The ride along the bit of coast in Slovenia was not very long and with just the pro forma of a passport check and a friendly, “Have a good trip”, we entered Croatia and the Istria Peninsula. Yes, the first impression of Croatia showed a difference. Croatia is not as rich as Slovenia. I am glad the first few miles in Croatia were very rural. I had to get used to the signs again. There is only one sign for a direction. If you miss it, you will ride the wrong way. In a few instances the sign pointed the way straight ahead only to point left or right a few yards after the original sign. Strange, but it does make sense in a certain, nutty way. Go straight but after you go straight, turn left. This is especially tough when entering a larger town. I noticed this right away in a town like Umag, not far from the border. Sure enough, we got lost a bit, not badly, just into a dead end. Turned around and off we went on the correct road.
Following the map of the ADAC group we wiggled ourselves down the western coast with some bumps inland. I was looking for the reasons the ADAC group picked these roads as motorcycle roads. The area was kind of blah with fields and hardly any towns to speak off. One section, after the town of Buje, had some interesting curves and some downhill areas along a river but as a whole, I cannot understand why these roads were picked. Poreč, a town on the coast, had an old Basilica but I have this thing about churches. We rode along and got lost on purpose in Rovinj, another coastal town that sprouts a castle and a small section for tourists. Yes, we are tourists but I never want to consider myself a tourist.
We did not stay in Rovinj even though a one night stop would have been ok. It was early in the day and the ride itself was a bit boring. We searched out Pula, a large town on the tip of the Istria, known for its Roman Amphitheater. Amazingly I found the ruin easily, but had to ask directions a few times. Hidden in the center of town, not visible from afar, was the theater that could hold 25,000 people in its heyday. Today, it serves as an occasional theatre for orchestral performances or off-off Broadway plays. The total outer ring of the Amphitheater is intact yet the inside had been looted, demolished or altered since Roman times. We paid the 40 Kuna (6 Euro?) admission but I was disappointed. The advertisement for the place was good; the reality of the place was warm, not hot. Carol felt a sense of awe to be standing in the same place that Romans stood nearly 2000 years ago, but she also had a feeling of repulsion at the cruelty and bloodshed that had occurred here.
Now we needed a place to stay and we decided on the most southern town on this spit of land and rode to Medulin. Arriving in town, I asked for a good place to stay and a local guy pointed the way to the beach. He said “Do not pay more than 30 Euro for a place to stay, including breakfast” but I could not get the place we wanted for less than Euro 39. Croatia is used to long rentals; a 3-day stay is the norm here. To stay overnight only, like we like to do, creates a situation where the hotel or motel owner has extra work, changing linens and towels, etc. For 3 days you will get the same towels and sheets. For this extra work of a one day stay, they will charge extra.
By the way, I had to speak German as English is not yet commonly spoken here. A lot of Croatian men have worked in Germany for awhile, saved some money and then have returned to their homeland to buy a motel, a shop or build a house, etc. They cannot get work in Germany any longer but by now they have found ways to make money in their own county. Anyhow, I ordered food, coffee, gasoline, etc, speaking German. I was amazed myself that so many people spoke German in Croatia. English is a bit tough for the Croatians. Most tourists, I believe are from the German speaking areas and it is natural for the Croatians to learn that language first. Signs along the way in Croatia are written in both languages, Croatian and German.
We found the Pension Hilde 2 within walking distance of the ‘boardwalk’, with a secure place to put our bikes, with a large restaurant attached and a clean room. We moved in for the night. We walked the short promenade along the water and saw a campground and with nothing else to do, we took a stroll through it. This was a large place. I can see that in the summer this place is hopping. In May the season is not yet in full swing so we just saw a few of the early birds. The campground had all you could want; good spots for tents, good spots for trailers, restaurants, playgrounds for the kids, waterslides, washing facilities for cars and campers, etc. The place was huge and walking around the campground, I was glad we did not bring our tent on this trip. To set up and break down a tent each day takes time. To find a food store is ok, but then you eat alone, away from others. The way we travel now, finding a local establishment with rooms, eating in nearby local places is the way to go for us. Yes it might be more expensive but then how long do we have to save before enjoying the money we have? We ate at a local place that was crowded, not at our Hilde2 place. Naturally, we had fish; we are at the seashore after all.
It was grilled to perfection, washed down with a glass of beer, we called it a day.