Roadtrippin’ along the Istrian coast!
Satisfying our inner foodie whilst enjoying sea, sun and euhm, seafood?!
Piran, a little bit of Venice in Slovenia
Still part of Slovenia, but fitted better with our visits to the other Croatian coastal towns.
We used the parking just outside the centre because it’s pedestrians only. This will be the case with all of the following towns! So be prepared to pay or try to find a free spot further away…
The shuttle bus to the city centre was ‘free’, but actually totally unnecessary if you’re okay with a 15 minute walk. The bus drops you off at the town square – Tartinijev trg – where you already have a few of the major sights such as the Venetian house, the statue of Giuseppe Tartini and a view on the top of the Cathedral of St George. The harbor of this well preserved medieval Venetian port is very nice, but during high season all the sunbathing areas were of course packed.
We had lunch at Restaurant Neptune. Food was good, but contrary to the Lonely Planet’s findings the portions were a bit small and too bad the lunch deals mentioned didn’t exist. Mind that when you order shrimps here, you get the full deal – what we would call langoustines – unlike at home you can put your shrimp-cracking skills to the test!
Recommend by the owner of Kaki Plac we paid Vrsar a quick visit, our first stop along the Croatian coast! It’s supposed to be calmer than other coastal towns. While it is certainly smaller than the others, the nice summer weather + water + islands meant tourists anyway!
We took a first dive into the Adriatic sea and hit the road again for Rovinj. Along the way you’ll see a lot of small stands where they’re selling olive oil, grappa, cheese, different things made from truffles, etc. as well as huge outdoor ‘barbecues’ – read: spit-roasted pigs and lambs.
Next up: Rovinj!
We spent the night at Camp Porton Biondi. I think we can say this was the worst camping we stayed at on our trip. Unfriendly staff, lots of noise, very packed and the spot given to us was filled with ants. Luckily, lovely Rovinj made up for all of that!
One of the last Mediterranean fishing ports. According to the horde of seagulls I think this is correct! The Church of St Euphemia dominates the view, but to get there you’ll first need to pass by the fruit and vegetable market and squirm your way through the maze of cobbled streets. Along these streets you’ll find a lot of artists presenting their artwork.
We had a light lunch at Male Madlene. This restaurant looks kinda special when you take a peek, but it’s worth to go in! Since you’ll be eating in the owner’s living room, the place isn’t big. But you don’t need a lot of space for delicious fingerfood! The ingredients are market-fresh, the presentation is lovely and the taste is good! But, these are bite-sized tapas, so you’ll probably have to eat a lot of those in order to fill your stomach. If you do that, your stomach might be satisfied, but I doubt your wallet will be… We suggest ordering a snack plate for two. Try to score the table by the window!
Afterwards we set sail to Crevni Otok – or Red Island – which consists of two islets: Sveti Andrija and Maskin which are connected to each other by a causeway. Boats to Crevni Otok and Sveta Katarina leave regularly from the quay in front of Trg Maršala Tita, where you’ll also find the timetable. Hotel Istra dominates Sveti Andrija; this means that you won’t find any stalls along the paths selling tourist stuff or food/drinks. Which is good, unless you didn’t bring anything – yup, we forgot! – so the only option left is having a drink at the hotel. The island is nice for strolling and finding your private spot in the secluded coves to sunbathe – Bear in mind: a lot of nudists had the same idea!
After a sleepless night we drove to Pula. We didn’t stay long in the center itself. We quickly passed by the Roman Amphitheatre and unfortunately arrived too late to enjoy some food at the central market. So no streetfood for us that day, but lunch at Garfield, which is good value for a cheap bite!
Camp spot for the night was Camping Stoja. Apparently this is a 3-star camping, and they deserve it! Friendly staff, surrounded by pine trees and the sea, lots of activities and stores, a restaurant, a bar and they even had a bakery! They’re situated on the peninsula of Stoja, 3 km from the center of Pula.
We kinda ‘skipped’ Pula cause we read about this uninhabited nature park, Rt Kamenjak on the Premantura peninsula, some 10 km from Pula. It’s under special protection, which is why you get an eco-ashtray and bag at the entrance. You can enter with the car, but you have to drive slowly cause otherwise you generate too much dust on the rough dirt roads. Other options are taking the bus to the park and renting a bike at the entrance.
This gorgeous cape is supposed to be the home of wild flowers, including 30 species of orchid, fruit trees, etc. Woah! Let’s go there! But not during summer… when all those lovely flowers and trees have stopped blooming. Now it was all kinda barren and dry. Luckily we could still enjoy the numerous coves and miniature beaches. We’ll have to come back here during spring to enjoy the diversity of nature!
Instead of orchids we found something else hidden in the bushes: the Safari Bar!
Have fun exploring all the secret places in the bamboo decorated with cozy wooden benches. If you look a bit further you’ll even find a swing, a place to play table tennis, a slide and a bar that serves cocktails and some snacks.
Grab a cocktail, work your way through the bushes till the end, find yourself a spot and watch the sun go down.