Part 6: Istria, Croatia
Today I first drive to the church in Hrastovlje to hopefully get a glimpse of the ancient murals. Unfortunately the church is closed and I would have to call a phone number to get in. I want to explore a lot of Istria today, therefore I decide not to call the number because it would mean that I would have to wait first. I (re)park the motorcycle to take a photo and leave in the direction of Istria.
People recommended me to visit both Koper and Piran and I decide to visit both cities. When I get near the center of Koper I find out that this city only can be explored by foot. It probably is a very pretty city but I do not want to have to walk through the whole city. I would prefer to spend this time in some other city today. People who gave me the recommendations were more enthusiastic about Piran and Rovinj than about Koper. I continue to Piran.
When arriving in Piran, I also find out that Piran is also a city that should be explored by foot. The whole city center it blocked for traffic and the parking places in the center are only for citizens of Piran. There are parking places just outside the center for tourists. I meet a Croatian couple who just got fined 40€ because they parked on a parking place for citizens. I ask someone if the pilicd would also give motorcycles a fine and this guy recommends me to drive even further down to the center. “They will not care if you just park your motorcycle over there.” And so I did. I parked the motorcycle in the center and explored a (small) part of the city by foot. What a beautiful small city! I buy an ice cream and sit down to enjoy the view on the square in the center. This is one of these cities where you can easily imagine how life would have been 50 or 100 years ago… after finishing the ice cream I walk back to Hans-Peter (if this is the first blog you are reading, I should probably explain that that is the name of my motorcycle) and continue to the Slovenian – Croatian border.
Crossing the Slovenian – Croatian border
At the border I am a bit confused. There is not a stop sign and there is no barrier. Am I still in Schengen? I know that Croatia is within the EU, does this automatically mean that I can cross the border? I drive very slowly and look at the border guards in their weird little houses. They don’t move and don’t open their window. I guess I am still in Schengen and continue.
About 5 seconds later I hear a very loud whistle. Hmm… I am the only one passing the border, I obviously did something wrong. I park the motorcycle and walk back. The border guard is looking angry and mumbles something in a language that I don’t understand… after he finally understands that I don’t speak his language, he shouts: “Passport!” Ah, that is something I understand. I show him my passport, he looks at it for not even two seconds and returns the passport. “Okay!” I guess that I am now free to go.
Maybe they should learn to communicate, paint a stop line, paint the word “stop” or install a barrier if they want to make it clear that people should stop. I assumed that this was the easiest border crossing when I was planning my route… and although it was not difficult, it was not very pleasant either. I am not looking forward to the other border crossings now.
The first stop in Croatia is Motovun. Motovun is also a place where you cannot drive by car. You have to park the car outside the city center and busses will bring you to the city center. Again, too much time. I skip it. I heard Rovinj would be better.
The road to Rovinj is nice to drive and after arriving in Rovinj I immediately understand that the people were right about Rovinj. It is a beautiful city and the old town is amazing. After finding a place to park the motorcycle I walk into the city center. I see that many (tourist) shops are still closed or have still a lot of empty shelves. I try to collect stickers of the flags of all countries that I visit and already learned in Slovenia that I should better start immediately searching for stickers. Stickers with the flag of the country are hard to find, especially because the tourist season has not started yet. Today I am lucky. After only six souvenir shops I already manage to find a sticker for on the motorcycle panniers. Great! Now I can continue to the most southern point of Istria!
I drive through Pula, the largest city of Istria, to get to Premantura / Cape Kamenjak, a nature park at the most southern point of the Istrian peninsula.
Unfortunately I was not very lucky this time… after I drive a bit through the nature park I arrive at a barrier with two soldiers next to it. They tell me that this part of the nature park is closed for military exercises today and tomorrow. That’s a bummer. Now I will miss the most beautiful part of it… but I also don’t want to get shot. I will have to turn around.
I get one small glimpse on the big white cross that is located in the sea and turn around. I continue in the direction of Rijeka, already knowing that I probably will not make it that far today. Sun is setting in and there will be only two hours of daylight left. I follow the coast line on some great gravel roads till I see the sign “Duga Uvala” and I somehow want to know what it is.
Duga Uvala is obviously some kind of abandoned recreation area. There is a hotel, supermarket and many other buildings. Almost all of them are empty.
It is a bit creepy but the view on the sea makes up for that! What a serene place!
After my short detour I continue on my route and already know that it probably will be dark in half an hour. I find a place to eat some pizza and book an apartment while the chef prepares me an ‘interesting’ pizza. The apartment is located in Mošćenička Draga and I still have a bit to drive… in the dark.
The coastal road is twisty and difficult to predict. My headlights are aimed too low and I drive with a dark helmet visor. The first thing I have to do tomorrow is to figure out how to adjust my headlights. The high beam is fine but I hardly see a thing when using only the low beam.
At 22:00 I arrive at my apartment and am being welcomed by the host. I unpack only the necessary things, leave the rest on the bike and enjoy the cold beer that I get as a welcome drink. I am curious how the view from the apartment will be when I wake up tomorrow. On Booking.com it seemed pretty nice!
The next morning
The next morning I wake up with this magnificent view:
Not bad at all!
I decide to drive a bit back south along the coast line because last night it seemed really beautiful and I am curious how it will look like by daylight. The town that I want to see is Moscenice and I would like to get a view from above, from up in the mountains.
After driving around for a while I can’t see the town anymore. Maybe I made a mistake? I choose not to drive further up the mountain and decide to go back down using a different route. When I am almost back down I finally notice the town again.
Obviously these mountains are so steep that if you are on it, you can not see the town by the foot of the mountain.
I drive further down and leave Istria in the direction of Rijeka. From there I will drive to the island Krk, the last destination before I am going to drive the Magistrala to Zadar. The last part of Istria is just as amazing as it was yesterday.
To be continued!
The route I drove today
Thank you for reading!
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