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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.