A Travellerspoint blog

Mount Ucka Summit - Opatija

Part 1: Mount Ucka Lookout (Vojak)

sunny 43 °C

Hi there --- missed me? I've been gone a while - visiting real life you know ;0) More fun to travel I can assure you - lol. I'm back to let you know about the rest of my trip. A little while ago I wrote about getting life sustaining, beautiful, refreshing drinking water from this very same mountain. Today we go to the summit! Summit Vojak (pronounced Voyak). I've been waiting a while to go, however, it has been so hot and muggy that virtually any scenery to be viewed from the summit would be nothing other than haze --- not pleasant to be sure. Today it is really hot even at this early morning hour and I can only imagine what the day has in store for us. I am really hoping that today the air will be a bit crisper at the top of the mountain because right now - in this moment - it doesn't look so good ... BUT I really want to go to the top - so we go! We cannot keep hoping that there will be this perfect day to visit the summit because the way the temperature is going it will be sweltering every day.

The drive up the mountain (way past the water spina) is quite lovely - all those trees.

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A little bit about the summit before I go on. The peak ridge of the Ucka massif is dominated by its highest peak, Vojak, rising 1,401 metres above sea level. The peak of Ucka is the habitat of numerous rare and protected plant species (of course I took pictures). One can drive up the mountain as far as you can go (at your own risk --- there is a sign that indicates once you go past this spot then all bets are off - lol) or one can follow one of the many hiking trails available. This mountain has a lot to offer nature enthusiasts.

Well Irma and myself decided to test her little car and take it to as far as was possible and yay I'm glad we did because if we had left it where the sign saying to go on was at your own risk - well that would have been a real nice hike up to the summit ;0) As it was, where we parked the car was as far as the car itself was allowed to go --- we still had to walk up a stony-pebbly path to reach the observation tower. At this point the air still had a slightly cool tinge to it but it was heating up fast - a sweater was not required on this outing.

At the peak there is an observation tower, a TV mast and what I'm told is a military tower as well, although, I cannot find documented info about this (mind you I did not take the time to really look that hard either) - the information comes strictly from the locals I have spoken to (old timers who have seen and know much). I guess it seems warranted as there were many men dressed in military looking garb and had military jeeps as well. I doubt they were there only for the TV mast ;0)

So this is a view of the summit from the car many miles away - followed by a zoomed in view and finally a couple of the actual size when we finally arrived (notice the mugginess in the shots - whew).

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The stone tower (observation tower) was built by mountain climbers and nature enthusiasts in 1911 and believe me - offers unforgettable panoramic views of Istria, the Bay of Kvarner etc to even Italy (providing the day is crisp and clear of which it was not on this adventure).

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Today, inside the tower there is an information center and souvenir shop (neat stuff) managed by the Ucka Nature Park institution. On the roof of the tower there are telescopes installed in order to offer close up views of the surrounding panorama. It was real neat to use it to see our house and the Clock Tower up close from such a distance. This is the best I could do with the zoom lens on my camera.

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As I had mentioned briefly, the peak of Ucka is the habitat of numerous rare and protected plant species. As I walked the ridge I came across some beautiful flowers that I thought were stunning and spent many a minute admiring their beauty as well as trying my best to capture that beauty on film. Enjoy! I do not know their names unfortunately and since I did not want to spend the money on the book of flowers in the souvenir shop I had to content myself with simple admiration. The one flower I did recognize was the Bell Flower (Campanula tommasiniana), however, what I did not know was that this is the only habitat it grows in. In other words, this particular Campanula is endemic to Ucka and only grows here and nowhere else in the world. For the unitiated these are the small purple Bell-like looking flowers. I had heard of a local who had taken at one point a plant from the mountain and tried to grow it in the valley .... didn't survive ;0( So word to the wise - admire from afar and leave the plants alone.

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We left going up the observation tower till the end of our little mountain ridge trek. Again - all this is at your own risk ... there aren't any guard rails or any safety measures in place. The ridge itself is quite (very) wide so it isn't as if you'll slip and fall into an abyss. Highly recommended are good grip shoes ---- or if you are like my aunt Irma who grew up in this environment and walked everywhere as a child - you develop what I call 'goat feet' = no chance ever of slipping and falling - LOL. I really admired how she hopped, skipped and jumped among the rocks (wearing sandals) while I was gingerly placing my feet in exactly the right spot so as to not land flat on my derriere. Oh c'mon now --- stop laughing - LOL .... remember I am in physio for weakened muscle structure so I have an excuse ;0)

It is said (in a brochure) that in the summer months from the tower one can watch Eurasian griffon vultures and golden eagles flying over the area. I saw not one nor the other ;0( But then again it was getting hot and humid even at the peak that the view was compromised and if they were there I could not see them.

It really is too bad the air was not clear or else the scenery and photos would be stunning. So after stopping in the tower to explore the wares in the souvenir shop, we went walking along the mountain ridge.

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All along this ridge is from where the pictures of the flowers were taken. The outward beauty was just as lovely.

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Here we are!

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This alcove of trees looked very inviting - only thing is I couldn't see the ground where they were so decided the wise thing to do was soak in its beauty from afar ;0)

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So after we explored the ridge a bit - it went on and on and on ..... we decided to call it quits and visit the top of the observation tower. We could have continued on as it would have been interesting to see how far we could go and take in all the beauty of the hills, bodies of water, valley etc, however, the summit was not our only objective today. The summit in the morning and Opatija in the afternoon (more on that in another entry).

So we climb a few winding steps to the top and wow! What scenery from a bird's eye view ;0) The ledge was made of marble and scratched into the marble was a crude map describing what you were seeing from any vantage point.

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A lovely plaque describing Vojac.

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Ahhh yes - I did forget to mention one thing --- when the weather is just right, this summit is home to hang gliders. None were present on this day, however, here is a picture of the take-off spot. Notice the ramp they run down to fling themselves off the mountain top?

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Here you can see how high the peak is and how much higher when standing on the highest point of the observation tower (lookout = vidikovac). It is not by much, however, I liked this stone carving and wanted to show it - Ha!

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Now, hopefully, is the piece de resistance - LOL. I will make an attempt at imbedding a couple of small clips showing the panorama of the summit. Well, I tried, however, even though the clips are short they won't upload as they say the files are too large --- go figure! So you will all have to content yourselves with the photos scattered amidst this entry and use your imagination for the rest ;0)

And that concludes the narration for this day at Vojak - the Mount Ucka Summit. Part 2 (Opatija) to follow in another entry ;0)

Doviđenja

Posted by purplebaptisia 09:42 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Labin

Old (medieval) Labin

sunny 39 °C

Well first I must say - so sorry for the long delay in getting to this post. It is most difficult to find the time to write and post pictures when no longer on vacation. I promised to finish my trip and I will hold that promise --- not only for those who happen upon these entries but for myself ... it is my trip diary and want to complete it while my memories and feelings are still relatively fresh ;0) Read on faithful followers - lol.

