Though this post is going to cover our time in Rovinj, Croatia, I want to start off by giving a clothing update. Those of you who have been following since the beginning know that clothing was a difficult endeavor for me. Well, it's been interesting. I only brought 1 strictly short sleeved shirt. It is a wicking, quick dry, merino wool by Patagonia. Strait away I didn't like it. I wore it one of the first days traveling and it was too much coverage. I ended up purchasing 2 tank tops from Lefties (a European store) in Madrid. So, I've been wearing those two tops and my jean shorts (something which was a last minute decision). When I'm waiting for my shorts to dry I end up wearing a lightweight cotton dress (also, a last minute decision). So, the majority of the clothing I have been wearing is not technical or quick dry whatsoever. Interesting...
Rovinj! (Pronounced ROH-vin) Before the ferry ride was over, Sloane's friend had found us an apartment to rent in the center of the old city. It worked out really well, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. It's nice to have your own space like that. Marina, Sloane's friend, has been so wonderful. Part of it is because she works in hospitality at the moment, but I think it is just her nature to be extremely friendly and helpful. She has been a wealth of information, and a fun person to get to know. I wish we had a Marina for every place we visit!
The first night, Marina picked us up from the ferry, brought us to our apartment, then we went on a mini tour of the town of Rovinj. It's very small. It has a real cozy feeling. Even as we were approaching in the ferry, our attitudes began to change. The coastline is spectacular, with pine forests, sheer cliffs of white rock plunging into the crystal blue sea, and picturesque buildings scattered here and there. Upon exiting our spirits were high. The weather was warm with a bit of wind. What a romantic town. Marina took us around the town, and we ended up at a little bar between the coast and Saint Euphemia's Church. The bar was settled in the graveyard, but it wasn't creepy. It was quite relaxing with the breeze and the ability to see the stars, and a few bats. We tried our first Croatian beer, Favorit, which turned out to be a favorite.
The next morning we woke and ventured out to find coffee. We ended up at the Cinema Cafe where we enjoyed wonderful Illy expressos and what they call brioche. Their brioche is our croissant with a marmalade filling. It was very nice. We then went in search of a place to swim. It wasn't much of a search, really. Just a decision of where we wanted to hop in. After choosing a spot, we cooled off in the water. The temperature was wonderful. It was pretty hot out and the water was refreshing, but not cold. Already Croatia has an up on Madrid and Venice. We were extremely hot in those cities, but had no way to remedy the exhaustion. Here, we just hop into the water.
We found a place to grab some lunch. Once again, Sloane ended up the winner of the meal. She ordered the grilled calamari and it was delicious. I ordered a plate of assorted mussels, and though it was good, I was not blown away. Seth's was pretty good, a dish of pasta, scampi, and red sauce, but Sloane's was the best.
Then, Seth and I went in search of internet. Though Marina was going to give us the internet info for the hotel she works in, she didn't start work until 3. So we sat down at one of the restaurants near the water. Seth ordered a beer and I opted for an iced coffee. Surprise!! Iced coffee in Croatia is not the light, low calorie drink we know in the states. The waiter brought me a sundae cup with something that looked like a milkshake, topped off with a scoop of iced cream, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and a cookie. Oops! Though I graciously accepted the dessert, I asked the waiter about the difference. He seemed confused as to why I would want a double espresso and a cup of ice.
While Seth and I were on our beverage adventure, Sloane had been exploring more of the town. She found a daily open air market where the vendors push you to try all of their fare. We went to explore and to to taste the different types of fruit and their locally harvested truffles. Yum! We bought these fruit that look like pears, but taste like a mix between a pear and an apple, perhaps. But, not like an asian pear like we have in the states. Closer to a crabapple, maybe. Really tasty. Then we sampled a bunch of truffle products. Yum! We bought some white truffles in truffle oil. We ended up making a mini feast of bread with a slice of really good tomato from Marina's garden, truffle, then sea salt. Wow.
It was still hot, so we followed Sloane to the graveyard beach. We scrambled down the rocks and, with some direction from a local, we hopped in at the right spot. The water felt amazing. We watched some children being taught by their father how to flip off the rocks into the water, before trying it ourselves. Well, not the flip part, but jumping off the rocks into the water.
Marina recommended a pizza place, so we found our way there for dinner. This turned out to be the best pizza we've had so far. Sorry Italy. We started off with salads, and Seth was the winner there. His was an arugula salad with this mysterious 'cream' on top. Though we made the conjecture that it was sour cream at the time, we decided that it was nearly impossible that our sour cream could be so far off from this. We found out later that it was sour cream. Apparently, without pasteurization and preservatives sour cream can have a completely different, and amazing, flavor. Dumb US rules. They kill so much flavor! Anyhow, when it came to pizzas, I was the winner, with Seth as a close second. My pizza had sheep cheese, mozzarella, Istrian ham, and salami, and parmesan sprinkled on top. So, so good. Seth's pizza had Istrian ham, arugula, and fresh tomatoes. Sloane's was good, but not like ours. Wow, that was amazing.
We went to visit Marina at the hotel and to use the internet. It turned out that there was a Croatian folk festival going on in the town center, and we had front row seats! It was amazing to see the tradition of the culture. We saw dancing and heard music. We had no idea what they were saying between numbers, but we think it was traditional stories. There's no connection between English and Croatian, so we were in the dark.
The next morning we picked up our laundry (Marina had found us a place to drop it the day before), picked up a kebab for lunch, and headed over to Red Island for a bit of snorkeling. Though the island wasn't much more than a bunch of resort hotels, it was a nice change of scenery. We snorkeled and saw little fish, some sea urchins, and a sea cucumber. We, also, saw an enormous bee.
we decided to treat Marina for dinner, so we headed back to Sergios, the amazing pizza place. This time we all ordered the Sergio salad, which is the one Seth had ordered the night before. The plan was to get less pizza and share, but our eyes were too big! I think either my pizza or Marina's pizza were the winners. I ordered a pizza with mozzarella, soft cheese, eggplant, arugula, fresh tomatoes, and salami. It was wonderful. Marina got a 4 cheese pizza and added salami. The gorgonzola on her's was really tasty. We, then, went to stuff ourselves on ice cream. We have to start watching our weight if we're going to be laying around in bathing suits! Or at least I do! We did a few more laps around the town before calling it a night.
Today we are going to head off to Pula, mostly to pick up a car. After many phone calls, it was decided there were no cars to rent in Rovinj. So we will pick up a car in Pula and drive to Plitvice Lakes National Park. The pictures look amazing, so I'm excited. We then make our way down the coast, stopping at places here and there to see neat things like caves and waterfalls. It's going to be a fast paced week, but hopefully it will be worth it! I think it will.