Fog clung to the lake in eerie tendrils as the boat sped across the water. I could hear the rushing sound of water before I saw my first small waterfall on the opposite shore, near the ferry dock. I climbed a set of stairs and suddenly I found myself in a misty watery paradise. The boardwalk led directly over a turquoise pool that was partially obscured by fog. I could hear water running underneath my feet, behind me and in front of me. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Is it possible to travel across Croatia without a car? Yes, as it turns out. Croatia has a comprehensive bus system which is fairly easy to use once you get the hang of it. Trains also connect a few major cities but we haven’t used any yet as the bus system is much more extensive. We’ve also used ferries, airplanes, taxis, and Uber to help get us around. We’ve become increasingly experienced with Croatia’s public transportation system as we failed to get International Driving Permits before we left the United States.
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.
Istria. Located on a peninsula in the northwest corner of Croatia, the Istrian region of Croatia is renowned for good wine, good food, and a mild Mediterranean climate. What it is not particularly known for is hiking, especially near the coast where I was located. Or at least that is what I thought before arriving in Istria.
I sat at a makeshift picnic table, eating a sandwich and marvelling at the view. The Dalmatian coastline stretched out before me and the Adriatic Sea shimmered in the distance. The town of Split, 20 kilometers away, was clearly visible down below. Behind me, I could see far off mountain ranges which I suspected were in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Getting up here had been difficult, but it was worth it.