Oh goodie --- I'm going to Old Labin today .... ask me if I am excited - go ahead ... ask! Of course I am excited ... need you ask? LOL. My feet are itching to get moving after a day of rest ;0) I must admit I was wondering what I would be able to actually 'see' after what I witnessed out the window this morning. The entire valley covered in clouds - I couldn't see a thing - not a darned thing. The only discernable item in the distance is the red/white chimney from the electrical plant in Plomin Luka ... look closely and you can see a part of it buried deep in the clouds.

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Well of course it was early morning and Irma promised it would dissipate quickly. We had to go to court to attend to some business and then the day was free to investigate this interesting little town. It helped a lot that the courthouse is actually located in Old Labin so it was a hop, skip and a jump to get into the groove of sightseeing once business concluded.

Ahhhh -- I see the clouds lifting now ;0) The valley is becoming visible again.

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Well by the time we were on our way there was only a light misting left. Irma says that sometimes the clouds/mist come almost to the front door. I did not see that on this visit - maybe one day ;0) Then I can I say that I had my heads in the clouds - literally - LOL (Don't worry Patty & Rudi - feet always planted firmly on the ground ;0)

As with the other older towns I have investigated, Old Labin was no different in how steep it was to get there. The main drag to get there was not so steep as it was long - and the cobblestones were tightly packed. My eyeballs jiggled in the sockets as we drove up into Old Labin proper. I think I was cross-eyed there for a bit - Ha!

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What you see is a part where cars are allowed. Once you arrive at the real old part of Labin - by foot only please. I really liked the structure of the gate that leads into Old Labin. It was created in the 15-16 century.

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I truly wish I could have taken another angled view, however, business cars are allowed to park right up to the gate and the photo would have been spoiled in my opinion if it had a little red car in it ;0( It was ticklish walking on the cobbled path once past this gate as it was steep, crooked, slippery (smooth stones) and not very even (rough). Some of the gaps were wide enough to swallow me whole if I stepped the wrong way ..... Oh come on now --- you didn't believe that did you? Okay --- but there were wide spaces that could easily twist an ankle if you were not careful. I stuck closer to the walls as the gaps seemed smaller. Once past that rough patch it was much easier going.

Labin was Croatia's coal-mining capital for many years, yet nowadays there really isn't any trace of this once successful industry. Well - there is a most wonderful museum in town (Old Labin) that is in what once used to be the Batilia-Lazarini Palace. I am not a huge museum going person, however, I shelled out the appropriate number of kunas to gain entrance. This is the only museum I went into on this Istrian journey and I am grateful I did. It wasn't overcrowded with artifacts and it wasn't stuffy. It was (used to be) a palace and it meant HUGE rooms with a lot of space to peruse the items on display. Each room on the three floors carried a different theme from musical instruments to furniture to clothing to farming and fishing paraphernalia to art to ..... There was a lot of written material in several languages explaining Istria's history and by the time I left the museum I had a real nice taste of what my ancestors were all about. Seeing all this added the richness to the stories I grew up hearing. I left with a warmness in me that was not there when I started the self-tour.

As you know by now, there is ALWAYS something that intrigues me and this palace/museum was no exception. As I climbed the three (or so) steps into the first room I was astounded at the size of those stairs. My eyes just about bugged out of my head. Why were they so huge when people were so much smaller than today --- did they need to pole vault themselves into the next room? I am sure if I investigated this I would find an answer ;0) Talk about exercising those thigh muscles ;0)

The most intriguing part of this wonderful museum was actually a small re-creation of life inside a coal mine ---- not for the claustrophobic I tell you. Once the tour of museum was over I ventured forth into the mine. Very realistic or at the very least - the best they can do in a small short space. Coal mining was a huge way of life for a very long time here. They even have in podlabin (below Labin - the modern part of town so to speak) a huuuuuge poster of a smiling and content coalminer.

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The coal mining industry was pursued with such enthusiasm that the actual hilltop of the town started to collapse around 40 years ago. It is, of course, now fully restored.

The cobblestones in Old Labin are so unique - quite lovely. You can see a curve/dip in the road.

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What I love about these old historical buildings are the adornments built right into the structure. What I liked about this church (Church of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary)were two significant adornments --- the 14th century rose window and beneath that the 17th century Venetian lion. Here are a few photos showing its history, interior (photographed through the doors window as the church was closed) and its adornments.

Introduction to the Church of the Blessed Mary's Birth

Introduction to the Church of the Blessed Mary's Birth


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Exterior Facade - notice the adornments

Exterior Facade - notice the adornments


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14th century rose window

14th century rose window


17th century Venetian lion carving

17th century Venetian lion carving

As the photos reveal, the significance of the Venetian lion with the open or closed book grasped in its paw is explained. The lion of Venice, as a rule, is usually depicted with its paw on an open book that contains the text: Pax tibi, Marce, Evangelista meus (latin for: Peace be upon you, O Mark, my Evangelist). Interesting ... to me at least! And it is not surprising to see the Italian influence here as Labin used to be inhabited as early as 200 B.C. So now I bet you that I will be checking out every lion carving in each town I visit to see if Venice had been under the influence of a war during its carving ;0)

There are many Italian influences to be found in Croatia due to its penchant for being taken over by many countries over its existence (one of them being Italy in case you didn't guess <grin>;). My paternal grandparents and their family (thusly my father and his siblings) grew up under Tito's rule. I am hoping to visit Brijuni Islands during my visit and get to see where Tito had entertained visiting heads of state when he made Veli Brijun one of his official bases after WWII.

What I also found impressive in Labin was the main walkway through the town --- many, many stairs that go up - up- up. They are not difficult to walk as they are shallower but be prepared to stop and see all the richness this town has to offer.

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Irma and I not only visited this original medieval town itself but also investigated its outskirts. Old Labin after all sits atop a hill and one can take in the surrounding beauty down below.

