Buje - Buzet 25 June
Today we began our multi activity tour of the Istrian Peninsula in the far north of Croatia. It turned out that there were no other bookings for the tour so we ended up with our own private guide for the week. We set off from Buje on mountain bikes and followed part of the old Parenzana railway line built in 1902 which originally was a wine train between Trieste in Italy and Porec in Croatia ( Istria was part of Italy until the end of World War 2) The last train was in 1935 and during the Second World War Mussolini had the tracks removed and put on a ship to Ethiopia however the ship was sunk and the tracks are at the bottom of the sea. The trail was spectacular with a number of bridges, tunnels and views out over olive groves and vineyards. We stopped for a coffee at a village called Groznjan which was built as a Venetian fort in the 1500's however after the Venetians were conquered the village lay abandoned for over 500 years until the 1950's when it was restored by artists and performers. Many of the old buildings are now galleries, jewelry stores, performing arts venues etc. From there we continued on through some villages and countryside until we arrived in Buzet which is at the top of a hill ( very challenging ride! ). The ride was around 45km in total. Buzet is famous for being the "truffle capital of the world" and we tried this local delicacy during dinner. Sarah enjoyed them however I thought they smelled like wet socks.
Tomorrow we are hiking.
Buzet - Hum 26 June
Today we went hiking from Buzet. Thankfully it was not too hot as we hiked for over 5 hours. We stopped in the village of Kotli for a drink. Kotli had some nice limestone pools and a waterfall with an old mill beside it. As we continued on we came across Bencici an abandoned village, including an old school. We continued on through the forest until we had to climb to the town of Hum. Hum is officially the smallest town in the world with a population of 22 residents, a mayor and an administrative office. It was a beautiful place on a hillside with a couple of churches, one started in the 10th century. It overlooked the surrounding countryside and was very peaceful. We had a very pleasant lunch at a konoba (traditional Croatian cafe) and Sarah polished off a litre of the local beer as we were very dehydrated after the hike. After lunch our guide transferred us to Porec where we are doing more mountain biking and swimming tomorrow.
Porec - Vrsar 27 June
Today we biked from our hotel into Porec a beautiful old city on the Istrian coast. We explored the town and spent some time in the Basilica a beautiful church parts of which dated back to the 1st century, making it one of the oldest remaining churches in Europe. We climbed up the bell tower which had great views of the town and also out over the Adriatic Sea. There were many beautiful religious figures and mosaics displayed, it's hard to believe they were over 2000 years old.
After exploring Porec we biked around the coast, passing a number of hotels,campgrounds and naturist parks. We had a late lunch in Vrsar where Casanova once lived and now is known for an annual Erotic Festival (not on while we were there!) We biked around the town and explored an old quarry. We had our first taste of rain on the trip so we decided to get the tour van to pick us up for transport back to our hotel. Tomorrow is our first day of sea kayaking.
Lim Fjord - Rovinj 28 June
We departed our hotel in Porec and commenced our sea kayaking trip from one end of Lim Fjord, a tributary of the Adriatic Sea. The water was reasonably calm and we paddled along the fjord until we reached the Pirates Cave, where Captain Morgan (now known for many rum varieties) once hid and legend has it buried a treasure trove, yet to be discovered. It was a popular stopping point for various tourist pirate boats so we did not stay long as it became crowded. We paddled further along the coast until we reached a small beach for a snorkel. Here we discovered our first encounter with some naturists who were happily sun bathing unperturbed by our presence. We continued along and further discovered that more naturists were lying on the rocks soaking up some rays. A few saluted us as we paddled by, it was quite an experience! There were even naturists out on motor boats skimming along the waves au naturel.
We covered around 14 km in 5 hours reaching Rovinj around 3pm. Rovinj is a beautiful town with many of the houses on the edge of the water. We had an early dinner and explored the town. Tomorrow we are kayaking around the islands surrounding Rovinj.
Pula - Rovinj 29 June
The weather was a bit wet today so we decided to ditch the kayaking and go exploring instead. We travelled to Pula and visited a 1st century ampitheatre in the middle of the town, one of 7 remaining in Europe and in better condition than the Coliseum in Rome. After that we explored the old town where there were some more Roman buildings and relics scattered around.
We then drove back to Rovinj and walked around, including a visit to the church on the hill, climbing 170 rickety stairs to the top of the bell tower which had a panoramic view of the city and surrounding islands.
That concluded our tour of Istria. Our guide, Luka, was excellent throughout, very flexible when we wanted to change our schedule and a lot of fun to be with. Would highly recommend Fiore Tours (ask for Luka) if anyone is thinking of exploring northern Croatia.
Barbara have greatly enjoyed this travel blog Michael. All well here. A much better. See you soon
Louise Yri Nothing changes. We were confronted by nudie Germans 42 years Ago!
anjabe Nice to see some details from the trip to Croatia. Where have you slept? I was looking at hotels and don't know where to go. Do you have any suggestions. I am currently considering this: http://www.maistra.com/Destination/Rovinj