Croatia Trip - Day 16 - Rovinj

Happy Birthday to my trip mate!  Thanks for spending very nice time with me in the beautiful country. Rovinj is the last city of our Croatia trip.  It is a picturesque town with mild climate and ideal for relaxation.  A friend of mine spent her honeymoon here for a week in early May 2009.  We were there on 31 May 2009.  A coincidence!  We knew about it much later.

St Euphemia Cathedral is situated at the highest point of the city.  You see it from every corner, proudly overseeing the surroundings and declaring its importance.  Nevertheless, it makes the city very unique and beautiful.  You won't mind having it often in your photos.   The cathedral is named after a martyr who died for her faith in the year 304.  Hundreds years later her marble coffin mysterious floated to the shore of Rovinj.

Croatia is a bestowed country!  It has a long coastline, lots of sunshine (except one day in our trip), beautiful nature and beaches and rich agricultural products.  We bought fresh fruits at Split, and every city we visited.  The colours seen at Rovinj market were vivid.  We enjoyed apricots on spot, got dry figs and walnuts with big discounts comparing to the neighbouring country Italy.

Our last lunch in Croatia is definitely the best in our trip.  Grilled fish wrapped in paper and divine grilled lamb.  The previous was soft and juicy.  The latter was tender and tasty.  We had local white wine by glass.  Oh, super!  Look for a restaurant called Vels Joze.

It is the only cloudy day we had in our trip. Just from the photos, it looks pretty scary. Luckily, it did not rain during our visit.  When we headed back to Poreč, sunshine again.  We had our last sunset in Croatia.  The next day, we had to catch a very early bus (6am) to Trieste.  Goodbye Croatia!


Croatia Trip - Day 14 & 15 - Poreč

Poreč is a little touristic town located on the west coast of the Istria peninsula.  It has beautiful beaches, luxurious resorts and charm to attract tourists.  The rocky and accessible coast is dotted with numerous swimmers and holidaymakers.  The city has been catered for tourists for centuries.  It is charming during days and nights.

The most important sightseeing point is basilica of St. Euphrasiusis, the best preserved monument of early Byzantine art dating from the sixth century.  The upper parts of the central apses are decorated with exquisite mosaics of exceptional artistic value.  The mosaic floor dated back between second and sixth century.

Another two 'must be mentioned' are the seaside and sunset. Tourists enjoyed swimming and sun bathing along the rocky beaches. It took an hour to walk from end to end to pass through beaches and resorts on the eastern side.  I saw a cute fat boy jumping into the sea with splashes of water.  He was so fond of it and repeated the jumping endlessly.  It's fun watching.

For beautiful sunset, stay on the western quay or hop to a nearby island with a resort.  If you are hotel guests of the mainland, you can get a free boat ride to the opposite shore for a nice cool swim and beautiful sunset. 


Croatia Trip - Day 13 - Brijuni Islands

Brijuni Islands mean many: group of islands, romantic beaches, prehistorical archipelago, national park, zoo and Tito.  The islands are 6 km away from the mainland of Istria.  To go there, first call to get a place in any arranged tours, take a bus to Fažana, a tranquil fishing village and then jump onto any scheduled boats to visit the main island.  There a tourist train will tour you around.  Of course, you can stay behind and appreciate the beauty, nature and archipelago as long as you like.  Hotels are nearby.

Let's start from Fažana.   We arrived the sleeping fishing village pretty early.  After we have got our boat tickets, we walked around the town, the seafront, the port to enjoy a very nice start of the day.  Bravo!

It's a short ride to the Brijuni National Park.  A tour guide welcomed us at the port, introduced the programme of the day, showed us a church right at the port and got us into a tourist train around the island.  We passed by wonderful tree allee, undulating landscape, seafront, roman villa ruins and arrived at the zoo.  There were many animals wandering freely within a big fence.  It is unfortunate that they were far.  Naja, it's great to see zebra in the wild.

Then we were brought to Tito's museum.  Loads of pictures were shown, including many national officials and delegates being greeted and served there. 

Big piece of land was occupied by remains of luxurious Roman villas, overlooking the sea and the alluring natural beauty.  Among all, you can find temples to Neptune, Venus, Byzantine castles and the basilica of St. Mary.  Look, the remains were really rich and beautiful in the old days.

It was a beautiful day. We wanted to get into the water.  However, it was too windy and the water too cold.  Well, we missed the chance to swim at the only nude beach in our trip.  There wasn't anybody around.


Croatia Trip - Day 11 and 12 - Pula

Our bus from Plitvice scheduled departure time was 6.45am.  We got up very early, swallowed our breakfast quick and got delivered to the bus stationed.  Bus waiting at the middle usually took longer than expected.  We first went to Karlovac and changed another bus to Pula, the very southern end of the peninsula, Istria.  Thanks to our landlady in Plitvice.  Without her advice prior to the departure, we would not be able to find the information over the internet.  It's a long and winding trip to Pula.

We booked Apartments Arena via Hostelbookers.  It's huge with high ceiling and much light.  The biggest advantage is it's next to the Arena, Roman Amphitheatre.  We could easily take shots of the number one attraction, day and night.  One can walk to and within the old town easily. You will pass through many touristic shops and restaurants.  When you arrive at the main square, you can admire the beauty composing by the townhall, Roman Temple and the layback atmosphere.   Just breath in the air and relaxed.

