Croatia 2016 Day 11 – Opatija to Pula to Rovinj

We started the day late as travel fatigue set in from all the waking up early and sleeping late daily plus the physical exertion of carrying a 10kg baby K around. We only managed to leave the apartment by 930am and onwards we drove towards Pula, 1.5hrs journey away. Had we not done a stopover at Opatija, we would have had to drive some 4hrs from Zagreb to Rovinj, something that we didn’t want to do with a baby in tow, having learnt our lessons from the last European trip a year back. The toll was 51kunas upon exit and as we searched for parking, the roads were fully lined with cars till the train station. It was not such a bad thing as baby K had a chance to see a real train, the locomotive exhibit was placed just outside the station for people to see and take photo with. We back tracked along the road until we see a roman structure of the Arena, a structure that reminded so much of the Colosseum of Rome that we had visited while in Rome, only difference was that this looked somewhat smaller. The tickets cost 50kunas per head and we had decided to skip this one as we had visited the Colosseum before, and we were running short of both kunas and time. So we took a few photos and left.

Model of a locomotive just outside the Pula train station
Pula Arena

We then realised why there were so many cars, an Ironman sports event was ongoing! Nearby across the street behind a huge carpark was a playground and we let baby K play around there for a bit before continuing the walking tour into the old town to Augustus temple. To enter was 5kuna per head and we skipped that as well.

Augustus temple
Streets of Pula. Ironman event ongoing
Thought that the balconies looked pretty…

Then we followed the road and went along the circular single lane road that had barricades of plastic red white tapes for the race and lined with old buildings with balconies of Venetian designs. The architecture told of its Venetian influence back in the days. After passing through the Arch, we then continued to walk back to the car, ending our really short stint at Pula.

Arch at the end of the street
Blue building with some wall designs.

The drive from Pula to Rovinj was a mere 45mins and baby K had fallen asleep in the car. We got to the Airbnb apartment, a huge 3 storey terrace apartment and our room was on the 2nd floor. We managed to check in early at 1pm and I carried the 2 luggage across the gravel driveway and up the flight of stairs and left them in the room. From there, we drove to town center a couple of minutes away and while baby K still sound asleep, I left mommy and baby K in the parked car (along Ul. Giosue Carduccia) to check out the beautiful coastal town of Rovinj first. Quickly took some photos at the carpark where there was a view point and also at streets near the old town before buying pizza for lunch, from a pizzeria near our parked car.

Street view of Rovinj
Porcupine fish on sale
Market selling local products
Old town of Rovinj
Panoramic view of the Rovinj port.
Place where we bought pizza
Takeaway pizza

We ate the pizza in the car until baby K woke up. Then as we left the car (payment of parking fees were through the coin operated ticket dispensing machine at the end of the road), we chose a random quayside cafe, Caffe Bar La Tabacheina, to feed him lunch while the parents enjoyed a cuppa for 30kunas. We also couldn’t go anywhere then as the skies started to drizzle. After lunch, I went back to get my portable spare battery left in the car because the mobile Wifi was running out of battery (couldn’t do without technology these days!). Managed to see Mr Mime sighting during baby K’s lunch, the European exclusive Pokemon on the game radar but didn’t manage to catch him.

Caffe Bar La Tabacheina

After the drizzle ended, we continued to walk towards the old town, first showing my family the viewpoint where we took selfies, before entering the old town of Rovinj proper, which was built on a hill with bell tower of the cathedral being the apex as seen from the view point. We walked upslope on the tiled roads till we were in front of the The Church of St. Euphemia. Took some photos, take in the view and also went into the church for a look before continuing to walk around old town and walking street filled with shops and restaurants. Before going back to the apartment, we drove to another carpark that showed another view of Rovinj, a commonly available viewpoint of the old town during sunset.

Fountain in the old town
Water from the mouth of the fish
An arch in the corridor of Rovinj old town
The Church of St. Euphemia
Ongoing service inside the church
Our ride parked with a view of Rovinj old town

I drove the car to the nearest Konzum near our Airbnb but it was closed at 2pm on Sunday. The GPS gave us another supermarket location, and we ended up at Plodine 6mins away which was opened to till 10pm together with 2 other supermarkets Konzum and Lidl. These huge hypermarkets had a huge carpark.

