October in Croatia: Part I

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October in Croatia has been wonderful. Unlike Italy last year, the early fall seems to be the perfect time to visit. The weather has been lovely, the summer crowds have for the most part dispersed, and the people we meet seem ready to take a deep breath and slow down a bit after a busy summer. And that’s just fine with us. We are certainly NOT in a hurry on this trip.

Motovun where your head is often literally in the clouds.

Our first stop after we left Slovenia was the hill town of Motovun on the Croatian peninsula of Istria. We rented a tiny “flat” which was definitely NOT flat since each of the three rooms was on a different floor. In Motovun, if you don’t like stairs, you’d better pack up and move. Ha.

On the street where we live … for a few days, anyway.

We loved it there. The cobbled stone streets, the beautiful bright green shutters we opened in the morning, the immaculate bed linens, the handy washing machine, and the old fashioned kitchen.

Our third floor bedroom. Have to remember where you left your glasses when you’re staying here.

The kitchen was equipped with a gas stove, and everything we needed to cook and eat, plus herbs, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and even a bottle of schnapps. The first night we made a salad, and pasta using the homemade pesto sauce we’d bought at a stall near the Skocjan caves. And we ate on our little terrace looking down across the valley. This was just what we’d hoped for when we planned our trip.

Our first night’s dinner on the terrace. Pasta with tomatoes and pesto, and a green salad. Yum.

I may be a romantic, but being there in that quiet, little town, with the sun setting, eating our supper, feeding bits to a friendly cat who wandered by, topping up our wine glasses because it was too lovely to go inside … was… well… perfect.

Lovely to be dining up in the clouds.

One night we trundled the rest of the way up the hill to the restaurant owned by our host. We ate homemade pasta with white truffles, drank good wine, and watched as lights came on in other hilltop towns, or car headlights pierced the darkness of the valley below. There was only one other couple eating, so Hubby plied our young waiter with questions about life in Motovun. He was happy to chat, and Hubby was particularly interested in his off-season job: truffle hunting. But he merely smiled and refused to divulge any secrets.

Late afternoon stroll in Grožnjan.

We also explored the countryside of Istria while we were in Motovun. One late afternoon we strolled through the neighbouring hill town of Grožnjan. What a little gem. Lots of artists studios, small galleries, and empty restaurants, with waiters sitting smoking and chatting, or leaning in doorways waiting for the evening trade. Reminded me of the Hemingway story “Cat in the Rain” which I love so much. Except without the rain. And with a much happier ending.

Rovinj from afar.

On another day we explored the resort town of Rovinj on the coast. Our appetite whetted by our truffle meal the night before, we bought a jar of truffle sauce at the market. We’d use this to make our own version of truffle pasta a few days later. We stopped for a coffee in a café overlooking the Adriatic. Hubby ordered a “piccolo”… although I don’t think he realized it would be quite so piccolo. Ha. Soon after, the sky clouded over and we made tracks for home.

One small corner of Rovinj, where the streets and the sea co-exist.
When you order a small coffee, you get a small coffee. No double-doubles here.

On our way home from Rovinj that day we encountered one of many “interesting” GPS glitches. In the downpour our lady of the dashboard decided that she didn’t know any other way to get back to Motovun except down a road that was blocked, closed, and barred due to construction. When we turned around, her “recalculation” just took us back to that “road closed” sign. And there were no helpful “detour” signs like at home. We were on our own.

My iPhone came to the rescue, and we’ve been using it as a back up ever since, with our paper maps as confirmation. But a couple of times, even with two electronic sources and one paper, we still become lost. Good thing we don’t mind being lost. We know it’s the price we pay for deciding NOT to travel the big roads.

I’m pretty sure this is NOT the road to Grožnjan.

In fact on our way from Motovun to Grožnjan, we ended up in the dooryard of a hilltop vineyard, after which the road dead ended. We turned around and halfway down the hill we passed two men working on a tractor by the side of the road. Passed them for the second time in five minutes.

I just waved my map at them, rolled my eyes, and shrugged. The universal sign for: “I have no freaking idea what I’m doing.” They laughed and waved, and we rumbled on back down the way we’d come. That wasn’t the first time we’ve ended up in a farmyard… and it won’t be the last, I’m sure.

On the road to Rab.

The next day we were up and ready to hit the road early. We headed down the coast to Senj, and then to Stinica, to catch the ferry over to the island of Rab. But we were sidelined by some pretty strong “bura” winds outside of Senj. The bura winds plague this part of the coast several times a year, and can be very severe. On this day, the police pulled us over, and we sat in a restaurant drinking coffee with several other travellers until the cops jumped in their car and drove away.

On the ferry to Rab.

But I think I’ll save the rest of that story for another day.

I’ll just leave you with this little disaster of a selfie, taken on the ferry to Rab. Hubby, of course, thinks it’s great. I was just about to take the shot when a vicious gust hit the side of my head. Hence the extreme part in my hair. I have no idea (and thankfully no pictorial record) of how long my hair stayed like that. I was too busy scuttling for the cabin door.

Seriously, I have never been on a ferry in winds this strong. Even the Grand Manan ferry which can get pretty rough.

Hope you don’t mind that, along with slow travel, I’ve been doing some pretty slow blogging. Finding time and strong wifi connections has been challenging. Plus we’re having such a good trip, I don’t want to rush the telling of it. As I said earlier, October in Croatia has been everything we hoped it would be.

I’m going to close now. Hope everyone back home in Canada is having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. I always love Thanksgiving. Especially now since I’m retired. When I was still teaching, Thanksgiving was bittersweet. Because it heralded the first deluge of major assignments of the semester to mark. I’m sure that, back in the day, I returned a few essays with gravy stains on them. Ha.

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13 thoughts on “October in Croatia: Part I”

  1. I’m so happy (and proud) that you like it here (including bura)! You have such amazing stories (and photos :-))

  2. Happy Thanksgiving Sue and Stu. I hope you can find turkey somewhere. 😉
    Lovely pictures. I wouldn’t do well with those rough waters.
    Thanks for the update. Enjoy!!

  3. I love the way you travel—now I want to go back to Croatia! Happy Thanksgiving! ( guessing you’ll be eating something other than turkey and pumpkin pie. Also guessing it will be good!)

  4. Loved this post! I’m Croatian from my father’s side, and my aunts travelled to Croatia many times during the 1970’s. Mushroom hunting (and refusing to divulge the best places to find them) seems to be an obsession with Croatians, because my son continues the tradition. I’m looking forward to Part 2 of your post and hope you and your husband are enjoying every minute of your trip!

  5. Your travel tales never disappoint me. My husband and I were transported to your lovely fairytale locations. Thanks for taking us along. Pat

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