Istria – Croatia

Being a teacher I love a holiday but it has been a while since I went on a proper chilled ‘Beach holiday’. It’s not really my thing. I find it hard to sit still for a prolonged period of time especially on a beach (much to the annoyance of anyone who decides to join me on such trips).

Having scoured ‘Skyscanner’ for reasonable flights during the school summer holidays, we found the only flights that looked vaguely sensible in price were to Croatia. We saved more money by opting to travel to one of the lesser-known airports – Pula on the Istrian peninsula. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as it didn’t have the same volume of reviews as the more popular Croatian regions of Split and Dubrovnik. Pula and the Istrian coast however, did not disappoint.

For one, the Roman architecture in the city of Pula is amongst the best preserved in the world with its amphitheatre being the only complete 4 side towered and 3 floored Roman arena in existence. (Thanks Wikipedia). Impressively the arena is still used for concerts in the city, with Nadine and I just missing out on an appearance from Tom Jones! Pula was a city of contrasts with its industrial harbour being overshadowed by the impressive Roman buildings. Not to be outnumbered, the city employed a world famous lighting specialist to highlight what would normally be considered unsightly harbour cranes into permanent art installations.

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Main Square in Pula featuring Temple of Augustus

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Arch of Sergei

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Pula Arena – circa 27 BC

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Lighting the Giants

I didn’t actually take loads of pictures of the amazing rugged coastline of Istria because if I’m by the sea, I’m more often than not in it! The water was exceptionally clean and clear and on a trip to the Kamanjak National Park, we found areas that were deserted of people. Bonus.

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Cape Kamenjak – Google Images

We took a day trip to the Brujini Islands presidential home established by General Tito. There are no cars allowed on the island and is an exclusive resort for international diplomats and celebreties (so we were told). The Brujini Islands are home to a gradually diminishing array of exotic animals gifted to General Tito by presidents from around the world. These included an elephant, several zebras and a loggerhead turtle amongst others. Due to international laws the islands are not allowed to replace the animals once they die, providing justification for the less than impressive ‘safari park’!

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The Brujini Islands have attained national park status for the cleanliness of their waters and the range of species living on and around them.

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While on the Istrian peninsula we also took a coach trip  north to the town of Rovinj. The heat was unbearable on this day, reaching temperatures of 38*C and we did our best to stay in the shade. Rovinj was a really beautiful coastal town – We should really have brought our swimming gear with us to get respite from the searing heat. But no – I decided to climb a clock tower on some very suspect wooden stairs.

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Does travel insurance cover climbing church spires?

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Hashtag views – #Views

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Following our trip to Rovinj, we moved on again. The city of Pula is conveniently placed a few hours commute from Venice across the Adriatic Sea. Venice is a place that I like the idea of, being built on water it’s an unusual city but I would never actually go there on a holiday its a bit cliché – much like Paris. So a day trip from Pula was the perfect compromise. (This will be covered in a separate blog). We rushed back from the harbour at Pula to enter the amphitheatre for some Roman gladiator action. GLADIATORS, RRREADYYY! This was a real highlight for me. The entrance was about £10 and we got a 1.5hr show that included lots of information about the theatre and gladiator fights and when a standard visit inside the amphitheatre was £7 it presented fantastic value for money. The gladiators did not hold back!

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I would highly recommend the area for a holiday packed with a variety of activities. Venice blog post to follow.

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