On the Istrian Peninsula...


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Europe » Croatia » Istria » Rovinj
November 26th 2016
Published: January 5th 2018
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As we were getting closer to the end of our adventure in Croatia, I thought that probably we could’ve planned that part of the journey a bit better. Well I could have... There were still quite a few days left before meeting my friends in Ljubljana but I wasn’t exactly sure where to go to next… I checked out a few places in Slovenia and even Italy since we were very close to both borders, but the prices of accommodation were almost two times higher over there! Welcome to Eurozone I guess… Also long bus trips were out of the question (simply had enough of these for a while) so I needed to find something not too far away… It made me think about all these beautiful villages we passed by on the Dalmatian coast… We could’ve stayed at any of these… Ah well… I’d just have to find little gems like that on the Istrian Peninsula instead. Ljubljana was going to be our last stop on this leg of the journey. Originally we were going to stay another week or two in this region but had to change plans due to the pregnancy becoming more and more real with every single day – yep! that blood test in Rijeka became quite positive – so positive in fact that there was even a small talk about twins! Whaaaaat? I’m happy to confirm these were just very scary assumptions only... One little bean thankfully… With some research I finally decided about where we were going next – Pula and Rovinj here we come!

As we were leaving Rijeka, we felt quite happy to move forward. Sadly this town didn't exactly blow our minds. Weather most certainly had a big impact on that, but also Rijeka wasn’t really as charming as all these other Croatian towns we’ve been to so far. Therefore we decided to head to a smaller and hopefully more charming town next – Pula. We had quite a few bus connections to choose from, so we took our time to get ready in the morning and after breakfast we headed to the bus station. There was a slight confusion with the buses… Why on earth would there be two buses to Pula leaving at the same time was beyond me! Thankfully with both drivers taking into their hands to sort out their passengers, we were on our way to Pula in no time at all. Once we arrived there we went searching for our Airbnb apartment. It's always a bit stressful for me wondering whether the owner will be available and on time to let us in or whether we'll have to go out of our ways to contact the owners. Knock on wood… so far we were quite lucky! And this time was no different – a very friendly girl let us in to her beautiful brand new apartment straight away. The apartment was so new in fact that there were still a few unfinished bits here and there – a couple of loose boards, some wires sticking out but I doubt anyone without a toddler would've even noticed! With a little munchkin looking into every little corner we have to watch out for these kinds of hazards though! Quick look around and we were ready to explore Pula.

It turned out that we were located almost next door to Pula's main attraction, its Roman Arena. We decided to leave a visit to the Arena for the following day, as it was meant to be sunny then. We did have a good look at it on our way to the centre though and after seeing this structure I wondered why I never heard of Pula before? They sure had something impressive to be proud about and yet not a word heard about it… Dalmatian Coast was most definitely stealing the show… It was just a short walk to the centre. There was no doubt that the low season was in full swing here, hardly anyone around, the place looked really empty. We most certainly didn't mind that but wondered whether we'd be able to find any places to eat... We passed by one restaurant but it was packed with a large group of loud tourists… On top of that their specialities were seafood and pizzas – taking into account the blessed state I was in, the first one was out of the question and pizza wasn't on the list of my cravings at that moment. Sorry Grant but from now on, making food choices was definitely going to be a bit more difficult, if not a bit of a nightmare actually... As if it wasn't difficult already, he'd probably say… 😉 With two hungry girls getting more and more cranky by the second, finding a place to eat was Grant’s priority! For the sake of his sanity if anything else… And then as luck would have it, we found a little restaurant. At first glance I thought it was shut as well, but we saw some people leaving the place and after a quick pick through the window and seeing a few more people inside, we decided to check it out. The smell of burnt oil hit my nostrils straight away! Grant didn't seem to notice at all... another sign confirming my blessed state I guess? Quick look at the menu... plenty to choose from… pizza and pasta of course... maybe not today... but wait, what was that? A good old pork schnitzel? That most certainly would do, my nostrils would just have to endure the smells.... the prices were very reasonable and staff was very friendly too, no surprise we went back there a few times.

