Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Off to Rovinj for the Day

We have been trying to return to Rovinj since the second week we arrived in Istria. Today we made it! It's not that far away, but bus connections between Novigrad and Rovinj are difficult.

It is a perfect weather day in this port town which is known for its narrow crooked streets leading up hill to the Cathedral and campanile. Cars are restricted from the town streets, which are all old stone polished to a sheen from centuries of foot traffic.

Rovinj (pronounced Ro-veen) was an island centuries ago, connected to the mainland by the Austrians in the 17th century, not by a bridge, but by actually attaching it with earth fill. While still an island, in order to house the growing population, homes and businesses were built in every conceivable space. This created the narrow twisting streets.

Now, the main street has some very elegant shops and restaurants, and the side streets have art galleries. Many buildings are being renovated; it is a constant process. Property prices here seem more reasonable than in other towns we have visited.

There are only a few small hotels in the old town, but during the Tito-era two bigger resorts were built across the bay. The main square (piazza in Italian, Trg in Croatian) has several outdoor caffes for coffee, beer and wine. The harbor has lots of small tour boats as well as many fishing boats. All in all, it combines the features that we enjoy, as do many others in the summer.

The highlight for the day is a short ride among the islands in the harbor on a fishing boat. The captain's helper hadn't shown up for work today, so he took us for a tour. That was another thing on my wish list and just relaxed among the fishing nets and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.

There is a "green" island for biking and hiking; a nudist island for those who enjoy showing-off their bare bodies; a resort hotel island; and a lighthouse island plus several others. It is very dramatic to see the town from the water since it seems to raise right up from the sea. Our fun captain made it quite special.

The bus made a stop in Poreč where we had a two hour layover. It's history goes back 6000 years and was a Roman colony. We had already seen the Basilica a week before, so we just roamed around and ended up having a delightful breakfast (2nd for the day) at the Porec Tea and Coffee House. The woman who runs it is Croatian and her husband is British. I had a great mango tea in an elegant spode teacup. They offered 6 options of breakfasts from English to classic European each with several courses. We had Mediterranean omelet with first course of cheese..

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