What is worse for an independant traveler / backpacker than hotel animation?
Well... for me it is camping animation!
Luckily tastes are different and towns like Rovinj in Croatia can make a good living with tourists. But let's start where I stopped with my diary... that was still in Slovenia.
We had this really beautiful day with kayaking and hiking into a beautiful valley. Then we went ahead to visit the coastal town of Piran in Slovenia. Piran was recommended to us in the hostel we stayed and when we arrived we were quite surprised by it.
Piran lies beautiful right at the sea and it's closed for cars... let's say for most cars! If you like to park in the city, you have to pay EUR 3 per hour! That is definitely not recommended as it will be also very hard to find a parking spot.
There is huge parking garage just outside for tourists which will cost you EUR 1,50 per hour and EUR 12 for the whole day. Note: Don't park at the top, where the entrance is. Then you would possible also walk all the way to town like we did first! Park at the bottom or take the lift of the parking garage all the way down. There you will find a free shuttle bus to town. ;-)
We had a look at the hostels, which got a poor standard compared to others around the world. That actually also fits for all the ones we've had a look at in Croatia. But for single travelers, they are the cheapest option. If you are traveling with 2 or more... the best option is to find an apartment.
The whole city of Piran is full of small nice alleys and it's quite tough to find a special restaurant or shope or whatever. So the best is just to wander around. That way we also experienced a nice little band on a market square in the evening. The atmosphere was great! People sat everywhere at the cafes, the plaza, on walls and enjoyed the music with some wine, beer, cheese and freshly cut bacon. Delicious!
Piran is touristy, but not as bad as Rovinj... where we headed next. Rovinj was on our way to Pula and it lies sooo beautiful on a peninsula and it also have soooo many nice tiny alleys. We made a lot of photos and we just couldn't stop as each alley seemed to have something special. It's an old town which is completely touristy, but where still people live in, at least here or there. Rovinj is completely filled up to the top with tourist restaurant traps & souvenirs shops! Each restaurant pretty much offers the same menu and if you want to have a Schnitzel, it's your place to be! If you like mexican hats or russian puppets... it's your place to be!
As we didn't want to eat Schnitzel we tried to find one of the local specialities... BBQ pork cooked on an open fire. We drove around and we found the one or other restaurant which was packed and in the middle of the country side. That should be a good sign for a really good local restaurant... I would say. Well, we drove another 100 metres and around the next corner and found each time camping grounds for around 3000 persons. In the end we decided to stop at a restaurant just a bit out of town. We had potatoes and some bbq pork, which was ok, but not what we've expected. If you like warmed up food and huuuge portions... that's the place to be!
We stayed overnight on the other side of the bay in an apartment and as it was a mild evening we sat outside to enjoy the view onto town. What happened next? We experienced how camping animation sounds. That was when we decided that we would just miss out Pula, which is even more touristy than Rovinj! Crazy! It's not even high season now!
When we got somewhere and spoke to someone, we spoke in English. That feels a bit more like holiday for us. :) You know what happened? They responded in German! Sorry... that was definitely NOT what we were looking for, but what would have happened to us in Pula as well. So we changed our plan. We got in our car very early the next morning and went along the coast to Zadar in the Centre of Croatia, which is also right at the coast.
We didn't go there right away... as it we planned it... my navigation system (my wife) thought of choosing a different road... So we went up all the way into the mountains and it took us about 3 hours to find a "shortcut". We ended up just a bit south where we left the coast. LOL But actually we really enjoyed this round trip!
Later we drove the amazing coastal drive and enjoyed many nice bays. So we arrived in Zadar yesterday evening and you know what? We love it!
We are able to speak English & it's a completely usual city! This is what we were looking for when we decided to drive to Croatia!
Tomorrow we are off for a 2 day sailing trip to explore the Croatian Islands! Awesome!!!