigated for us... thank goodness! Beside me in the back was Otte from Finland and Olga from Germany. It was great getting to know everyone a little bit on the way there and back, and learning about Polish and German politics from Sylvia and Olga. Its strange to realize just how much there are STILL repercussions from World War 2 and Communism that are affecting
Sylvia climbing trecherous stair case
We litteraly had to crawl at some points!
After about an hour of driving through beautiful Slovenian countryside and forrests, we came down a long, vinyard covered hill into this beautiful little town called Piran. It was an absolutely picturesque little Mediterranean town, complete with a town square that looked onto the harbour, grand political buildings, a still intact wall from medieval times, and waves crashing beside colorful-shuttered homes.
Our first task was to climb the hill to the old town wall to get a view. It wasn't that much of a climb, but the stairs up the wall were a little treacherous! The view from the top though was definitly worth the climb... it absolutely took my breath away. Down below us the red roof tops came to a point and then nothing but the beautiful greeny-blue of Mediterranean water... and to each side, you can see in the not-so-far distance the hills of either neighbouring Italy or Croatia. I could have spent all day on these old walls but I feared I would have died from having my breath taken away each time I blinked...
Finally we resolved that there was much more of the city to see, so through narrow,
View from the old town walls... stunning!
winding, cobblestone road we made our way to the church below. We didn't go inside, but when we got to the base of the tower we heard voiced shouting, and we looked up to see the rest of the group waving at us! We decided to go up the tower as well for another view (it wasn't to expensive, like 0.70 Euros..), and right as we got to the top of another trecherous stair case the church bell rang RIGHT beside our heads. Anyone who knows me well will know that, of course, I screamed and jumped almost through the roof!
Anyway, we wandered with the big group around the point of the city, which was beautiful, and then to the other side where there were hundreds of mostly or fully naked sunbathers. We stopped for an icecream and heard music, so we had to go check it out! Well, yesterday was the first day of school in Piran for those going to a kind of "Marine" school... basically like sailor/sea school if I understood correctly. They had a HUGE parade with everyone dressed up like pirates and a marching band playing what Olga said sounded like tradional German
music. In the middle of the parade was a guy being carried high up on a thrown who was dressed up as King Neptune, and then behind him, dressed in rags and carrying a HUGE probably very heavy rope were all the freshmen! So they marched all around the main square and then back to a stage they had set up where King Neptune made a speach and all the freshmen had to repeat a pledge of allegiance (all in Slovene, so I couldn't understand...). Then they took all of the freshmen out on a dock and swung them into the ocean... baptised them to the sea!
Next, we were on to this place Sylvia had heard about called the "Salt Pans" where they harvest sea salt. Unfortunately I grabbed the German info-guide, so I can't really tell you much about it, it was this incredible network of shallow sea-water pools right beside the croatian border that went on for miles. We stuck our finger in one of the pools to taste the water and.. yup, it was salty! There was a little info center and platform you could go up on too, and I think during the day
they do demonstrations there, but by the time we got there it was pretty deserted, so we watched videos at the info center for a bit and I went up to the platform to get a view. Very incredible... and when you look over to Croatia, you can see a stretch of deserted, roofless and crumbling homes that were left from the war. There is a buffering no-mans-land zone between the countries, so even if people wanted to return to there homes here they would not be able to. Kind of sad in a way...
On the walk back to the car through the salt-pans, something must have caused a stir because suddenly hundreds of sea-gulls suddenly took off and we had a beatiful, sunset view of all the gulls over the salt-pans... my camera card was unfortunatly full at this time, so no pictures, but maybe for the best that this moment stays etched in my memory... it was the perfect end to a very perfect day.
Love you all,
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