Ramparts

Ramparts


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What I neglected to mention at the beginning of recounting of Old Labin is that Irma and I first walked 'around' the town and then entered it via the 'back' way ;0) Now the scenery at some point must have been simply awesome, however, I notice they are not really good at taming nature by trimming the trees. There was a lot of overgrowth and the scenery was not so evident. Irma was more disappointed as she remembered what it had been like and wanted to show me its beauty. I hadn't anything to compare it to so I was okay with it. We did come to what is called the Fortica - or rather the viewing terrace on the site of what once was a medieval fortress (long demolished). I really enjoyed the view from here --- you could see Rabac (only a 40 minute walk down the mountain to this seaside resort/town) and islands in the distance. Again it had been a steamy hot sweltering day and so the view was not as clear as I would have like it. I doubt we would be coming back so I took my pictures anyways and am glad I did.

Scenery from the viewing terrace

Scenery from the viewing terrace


Close up view of Rabac

Close up view of Rabac

Oh yeah - before I end this journey I simply must share with you what else I admired in this town. Guesses anyone? C'mon ..... hint hint --- it's tall .... and has a bell ..... Any takers? Heck yes ----- Bell towers!! That's right I said towersssss - lol. Well one was also a clock tower but that counts! This first tower was built in 1623 on the site once occupied by the Church of Saint Just (9th-10th century) and is 33 metres high. I would have loved to climb the wooden stairs to the top, alas my leg would simply not be able to undertake the strain.

Clock Tower - distance view

Clock Tower - distance view


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I really liked the aesthetics of the clock tower especially as I glimpsed it between the streets. It is colorful as are all the buildings in this town.

Clock tower - peeking through the streets

Clock tower - peeking through the streets


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And that has been my day in Old Labin. They did not have too many gift shops however I did buy several souvenirs here as I found lovely hand-made items indicative of the flavor of Istria. One thing I have always found myself searching for no matter what country I have visited is the authentic local music of the area. For Istria it is found in a cd called Mik --- a mixture of music/artists/genres of the Istrian peninsula. Did I buy one? Betcha I did <huge grin>. Next entry --- Summit of Mt Ucka and the opulent Opatija ... so stay tuned.

Posted by purplebaptisia 14:42 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Baredine Caves - Plomin Vidikovac

and visiting relatives!

32 °C

Although I am now home from my lovely Croatian/Istrian vacation I will continue to blog on what I have experienced for the balance of my days spent there. After all, I came back home on July 23rd so there are still things I wish to share (I am only on July 4th to date) - so continue on this journey with me if you choose ;0)

Today will be an interesting day - visits with relatives (three to be exact) and a tour of the Baredine caves near Porec. Irma and Laura visit many relatives when they come to Croatia and they thought it would be nice for me to meet some of them before the reunion on Sunday. These are all my second cousins - on my fathers side (his mother). Well actually two cousins and one cousin by marriage. I will tell you now that I was thrilled to meet each one of them and see their style of living - all different to be sure ;0)

A few days earlier though both Irma and myself headed into Labin to do some grocery shopping as well as other things that beckoned. We were planning to do a little touring but it was alternating from drizzling to raining and I am NOT a happy camper to sightsee under threatening clouds and besides, my regular camera is not waterproof and I did not want to risk damaging it. As it was we sort of did a run about of Labin and a quick tour of Rabac but did not stop anywhere to investigate. On the way back home we did stop by two lovely lookouts (vidikovac = pronounced vidikovats) right near Plomin.

This is the Hotel Flanona and its restaurant is owned by the owners of the Riva restaurant in Plomin Luka. This is main lookout for Plomin.

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We stopped here for a bite to eat and to enjoy the scenery. It really is known locally as the Vidikovac Cafe. It was hazy and overcast so the view wasn't as clear as I would have liked it (hey if you want clear then you need the cool air and I like hot and steamy;0). I came twice to this lookout (once for ice-cream = yumm) so the pictures I am showing here will be the best of the two days. One of the nicest views (other than the Mt Ucka lookout) of the surrounding islands (Cres for example) is from this lookout.

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The food was amazingly good and really inexpensive (compared to what I am used to paying in Montreal that is). Irma had the calamari and I had a most fantabulous prsut pizza (I took most home and my dad devoured it ;0). My meal with a drink cost around 12-13$cdn = awesome. This was a large pizza mind you, and Irma's meal with a drink was under 20$cdn -- double awesome. Remember that tips are included in the price - it's up to you if you wish to tip more or not.

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Plomin is another hilltop town that is typical of the villages one sees. Many houses are boarded up. Plomin luka (port of Plomin) is down below and used to be a viable fishing port. Today it is parent to the electrical plant easily identifiable by the tall red and white striped chimney which can be seen for miles around. They still use coal to ultimately produce electricity and this chimney had been built as a more efficient and less polluting option versus the original chimney. The word is that at some point they are going to build a much more improved chimney that will be even more energy efficient.

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This view of the chimney and electrical plant is from the first lookout just as soon as you pass through Plomin. The cafe vidikovac is further down the road. All that black you see is coal - yup, you heard right ... coal. Would you believe that it is shipped in from China? I was surprised a bit considering that this area (around Labin and Rasa etc) was prime for coal mining. I had heard conflicting stories of why the mines were shut down --- were the mines really exhausted or was it no longer profitable? From a very reliable source it is said that the mines still have enough coal in them to sustain a mining operation to last many years. The thing is that nowadays it is inexpensive to import coal from China than it is to sustain a coal mining industry. On one hand this is sad - but I am also told that the imported coal is of a better quality than what could be mined here.

In this photo if you were to go straight down this steep and sheer drop into the sea and bear a little to the right once you reach bottom, you would be at the Plomin Luka Beach (more about that in another post). It is the closest to us to access and is not that bad ... really ;0)

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In this photo you can see a ship (or is it a barge?) unloading coal that travels along a conveyer belt (strictly guessing this but it sure looks like a long covered conveyor belt type of contraption) that leads all the way to the electrical plant. I had a good look at this sucker when I was at the beach --- impressive when you are staring at this beast from water surface level - lol.

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Anyways on to the topic of today ;0) --- Relatives and Baredine caves. Let's start with the caves.

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Caves are underground you know. Getting into the caves means climbing down, down, down and down some more into the bowels of the earth and praying like mad that an earthquake doesn't happen - lol. I didn't think like this going into the caves, however, when the guide showed us a piece of rock that had fallen from above and crashed down ..... well then a teensy part of my brain started to wonder about the possibility and somehow her voice saying not to worry as this boulder fell over thousands of years ago did not immediately stop my brain from wandering off thinking about different scenarios ;0)

I have visited a few caves and this one is quite different - as they should be. I was expecting the flash and briliant display of stalagmites and stalactites from what I recall of another cave I had seen here 30 years ago. Nope - this wasn't it. This cave was more 'realistic' in its colorings- earth tone with strong hints of reddish due to the high iron content in places. There were five large caverns to explore and our lovely guide spoke three different languages with the small group of people I was with - Italian, English and German. Quite a chore to repeat the same thing three times over.

