Where the Adriatic cut into the mainland there it is, a heart-shaped peninsula. This full of sandy beaches, ancient monuments, and wonderful green islands paradise, is called Istria. It attracts all the people with its beauty, harmony and incomparable atmosphere on the border between sea and mountains.
The climate is quite different than in Dalmatia, but it’s worth to go there, because this land has its own charm. Morning breeze with coffee, and afternoon with wine in the company of seagulls and fishermen who have just returned from fishing.
I’ve been twice in Croatia, and it always surprises me in a positive way. Last summer(2016th) I had an amazing and adventurous time in Istria, thanks to SportTourism. It’s a company specialised in sport and leisure activities in Europe. However, for the moment most of the activities are provided in Croatia-the heart of the Mediterranean. Adventures, sightseeing, food tasting or watersports, were just the tip of the iceberg.
I was so excited about the whole trip, already before getting to Croatia. I knew perfectly, that I will not sleep at all. The whole week there was already planned and full of adventures. So, I met Josip-co founder of SportTourism, and my guide in Istria-when he picked me up at the airport. He is an amazing person and such a funny guy. Talks a lot too, haha. But, he made me feel so comfortable in his company right away. His knowledge about Croatia is incredible, you won’t miss a thing about this country while he’ll be your guide!
After sleepless night in Zagreb (I was too excited to sleep, I told you!)and litres of morning coffee, we started with our energetic morning. It included tasting the local delicacy called Zagorski Štrukli-and sightseeing the city. I told you about Josip’s knowledge? You’d be surprised of a plenty of information about this beautiful country he has.
Štrukli, is a traditional Croatian dish, and have very interesting taste. Can be made of wild berries, combined apple and cinnamon or can be as well salty e. g with spinach. While in Zagreb, you can try it in La Štruk, which is probably the best place to eat it.
Satiated and satisfied, finally we headed to discover beautiful Istria.
Heading to Istria by car, couldn’t be better option. Even tho all amazing and breathtaking views didn’t really let me, to take my desired nap, I was still happy and excited. On the way, we stopped in Rovinj-a romantic town, situated on this tiny, but gorgeous peninsula. Due to its exceptionally scenic location and historic architecture, travelers from around the world called it the “Pearl of the Adriatic”. Actually, I think that the famous Dubrovnik is the “Pearl of the Adriatic”, so a tiny Rovinj can safely be called “Rubin of Croatia”. Rovinj, it is a city of “Venetian” architecture, harmonious colors and beautiful landscapes – including 14 islands and islets and unique Old Town.
Walking through the narrow streets of Rovinj, is a journey among the buildings with red roofs, napping cats, street artists and the drying laundry. You have to get lost in all those narrow streets, to feel the incredible atmosphere of this town. Tall buildings, give a little shade and refreshing coolness-so, can be easily visited during hot summer days. The whole Rovinj coastline and it’s wonderful nature, encourages you to relaxation. Or, if you prefer-trying a variety of sports and savoring regional specialties.
Rovinj, is definitely an amazing and charming place, and I wish we could stay longer, but we had to continue our journey. At the end of the day, we got to Rakalj– the city placed 20km from Pula– and The old Baker’s house–my amazing airbnb! Fresh air, crickets sound, super comfy bed in the room (with window styled as my fav! Hobbiton)…made me sleep like a baby.
Morning coffee(I’m coffee addict, I think) and full of energy breakfast at Kum Krnica made my day. The restaurant was very close to where I was staying during my travel around Istria, so it was my usual place to eat. It was not just about good location, but as well about great food and warm atmosphere, which made me feel like home. Really, people from that part of Croatia are awesome! Yes! I was ready for all the adventures, Josip prepared for that day.
Full of energy, we went for a bike ride to Stari Rakalj(Old Rakalj), placed around 10km away. This undiscovered and attractive place is located on a hill nearby the sea and it has priceless views.
From there, our journey continued to Pula, the largest city of Istrian peninsula. It appears to be a huge city, with a rather unusual beauty. The city is bustling in its industrial and commercial meaning, not only during the hot summer days, but also in the autumn.
This does not mean, that there are no places that will fascinate adventure-hungry tourist. You can find there an archaeological museum, wander the narrow streets of downtown, see Arco dei Sergi, Twin Gate or visit cathedral and find the remains of the Byzantine basilica. The Pula amphitheater, also known as Pula Arena, is a Roman amphitheater built between the years 27 a. C.y 81 d. C.