On the way back home we got lost! That was a first for sure! Taking into account how small the town was and that we were located basically right next to the Arena, how was that even possible? I usually have a very good sense of orientation and yet the pregnancy seemed to have messed it all up as well! All my senses very all over the place – there was no doubt about that! There even was no one around to ask for directions! Finally we found some older guy walking his dog and even though we didn’t have any languages in common, he managed to show us the way. We were literally 100 metres away from home!

The second day, rather than hanging out at the centre of Pula, we decided to check out some other neighbourhoods. A walk around the small peninsula sounded like a good idea. And it sure was! It was a beautiful day, the walk maybe wasn’t that spectacular but the scenery was very pleasant and Millie had a chance to practice her walking skills a bit more. A very successful day I would say! Then it was back in the Old Town, strolling around its very empty streets and a lovely meal at Orfej of course to finish the day. Millie couldn’t be happier to have her own bowl of soup with noodles again. 😊

Next day we woke up to beautiful blue skies and headed straight to the Arena. I guess it was worth it to save visiting it for last after all! We thought the entrance fee was quite pricey since you could more or less see all there was to see from the outside already, but decided to check it out anyhow. The Arena is apparently the 6th largest surviving Roman amphitheatre in the world. It’s believed to have sat 20,000 spectators. Now all sort of events take place here each year – concerts, opera, sport competitions, you name it! During the summer months you can even witness gladiator fights here! As we found out once again, super low season has its disadvantages as you miss out on all these events unfortunately. We wandered around these ancient ruins for a while and headed once again to the centre afterwards. I came prepared that day and actually researched a few places worth visiting around here, so off we went exploring... We walked under the 1st-century AD triumphal arch and headed to Forum, the main square where you can find another 1st century AD structure – the Temple of Augustus. We also went to see remains of a Roman house, its floor mosaic representing one of the mythological scenes. And then we just walked the streets randomly, turning into little streets and checking out a few more Roman ‘leftovers’ located in the middle of people’s backyards! Maybe an interesting find for a tourist, but you’d wonder whether the inhabitants were so happy about these ancient remnants in their backyards as well – playground or a simple garden would probably be more handy? Next we headed to see the Kastel – Pula’s one and only castle which was built in the 17th century. Maybe not much of an architectural masterpiece itself, but you can see a beautiful panorama of Pula from there. Also the Istrian history museum had some interesting stuff on display, so altogether worth a visit. As the sun was slowly descending on the horizon and it was getting colder and colder by the minute, we headed straight to Orfej from there for our ‘last supper’ in Pula. Now we were ready to move further along the coast.

Another bus journey, a very short one this time actually, and we got to our last stop in Croatia, Rovinj. Even though the journey was very short, I still managed to pass out as soon as Millie shut her eyes as well. Since I didn’t have much time to properly wake up before we left the bus I sure didn’t have any time at all to prepare for the temperature outside! It was freezing! Thankfully we were only a short walk away from our apartment, still my teeth were chattering all the way... We dumped our bags, I put a few more layers on and we were ready to explore. Talking about a perfect location, we walked out the door and were in the centre of Old Rovinj! And what a beautiful little town it was! Narrow streets, lovely pastel colours all around, very charming! First we headed to the marina and we knew straight away we were going to hang out here often – beautiful place, all the boats peacefully floating on the water, the sea breeze, little restaurants and cafes all around… Not that all of them were open, still we did spot a good place to eat… One with reasonable prices that is! As other restaurants were slightly out of our budget… It looked like we would be back on pizzas diet once again.

