Croatia
Istarska Županija

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  • Day23

    Pula, Croatia

    July 10, 2017 in Croatia

    Left this morning to head west again to the coast. Travelled through some windy country roads with farms and rain forests. Every green and lush. Now on the Istria peninsular. Stopped for lunch at the Croatian riviera on the eastern side of the peninsular. Staying tonight on the western side in Pula. Pula has Roman ruins including a well preserved colosseum. It has quite an Italian feel to the area.Read more

  • Day34

    Pula

    July 10, 2017 in Croatia

    We took the scenic route to Pula which added a few hours to our trip but it was worth it. We saw some beautiful countryside and unexpected sights along the way. Al did a great job driving for about 5-6 hours, a lot of it on narrow winding roads.
    Pula is a seafront city on the tip of Croatia’s Istrian
    Peninsula, Pula has been occupied, destroyed and rebuilt numerous times.The city has a long tradition of winemaking, fishing, shipbuilding, and tourism. It has also been Istria's administrative centre since ancient Roman times. It has its own Roman Ampitheatre, Pula Arena, constructed between 27 BC – 68 AD, much of it still standing to this day. The Romans also supplied the city with a water supply and sewage systems. Driving the west coast of the Istrisn Peninsula tomorrow as well hopefully some inland towns and staying the night at Rijeka.
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  • Day35

    Rovinj, Porec

    July 11, 2017 in Croatia

    On the way to our destination for the night, Rijeka, we visited two seaside towns and two inland towns on the Istrian Peninsula. We only had a little time in each. Rovinj north of Pula on the west coast was our first stop. Rovinj's old town stands on a headland with houses tightly crowded down to the seafront and a hilltop church with its steeple dominating the skyline.
    Porec north of Rovinj and also on the west coast dates back to prehistoric times. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Croatia. It even has a casino which I wasn't expecting!
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  • Day35

    Motovun, Buje

    July 11, 2017 in Croatia

    Motovun was the highlight of the day. As we drove around a bend this hilltop village came into view and we knew we had to make the time to walk around this medieval town. Motovun town grew up on the site of an ancient city called Castellieri 270metres above sea level. On the inner walls are several coats of arms of different Motovun ruling families and two gravestones of Roman inhabitants dating from the 1st Century! 10th and 11th Centuries it belonged to the Bishop of Porec and from 1278 it was taken over by Venice and surrounded by solid walls which are still intact today and used as a walkway with amazing views over the four corners of Istria. It was a fascinating town. Then we stopped at Buje another hilltop medieval town. The old town was protected with stone fortifications, part of which has been preserved to modern times. Very narrow streets and a central square and a Baroque style church from the 16th Century. Lots of crumbling buildings between inhabited ones. On to Rijeka where we all had a meltdown from the heat of the day so sorry Rijeka that we did not explore your old town or new town. Another time perhaps.Read more

  • Day123

    Vizinada, Croatia!

    October 27, 2016 in Croatia

    It's 4 months today that we left home and it seems like we've come a long way!

    We left Italy this morning and cut through Slovenia with its high rolling hills swathed in green trees (Autumn doesn't seem to have made much of an impression). Although we'd climbed 500m from our starting point, the scale of the hills was so much smaller than we'd experienced in the Alps they seemed small to us. The countryside appeared at times like a dry UK, but it was rocky with scrub and shorter trees than we've been used to.

    We passed a state gardening team maintaining the verges. They'd set alight the leaves that had fallen and smoke was blowing over the road with the strong wind. A few hundred meters down the road there was a large sign warning of the likelihood of forest fires. Whilst the technique may well have been adopted to dispose of material that could act as tinder, it did make us wonder!

    There was a shock in store at the Croatian border because we had to drive through passport control! Croatia only joined the EU in 2013 but we are so used to mainland EU countries also being in the Shengen zone that we didn't expect to have to show our passports. Anyway, the officials allowed us through without any bother and we passed the signs marking the start of Croatia soon afterwards.

    It really does feel like a different world down here. Olive orchards cover the hills alongside vine terraces. Will even picked some olives to soak! There was a strong but warm wind blowing through stone-built terracotta towns with short church towers poking out above the rooftops.

    We soon turned off the main road towards our stopover; a farm in inland Istria (a triangular peninsula on the North West coast. The road became cracked and too narrow for us to pass other vehicles without using the verges and we had several near misses when vans came hurtling towards us round steep bends, with one of the drivers unhelpfully shaking his head at us. We had to turn back at one point because of a low bridge and poor Will was finding it tough going as Vicky still couldn't drive.

    We stopped in Buzet to get some Kuna out of the 'Bankomat'. Our Sat Nav had previously been able to locate banks along the route but banks were just one of the many services it didn't have in its database for Croatia so the Maps.Me app came to the rescue yet again. Walking through the streets we found the garden pomegranate trees we'd seen in Italy had been swapped for palm trees. There were some well maintained houses but a number of low rise flats with flaking plaster and significant signs of damp.