Continue the street to the other end, you will see a Roman Arch standing there over centuries, welcoming and farewelling guests to the town.   Richer building stand outside the arch.  One can shop in some internationally renowned shops. 

If you are interested in swimming, take a bus to a nearby resort.  The fare was as expensive or even more expensive than an European town.  There is a public beach.  We swam with many families on a weekday.  We were lack of money.  All our dinners were cooked at home.   Nearby were two small supermarkets.   We went to a big one after our swim.  Do shop Croatian wine.  The whites are very good.

The next day was very windy.  The arena was our first programme.  At the basement it showed history, sketches of the building and old pots.  We strolled along the town, the port, saw some ruins and churches.  Among all I preferred the Romanesque style one.  Pula is pretty small.  Apart from the Arena, the other major reason to visit is the nearby Brijuni Islands where a national park sits.  It is also Tito's beloved island.


Croatia Trip - Day 9 and 10 - Plitvice Lakes National Park

We got up early to take a bus from Zadar to Plitvice, the only one during the day at non-peak season.  Bus from the old town to the long distance bus station was rare, especially on Sunday. The bus took some winding streets which we did not pass through on the reverse way.  We arrived pretty early and had a coffee.  The bus was very stuffy. I suffered much in the two-hour trip and could not stop vomitting when we had a chance to stop for a pause.  Oh, such a start of the day.

We opt for a private accommodation, Krizmanic Family, nearby the gate 1 of the national park.  Our host Ivana picked us up with her car to the lovely house.  Surroundings were beautiful flowers.

Soonest we proceeded to the park.  Bad news was: we could not buy a two-day pass because we were not hotel guests.  Double cost for the visit.  Well, no choice, we were there.  We had two beautiful days.  No regret.

Emerald and Sapphire colours presented in front of us once entering the Park.  The water of the lakes were gorgeous.  It glittered under the intensive sunshine.  Waterfalls, plants around and in the water composed picturesque shots everywhere.  The water was very clear.  We could see the deposits in the water.  It reminded me on Jiuzhaigou in China.  Its water has a special substance which coated the plant under the water.  No one can erase the beauty once it has been in mind.    Jiuzhaigou is more beautiful but extremely crowded.  Here we had peace and space.  Tourists were relatively far apart.   One and half days is barely enough to see most of the beautiful spots.  We walked much.  There were bus and boat connections between spots.  You need energy to walk through to enjoy the beauty.  The sun in May was already very strong.  It heated up the land and rained in the night.  Be home early if you can.

At the end of the day, we went to the only restaurant near the entrance of the Park.  The grilled trout was good.  We had it twice in the two evenings plus choices of grilled meat.  The cheese for the bread was delicious.  The breakfast provided by our host was excellent. 


Croatia Trip - Day 8 - Zadar

Zadar was attacked by different tribes such as Turks, Venetian, Austrian, Italian, etc.  It tells why one can see Austrian styled buildings, Venetian lion on gates, Italian cafe and so on.

We started the day with a visit at the square of 5 wells, followed by a small scale botanic garden, art of a few churches, church treasury.   There displayed a lot of Saints' relics.  It means finger, hand, heart or any part of the body in an ornmental piece of cylinder or else.  For modern people, it's scary and not hygienic.  But the ancient people believed that a power was associated and meant protection.   The highlight is an ascend to the tower of Saint Anastasia's Cathedral (Katedrala Sv. Stosije) with a superb panoramic view of the city.

Swimming is a favourite activity in Croatia in summer.  This time we headed for a quite island nearby.  Boats ran around every 40 to 50 minutes.  We just missed one.  Killing time was easy.  Just headed to any cafe, sipping coffee and watching people come and go.  Our island was quiet.   Only we were there, enjoying the cool water and natural beauty.  What a day!  Slowly we walked back to the pier and looked forward to a sumptuous dinner.
We passed by this lovely restaurant, Lungo Mare, during the day.  It had a terrace overlooking Drazenica Bay, was famous for seafood and the best wine list in town.  It's also recommended in Timeout Croatia.  So, our choice was confirmed.  We made a booking for the evening.  It turned out that it was a good choice.  Good food accompanied with great view and fabulous white wine.  A day closed with a perfect dinner.  What could we ask for more, nothing.

Croatia Trip - Day 7 - Zadar in the afternoon

Zadar suffered a lot from the Second World War.  Reconstruction work was undertaken to repair the chaotic damages.  A system of polythylene tubes and a resonating cavity were consealed under the steps to turn the site into a natural musical instrument, the sea organ.  It was built by Nikola Bašić as part of the project of redesigning the sea coast.  It has been opened to the public since April 2005.  The randomness of waves play harmonic sound.  Tourists and local families come here to enjoy the unique aerophone and beautiful sunset. 

Croatia's beauties are owned by local residents.  It's not only in Zadar but Split but most of the places we have been to.  Locals crowd the seafront in the evening.  After a day of work, they come to the sea to enjoy the nice scenery to dewind.  Locals and tourists are in harmony.  One will never feel the space too limited but accommodating everyone's needs.

Zadar has a beautiful seafront dotted with elegant palaces.  It looks like Austrian buildings.  Strolling along is relaxing.  Churches in Zadar also well known and bring loads of tourist.  I am especially impressed with the mightly St Donat church.  The round Romaneque church builit in 9th century is certainly a symbol of the city.  Other churches include Saint Anastasia's Cathedral (Katedrala Sv. Stosije) with a handsome tower and Church of Saint Simeon (Crkva Sv. Sime).