Istria Pt.3

My travelogue has been, shall we say, less than chronological so far. To summarise: land at Pula, drive to Rovinj, drive to Fasana (too late for boat trip), drive to Pula, drive back to Rovinj, cook own dinner, sleep (after watching The Incredibles). The following morning, mooch around Rovinj. That’s pretty much the best way one could hope for to start a day by the way (at least, once one leaves one’s bed).

After pondering this beautiful town and purchasing requisite foodie souvenirs (truffle stuff! woop woop!), it’s off to Fasana. This is a pretty enough village in itself, though not really a destination: the key point about Fasana is that it’s the entry way to the completely surreal but utterly beautiful Brijuni Islands.

This little archipelago is mostly noted for being the government getaway under Marshall Tito. Here Josip Broz came to woo the international jetset of his day, so as the guidebook informs me, when I step off the pier I’m following in the footsteps of Liz Taylor, Gina Lollabrigida, the Queen, etc. I figure I’m easily as glamourous as any of these, so we continue apace. A picnic lunch looking out over the azure stretch of the Adriatic between Veli Brijun and the mainland, then off to find the advertised transportation.

We missed the only English-speaking tour of the day. Was this a problem? Pah! I say. Instead, this encouraged us to hire a little buggy, essentially a golf cart. This was, officially, brilliant. At times terrifying, given the general non-driverliness of one of the day’s drivers, but ultimately brilliant, it’s the ideal way of getting round the main island of the group and seeing all the sights. Stopping at will and riding ramshackle over the instructions to just stay on the paths, we hooned all over the island to see the best bits.

Our buggy on Brijuni, from my photostream

Our buggy on Brijuni, from my photostream

Of which there are very many! In fact, with just a quick totter from the harbour you wend through the woods to the most spectacular shorelines. Roman ruins dot the landscape, and you’re free to potter about all over them while looking at the picture-perfect seascape through the groves of olive and fig trees. There’s one huge Roman villa, and an even larger Byzantine palace (ruins of) on the south side of Veli Brijun.

 

Adriatic, from my own photostream

Adriatic, from my own photostream

Back to base camp for a better-charged buggy, then we’re off again – this time to find the surrealler side of the National Park. While Tito was boss, he was given lots of presents. We’re not talking socks or chocolate fondue sets here: we’re talking bulls; goats; llamas; zebra; elephants – Sonny and Lanka, gifts of Indira Gandhi, now languishing in a sad state, walking back and forth looking doleful, as well they might after thirty-something years.

Head through the safari park and you’ll come to a tall gate with the overhead sign, Dinosaur Park. Despite arriving in a silent buggy and being faced with large gates into the T Rex zone, we’re not talking Jurassic Park here, thankfully. Rather, dinosaur footprints, somewhat more real than Spielberg’s animotion monsters, but still a little on the completely weird side.

Dinosaur footprints, from my own photostream

Dinosaur footprints, from my own photostream

Back on dry land, everything seems a little too normal. Where’s the elephants? That’s an olive tree, but is it 2,000 years old? Where can I find your monster tracks? Anyway, back to Rovinj and a delicious dinner in Neptun, on the same little alley where we stayed. Venison with fuzi, the Istrian pasta twist. Quite lovely, and the waiter was a dude. And that was it. Far, far, far too short. I’m scrimping and saving now: I can has spring holiday in Croatia pls? kthx.

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