As we decided where to go next after Rovinj, Brijuni National Park seemed like a natural next step. Granted National Park status in 1983, Brijuni isn’t your typical National Park. The Brijuni Islands were the summer residence of the former leader of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito. The islands are also home to a safari park, as well as ancient Roman ruins and fully preserved dinosaur footprints.
After travelling nonstop for the better part of a month, Daniel and I decided to stay put for a week in the sleepy seaside town of Rovinj. We arrived in the off season so the streets felt empty and quiet. Many shops and restaurants were closed for the winter and the town basically shut down after dark. It was a welcome change from the bustling cruise ship crowds that packed the city of Split.
While staying in the sleepy seaside town of Rovinj, Daniel and I decided to take a day trip to the town of Pula. Located about one hour away by bus, the city is home to the famed Pula Roman Ampitheater (also known as the Pula Arena). At over 100 feet tall by 434 feet wide on its longest side, the arena is one of the world’s six largest surviving Roman arenas.
After walking around Split for a few days, Daniel and I decided to take a guided tour of the Dalmatian hinterland. Mostly we wanted to see Klis Fortress which is perched on a hilltop about 15 kilometers outside of town. The tour also included stops at Stella Croatia (a local family-owned food company) and Vranjača Cave.
When we disembarked from the airport shuttle bus near Split’s ferry terminal, the sun was just about to set. The setting sun cast the harbor in a lovely golden hue as we walked along the wharf to Split’s old part of town. The main pedestrian-only thoroughfare was lined with pricey restaurants and vendors hawking souveniers to the holiday-goers. Then we turned a corner and were transported back in time.
Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in the world and a place that I keep returning to. Daniel and I kicked off the international portion of our vagabonding adventure in Barcelona so that we’d be in familiar surroundings while we recovered from jet lag.
It’s the afternoon of Saturday, October 12 and I’m sitting in the air conditioned lobby of the Embassy Suites by Hilton near the Newark Airport. I’ve been here for several hours listening to guests check into the hotel and working on my blog. I should be in Barcelona right now. But I’m not.