Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Umag and Poreč by Bus in One Day

October 31

We caught an early bus to Umag today by mistake, kind of. We had intended to go to Poreč on the 9:10 bus. When it arrived it wasn't going to Poreč, but it was going in the opposite direction to Umag. So, we changed our plan.

Later in the day we figured out we were an hour early for the 9:10 because clocks had been turned back an hour on Saturday night. We actually caught the 8:10.

Umag is a coastal town in Istria only 15 miles north of Novigrad. We had not been there in 2010. As we walked into town, we noticed there were many large (3' in diameter) concrete tennis balls lying around in parks. At the Tourist Information (TI), learned that Umag is the home of the Croatian Open Tennis ATP tournament which is held in July. Novak Djokovic, the Serbian, a neighboring counntry to Croatia, attends each year.

The town has limited appeal due to the intermix of tacky-new construction among the uncared-for old. However, we had a great lunch of sea bass on the harbor front, one for each of us, probably 500 grams a piece. That's a lot of fish! We had the waiter do the boning so we could learn how when we prepare our own. The skin was crisp and tasty. Good local white wine and a small pivo (beer).

Monday must be wash day. We saw many homes with wash hanging out to dry in the nice sunny weather. Unfortunately, our apartment doesn't have an outdoor place to hang things. Hanging out would cut down drying time from two days to a few hours.

We ran to catch the bus only to find we were an hour early. En route back to Novigrad we decided to continue on to Poreč, another 10 miles south. We had been here last year. It, too, is a port town on a long narrow peninsula.

What a different feeling from Umag! It is dressed up, tidy and well maintained, almost too much so. The streets are lined with upscale shops and konobas. The hotels, houses and other buildings are painted in typical Mediterranean style. The old stone structures are all in good condition. No car traffic allowed in the old town. The streets are paved with large stone blocks. The harbor has lots of tour boats and ferries, one that connects with Venice daily during the summer.

The main historic draw is a 6th century Byzantine Basilica Saint Euphrasia, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is renowned for the high quality mosaic decoration due to the cleric Euphrasia. Around town there are Roman ruins from the 1st century.

We finished the day with gelato and cappuccino watching the sun set across the harbor. Then, bused home arriving around 19:30. It's dark, but still 15c (60F...we learned a quick conversion from centigrade to Farhenheit: double the c and add 30 to get the approximate F).

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