Europe

The coastline of Istria – Croatia

Rain, rain, rain and even more rain. That’s the best summary I could give you of our third day roadtripping through the Istria region of Croatia. Oh, and have I mentioned that it rained? Because it did. A lot. I mean, I’ve known days where it drizzled from morning until nightfall and I can deal with that type of weather. It’s not exactly comfortable but with the appropriate clothing, you can at least go outside and do something. But on that particular Sunday in October, the rain just kept coming down in buckets. All. day. long.

We could have sulked about it, but by noon we decided to embrace it the best way we could. We were done trying to visit some of the towns in the inland of Istria, so we headed for the coastline. More water, why not?

I was surprised to find out that kilometers and kilometers away from Norway one can also find fjords. Okay, the Lim Fjord in Croatia may not be as spectacular as the ones I visited in Scandinavia last year, but it’s definitely worth it to go check out. Even in the rain!

When you arrive at the fjord from up north, you come across a couple of panorama points where you can enjoy views over the fjord such as the one above. There are wooden platforms with souvenir shops at the base, so it all feels quite touristy. Fortunately for us, no one was there when we were. My guess is that that might have had something to do with the persistent rain.

Continuing down along – an at certain points flooded – route 75, you can then take a right turn into the Lim Fjord itself. We were happy to find the Viking Restaurant there open and serving hot coffee and tea. At least that way we were able to enjoy the view on the water from inside for a while.

On our Maps app, we had spotted a viewpoint along the fjord called ‘Secret Beach’. I was intrigued. Very intrigued. But the beach seemed only reachable by foot. We drove as close as we could, still about 1,5 kilometers away, and then decided that being a little crazy never hurt no one. So we set out running, through the pouring rain, taking a wrong turn, through the forest, trying not to slip or hang on branches that would only bring down more water until we ended up at a little open area.

Okay, that was a little disappointing. Completely soaked we ran back to the safety and warmth of the car. At least now I wouldn’t have to wonder for the rest of my life what that viewpoint looked like. And hey, it actually ended up being pretty damn fun as well.

We drove the last few kilometers to the city of Rovinj. Our end destination for the day. We were longing for a warm shower and some dry clothes, but Rovinj is also one of those cities where you can’t enter by car. Our host at Guest Accomodation dall Antiquario had told us to leave our car at a restaurant on the outskirts and then we’d meet him at our apartment. Another 1,5 kilometer run through the rain ahead of us. No biggie, we were already soaked anyway.

But while we were running, we got a call from the host informing us that we would have to relocate as there were some problems with our apartment. Uh-oh. Because of the rain and the accent, I had a lot of trouble understanding the man, but a couple of calls and misunderstandings later, he was able to pick us up along the way and show us to our room for the night at La Casa di Loreto. An upgrade from what we had booked. All was well. Especially after a nice, warm shower.

And miraculously around 5pm it seemed like the skies were fi-na-lly empty. Time to explore the city of Rovinj! Umbrella in hand – courtesy of the host – we wandered through the old cobblestone streets and along the beautiful harbor of the city. We had the whole place to ourselves, which felt odd and even a bit sad as this city obviously lives of tourism.

In support of tourism, we enjoyed a beer and cider at the Irish Pub along the harbor before settling for dinner at restaurant La Riva. A delicious heap of food and glass of red wine; the perfect combo for a nice, relaxing Sunday evening.

Monday arrived and just like that the rain and clouds were a thing of the past. Bright blue skies and warm sunshine were in the forecast that morning and I couldn’t have been happier. Instead of heading straight back to the car after checking out of our apartment, we decided to take a detour through the city to revisit a few sights. It’s amazing how different a city can look and feel in other weather conditions.

Sadly we had to leave Rovinj behind us and continue our trip south. It was our last day in Croatia and we still had quite a bit of sights to see. Starting with the capital of the region; Pula. I was only interested in seeing the Roman ruins over there, so we didn’t plan to stick around for long.

But even before we were able to start our walking tour, we ended up in a nasty situation. We couldn’t find any place to park our car. At first we didn’t even know where and then when we did find a pay-by-the-hour lot, we didn’t have any coins left to put in the meter. My friend got so frustrated that we were about to say ‘fuck it’ and leave Pula unexplored. But that just didn’t sit well with me. So we drove to the outskirts of the city, to the parking lot of Lidl, bought ourselves lunch at that supermarket and then from there started our walking route. It involved a long stretch of busy roads, but at least we got to the center. Along the Arch of Sergei, past the Fortress and the Cathedral to the famous Pula Arena. It only took us about an hour, but I’m happy I got to take in some of the sights.

Outside of the city center of Pula, you can also find a peninsula with lots of campgrounds and a few viewpoints. Of course we had to go check those out. They were nice enough, but nothing really spectacular. If we would have been short on time, I would have found it a waste.

But we still had the rest of the afternoon to explore our last sight of the trip; Kamenjak National Park in Premantura. The most southern part of Istria. There usually is an entrance fee of 80 kunas per car, but upon arrival at the gates we were met by a note that said “Free entrance”. Well thank you very much! I guess the bad weather of the previous days, the off-season and the corona virus didn’t make it worthwhile to pay someone to collect the fees of the lone tourists wandering the area

We drove halfway into the park up until the point where the road was so flooded we couldn’t be sure of a safe passage. So from there we hiked the rest to the most southern part. Beautiful, rough rock coastline and steep cliffs. Amazing!

In summer, this place is a hotspot for cliffjumpers and I can definitely see why. If it hadn’t been so cold that day, I might have been persuaded to jump in as well. But instead we continued walking along the coastline as long as we could. Crawling over rocks, through bushes and trees, past abandoned beach bars. Only at the most southern part, we encountered three other people, but for the rest of our hike, we had the whole park our to ourselves. Just the way I like it!

But sadly all good things come to an end, and so did our time in Istria. We squeezed in another stop at the VIP caffee in Premantura and one at Medulin to enjoy the sunset from the harbor before we had to return to the airport for our late night flight back home.

It was a short getaway, but it was so much needed. Traveling for me is more than just seeing places. It’s a moment where nothing else matters except the sights in front of me or whatever’s next on the itinerary. The everyday-life stress forgotten, just for a while. My own form of therapy I guess. Too bad it comes with a nasty side affect called travel blues. But hey, it’s all worth it!

♡ Ellen

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