Flash photography was strictly prohibited as to protect the organisms living in these caves - after all they have been used to living in the dark (or relative near darkness) that the flash could damage them. I tried my hand at regular photography, however, the minimalist lighting provided in the caves was really not enough to capture well exposed photos. Here are a couple of examples of the better shots I was able to get.

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One lady had a wicked lens that I drooled over ..... she was able to snap as many pictures as she wanted without a flash. She loved the cave I could tell. I liked it but didn't love it. It was interesting to me though to see how beautiful nature could be even underground. Surface pottery had been found indicating ancient time usage. The first documented cave explorations were from Trieste speleologists. There is even a jumping off platform for spelunking to the deepest part of the cave .... I tell you here and now that I could not see the bottom of that abyss.

I thought it was interesting and sort of regret (not really) not going down into the last chamber. I let everyone else venture down but I didn't. The descent was very steep and as you know my leg is not that strong (in spite of great physio work having been done on it). I don't cringe at heights and under normal circumstances I would have gone down there but the thought of having to come back up gave me the heebie jeebies - would I make it or not - would I have to live there with the human fish that everyone went to see (Proteus anguinus)? I did not want to test that theory so I let the rest of the party gingerly (and nimbly for some) climb down that really steep ladder into the fifth chamber. The german family had it right --- go down the stairs backwards as if they were going down a ladder.

At some point we were told that we were now under the grape vineyard of a mr so and so (darned if I can remember his name). The earth is red here and that is something to see - not plain brown earth I am used to seeing. As I looked upwards I could imagine climbing up there and starting to dig --- wonder if I would break earth and come out in his vineyard? --- Geez I hope not or else let me outta here NOW!!!

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All in all I enjoyed the caves ---- and it sure was a testament as to how much better my leg did become because I made it all the way down (minus the last chamber) and geez ... all the way back up too!! I truly had my doubts at some points but slowly and surely my leg held strong and I now live to tell the tale - LOL. The temperature always is a pleasant 14 degrees celsius in the cave but I will tell you that I was dripping by the time I made my way out --- I stripped off my sweater a long time ago (I brought it along as I knew it would be cooler but didn't know how cold at the time).

Of course since this is a tourist destination - souvenirs abound. Irma and I looked around and I found a couple of things that were indeed different. One of the unique souvenir items (that I did not find anywhere else on my touring btw) was a precious photo of Irma, myself and Stjepan (Stephen) .... the mule ;0). See all those postcards on Stevie's right (lower left of the photo)?

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Well those are replicas of postcards. What you do is select the postcard of your choice. The gentleman manning the booth then takes your picture (alone - with other members of your party or everyone along with Stevie the mule). He then superimposes that photo onto the postcard of your choice and voila - indeed a most innovative souvenir as far as I am concerned. Irma and I and Stjepan are now the main characters of a postcard I picked out to reflect the places I have been to. The choices are endless and in the end you have a photo-postcard of your choice with your picture on it. I likee ;0)

Okay - relative time ;0) First relative/cousin (by marriage) to see is Sirena. Ahhhh --- chickens = yay! I really, really, really wanted to see free run chickens during my visit here. The neighbor down the hill from us in Brdo also has them, however, I did not see them until much later in my visit so that is why I was so really thrilled this time. This was and is such a distinct and fond memory for me.

I remember way back when when I visited here chasing the chickens - picking them up and holding them (as if they were my pets) and going on egg hunts. Boy what lovely memories. Hah - I laugh even now at the time I thought my room was haunted ;0) As a kid on a visit I slept in a room that was sort of next to the chicken coop - well actually the door was connected to the old house and the chicken coop was downstairs between the old and new house. I could hear one day some weird sounds and couldn't make them out. Then I thought I heard the clucking of chickens --- yup ... reverberating sounds from the chicken coop <smile>. I had always thought they were into the dry corn bags. There is another neighbor who has chickens, however, he runs it more like a business so had been surprised to see them cooped up versus free run. This made my visit to Sirena all that more enjoyable.

Heck I even remember a neighbor long ago who had given me a miniature chicken and miniature rooster to have while I was visiting my grandparents. I promptly named then Chickadee and Kiki - ;0) Chickens are wont to have dirt baths (for pest control) but I didn't know this as a kid - I could only see them as getting more dirty ;0( So I did what any consciencious kid would do -- I bathed them ... in water - HA! I remember eliciting such heart felt promises from my grandparents to take real good care of them when I came back to Canada --- I really needed to know that my 'pets' would be ok. So - now you see why I have such an affinity for these free run chickens - they elicit such warm memories for me.

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Sirena prepared a nice snack for us --- home made prsut (yup - they have their own pigs and smoke house to make the prsut) along with yummy fresh bread and some cool refreshments. She has three pigs and boy are they humongous!!

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I spoke a little with her, however, most of the catching up was between her and Irma. I was secretly thrilled that someone in the family was still pursuing a traditional lifestyle (through choice mind you) and living off the land. This does not mean being backwards here ---- it is long and hard labor working the land but oh so rewarding. One of her son's also keeps dogs - a couple for wild pig hunting and the other for truffle hunting. After chatting a bit it was time to move on to visit another cousin.

Not too far away (literally) is where we find Edo. He is retired and he too has his own land, however, he chooses to cater to tourists and has a couple of apartments he rents out to tourists around the world. He has a private garden as well as lovely landscaped property. He really loves upkeeping the land and it shows.

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His fruit trees lovingly bear him huge and luscious fruit for his efforts (white figs and peaches ripe with dripping juices and as big as your fist --- and NOT GMO either). He brought some of these to the reunion and geez Louise --- I cannot recall eating figs or peaches this delicious ---- melt in your mouth fruit .... no wonder my brother as a kid would go balistic when he saw a peach = yummmmeeeee ;0) My father recalls he would tremble in his arms when he saw the peaches on the tree in front of the house (that is no longer there) - he craved them to no end (the resulting rash curtailed the peach inhalation process - lol).

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Edo's wife Ana was working and did not have the pleasure of meeting her until the reunion. We did partake of her lovely home made cookies and fruit juice - a sour cherry juice that was simply out of this world ---- I could have drunk two to three of them myself (freshly made and without preservatives - ohhhhhhhh how good it was). I must remember to get the recipe!

