Croatian Culture Vultures Take A Sabbatical!

On arriving at our campsite on Thursday, we pitched camp on a picturesque, sun-drenched, large pitch, and flopped into our chairs. Driving in Italy had been, as we may have mentioned previously(!!!), a pretty stressful business and it took a degree of adjustment once we got into Croatia – gone were the madcap suicide jockeys who never, ever used their indicators and the godawful potholed roads. Croatia welcomed us with smoother roads and considerate drivers. It also gave us the cheapest LPG fill we’ve EVER had with a promise of diesel at €1.19/litre when we need it (a far cry from the €1.54/l we had to fork out in Italy!). I think we were somewhat taken by surprise by this and it took an afternoon of relaxing in the sun to really come to terms with it all!

Apart from taking a stroll along the promenade in the general direction of Novigrad town in the evening, we did very little on Thursday. Friday dawned and the sun blazed. We HAD intended walking back into town to explore and do a small shop but it was too hot! (I know, I know, I hear yee all saying “it’s freezing back home so stop complaining!”) Instead, we took Harley down to the beach for a cooling swim and spent the rest of the day sunning ourselves and planning the next few weeks. The thunderstorm forecast for the night never materialised but, when we woke up on Saturday, it was to grey skies and cooler temperatures. We hit the supermarket for a few bits and pieces and were more than happy to find good quality grub at pleasing low prices. Rain stopped play for the afternoon and evening so our promised treat of a dinner out was postponed until Sunday. Croatian TV rewarded us with English speaking programs! Unlike the French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italians, rather than dub foreign programs, the Croatians make use of Croatian sub-titles – hmm, wonder if this explains why they all speak English so well??!! Anyhow, we had an evening of CSI episodes – all of which we could actually understand rather than trying to lipread in an attempt to follow the storylines!

On Sunday morning, the sun graced us with it’s presence once again. On my way to the shower, I happened upon a couple of folk whose blog I’ve been following for the last year…David and Karen , aka The Grey Gappers. We chatted for a while, comparing notes as to where we’d been and where we were going and agreed to continue our chat over a beer or two at some stage over the next couple of days

On Monday, with the sun blazing yet again, Roy had spotted the campsite’s Doggy Wash whilst emptying Sebo’s “honeypot”…..Harley had his swim and then was duly taken for a proper “bath”. Harley does not like being given a bath or a shower and normally does his utmost to avoid same. This time, however, he didn’t seem to mind unduly. Maybe he found it pleasantly refreshing in the heat of the day? Anyhow, the deed was done and he now looks several shades lighter than he did before and smells a whole heap better too!

Later in the afternoon, David and Karen, on returning from their cycle trip to Porec (30km round trip! Fair play guys!), issued an invite to join them for a few beers before dinner. We duly obliged and enjoyed their company and beers for a couple of hours, whilst Harley ingratiated himself with both and got chorizo as his reward! By this stage, rain was in the offing again but, since we’d set our hearts on dinner out, we put on raincoats and grabbed the brolly and with a joint hunger on us, walked into town to find a restaurant. Well, I say “find” a restaurant – there’s loads of them lining the waterfront and, with the rain now pelting down and the wind speed rising alarmingly, we marched into the first one we came to! Luckily, the food was good and the service spot on. Our downfall was a)ordering what turned-out to be a mega serving of gnocchi and goulash between us as a starter (!) and b)the mains were HUGE! We couldn’t eat it all! Still, at less than €30 for the food, two pints of local beer and the tip, we weren’t about to complain!

The two glasses of Grappa we were given as a post-dinner freebie helped to keep us warm on the cold, wet and windy walk home! Some time after we got back, Roy realised he’d left his phone on the table in the restaurant! He rang it and the waiter answered, said it was being kept safe for him and for him to collect it when they reopened on Tuesday morning. Nice one! Better still, when Roy went to pick it up this morning, ever grateful and wanting to reward yer man’s kindness and honesty with a 50kn note, he flatly refused to accept the dosh and told him to enjoy the rest of his time in the country. Needless to say, we’re pretty impressed with Croatia so far!

We decamped this morning, heading for Pula, stopping at Rovinj for lunch and a meander. Rovinj is stunning – built originally on an island, it became attached to the mainland several centuries again and is now a peninsula. It’s old buildings are lapped by The Adriatic and it’s cobbled streets and pretty architecture were well worth the detour, though it’s €10 for 2.5 hours parking was a wee bit steep. The cheap ice cream was delicious though!

The drive to Pula was a mixture of tolled motorway and newly tarmaced main roads – no potholes and very little traffic to contend with. We ambled through forested hillsides, vineyards as far as the eye could see, alongside the clear blue waters of The Adriatic and then into Pula itself before arriving at our current location – Camping Stoja- where we’ll spend the next two nights with a view to walking into Pula centre tomorrow to see what that has to offer-we got a glimpse of their Roman Amphitheatre on the way through earlier – looks interesting.

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