What renting bikes is to exploring a city, namely: by far the best way to do it; renting a car is to exploring a country. There is something extremely liberating about shedding the shackles of trains and buses and being free to go where you want and when you want. We headed north unsure of exactly where we were headed, but quite happy just to hit the road and see where we ended up. A few wrong turns took us up to a nameless, but beautiful, little town on a hill surrounded by vineyards. We went down one street and had to turn around in front of a family who stared at us as if we were the strangest sight they had seen in their life; we probably were.
We stopped at a view point and snapped a few photos of another beautiful town called Motovun and decided to head up for a look. The guidebook said it was "a town that time forgot". I wouldn't go quite that far as they got us for 20 Kuna for parking; but still it was one of the more picturesque towns I've seen. We wandered for a while before sitting down at a sun drenched table on a walk way overlooking an amazing view of vineyards. We sat next to a nice couple from Indianapolis who has been living in Dublin for the last several years and ate delicious pizza and a nice Greek salad. It was a memorable meal; good food, amazing view, and great company...the perfect recipe.
We wandered a bit before deciding to hit the road in order to get to our destination, Rovinj, in time to catch the sunset.
We showed up in Rovinj with no accommodation booked, so drove around and tried several spots with no luck. We stopped at a local "Information Center" for some direction where the horrible woman tried to tell us we couldn't find anything for any less then €55 each! Thanks for lying to us, Lady. Finally we stopped at another spot and got pointed in the direction of a small restaurant with a few rooms upstairs. It ended up being a HUGE score! Not only was it less then the alleged €55 price for all of us, the room had a stunning view of the old town and beautiful harbor. We went down to sit on the patio of the restaurant and watch the best sunset of the trip so far, hands down. The owner/waiter ended up being the nicest guy ever and brought us a few rounds of local grappa (honey and then pear) along with a scoop of gelato on the house along with the good meal, and several bottles of wine, we ordered. It turns out it was the last night that the restaurant was open before they shut for the season...the travel gods were certainly smiling upon us with this find, especially considering the drama with getting the car earlier.
In the morning, we took a quick walk into the the old town and along the harbor. I sound like a broken record, I know, but it was beautiful...quaint and almost sickeningly picturesque. In fact, right on que we turned a corner and there was a movie crew shooting a scene in a perfect little courtyard. We hustled back to the car after grabbing a coffee and chocolate croissant, and, with one last long look over the town, put Rovinj into the rear view mirrorand made haste to Pula to drop the car off by noon. It was a bit of an effort to get it, but our persistency in securing the rental car paid off in spades. What a great 24 hours!