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After enjoying Edo's company for a while we headed off to visit one more cousin. He shares some common land with Edo and grows his garden there. Bepo and Milka welcomed me warmly as did the others ;0) They are in the residential part of Pazin and from their home you can see Pazin down the mountain - what a nice view to look at everyday.

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Bepo makes his own wine and he had prepared five Litres for my dad - and Bepo let us know in advance he was going to give it to us. My dad was drooling just at the thought --- Bepo has a reputation of making excellent wine (Malvasia-white) ;0) His wife Milka loves to work with flowers and in spite of being sick that day - she was trimming the hydrangea bush when we arrived. It was so lush and gorgeous that I cannot resist sharing with you its beauty ;0)

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We spent only a little bit of time with Bepo and Milka as she was not feeling well. We took our leave and they promised to see us again in a few days at the reunion. What an enjoyable day. We had originally planned to go to Motovun early in the morning, however, Irma's alarm clock did not sound and she did not wake up in spite of my trying ;0) I was a little shy to try harder to wake her up so Motovun is left to another day. This mishap however did leave us more time to spend with the relatives and at the caves and we didn't have to rush through it all.

Oh yes, one other thing I did today was visit the graveyard where some of my relatives are buried from my grandmothers side of the family.

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One interesting feature of the town Tinjan is the judging table found in a nearby open space. In days gone by a group of people would gather at this stone table and stone chairs and render judement on people. They decided then and there if the people in question were guilty or innocent. No trial and no jury - your fate was left in the hands of a few people. Hmmmm......

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And now this concludes this day ;0)

Posted by purplebaptisia 10:36 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Close Encounters

and Delicacies

overcast 25 °C

Well after the Pula excursion my leg was not in any shape to do anymore walking - for today anyways. Besides, they were predicting rain and it is badly needed around these parts. I decided to relax and take it easy.

It was looking exciting outside today. The sky was overcast and it surely looked like it was going to rain. Yeah right! It rained about 10 minutes a good downpour then nada - nicht - niente - rien - nuthin'. It barely wet the earth ;0( So yes the sky was originally exciting as people here rely on the rain to fill the cisterns and if the cisterns run too low - then ... no water - period! You can turn on the tap as much as you want but it won't provide. Many families have enlarged their cistern capacity as they reside here year long. Irma and Laura still have the original cistern that was built waaaaaaay back when! It is not small but not large either so ours will run out before others do. Horrors! But do not fear - if that happens there is this number that one composes and then one can ask for water to be delivered - yay! We do not need that service .... yet. There are many houses that are supplied with city water but not yet for us who are higher up in the hills. Perhaps it will come one day to Brdo as well.

Now, what to write for today --- hmmmm. Ahhh - I know! How would you like to see some of the creatures I have either seen or been in contact with? You would? - great because I have some anecdotes to share ;0) I'll also share other tidbits such as Istrian delicacies with you as well. Since I am currently writing this entry in later July, what you will read spans practically the five weeks I have been here.

Let's start with first the lovely scenery of the valley from the second floor hall window. Impressive I must say --- I was mesmerized by the cloud formations over the valley. This photo shows a lot of cloud dispersion already - earlier in the day you could not see the valley at all - it was a pure mist of snowy white ;0) This cloud seems to be hanging in suspended animation....

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Now I knew that europe is known to have things like scorpions. I just didn't know they like to inhabit houses and climb walls - yikes! I've had my share of seeing them thank you very much ;0). These are known as Scorpio Europaeus and once I knew what I was in for I practically crossed the ocean on foot to get the remedy should I or anyone else get bitten by one. The specific remedy I wanted is found in Austria. Working with homeopathic remedies can save many a hospital trip and I made sure I had this remedy with me along with the homeopathic first aid kit ... as well a select choice of others such as one for jet lag and airplane radiation.

It came in real handy when a wasp decided she wanted a bite of me - oh my! What a memory to take home with me - a wasp sting ;0( I didn't know that this beast was on my back near the strap of my top. I went to adjust my top and unknowingly trapped her between my top and skin. The burn started slowly and increased in intensity - I called to Irma and asked her what was on my back and to take it off - it felt as if some insect was biting me (I could never in a million years fathom a wasp). She swatted away the wasp but informed me that I was indeed stung and the welt was raising quickly along with a surrounding redness. The intense burn was proof I was bitten. Quickly I ran to the cupboard and prepared the proper remedy to take. I sipped on the concoction for a little while and voila - no more welt, no more redness and no more burning sensation! Kudos for homeopathy ;0)

Now back to my scorpion. Scorpio is my astrological sign and in spite of potentially being bitten I was anxious to see a live one. Well my wish was granted fairly quickly - actually on the second day of our arrival. Laura and I were moving a table to the patio and geez this black thing crawling on the wall had me back up a few feet. I didn't recognize it right away as it was a baby - well, maybe a teenager. I ran out saying there is a scorpion on the wall. Laura said not to worry - heck I wasn't worried ... I was running for my camera to capture this memory in digital form - lol.

Here is the pic of the teensy scorpio. To note: I have seen many since this one ... a teensy one (I almost didn't recognize it as a scorpion till it moved) was found in Irma's shoe; A much larger one (not quite full grown) was on the wall one night - that one was scary; a few here and there ... mostly at night and on the walls. They are common and like to come indoors especially when wet outdoors - usually.

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Now get this! This is NOT the kind of relationship I am looking for! Although it kinda did work out in the fairy tales, I doubt my kissing the frogs here would result in a handsome prince coming to my rescue - lol. I should have tried it ... for fun (now don't take me seriously folks - it's not the kind of kissing game I like ;0)

Irma and Laura said they hadn't seen a frog around here in quite some time. Well, it took me to bring them out - lol. Actually it has been the dry weeks without rain that has them seeking alternate routes to water ... even if it is indoors. There are a couple of windows at ground level and both of them have louvres but only one has an additional screen. One evening when I went to close my father's window I saw this cute tiny frog clinging to the screen (from the outside) -- it made it through the louvres and if the screen wasn't there he might have had an evening companion. I tried to take a photo but it was so blurred due to the screen.

Well that was the first encounter but I assure you the second one was much more interesting. Irma and I were going out early for one of our jaunts to some place or other and she called to me from the bathroom. Come here she said - I want to show you something. I didn't know what to think so I simply went to see what she wanted to show me. From the angle I entered the bathroom I could only see a blob on the wall. I jumped back and let out a little 'eek'. She laughed at me and asked what was the matter. I said I couldn't see what was there but since she was quite close to it and the blob didn't move, I ventured closer. A froggie! Oh how adorable --- it clung to the bathroom wall tile, perhaps it more frightened of us than the other way around.

