It’s been a while since my last Blog and there’s a reason for that … I wasn’t sure whether writing about travel at this particular time was the right thing to do. Then I noticed other travel bloggers were carrying on as usual, so I’ve decided to do the same. My ‘usual’ I should say means that when one of my Blogs go ‘live’ the holiday you are reading about happened a few months ago. I’m always aiming to catch up so you never know, with these current restrictions on travel due to the coronavirus and staying at home I might just do that. Croatia first and then Laos followed by our trip to Thailand, but I’m jumping ahead.
It was interesting how many times Croatia was mentioned last year. (2019). The travel pages featured the country quite regularly and we knew several people who had either been or were going so after doing some research we decided it would be a perfect place to celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary.
My man had booked an apartment right in the middle of Pula. https://www.citycenterroomsistria.com/en-gb/contact “Don’t take any notice of how the building looks outside,” we were told …and they weren’t joking! Thankfully despite the crumbling exterior the inside was really nice and a stone’s throw away from the city centre. Bags dumped, car parking space found, it was time to explore!
Pula is situated on the tip of Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula and is known for its Roman ruins, picturesque coast and harbour. The arena is impressive and free, that’s if you don’t go inside. You don’t need to as you can see everything from the outer walls.
There are several Roman features in the city and loads of cafes and restaurants. No problem finding anywhere for breakfast in the morning we thought. After doing some more exploring we headed up to the the castle known appropriately as ‘The Fortress’. To be honest there wasn’t much to see inside but the views of the city and harbour from around the walls were impressive.
By the time we got back to the apartment we’d tried the local beer and had a very mediocre afternoon snack. Fortunately the meal that night at the Restaurant Alighieri made up for it. What we hadn’t expected was how hard it was to find somewhere for breakfast the next day. There are cafes either side of the main streets and all of them were full of people …drinking. Croatian’s love their beer and liquors and obviously nine in the morning is when you come out and socialise and drink. Eventually we found a bakers which had a cafe but that seemed to be the only one around.
Having enjoyed croissants and a hot drink it was time to leave Pula and head inland to the medieval hilltop town of Hum. It claims to be the smallest town in the world and has 27 inhabitants, several tourist shops and two main streets with challenging cobbles. It has it’s own charm though and great views although there isn’t a lot if you’re looking for tourist attractions. You pay 10 kroner to park and to access the town you open two enormous copper doors. We tried the local speciality drink which is a brandy which includes mistletoe. (Funny I thought mistletoe was poisonous?) Anyway we survived that but weren’t tempted to buy a bottle. Coming out through the copper gates I spotted the town cemetery which if you have read any of my blogs you’ll know I can’t resist checking out a cemetery. There was one picture on a grave which caught my eye which I’ve included in the composite picture, I thought she was very beautiful.
Leaving Hum you don’t have any option but to drive back along the narrow twisty road which seems to go on for ever. Eventually the coastline came into view and I spotted what looked like an ideal place for lunch …and indeed it was. Don’t know if Bakar is a touristy place but we were the token two. It didn’t take us long to spot the place to eat just by the water’s edge …freshly caught sardines served with chips and washed down with a beer for the equivalent of £6. It turned out to be one of the best meals of the holiday. The cafe was full of locals and you could see why. After we’d polished off our meal we decided to stretch our legs and walk up to the main village. Wow was it steep! The people of Bakar must be very fit!
Continuing along the coast our stop that night was a B & B overlooking the seaside resort of Crikvenica. This seaside town was the direct opposite of Bakar being a popular tourist resort. So popular that when we drove into the town that night for a meal we found it impossible to park. In the end we drove out a little way and found a pizza place. The one thing I’ll remember about our stay was the B & B had one of the smallest and coldest swimming pools ever but there was beautiful sunset that night. Our room had a balcony and faced west so I was able to get a few shots.
The next morning after a superb breakfast at the B & B we followed the coastal road for a while before heading inland towards the UNESCO world heritage site of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Its Croatia’s most popular tourist attraction so we knew it was going to be a busy there. It’s also high up in the mountains so it was bound to be cooler than on the coast but we were ready for it. It’s interesting too that these hardy types eat a lot of meat. An unbelievable amount. It’s fuel I suppose but it’s hard to find a meal that doesn’t come piled high with meat. We ate at our guest house Villa Verde the first night and my goodness it was a hearty meal to say the least whether you chose the meat or fish dish, but at least there was a choice.
Day three of our holiday and what a beautiful day it was for visiting the Lakes. We decided to walk from the guest house to Entrance number 2. As the park has so many visitors including coaches coming from far and wide it’s all very well organised. The walk through the forest was lovely with the sun coming through the trees and so quiet that it was a shock to arrive at the entrance and see so many people.
We managed to get on the first shuttle bus which drops you off at the start of the upper lakes. There are sixteen lakes in all, seven different routes you can walk round and four hiking trails plus the electric boats on the lake and the park bus. We arrived at 9.00am and already it was quite busy but by early afternoon the coach parties were in evidence and many of the tour groups wanted to take over the whole of the paths. Choose a hiking trail if you want to avoid them!
There are twelve upper lakes and four lower ones. The colour of the water is a beautiful turquoise and teems with fish. The waterfalls are so impressive as are the coloured rocks underneath which hopefully you can see in the picture below.
Around every twist of the trails are stunning views, dynamic water features and deep rocks rising all around. The most impressive waterfalls are called Sastavci and when you see the Korana River flowing under the base of the falls it’s a stunning sight.
This national park is very well organised. There is a trail to suit everyone whether you want to spend a day hiking to the upper Lakes or a more gentle stroll around the lower lakes travelling across to the other side on one of the electric ferries. There are plenty of places to buy snacks and there’s also a restaurant and for those preferring not to do too much walking there’s the panoramic bus tour too.
We spent most of the day in the park ending our visit with a well-deserved ice cream before walking the whole way back to our guest house. It had been a fantastic day. We’d walked about twelve miles, seen some wonderful sights and the weather had been perfect, we couldn’t have asked for more. Just to add that the park is as you would expect closed at the moment, let’s hope it won’t be too long before it’s able to re-open.
This seems like a good place to finish this section of my Blog on our trip to Croatia – it’s long enough I think and I’ve got lots more to write about. Hope you’ll stick around for Part II – when I write it!