Of course, birthdays! We travel on other occasion as well, but somehow birthday trips tend to be the most spontaneous ones. We never stress about the destination, and we are lucky because our birthdays are in good (cheap) traveling season.
In the last years we started making the destination secret, but in the years before there was an open discussion, of where we might go. Speaking of June 2018, the birthday boy said: Istria. I was like, but you were last summer there, are you sure you do not want to see something new?!
His answer was simple, I should first see and then decide if it is worth to repeat it.
DAY 1 – PULA
We arrived in the afternoon hours, at the airport in Pula, after arranging the car, we are on the way to our accommodation. The airport is about 8km from the city center. Our accommodation was a bit off the center, in an are called Monte, because of the very well known reasons. Prices, but also we imagines this trip as a hopping to different places kind, so Pula was in the middle of everything.
The trip started with walk to the old town and the city center, starring at every, restaurant bar, trying to feel what the atmosphere is like. And we decided for a bar with cold cuts style food, we discovered some new Istrian prosciuitto flavors and we were very happy with our wine. So far more than good, there was just a little disappointment from my side because the lack of lights at the sea area, the next day I found out there wasn’t so much to see.
DAY 2 – BEACHES AROUND PULA
We started the day strolling around Pula, the old town and the castle, and we bumped into our friends from Zagreb. Small world, and after having Burek and yoghurt with sea view, we were off to the beach. I think this was the day when I visited the most different beaches. We parked our car at Verudela, and spend about an hour on every beach in the area. It was crowded, and hot, and we were without an umbrella, so we opted for the beaches with more shadow. One of them was at Hotel Brioni, and Ambrella beach, because there was a bar, we had short swim at the light house beach, and ended the day at the beach near the Park Plaza Hotel. This was the most peaceful spot. Something you should be aware of is that not all of the beaches around here are white stone beaches, some of them are pure concrete. But once you start enjoying the view you get used to it.
During the night we again observed the plates of the people in restaurants, and decided for seafood. Even though. the restaurant doesn’t have the best Google Maps score, for me it was 5 stars food and service.
DAY 3 – GROZHNJAN – MOTOVUN – HUM
When we were kids, we were taught that rain day on a vacation is a day wasted. Not a kid any more and here to prove it wrong. From the start of the vacation I said, I only want Grozhnjan and Rovinj, and the rest is according your wishes, and it was magical. In my eyes and in my mind. I never saw so many dutch cars in one spot, german were not lacking either. The first view from Grozhnjan were 4 big wine bottles, or modern said vases for pampas grass, and since then I am longing for one of those. (I bought it as my one and only guilty pleasure.) The bars and cafes were full of people, the stores as well you could try anything made out of truffle, and 101 types of olive oil. After cappuccino and fritule with a view we were on the second stop of the day. Motovun. The road we chose was closed, so a little hike was more than ok, except it wasn’t, because it was too hot. The city is so small, there were around 4 or5 streets and the same number of restaurants, but the whole city was smelling like truffle. Incredible. Still not being hungry was advantage, because it was the priciest place, and because we found a gem in our next destination. Hum. The smallest city in the world. There was only one restaurant, with who would say that but super cheap lunch menu, and we ate it all. So so satisfied, and everything was from the region. On our way back to Pula, we stopped for a short walk in Pazin, the capital of the area, but this was literally ghost town.
DAY 4 – FAZHANA – BRIJUNI – POREC
Since our 3rd day was so eventful, we decided on a take it easy day 4. Fazhana is about 6-7 kilometers far from Pula, but taking in consideration the heavy traffic, it way more than 6-7 minutes drive. There aren’t so many points of interest here, except a very long promenade, and the tourist info where you can buy tickets to Brijuni. The ferry departs every 2 hours and cost about 30 euros. if you plan to stay full day there, you should take your own food, since there isnt nothing much except restaurants. The ferry ride is very short, and once we stepped on the island, we went to the bile renting spot. We did a tour around the island, admiring every single view, some of the two of us even went for a swim, and others (me) went on a cake hunt. The hotel Napoleon, has iconic cake called Madjarica ( The hungarian girl), but they said that it was sold out and I should come and visit another time. When I sad i am a tourist, they found one piece and i was pretty happy with my catch of the day.