The next morning I woke up feeling very tired… Add to it a massive headache and shivers from even thinking about going outside and you have one pretty grumpy preggie. The little bean growing inside me seemed to have been taking away most of my energy and whatever was left over was quickly consumed by my one-year-old princess of course… Not getting enough sleep, feeling nauseous and hungry at the same time… the idea of going out in the freezing cold only made me want to crawl back to bed… Grant decided to give me some space and took Millie for a morning walk – what can I say? It’s these little gestures that really count… After they came back I knew it was time for me to get out as well, if only to have a bite to eat of course. It was another chilly day, but the sun was shining and it actually didn’t feel as cold as I thought it would, so it looked like we were all going to do some exploring after all. Up to the old part of the town we went then. I loved the narrow streets and houses… And not a soul in sight! Almost none… Except for an old lady and a couple of tourists, the streets were empty. Days were getting shorter and shorter and once the sun was gone, the temperature would drop just as fast. Since we had some pizza for lunch that day already we definitely wouldn’t be having it for dinner as well. Instead we opted for a home cooked meal – nothing fancy, just the good old Bolognese but even the idea of having it at our cosy and warm ‘home’ was making me smile. Home sweet home?

The following morning I decided to join Grant and Millie for a stroll along the shoreline. So that’s where the gigantic hotels were hiding! A bit out of the centre (and thankfully!) but still overlooking the Old Town of Rovinj, only from the other side of the bay. With another ginormous hotel in the making, it looked like they were expecting quite a bit of tourism coming this way as well. You’d wonder how profitable these hotels really are, seeing they are totally shut during the off season? Right next to the big hotels you reach a lovely green area with kilometre-long bicycle paths. We walked around there for a good while. We came across an alley of some very special olive trees… They sure weren’t just any olive trees… they were ancient olive trees, over 2,000 years old! The things they’ve seen… it’s impressive enough when you see some 2,000 year old structures but a 2,000 year old living organism?!!! I say that’s something entirely different…

Another walk around the Old Town and the beautiful marina, another pizza, another cup of tea with lemon and honey and that was it for Rovinj, and Croatia for that matter as well. We sure did choose a great location to say farewell to Croatia. If only it was a tiny bit warmer… The winter was on its way, no doubt about that! There was no doubt about one other thing as well – we absolutely loved Croatia and would love to come back here one day. Incredible country! Slightly expensive, especially the famous towns like Dubrovnik or Split, with prices comparable to those in Western Europe, but worth every penny… and let’s be honest – coming here in the off season had its advantages not only on the money level, but even more so on a peace and tranquillity level as well. So next time off season probably as well, but maybe with our own car as it would be nice to explore all these beautiful tiny towns along the way that we didn’t have a chance to see just yet. For now we were heading to our last destination on this part of our journey, off we went to another country... Next stop: Ljubljana, Slovenia!


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6th January 2018

Congratulations!!!!
By now your baby should be at least a year old. Keep the blogs coming.
9th January 2018

Congratulations!!!!
Thanks Bob :) Daniel is 6 months old now, time flies! Another blog in the making, hoping to post it soon...
6th January 2018

Congratulations
Glad to hear its one and not two....at least it makes you happy. :) Pula sounds like a gem. I'll add it to our list.
9th January 2018

Congratulations
Thanks Dave and Merry Jo! I have no idea how people do it with twins, one is more than enough to keep you on your toes all the time ;) Pula was definitely a great find, totally recommend it!
6th January 2018
At the Arena in Pula

Great photo
A good one
9th January 2018
Old and new - inside the Arena

I love Roman amphitheatres
I absolutely love Roman amphitheatres. I have seen Colosseum in Rome and the one in El Djem in Tunisia and a few more. I see from your photos that the one in Pula must be visited as well. /Ake
9th January 2018
Old and new - inside the Arena

I love Roman amphitheatres
I'll need to check out the one in Tunisia. There are a few gems like that in Turkey as well, I loved the amphitheatre in Aspendos (https://www.travelblog.org/Photos/6852225)

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