Irma suggested I catch it and redirect it outside. I said why me? She said she had other things to do. So, I tried to catch this slippery little green amphibian - not an easy task I assure you - lol. It jumped to and fro and it left slimy tracks all around (so that is how they stick to stuff). It finally landed near the top of the toilet tank.

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I was able to grab it finally and hold it gently in my hands but s/he did not want to stay there ;0) After a couple of hops along my arm it landed on my shoulder. I called Irma and told her to take it off (I could not reach it from that angle) and she said no - just go outside with it and let it go ... so that is what I did. It jumped off my shoulder and within a couple of jumps s/he was gone.

The frog stories are not ended ;0) Two more quick more anecdotes to share and then I move on to another creature! The next evening as I entered the shower, out of the corner of my eye I saw this thing squished in the corner of the shower stall. Hah - I was about to take a shower with a frog. I got dressed and grabbed the little thing and brought it outside. As of that date it was so dry here I am surprised the whole family of frogs didn't come in. They come in through the bathroom window because there are only louvres there = easy access ;0) There is a window to shut it for the night, however no screen cover for the daytime. So far all these frogs have had the same coloring and all three were different sizes - teeny, small and a bit larger. I guess the day after all this was my last chance meeting .... I opened the front door and felt this light feathery leathery thing flop against my ankle. I jumped back - what the heck was that I thought? A leaf? An insect? What? Nope - a froggie with different colorings --- longish and brown - olive greenish. I watched it hop away ;0) Ahhh - the country ... you never know what you will encounter.

The next thing I am sure most of you are familiar with. You see them almost in every hot place. I am not sure of their official name so I call them little lizards or little gecko's. There are many here and most are too fast to capture on film. I was lucky on the first day I was here to have one sit pretty for me and be patient while I focused in on it and took its photo. I am sure it felt safe as its colorings matched its background (old stone wall of the barn) and by being still it appeared almost invisible.

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One evening I saw a larger lizard lounging in the branches of the rosemary sunning itself. It too stayed still while I took its photo. It stayed there a while till the sun moved out of its range then it meandered off into the garden. That has been the only time I have seen a lizard of this size here. Irma, dad and Laura said this was only a baby ... kinda big for a baby if you ask me ;0)

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If you recall, this newer house (over 80 years old) is attached to the older house (around 200-300 years old). The doors to the house and old chicken coop are opened on almost a daily basis to allow for air circulation. The old house had a window with a broken screen and before Laura could fix it - some bats found their way in and made the old house their home ;0) Three bats took up residence for goodness knows how long.

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Well, didn't my dad's sister put him to work - earn his keep as they say - lol. Laura took out the old window and gave it to dad and away he went. He plugged away at it till the window was repaired. Laura waited till evening when the bats left and then she closed the window. They have now found a new residence elsewhere. It is fun to watch the bat show. Insects are drawn to the street light (lights are only placed where houses are located = far and few inbetween) and the bats are drawn to easy food and hence - bat show ;0)

We all went to dinner last night at Restaurant Riva in Plomin Luka. If you ever get the chance to do so - go there. The food was exquisite and the service divine. They are the owners of the restaurant at the lookout (vidikovac) in Plomin. Our waiter was the owner's son and he spoke English extremely well - along with Croatian, Italian as well as a working knowledge of German. Cheers!

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The reason this is plugged in here is because on the way home after practically rolling out of the restaurant, we saw another four legged creature and how beautiful it was. Going uphill into the mountains one never knows what animal will show itself. This time it was a fawn. From a distance the first impression was a rabbit but no - an itty bitty fawn. Irma stopped the car as we didn't know what this thing was going to do. It stepped lightly onto the road and then bounded gracefully across and bounced into the bushes on the other side. You should have heard all the ladies in the car --- awwwwww how cute!

I did see though one heckuva large rabbit one day when we went to fill up with drinking water on Mount Ucka. As we turned the corner, that big sucker lazily went into the bushes. I had only seen a rabbit that big one time before but not in the wild.

One night as we were sitting outside enjoying the night air, Morica jumped from her ledge and took a curious interest in something near her. I could hear mini huffing/puffing type of noises and wondered what it was. I could only see a shadow so called for someone to get a flashlight. Wasn't it an itty bitty baby porcupine! It's noises were its attempts to ward off predators and that indeed included a most curious dog ;0) We decided to go in and bring Morica in with us because we figured if baby was here then momma couldn't be far behind and we didn't want a dog with a snout full of quills - lol. The baby hid herself in the corner of the patio and Morica kept wanting to go and investigate and just like a child, the more we said no the more she wanted to see what the fuss was all about.

Of course like anywhere else we have the four legged creatures known as canines and felines. Almost everyone has one or the other or both! Morica is the black doggie who lives here at the house while Irma and Laura are here. She is looked after by another family until my aunts return. The other dog in the picture is Terry and he likes to come down from Brdo proper and visit Morica from time to time. They are both old codgers but can still enjoy each others company. After he visits, she accompanies him either down to the street or back to where he lives and then comes back home.

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Bruna and Jolanda sure enjoy their feline companions (Terry is their dog). They are outdoor cats and play in nature with abandon. Watching them reminds me of when I was younger and visited my grandparents here in Istria. Those cats were working cats and although they tolerated being held to a degree, they soon squirmed out of my grasp and did what cats do - or are supposed to do anyways. They were so tuned into nature it was amazing to see (of course that is my perspective now but as a kid I only wanted to play with them and there were a few around - the mice hunters!). Here is a picture of one of their (Bruna & Jolanda) cats.

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I also wanted to share with you and show you a couple of food items that are traditional here in Istria. Lina and Tony shared with us a plate of freshly prepared sardines. No they were not raw - lol. As Lina said, there was not much in the day to make fancy dishes so all was needed was flour, a bit of salt and pepper and you were good to go. Get the sardines fresh off the boat at the Labin market and prepare them with a little bit of flour and salt and pepper and fry them. Deelish! Thanks Tony and Lina for sharing such a traditional dish with us (this was a first for me).

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One fond memory I have from having visited here as a preteen was enjoying my grandfathers homemade cheese and prsut (prosciutto). I remember seeing the prsut hanging to dry and the cheeses all on a shelf in the kanoba (cellar). Hmmmmm --- I can still smell and taste them. I was so looking forward to enjoying that kind of cheese again and my wish came true.