After visiting Pula Arena – you can climb the walls of the Venetian fortress, to admire the city and its beautiful natural harbour-a true heaven.
After an amazing sightseeing, it’s time for some action! We spent one of our days in Pula, at Adventure Park Pula. It’s very cool and fun place, located in natural area near boardwalk called Lungomare, which is surrounded by woods. This place is full of zip-lines, bridges and rope elements with different difficulties and heights. It’s nice place to spend a day with your friends or your family.
The next day, finally there it was- my longed-for day-diving in the beautiful crystal clear Croatian water. I fell in love with this watersport since the very first time I’ve tried it in Vietnam-six years ago. Now, every time I have an occasion to submerge, I’m getting really excited.
Diving Centre Pula, was exactly what I was waiting for, but I must say it surprised me a lot. Positively of course! Not everyday you can dive with Branislav Danevski-3d* UDI Instructor, 2nd* CMAS underwater photography instructor! So, I was honoured to submerge with him in this diving paradise. Branislav, is just an awesome guy, nice and so soo funny. From the very first moment, he makes you feel very comfortable, as if you would be friends for years. That makes you feel very safe as well, which is very important if you’re going underwater…doesn’t matter if it’s your first, or tenth time. We went 17,4 meters under the water. I felt like dancing around this amazing fauna and wrecks. He made it epic!! I would definitely go back there.
You should know, that diving is making you hungry so, we headed for a great feast at Konoba Feral restaurant. I said “feast”, cause we really couldn’t finish all the food even though it was delicious. But, there is always a space for a dessert!…right?
As it wouldn’t be enough as about surprises, Josip organised to me, my very first windsurfing lesson. Where is the surprise? I did it in Surfpomer, where one of the instructors and its owner, is Dalen Geromella, winner of the Adria and Croatian Cup in slalom.
Surfpomer, is located in Pomer bay and it’s really great place for those who want to learn or simply windsurf a bit, surrounded by amazing views. The course contains some theory, and then there will be a part with practising. This will let you learn, how to manage the board (You’ll do it on a special platform/board, placed on the ground) and then you’ll get to the water. When you will catch some wind, all your worries will go away. You will feel awesome and free as a bird…
After this great experience, time for some relax. From Pomer bay, our trip took us to Cape Kamenjak in nearby Premantura.
It′s the wild rugged beauty and end-of-the-world vibe of this small peninsula just south of Pula that earned it cult status among Croatian beach goers. An undevelpoed protected nature reserve, Kamenjak showcases a carpet full of health plants, shurbs and wildflowers criss-crossed by a maze of dirt tracks running through it all. It′s fringed by a string of peeble bays and secluded rocky beaches, surrounded by crystalline blue-green sea. Its get busy in summer but there′s always an empty beach to escape to, plus a fun beach bar for socialising. Lonely Planet, 20 June 2012.
Couldn’t express it better! And in the middle of this natural beauty, you’ll find Windsurfstation, the heart of watersports. This is where, I met Sanja and Lovro. A lovely couple and owners of Windsurfstation. The place offer variety of fun, (full moon)kayaking, (yoga)sup, cliff jumping, snorkelling and as well windsurfing.
Relaxed, or I could say- exhausted- we went to Safari Bar for a well-deserved beer and some food. Normally you can get to the bar by kayak from Windsurfstation, but that day was really windy and we couldn’t take a risk to drawn smashed on the rocks. Man, we needed that beer really(still laughing at the situation, as we really tried to get there by kayak). “Best atmosphere ever!”-that was my first feeling about this place. Great location, unforgettable view, yummy food and good cold beer. You know what I mean… They also have some cool stuff like ping pong table, swings, slides, rolling barrels, pirate towers, secret coves and more! As well some crazy stuff, like dogs bar or wine tap. A must to visit!
At the end of the journey, I was exhausted from all adventures, but really happy and sad to leave. Especially after meeting Josip’s family and friends. Last night BBQ at airbnb Sailor‘s house, was excellent ending to this already awesome and unforgettable trip organised from A to Z by SportTourism!
I would definitely go back there anytime!
And, what about you? Do you feel like packing?