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Zagreb - Pula - Rovinj

Through mountains and history to the coast

sunny 20 °C
View Slovenia and Croatia Wanderer 2015 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Driving on the right, in a left hand drive car with manual gear change takes a little bit of getting used to – even as a passenger I tried to get in on the wrong side of the car; and David was heard to mutter (while fumbling with the inside door handle): “Someone has nicked the gear lever”.



James – the not-so-trusted Sat Nav – sends us in the wrong direction this morning. He has a somewhat condescending voice, especially when he tells David: “You're over the speed limit”

David, of course, argues with him. As any man would.

The motorway is nice and clear, very little traffic, and some amazingly long tunnels – with one being over five kilometres long!



James takes great delight in telling us we have lost all contact.

There is light at the end of the tunnel

The road meanders through beautiful countryside, and as well as cutting through the mountains in tunnels, many bridges and viaducts are built to span over verdant valleys.



At one of the many Service Stations, we stop to enjoy a coffee and try out some of the local delicacies – blackcurrant strudel for me and apple strudel for David.


One of the not-so-enjoyable parts of motorway driving in Croatia is the toll stations. I guess someone has to pay for the building and maintenance of the roads.



The toll works in the way that you collect a ticket when you enter the motorway, and every exit has its own toll station where you pay the fee according to how far you have travelled on the toll road. Our fees varied between 50Kn and 180Kn on this trip (50p and £18), so it can add a substantial amount to your travel budget.



Before I injured my ankle / knee, I had so many plans about what to see between night stops on the trip, but obviously this has had to be modified to take into consideration my now walking difficulties. One thing I do not want to miss, however, is the amphitheatre at Pula.


You can spot the structure a mile off, and we are lucky enough to find a parking spot almost right outside. We follow a group of French cruise tourists, and instead of going straight inside, we end up walking all around the outside of the amphitheatre.



Pula's 1st century Roman amphitheatre is arguably in better shape than the one in Rome, and certainly less famous. Built from local limestone, the amphitheatre, known locally as the Arena, was designed to host gladiatorial contests, with seating for up to 20,000 spectators. I think there are already 19,000 inside today, in the form of some large French tour groups. Once they leave, we have the place almost to ourselves.



Some very nice “modern day gladiators” are erecting a stage for a show tonight.



We go downstairs to the area where the animals were kept, gladiators prepared and prisoners held. I am disappointed to find that today it is just a museum with a load of old stone jars and an exhibition on olive oil. No large cats – or hunky gladiators for that matter.



There is something rather humbling about walking around the tunnels though, knowing that around two thousand years ago, someone would have walked on these very stones, preparing to fight for their life.



As we approach the small town of Rovinj where we are staying tonight, we try ringing the guest house as requested, but the number keeps coming up as 'unrecognised'. We eventually park in the car park on the outskirts of the town and David walks in to find the guest house up a narrow alley way, leaving me and the luggage in the car.


The owner of the rooms arranges for us to have vehicular access to the pedestrianised area so that we can drop the bags off, then David goes off to park the car a couple of miles or so away while I have a shower.

La Casa di Loreto
The guest house is in a great position, with views over the harbour, the promenade and the old town from the window.


The room is small, but very bright and modern; and more than adequate with a GREAT shower!


My first impressions of Rovinj are not that great. It reminds me in many ways of Weston-super-Mare, with seaside tack being sold from pavements stalls all along the seafront promenades as well as many of the narrow alleyways being partially blocked by stands offering naff souvenirs.



As we somehow missed lunch today, we decide to go for an early dinner, choosing a restaurant very close to our guest house. Asking for recommendations, the waiter suggests Pljeskavica - a local dish of a meat patty stuffed with cheese, which is very good.



It is certainly preferable to the Pinot Sivi – a locally produced white wine, which is only just passable.


We even have desserts tonight, David choosing a banana split, whereas I have a crepe filled with ice cream.



The sun is still shining, it is still early, and it's a lovely evening; so we take a stroll through town after dinner, across to the other side of the peninsula.




There are lots of other people doing the same thing, and the atmosphere is typical of a Mediterranean seaside resort.



Returning to the promenade, we sit on a bench and wait for the sunset. While it is not spectacular, it is still worth waiting for.






Posted by Grete Howard 02:07 Archived in Croatia

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I don't remember the big red arrow pointing to 'our room' 8-)

by David

That's why you couldn't find it!

by Grete Howard

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