    Setting off again, street side billboards advertised truffle shops and olive specialists, underlining the differences between Croatia and where we'd spent the last 4 months. Just 10km away from our stopover, the exit of the roundabout was closed. There were no diversion signs but the recalculation on the sat nav took us via Novigrad on the coast added 34km! There was no better way round but it wasn't what Will needed so near the end of a long drive in the third country of the day.

    The detour was scenic and we saw Great White Egrets wading alongside Little Egrets and Grey Herons in the shallows of the Adriatic.

    Finally pulling up at our stopover, we found it to again ve in someone's back yard. We scoped the house out but nobody was around so we returned to the van for a well deserved rest. If someone wanted to register us we wouldn't be hard to find!
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  • Day124

    Vizinada Day 2

    October 28, 2016 in Croatia

    We took a break from driving today and set out instead on an exploratory stroll. Heading through the hamlet of Vizinada we fell in love with the sleepy streets, helped along we are sure, by the fact we were both in T-shirts, with the warm sun shining down from a bright blue sky. Cats lounged on benches and a few small friendly dogs roamed free. Some houses were abandoned, some had beautiful natural stone walls and varnished wooden shutters, others appeared more modern with smooth colourful walls. All were topped with terracotta tiles and chimneys.

    We followed a well maintained dry stone wall along a quiet single track road, that became a dirt track, that became a grassy path with trees arching over. There were small olive groves and vinyards and Jays flew overhead as frequently as pigeons do in the UK. Getting back on a concrete road we got a big shock; there, slithering over the road in front of us, was a metre long black worm! We thought for all the world it was a snake at first glance!

    The walk took us to midday and still nobody had asked us to pay for the stopover so we went to the restaurant associated with it for a drink (to help us get over the shock of seeing that worm ;)

    We had learned Croatian for 'hello' (dobar dan) and 'do you speak English?' (govrite li engleski). We gathered the waitress understood what we meant but she answered us in Croatian so we guessed she didn't know enough for a conversation! She did however speak Italian and German so we were able to communicate well. We asked for a local red wine and were presented with a half litre jug she had poured from the tap (she said it was very local)! We sat outside at our chequered cloth table and enjoyed taking in our surroundings. The restaurant seemed to be the ground floor of a house, it had a garden area with a few small fig trees and huge pumpkins lined up along the wall. Against an end wall, a grill hovered over a waist height metal plate, on which an open log fire was burning. A wicker basket brimming over with wild mushrooms stood close by and upon seeing these we resolved to return that evening!

    Our evening meal was delicious! We love eating local dishes and what we were served ticked so many boxes for the Croatian region of Istria. For starters we shared homemade fuzi pasta (a regional style of pasta rolled into a tube) with those gorgeous mushrooms. After this a locally made wooden chopping board presented cured meats (one of which was the regional prsut ham), cheese and what we think was a truffle flavoured humus.

    We chose an Istrian red wine (Teran) and were told it was one of the house wines. It was only on closer inspection of the bottle we discovered they really did mean house wine- it was made at the restaurant!

    We'd picked out some regional dishes from the menu for mains but the waitress recommended a T-bone steak so we went with her suggestion. It was presented on a silver platter for two, lathered in creamy truffle sauce with courgettes, polenta and baked potatoes. The bone was charred black which makes us think it was cooked the traditional Croatian way - peka style; slow roasted under a large metal lid with embers of an open fire heaped on top. Truffles are also a big thing around here and we've seen several sets of dog kennels whose inhabitants' jobs may well be to sniff them out!

    We turned down desert as we couldn't fit any in, but were persuaded with the offer of some schnapps. It came in its bottle together with complimentary sweet nibbles (bite sized doughnut balls and a small slice of yummy mandarin drizzle cake topped with chocolate). The schnapps turned out to be Biska, a mistletoe flavoured brandy that... you've guessed it; the region of Istria is famous for.
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  • Day125

    A day trip to Pula

    October 29, 2016 in Croatia

    Pula is a large town situated on the southern tip of Istria's triangular peninsula. Its main feature is the 1st century BC Roman Amphitheatre but we wanted to visit the market too.

    On the journey we passed thousands of olive trees and as it was a weekend, the families were out in force picking and pruning, loading bulging sacks of the fruits into their vans.

