Pula and surrounds

Pula is right at the tip of the Istrian Peninsula and is worth a visit.  It boasts Roman era ruins and is in a great position to hire a boat or take a tour.  Most of the key Istrian attractions are able to be visited within a couple of hours too.

We had three full days in Pula and we decided to spend them in the following way

Day 1

Pula itself.  Sometimes it good to jump on a Hop On Hop Off bus and while this is not one of the better ones (there are only 8 stops and no one gets off!), it was worth doing in lieu of a city tour.  We sat on the bus for the whole run which takes about an hour and felt that we got value for money.  The bus only comes once per hour so this might be why people choose not to get off!

The key highlight for me was the amphitheatre.  One of the great things about it is that they still use it for concerts and other performances.  Unfortunately we missed a concert and a performance of gladiators by a couple of days each.  I think it would be amazing to catch a show or performance here.

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The tickets are about 50KN each and you can rent an audio guide for another 40KN.  The audio guide is worthwhile as there are no signs anywhere explaining anything.

The old town is nice to walk around and we found some tunnels which were created to vacate the whole town in the war.  It is 15 KN to go through and they have some displays in the middle.  We thought it was a great idea to explore them as it was a quick way back to the car and much cooler!

 

 

Day 2: Rovinj

We decided to make a day of it and drove to Rovinj (pronounced Roveen) for the day.  What a lovely little town.  It is poised on the west coast of the peninsula and is filled with interesting cobbled streets and nice beaches.

There are artists who have got little shops tucked away in lanes, hand made goods like soaps and lavender products, cheeses, wines… you name it’s probably here.  I bought a piece of art from an artist who does line drawings in wine.  It was a great conversation piece!

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There is also a fresh food and souvenir market.  It is really a pretty little town.

You can easily enjoy a day here – we did!  Don’t miss a lovely seafood lunch overlooking the water.

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Day 3: Rent a boat

We didn’t have anyone with us who had their skippers licence (a must have in Croatia) so instead of doing a tour we rented a water taxi for a half day.  The driver took us down the coast and we explored all the little inlets along the coast, went swimming in a bay and then went to the blue cave which was stunning.  We took a straight line back at a bit of speed so it was great fun!  Take a packed lunch and some drinks and enjoy.

We even saw a dolphin on the way out of the harbour!

 

Izola and Piran

Izola is a cute little fishing town, close to the larger coastal town of Piran.  If you want somewhere less touristy than Piran to stay,  then Izola might be the place for you.  We  booked in Izola via Air BnB as there was no available accomodation in Piran.  Izola is only 25 minutes drive away from Piran so it is easy to do a day trip.

So what’s great about Izola?  Well for one the seafood is amazing!  It is really nice to sit along the harbour and order a seafood lunch or dinner.  The view of the boats is nice and in the evening the sunsets are amazing.  It also has a cute little old town which you could spend an hour exploring and there are ice cream stores regularly dotted along the water front.

There is also a special cake called  Izolanka that was invented in the area. It is orange flavoured with chocolate and cream and is delicious.  Be aware that the slices are huge!

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It is important to note that all beaches along this coast are rocky.  If you are from Europe, this is probably a given but if like me you are from the Southern Hemisphere then this is pretty unusual.  After attempting to utilise my countrymen’s strength (kiwi feet) with no success, I succumbed to purchasing a pretty naff pair of rock shoes but I LOVE them! No they are not good looking and they will not be coming home with me but they mean I can get to the water without twisting an ankle or slipping and breaking my neck! Worth the 9 Euros!

The water is clear and you can even see the fish swimming around you.  Beautiful.

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We spent one of our days over in Piran.  If you are going to drive, you need to know that the town is a pedestrian town meaning that you have to park in a parking garage and then get on a free bus which takes you into the centre.

Once there, we headed to the tourist information centre where the staff were helpful.  (This is worth a mention as they haven’t always been!)  We decided to do a walking tour around the city.  The guide was excellent and the tour which lasted an hour was only 9 euro.  It was well worth the cost to hear about the different parts of the town.

Piran is much bigger than Izola so it was easy to spend the day wandering around.  Some highlights of Piran are the food (again seafood), the beautiful squares, the old medieval wall that you can walk along and some of the churches.  We really enjoyed Piran and were glad that we visited.  Take your togs as it gets pretty hot and it is a long way to walk back to the car to get them if you feel like you need a swim.

 

Petzen and surrounding areas

As my travel companion is a mountain biking fiend, we travelled from Ljubljana to the Petzen area in Austria which only took a couple of hours.  We were there to try out the longest flow trail in Europe which was apparently out of this world!  While we have great trails in New Zealand, we certainly do not have anything of this length.  The recommendation is if you are close to the area and you are a keen mountain biker it is definitely worth the trip.  You can hire bikes and body armour on site.

We decided to stay a couple of nights in the area and found a hotel close to the lake at Klopeiner See.  It is a cute little area designed for families and retirees so if this isn’t you, it might be worth staying somewhere else.  As it was, it probably wasn’t our speed but it was really hot so lounging on the hotels private beach (dock) in one of the deck chairs under an umbrella is not too much of a hardship.  The lake itself is deep and clean and you can buy a myriad of inflatables in the township.  It is easy to wile away a day but make sure that you have food or snacks as a number of the restaurants and eateries in town are closed until 5.30pm.

This area was an interesting interlude for us, driven by a want to trial the flow trail and be able to swim so a win win really.