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This cheese was made by a local not too far away from the house. Mmmmboy!! There is nothing but nothing as good as this cheese I gotta tell you. I admit that I still think my grandfathers cheese was better, however, this came in as a close second. Nothing like fresh Istrian cheese - too bad Canadian customs no longer allows us to bring back cheese or else..... Most of the prsut was bought from a store but it was such a good quality one - ever so thinly sliced that it melted on your tongue ... ahhhhhh. I truly enjoyed the home-made prsut from my relative Sirena (pictured below).

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Another traditional fair here is gnocci - but what gnocci! I have had a chance to taste Bruna's home made gnocci and how tasty. Irma and I stopped for a bite to eat at one of her favorite haunts after a day of sightseeing. What did we have - yuppers ... gnocci! The taste was delightful - we both had the beef sauce. The camera had a hard time focusing in on the dish but I think it is clear enough for you to see how good it looked. One interesting tidbit --- at most standard restaurants the waiters do not set out the cutlery for you. They bring you a plate that has napkins and cutlery on it. It is up to you to set your own place. Quirky but interesting --- guess it saves them time and service maybe is sped up as a result - dunno.

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There is so much more traditional fare here, however this blog page could go on forever so I will stop here. Ooops - oh yes ... just one more thing! Truffles. Yup - Istria's gold it is said. There is truffle hunting most of the year and there are many varieties. The two categories are dark and white with a grading system within each category. The white truffles have a lighter taste and are more highly prized than the dark ones that tend to have a more intense flavor. I will be tasting one tonite. There are many dark ones on this property and people hunt them. Not by choice mind you but what is one to do when policing is out of the question. There is too much land to watch over it all. Laura knows who are the ones who hunt them on her land. Not too long ago she spoke with some of them and usually they offer her some of what they find on her property (as a token of payment almost) but she usually declines as she prefers the white ones over the dark ones. This time she accepted so she could show me and other relatives exactly what they were like freshly picked from underground. Here is a prime example of a dark truffle - I just can't tell if it is a common truffle or if it is of another designation.

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And that ends today's entry. Hope you enjoyed ;0)

Posted by purplebaptisia 08:02 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Pula

Pola

sunny 40 °C

What can I say about Pula. It's big! There is a lot to see and it is not the best idea to start late in the day like we did. You find yourself wandering not knowing where to go and especially for me who still has to be careful with my leg, it was not easy at times. We did have a lovely guide - Silvana - who lives in Pula part of the year and in Switzerland the rest of the time. She and her husband Julio were kind enough to accomodate us when we arrived in Pula. Irma does not know her way around Pula and thought Silvana who lives there part time would be a great guide. BTW - Pula in Italian is known as Pola ;0)

Silvana knows Pula a little bit. Even though we had a tourist map we still did a lot of wandering about after the amphitheatre before we came to any other real site of interest. I think there was a fear of looking at the map - lol. I admit I was frustrated at times because when I want to see the sites I stick to the map and try to see as much as if feasible and make sure to not back track. Well, guess who was the only one who thought like this? Yuppers - and that meant a lot of backtracking and by the end of the day I felt I could hardly make it back to the car. Now don't get me wrong, I did have a good time and enjoyed seeing the different places that make Pula special, however, if I had to do again, I would plan it differently.

We left home earlier in the morning and should have been in Pula earlier but ran into some bigtime construction that slowed us terribly.

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We did finally arrive and I met Silvana and Julio, Laura's friends from Switzerland (originally from here - Laura and Silvana went to school together). They seemed to remember me from when I was last here in the 1970's - I didn't remember them. They were hospitable hosts and had a lovely lunch prepared for us. After some chit chat and once replete, we headed off. In deference to Silvana's heat tolerance the visiting was left till after 3pm in the afternoon.

Before we left we took a mini tour of her garden. Maybe you all knew this (I didn't) - did you know that kiwis actually grow on vines (like grapes)? Yes? Good for you - I thought they grew on trees - I had never seen a kiwi other than in a grocery store. Silvana had some lovely vines growing these fruit I adore.

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Getting into Pula proper was quick and painless. There was ample parking and right close by the amphitheatre too (expensive though). It was weird to see such an ancient ruin nestled among current day buildings with traffic flowing by it day and night. If I were to say it wasn't impressive I would be lying. It was!

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We circled the outside to get one view of the amphitheatre before paying to gain entrance to not only the arena but its museum underground as well. The romans built this arena in 177 BC when they arrived in Pula. It is the sixth largest amphitheatre in the world and hosts many shows throughout the year.

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Not much of the interior is left as it had been quarried long ago by the locals to build their own homes. This whole arena was supposed to be dismantled, however, a local from Pula took stand and saved it from destruction. Now, Irma and Silvana told me in a nice way to 'shut up' when we were on the way to pay for the tickets to enter the arena. Why? Ahhhh - because sometimes when they know you are tourists they can raise the prices. Maybe not the arena itself, however, this thinking is valid for other things for sure. I didn't get it because the prices are fixed, however, I did what they said. Silvana went to the counter and said - what ... these are the prices for us too? They asked her from where she was and she said here in Pula -- they let us all in for free ;0)

The inside of the arena was just as impressive, albeit from a different perspective.

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Now it was time to discover the bowels of this beast and see what is was offering for our personal viewing pleasure. The museum of course - lol. Once we went downstairs and turned left we came to this mini hallway.

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This small passage did not let on to what was next. After this you turned left and whammo!! This long, narrow dark tunnel. I felt I was hit by a seldgehammer. The emotions, feelings and pain just went through me like a knife. I felt I was drawn back in time and the sensations felt raw and real. The exact words that left my mouth when I turned the corner was 'whoa'! I distinctly remember taking not one but two steps back from the visual and visceral impact of it. Once I composed myself I was able to move on.

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Early on in this hallway were two holes carved in the walls - one on the left and one on the right. It was so dark in there you couldn't see anything. Being the curious cat that I am, I aimed my camera inside and took a picture with the flash. This is what that deep long tunnel looks like ... can't help wondering what it was used for .. lions.. prisoners ... pizza oven offering up lions and prisoners - lol (geez what a sick sense of humor I have ;0)

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A small part of the underground of the arena is now dedicated as a museum. As with other similar structures there are three main parts to the amphitheatre. It has a spectator area, the arena (for the execution of fights) and the subterranean gallery (where beasts were kept along with equipment to set the stage in the arena). To think I was underground in the same place where once upon a time lions, slaves and gladiators were kept only to be brought to the arena to kill or be killed. I did not like that feeling too much I must admit. It's good thing my attention was diverted by the many articles on display of the times. This subterranean gallery at Pula's amphitheatre was carved out of solid rock under the entire length that was designated for the execution of fights - wow. Here is a long shot of what the museum part of the gallery looks like.

