Days 31 – 37 Pula, Croatia

Louise and I left Venezia behind and headed off into the sunset aboard the Adriatic Jet, a lovely modern ferry that was to take us down the coast of Croatia via Umag, Porec and Rovinjo before arriving in Pula just on dark. That, at least was the plan…

About half-way across The Adriatic, thingsg started to get (unexpectedly) a bit rough and it started to get dark, way ahead of sunset…

This triggered a mass stampede for the toilets and I haven’t laughed so much, as I listened to people of all ages barfing uncontrollably. At this stage, Louise stopped talking to me and focussed heavily on the horizon. Not sure what was wrong with her; a bad Vongole in her Risotto in Venice?  Never did find out…

Given the horrible weather on the radar, the Captain of the Adriatic Jet decided to make a beeline for Rovinjo, bypassing the scheduled stops and before you know it we were in Rovinjo’s safe harbour and expected to disembark.  In all of our holiday, Louise hasn’t moved as quickly as she did to get off the ferry.

Getting through customs was a bit chaotic, but credit where credit is due, the Ferry company had laid on buses to get us the 40-odd kilometres to Pula (no time to stop and take photos of Rovinjo’s beautiful waterfront area as we marched quickly through town to catch the bus. Looks worthy of a visit on a future expedition.

Arrived safely at Hotel Brioni at about 9.00am – an hour or so later than we had anticipated.  The 1970s called and they want their hotel back.  It is in . serious, serious need of a facelift. However, I hope that when they do renovate they are able to keep some of the charm. I swear they have stolen the decor from that relative of yours who has a beach house.The ancient lift finally got us and our luggage up a couple of floors and we squeezed into our room, opened thedoor toour balcony and let the cool air of the Adriatic cool our stuffy room. Got to witness an amazing lightning show from the balcony as the storm slowly passed by, dumping drenching rain across Pula. Here’s the tail end of it the following morning….

Sonja and Zjelko, Louise’s cousins, picked us up for lunch for our first day in Pula and we drove out into what seemed the hinterland outside of Pula. However, we ended up in a very small fishing village (possibly Trget?) and had lunch whilst the horrible weather continued to assail us. We sat outside though,  and had the biggest seafood tagliatelle platter that I’ve ever seen – and including a whole new range of shellfish I didn’t know existed.

Here’s some photo’s of a most memorable lunch that included slivovic, wine and schnapps.

The next few days were spent hanging out with Sonja, Zjelko and their daughters Petra and Ivana. We managed to fit in some swimming – even though the temperatur was only 23, the warm water of the Adriatic Sea was most conducive to swimming. Most swimming spots have a bar, so it was easy enough to have a cold drink (read beer) or a capuccino for Louise.  Tiny little beaches, but just beautiful.

We both managed to get nasty colds whilst we were in Pula, so we tested out the Croatian Health Sytem – just to be sure that our hacking coughs weren’t anything sinister.  Gotta say I was relatively impressed – other than the ER at the hospital had a corridor for a waiting room. It was relatively quick (I think because we were paying foreigners) and it turns out we just had nasty colds, although I did get somewhat nervous when they sent me for xrays of my lungs (all good).

In our 6 days in Pula, we ate typical croatian food almost everyday – more cured meats, more cheese, more sausage and cabbage and more beer.  the consistent high quality of smallgoods amazes me.

Sonja was a most gracious host – nothing was too much trouble and she took me on a walking tour of old Pula, taking in the roman arches, the amphitheatre various pubs and up the hill to a fort on top of the hill that overlooks the whole of Pula.  She also took us on a day to to Krmed and surrounds to revisit Louise’s heritage (her grandmother and grandfather were born there). Louise was able to gain some more insights into her heritage. Here’s some pics:

 

On our last day, Sonja drove us to the bus depot and we headed back to Monfalcone via  Slovenia and Trieste. Very sorry to say goodbye to Sonja, Zjelko and Pula.

 

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