It was hot. 38 degrees is hot. Fortunately, we had a car – with air con. Even so, Rovinj to Poreč is only a few minutes and we had a few hours to fill in. We dawdled via the Limski kanal, found a beach bar and then ran out of patience and called the owner who graciously agreed to let us into our accommodation early. Next step finding it. Ulica Ive Andrića is a street with a series of cul de sacs looping off it and numbered as part of that street. To add to the confusion the group numbers were discreetly hidden behind bushes. We walked up and down in the heat for at least half an hour until we eventually found it. It was….underwhelming. The most disastrous aspect – no air conditioning, no fans, limited windows and no cross ventilation. We were not happy campers. It was hot. It was horrible. We were distressed. We just had to suck it up.
Poreč improved. After a rest and realigning we remembered – nights are so much lovelier. We explored the town and organised our four days. Jazz at Lapadarium, zipline at Pazin, lunch at Buzet, revisit Novigrad and of course we would squeeze in a few swims.
We head for the hills. Pazin is in central Istria and until recently not a favoured tourist destination until about nine years ago someone came up with the idea of running a zipline across the Pazin Abyss. Now more than 300 people per day make the thrilling ride over the canyon and back again- obviously to a different destination. The ride over averages 50km/h and is about 180m and the ride back 250m and averages about 60km/h. It was a rush. The Pazin Abyss consists of a canyon, a subterranean river and the Abyss entrance which is under an almost 200m high vertical rock which holds the houses of Pazin. This amazing natural wonder inspired Jules Verne to take his characters through this cave to begin their Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
Buzet. Set in the central north of Istria in a heavily wooded hilly area this small village is renowned for truffles. We missed the turn off initially and were not able to follow Google maps. This ancient hilltop village was very small and as we ascended towards the fortified village, we passed walkers and car parks. We have been in this situation before. You can park hundreds of metres away and find yourself climbing hundreds of stairs or you can gather your bravado and inch through the narrow lanes towards the church in the centre of the old town and maybe jag a park. The worst that can happen is that you may have to turn around in an impossibly tight spot or reverse for ages. All the same it’s worth the risk. We parked outside Vela Vrala Hotel, Buzet- our destination. We indulged in truffle delights. It was such a perfect day. The light, the temperature, the dappled shade and the cool tranquillity.
Livade. This tiny town has one very famous feature – Restaurant Zigante. Named after the owner and discoverer of the world-famous 1.31kg truffle, he really got the industry going. This is one of the finest restaurants in Istria and has fabulous deserts – this we can attest to.
We returned the car to Rovinj and took a bus to Pula where we were to catch a ferry the following day. Despite it being the middle of the high season, so far, we are finding public transport very amenable. Of course, the location of our accommodation, particularly in Pula where we had to walk from the bus station and then to the ferry was very important. We nailed it! The room was lovely, the staff fabulous and the proximity to the old town just what we needed to organise our ferry tickets and pick up a meal. Istria has once again turned out to be a real treat.