    Pulling up at a harbourside gravel car park on the outskirts of Pula we went to investigate the parking situation. Unfortunately we hadn't any kuna in coins and the machine didn't accept notes. A sign and a helpful English speaking litter picker advised us we could get a ticket at a shop further along so we set off to do this. Upon reaching the central harbour area a woman hailed us, telling us all about the fantastic boat trip she was running. She advised us that the car park opposite accepted notes so we checked it out and Vicky went and fetched the van. Unfortunately the barrier wouldn't allow us entrance and a grumpy parking attendant marched over and told us vans were not allowed. She refused to allow us entry to turn around and insisted we reverse the van back out on to the main road, somehow avoiding the 3 cars that were queuing behind us - not the easiest of tasks! Leaving a tailback of about 20 cars on the main road we returned to near our original parking spot and Will managed to get change from a helpful passersby.

    Our moods less than buoyant thanks to the punctilious parking attendant, we returned to town and used the Rough Guides info and map to find the market. We had worried the stalls might have packed up after our delay of nearly an hour and although some were showing signs of closing, most were still in full flow.

    As well as the regular fruit, veg and a few craft stalls it was exciting to see locally grown and processed items that would have to be imported to UK markets if they were available at all. As you may have guessed, Pula olives and olive oil were a prominent feature, but there were also beautiful garlands of brightly coloured chillis and bags of dried figs. Honey, dried herbs and homemade liqueurs in elegant bottles were all in abundance and we had to work hard to restrain ourselves as we were still not used to the pound - kuna conversion rates. We found the meat and fish market in a stone and glass walled building with an arched roof framing a mural at one end. We'd read about the brilliant oysters and mussels in Croatia but as we suspected they were out of season and so we got a few sardines and a meal of massive prawns. Most stallholders spoke a little German, if not English and so we managed to get what we wanted without any misunderstanding.

    Picking up some prsut ham and bread we picnicked beside the amphitheatre before going inside and exploring the underground area with its display of old olive oil making and storage equipment. The 22,000 capacity amphitheatre itself waa incredibly well preserved and we were lucky to have such great weather to explore it in with so few other tourists about.

    On the way back to the Vizinada stopover we wanted to visit a small port town called Rovinj. It was a little difficult getting there as we deviated from the main road and came to a street that wound so narrowly between houses with low hanging telephone wires that we had to again reverse out and take an alternate route. We had the same difficulty parking in Rovinj as in Pula (no vans in central parking zones) and failing to find anywhere close enough so as not to exacerbate Will's painful feet we gave it a miss and headed back to our stopover for a scrumptious seafood supper.
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  • Day3

    Alighieri Restaurant - Pula

    October 30 in Croatia

    A break for lunch. Local restaurant- sitting outside on a beautiful sunny day. Mid 60’s. Our waiter is super nice guy. Has a sister in San Francisco who has been there 25 years, yet he hasn’t visited her yet. Knew about North Carolina basketball!

    Lot of good food and delicious! Our waiter says “ We are small country but big portions” !Read more

  • Day2

    Pula

    August 19 in Croatia

    Unseren ersten Stopp in Kroatien machen wir in Pula. 🇭🇷🏝️
    Die Stadt mit rund 57000 Einwohnern erinnert uns sehr an eine italienische Küstenstadt. Es gibt sogar ein Amphitheater, fast so gross wie das Kolosseum in Rom. Es gibt auch sehr viele italienische Touristen.
    Der Stoja Camping liegt direkt am Meer, mit Supermarkt, Schattenplätzen etc. und ist eigentlich Perfekt! Da kann man drüber hinwegsehen, dass der Stellplatz von Olaf ein bisschen am Hang gebaut ist. Das kennt er ja bereits von Törbel! 😉

    Jeden Morgen können wir uns direkt im Meer abkühlen. Das haben wir auch nötig, denn auch in der Nacht bleibt das Thermometer über der 20 kleben. Wir freuen uns bereits jetzt schon, morgen früh wieder ins kühle Nass zu springen! 🏖️

    Wo die Reise weitergeht werden wir morgen Spontan entscheiden. 😊
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  • Day28