DAY 5 – ROVINJ-CRVENI OTOK
Birthdayyy, and one of the most beautiful days of the trip. I mean Rovinj. Maybe locals have another opinion but through my eyes this is it, colorful houses stuck one next to another it is in the end. Coffee on the rocks, or should I better say Cafe on the rocks. Being by the water is definitively one of the best fillings. One stroll further and by the wish of the birthday boy, we were on a ferry to the Red Island. Such a beauty, such a cleanness. The island has one hotel, and some food stands, child area and so on. It has seagulls that want to have lunch with you, or your lunch. Entering the water here is a bit tricky, but worth. In the night we had small celebration in a bar with a cocktail and cake from the italian pastry shop close to it and we called it a day.
DAY 6 – PIRAN- KOZLOVIC – VIZINADA
I am traveling with the number one Slovenia fan, and on his wish we went to Piran for a day trip. Piran is around 100km away from Pula, and using the motorway you can reach it in about 90 minutes, in case there is no line at the border. What I really liked about the city is that you must leave your car at a public parking, and then either walk or use the public bus to reach your destination. We decided for walking, and spotted some locals, hanging on the concrete “beaches”. The rest of our day here was similar spotting people in bars, drinking coffee and wandering around the streets. On our way to the car we spotted a place called Sarajevo 84 and as any other day we couldn’t resist buying Burek.
The second part of the day was a bit fancier. On our way back to Pula we stopped near Momjan in Kozlovic Winery. Since we were there without prior reservation, we could only taste the wines, not having proper tasting menu, which was also okay. Wine and starring at the greenery around was very sense pleasing.
Our last 5 minute stop on the way home was Vizhinada where we only saw some nice houses and lots of street dogs.
DAY 7 – MOSCENICKA DRAGA – OPATIJA
One of the best part of every trip is meeting friends. One of them was in Opatijja this time, and we used the chance to see each other. If it wasn’t for our friend we wouldn’t have done this day trip, but it was worth it as except the good time with the friends, feeling the different vibe that Opatijja has compared to the rest of the places in Istria, brought back memories of my childhood days in Montenegro. I would say Opatija has southern soul and Istria is more Northern. Solely my judgement. We took a walk, a swim, and a drink and lots of chat was included, overall a very good day.
Since Ialways want to see more, we arrived earlier that we had agreed, so we used the extra hour for coffee and swim in Moscenicka Draga. You can tell I was all about southern vibes here, as it felt very Italian to me.
DAY 8 – KAMENJAK – PREMANTURA
Last day of such an eventful week, who wouldnt be sad. Since day one our hosts were saying that we must visit Kamenjak, that it is something special, that Istria is overall beautiful but aint no place like Kamenjak Premantura. And of course we said we will save the best for the last. Kamenjak is protected area so every car needs to pay around 10eur fee. NO one asked me, but i think no car should go beyond the parking point, because it gets very dusty, so its a loss loss situation for both the nature and the vehicle. First we started by chasing the southern most point of Istria, then looking for a beach, and in our search we stumbled upon jungle cafe/bar. Then we finally found one beach with the cleanest water, but in the end we also decided that maybe it is about time to see where there are more people, and we found another beach. I didnt have the time of my life here basically because of my own fault, i wasnt prepared well, and I didnt know what i want in first place.
I thought i wanted endless exploration under the sun, when it turned out i only wanted deep shadow and water.
Now some years later, having an instagram pen pal that lives and owns a distillery here, and seeing her love for this place, makes me feel guilty and makes me wanna go there even in winter.
No wonder why locals are always the best people, and why they appreciate and see the protected beauty with different eyes.