Plodine supermarket
Big supermarket selling all sorts of stuff

After the groceries shopping, we went back to the apartment to wash up a bit before I drove out myself to the viewpoint for the sunset (as mommy had to cook dinner and baby K stayed in the apartment, entertained by TV). It was a cloudy day but still it was a beautiful sight. I drove to town again to buy takeaway dinner from a restaurant Mikula, a cost of 120kuna for seafood spaghetti and chicken thigh fillet, which tasted ok.

Rovinj Airbnb
Master bedroom
2nd room
Bathroom with tub
Kitchen with dining table
Sunset view of Rovinj
Chicken thigh fillet
Seafood spaghetti
Mikula restaurant

I returned to the apartment and we had our dinner. Initially thought about using the balcony but we couldn’t quite do it as it was quite cold to stay out in the evening. Then it was washing up and putting baby K to sleep early. Mommy had trouble getting the hairdryer from the landlord whom we didn’t managed to contact so mommy waited out till her hair dried. I rested early myself at 10ish too, getting as much as rest I could.

Escape plan to Croatia/Slovenia September 2016

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Croatia/Slovenia 2016:

Total duration 18D18N
Singapore is 6hrs ahead of Croatia and Slovenia.
Flight time is 11hrs 25mins on Turkish Airlines from Singapore to Istanbul, Turkey followed by a 1hr 50min flight to Dubrovnik, Croatia after about a 4hour transition at Istanbul.
Return is 2hrs 30mins from Salzburg to Istanbul, a 11hrs layover then a 11hrs 5mins flight from Istanbul back to Singapore.

Flight from Singapore to Istanbul at 10pm, arriving at 425am in Istanbul and fly off again at 920am arriving in Dubrovnik at 1010am. Return flight from Salzburg is at 1125am and touching down in Istanbul at 255pm and flying off at 150am and finally touching down at 555pm.

Day 0 Flight to Istanbul
Day 1 Arrival in Dubrovnik, old town visit
Day 2 Day trip to Perast and Kotor
Day 3 Day trip to Mostar and Blagaj Tekke
Day 4 Dubrovnik to Neum to Split
Day 5 Day trip to Hvar and Stari Grad
Day 6 Krka National Park waterfalls and Sibenik
Day 7 Split – Diocletian Palace and old town
Day 8 Split to Trogir to Zadar
Day 9 Plitvice National Park waterfalls and towards Zagreb
Day 10 Zagreb old town towards Opatija, Motovun visit
Day 11 Opatija to Pula to Rovinj
Day 12 Rovinj to Porec, border crossing, visit Postojna Cave and Predama Castle to Ljubljana
Day 13 Ljubljana old town and castle
Day 14 Ljubljana to Skofja Loka to Lake Bled, Bled castle
Day 15 Lake Bohinj and Trenta Valley
Day 16 Lake Bled to Salzburg, Mirabell gardens
Day 17-18 Flight to Istanbul then Home Sweet Home

This annual family trip we wanted to do a road trip as it would be easier for us to manage with toddler in tow. With a car, we could get from place to place at our own pace. A few other options did surface (such as Eastern Europe – Prague and Budapest) but we were more in favour of this itinerary as we thought in terms of security these countries had less issues as it seemed less popular amongst tourists and therefore lesser target for security issues. Though we had concluded that it was really difficult to travel with a toddler from our Europe trip last year, I guessed wanderlust got the better of us?

Budget – Depends – budget buster for us due to choice over comfort.

The total amount spent was about 12k SGD, mostly coming from the plane tickets and the car with all the tolls and petrol. Accommodation was the other major contributor especially in Turkey airport. Food expenditure was not very high and comparable to Singapore’s standard of eating out at a normal restaurant, unlike in other European countries. Croatia had its own currency and there would be some losses due to double exchange from SGD to Euros to Kunas.

Complexity – High without car. Ours made easy due to car and Google maps on data plan and GPS.

Although there were multiple border crossings, it wasn’t really difficult with our own transport since we have everything with us most of the time. Road signs were clear and easy to navigate. Only roads in old towns were narrow and parking were challenging to find. We had to purchase data SIM (12-15euros?) which eased the navigation bit as Google map was accurate to the dot. The map that was used in my Garmin GPS was neurotic, often choosing the smaller roads which made the journey longer than it should have been thus unreliable.