    Destination Croatia

    October 11 in Croatia

    When we were planning our holiday the options of getting from Venice to Croatia were minimal. To fly there would require flying via Rome or with some airlines, Paris. We had agreed we would only fly on National carriers, avoiding the budget airlines. The ferry from Venice to Porec took 3 hours 30 minutes, it was a smooth trip and docked at Porec about 8pm. I thought is was a 2 hour 30 trip and we would lose an hour through the Timezone change but Italy and Croatia are on the same clock.There were taxis waiting to transport people to their final destinations but we thought we would get some milk first then a taxi. We trudged over the polished slabs that made the road until we found a market that sold fresh milk. We asked where we might catch a taxi and were pointed towards the waterfront. When we arrived there was not a taxi in sight. Now we were worried, for some unknown reason the hotel we booked was 5km away. This did not make sense as the hire car had to be picked up the next morning from near the ferry terminal and we always tried to have accommodation near the town centres. Soon about 6 people were walking towards us so I asked if anyone understood English. Yes they said, they were Croatians who had lived in New Zealand for about 24 years. It was our lucky night, they needed a taxi too so they called one for them and one for us. One taxi arrived and as it had room for 10 we all clambered in and shared the one taxi as the taxi driver said he was the only driver working now. After the New Zealand group were dropped off our trip continued to an out of the way area on the outskirts of Porec. Finally we were dropped off out the front of our hotel, paid the taxi driver his fare in kunas then dragged our luggage to reception. No one was there but there was a gentleman in another room watching TV. He finally noticed us and came to check us in. With the little command of the English language he had he photocopied our passports, said something about Adelaide and two nights then gave us the key to our room. He tried to help carry one bag up the stairs and almost fell as he struggled due to its weight. The room was horrible, dirty with a few dead cockroaches on the floor. The bed was a small double that was not the normal length. We started to make our tea and I went back downstairs to get the wifi password. He didn’t know what I was talking about so called his son on the phone who could speak English and we now had network access. The nights sleep was bad, I couldn’t stretch my legs out, the mattress was lumpy and the pillows were the ones filled with crushed foam. Poor MDW tossed and turned most of the night, unable to get comfortable. In the morning we had a cup of tea in our room and refused to have a shower because of its floor having cockroach bodies on it. Bravely we ventured down for breakfast hoping for a cup of tea and a piece of toast. When we finally interrupted the domestic dispute between mother and son, the mother came out and asked us to be seated. We brushed the dead insects off the table cloth, by now all MDW wants to do is leave this hotel. We were the only two having breakfast at 8:30am. A bother table is set for a group but we wonder if we are really the only stupid people staying here. I ordered a coffee and MDW a pot of tea. Coffee arrives as did a pot of tea with a wedge of lemon but no milk. MDW asked for milk which was promptly delivered (hot frothy milk left over from my coffee). So MDW pours her tea into the cup with some warm milk in it. Purple, yes the tea was purple. Not only purple but smelt of berry, maybe blueberry. It didn’t look good blended with milk, really it didn’t blend, with the milk repelling the tea as did MDW who said she wasn’t drinking that stuff. So we now hoped for some toast but got bread with cold salami, maybe ham, cheese and tomato. We ate buttered bread. Croissants arrive prepacked in foil packaging, not good. The woman kept checking if all was ok, of course we said yes and smiled. After the bread was eaten we got our bags, rang for a taxi and tried to check out. For some reason the owners were surprised. They thought or maybe hoped we were staying two nights. I explained we had prepaid for one night showing the son the confirmation email. He said nothing but kept scrolling through the computer screen. I asked if there was a problem and he said he was checking if we had paid. The taxi was waiting so I told the son we had to go then all of a sudden he must have seen the payment confirmation, stood up shook my hand and we were gone.
    The taxi took us to the car rental firm who I had rung earlier to see if I could pick the car up before midday. No problem he said, 11am is suitable.
    We had a look around the Porec waterfront where there are numerous large boats, a few casinos and a dozen or so market stalls. We had a quick look at the markets then got some supplies from a small supermarket before going to the car rental firm to pick up our VW Golf. The contracts were printed off with extra insurance cover when I noticed the cost had risen €80 from the quote I had agreed to online. I questioned why and he said you are picking the car up 45 minutes early so you are being charged a penalty fee. “Well I’ll wait till 12 noon or change the return time to 11:15am.”
    He made some changes and printed out a new contract with the correct fees. We waited for the car to be brought the parking area when along comes a Mercedes Benz Hatchback, B Class I think. Almost brand new. After the inspection we put in our luggage and into the car we sit. It’s an automatic. MDW says I should move as I’m blocking someone so I start the car and can’t find the gear stick. Eventually I find the gear selector is on a steering wheel stick (a bit like an indicator or wiper control). I work out how to put it in drive and drive down the lane then go to turn right but of course I’m in the left hand lane. The car I made room for is on my inside or the right hand side of the road where I should have been. Not a good start. MDW has a good laugh as I’m starting to perspire. I give MDW the job of reminding me to stay right and before long we are following the directions on Google maps as I can’t workout the cars navigation system. We get to our first roundabout and navigate it correctly except we took the 2nd exit and not the third. At the next roundabout we do a u-turn and then take the first right but end up at a petrol station. This is harder than I imagined. I just drive through onto the road and we are on our way to Zagreb. It’s mostly freeway with two toll sections. We came across one of the greatest inventions of all times. We were approaching some road works when we notice a man waving a flag up and down, obviously warning us to slow down. The marvellous thing was it was a mechanical or robotic figure with a helmet doing a wonderful job for no pay.
    So far the weather has been marvellous, low to mid 20’s with beautiful blue skies. Apparently by October Croatia is getting cold but so far the warm weather has stayed and been very welcome.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Istarska Županija, Istarska Zupanija, Istria, 이스트라 주, Istrien

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