Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rovinj, Croatia: A Travel Recommendation

First things first... you do NOT pronounce the 'j' in Rovinj. Good to know.

When A found the dirt cheap flight to Pula, Croatia a few weeks ago, he bought it, and I immediately started researching where we should go. It was obvious just from a simple Google Image search that I did not want to stay in Pula. So I looked on Google Maps, looked up the cities, searched them, and set my sights on Rovinj. What a great choice, if I do say so myself. Rovinj was an absolutely great place to vacation! It is set in the Istrian Peninsula of Croatia and is THE best city the peninsula has to offer. While there, we learned it was settled by the Romans and later, bounced around under the rules of Austria, France, Italy, and more. From the architecture, you definitely get an Italian feel... Venice like, but better. Why better?

Must See: Balbi Arch, Church of S. Eufenia, Old Town (where we stayed and spent all of our days/nights - no need to go outside of it, really).

Must Do: BE OUTSIDE!! Rent a bike (for cheap) and bike through and stop in the Zlatni Rt. National Park (this is a relatively large national park that is ONLY for bikes and pedestrians - all along the Rt. are swimming holes, places to lay out, and even some make-shift bars), walk through the gorgeous marble alleys (and be careful, they are slick! just ask A!!!), eat fresh seafood (you even see the fisherman come back from their early morning catches and mend their nets around lunch time), set up in a swimming hole to sunbathe and swim with the locals, eat late dinners (A's favorite!), explore by night which is just as gorgeous and much cooler than in the day.

Eat/Drink: Istrian wine, Istrian olive oil, sardines, and MOST importantly, truffles! The area is known for their delicious truffles so you definitely have to try at least one meal focused around the truffles. I had Angler's Fish in Truffle sauce which was to die for!

Don't: Rent a car, stay in a hotel, or go to Pula. You cannot drive in the Old Town of Rovinj and there is no need to go outside of the Old Town of Rovinj. It is not cheap and not worth it - it won't be used. As for hotels, there are a few in the Old Town which was WAY, much more just outside Old Town or even further. It is worth it to stay in Old Town and the best, most convenient, most efficient, and most cost-effective way to stay is in an apartment. While I usually use HomeAway or VRBO to find apartments, Rovinj was different, having their own website of information and apartments. For apartments, go to for all info regarding Rovinj, but particularly, (cheap!) apartment listings. Also, if going in the summer, make sure there is AC in your apartment!! It is HOTTTTT!!!

Public Transportation: We go to and from the airport different ways, both worked out and saved us a ton of money compared to a taxi. A taxi from Pula Airport to Old Town Rovinj is anywhere from 50-60euros. I am all about saving money. When we arrived in Pula, we walked to the bus station and there were no busses to Rovinj (we were confused because we looked up the bus info online before going). I decided it was our best option to grease the palm of a bus driver who was in charge of a tour around Croatia. For 20 euros total, we got a 40 minute bus ride to Rovinj. On the way home, we were planning on sucking it up and taking a taxi, but found the bus station (which we had not seen, but read about). There was a bus from Old Town Rovinj to Pula Bus station, which was about 3km from the airport. 10 euros to the bus station, 20 euro taxi ride to the airport.... again, money saved! Once in Rovinj, no need for any transportation!

In case you were wondering, here are some other Croatian tidbits of information we learned along the way. The Croatians look DIFFERENT. Often times I can pick out zee Germans and Italians, but other Euro-nationalities look similar enough that you can't just tell by looking at them. Well, not the Croatians. You can pick them out, for sure (not in a bad or good way, you just can). Also, in Rovinj, there is little to NO English spoken (yes!! I just love these places!). The people who we rented an apartment from, all the wait-staff at the restaurants (and gelaterias) we stopped at, everyone we encountered assumed we were German (yes!! We were not labeled the Americans) and started speaking to us in German. If you try to speak English, they assume that you assume that they can't speak German, so they whip out their German (which is pretty good.. especially for CROATIA?!!!). Desperate times call for desperate measures and we one time tried to speak English.. unsuccessful. Their German is obviously better than their non-existent English!

All in all, an awesome (but too short of) a trip to Rovinj. It was our first trip to Croatia and it REALLY got me pumped up to sail through the Dalmatian Islands & see Dubrovnik in 2012 (you ready, Anna?!). We spent three full nights there and could've stayed longer. It was a city with the perfect combination of relaxation/sight-seeing/stuff to do/swimming holes/sun for us! I already want to go back and would recommend for anyone/everyone to go!!

Angler's Fish with Truffle Sauce - the best thing we had that night!

A's Meal: Scallops with Shrimp & Asparagus Risotta (he ordered 2 meals, they did not come together). You could order as many scallops as you wanted.. I like that idea.

Appetizer: Sardines with Onions, Capers, and Lemons. DELICIOUS!! As good as, but different than Cinque Terre.

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