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It really is not that long. There are many articles to see on the left and right of the passageway. I always wonder though at what I am not seeing - such as .... what is on the other side of the gallery --- the part they block off/the part we don't have access to? I will show you a couple of examples of articles of what was in this museum. The first photo I believe is an oil press - impressive I must say. And the second is of well preserved jars. Some were for oil and others for water etc.

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Once we left the arena we walked around for a bit. I wanted a tourist office so I could get a nice tourist map of the area like Silvana had. She brought us where she thought it was and along the way we sort of bumped into a couple of items of interest. Here you can see a water fountain in the exact replica of Pula - water and all. I tried to wait until there wasn't anyone around the fountain but no luck. It was so hot that day that many people were simply dousing their sweat drenched faces to cool off. I liked this Pula replication.

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What I thought was a cool idea was this. Have a great view of the amphitheatre as a background. Set up the scene with a nice park bench with nice flowers etc surrounded in the foreground . Now frame all this like a picture frame - then take the actual picture - stunning! A most clever idea as far as I'm concerned. Geez look at that - someone took my idea!! Sorry for the picture being crooked but my aunt is still trying to get a handle on my camera ;0)

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Well the tourist office (once we found it) was closed for 'ten minutes' BUT the question always is: when did the ten minutes start .... one minute ago or nine minutes ago. Irma and Silvana decided to trudge onwards and so I followed. It was sweltering and walking along the main drag next to the water (marina) did not help .... the water was sooo inviting.

I had Silvana's map in my hand but since we did not slow down I was not able to decipher exactly where we were ;0( Every so often I would say - are we here (noting a site from the map)? The answer was we don't know. Hot-sweating-leg sore and noone knew exactly where we were and what we were seeing. This was hard on me.

We came upon a church and Silvana said it was the 'sailor's' church. Hmmmm ... not on the map --- perhpas it was the Cathedral of St-Mary but am not sure. I took a picture because I have a penchant for watch/clock towers and so it was a no brainer ;0)

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Well we turned inward and headed along a few streets searching for another tourist bureau. The main drag is made of old architecture housing modern stores - cafe's- tourist shops and the like. The cobblestones here are very wide and it is the side streets that captured my attention.

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Soon we were upon an large open area - it felt awkward after the 'tightness' of the streets just walked. We found the tourist bureau and I picked up a slew of pamphlets of various interesting places - ones that I had planned on seeing anyways. The tourist map that Silvana had was no longer in print and so another one was given to us. It was not as good - Silvana insisted I have hers - what a kind and generous act. Once we left the bureau I was able to see where we actually were and wham-bam ... we were smack in the middle of what was once the roman forum. How about that?! This huge expansive space is where romans gathered in the day! Today it is known as the main square. I was thrilled I knew where I was on this map and hoped we would be systematic in seeing the treasures Pula had to offer. I will tell you now that it did not quite work out that way and as a result there were many things that I did not have the opportunity to see. I did, however, get to see many other things and I guess the future is open to see the rest if I ever come to Pula again ;0)

Two impressive buildings were in the square and according to my trusty little map - it was the Town Hall and the Temple of Augustus. The temple was built between 2 BC and 14 AD and today hosts an exhibition of the best of Pula's roman finds. I admit I am not a huge museum type of person so was not that interested in exploring it. The town hall was once the Temple of Diana. So in the picture you see the Temple of Augustus on the Left and the Town Hall on the right. You can see the type of stones (tiles) that were used for the Roman Forum.

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We kept on walking and I was taking in the ambiance of the main drag - so old and so modern ... weird! Check it out - the beauty in the old of this balcony to the modern of the main drag.

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Since we had wandered around for a while looking for the sites, it was soon time to repay the parking meter. Irma said she would go back and so Silvana and I headed to find a place to rest and cool off at the same time. Just before reaching the Arch of the Sergians, we ducked into a quaint little cafe style place. Silvana and I had ice cream ---- ohhh boy! I had one scoop of lemon and once scoop of chocolate ..... yummmm! We do NOT have this kind of ice cream back home. So creamy and so tasty - it was a sin for ice cream to be this good. Seriously! I thoroughly enjoyed every last spoonful ;0) Irma sooned joined us and once she finished her ice cream we headed off. Thank you Silvana for the ice cream treat!

Next stop - the Arch of the Sergians is quite impressive - especially when looking at it from the point of view of entering the more atmospheric part of town (which we were already in).

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I wanted to see the fortress next and everyone agreed but they were going in the wrong direction. I told them according to the map we needed to go the other way. I don't know why we still went in the opposite direction. Ok, well - to the roman mosaics then! Wrong again --- Silvana took us in what she thought was the right place and we ended up at an old interesting building but that was not the building where the mosaics were. They thought it was and said it must be closed. I was disappointed because I wasn't being heard and I knew we went down the wrong street according to the map.

To make a long story short - I never did get to see the fortress. I was looking forward to visiting it and exploring its ramparts which supposedly offers amazing views of Pula and its surroundings. By this time my leg was really bothering me and I almost wanted to stop and just go back. We spent a lot of time walking and not seeing too much and that was stressful on my injured leg (hah - and on my state of mind).

My father really wanted some cd's of more heritage music ... try to find a cd shop! Silvana kept asking around and we backtracked a few times and by now I was really exhausted - sore - sweaty and thirsty! We did finally find a store that had a couple of really neat cd's that I bought for him. Great! Now we could go (yippee).

At this point I didn't care anymore if I didn't see all the sites - I think we saw less than half (like I said - if you want to see Pula make it longer that 2-3 hours and go in with a plan). It takes time to fully appreciate this city and all she has to offer. On the way back we did happen upon the twin gates.

At one time in history, Pula was surrounded by walls and could be entered through about ten gates. At some point the walls started to fall away and were eventually torn down. These gates were preserved and are called 'twin' due to the two arches and lead to the fortress (kastel) - they once were the entrance to the city.

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I was so glad to have made it back to the car in one piece. I tore off my running shoes and put on my sandals. I drank the rest of my water and ever so gratefully sank into the front seat of the car.

I am grateful to have been able to see what I did of this beautiful city and I enjoyed the company I was with. As I said at the beginning, if I ever have the opportunity to explore this city again, I would do it differently and follow the tourist map of the main places of interest. There were a few places of interest we did not stop at and for that I am sorry. Next time .... perhaps.

Posted by purplebaptisia 12:58 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

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