It barely felt like five minutes since we had got back from Prague, but yesterday it was time to start packing to go away again; this time for our second two-week trip of the year to Croatia and Slovenia. Although we have been to Croatia many times before, our plan this time was to visit the region of Istria, which has been a notable omission in our travels so far, mainly because it's a popular tourist destination and the flights are correspondingly expensive. Somehow we got lucky this year though and managed to find some reasonably-priced flights from Stansted to Pula
We were flying at 06.55, so it was another early start for us. Stansted seemed a bit calmer on a Sunday morning than a Saturday morning and the Ryanair check-in was surprisingly civilised. We had a pleasant flight and landed in a sunny Pula shortly after 10am. Pula Aiport is only a few kilometres outside the main city of Pula and we had pre-booked tickets on an airport shuttle bus which was leaving at 10.40. I expected the journey to take about 10 minutes, but impressively the driver managed to make it last 55 minutes, driving first to the nearby town of Medulin to drop two passengers off at a hotel there, then embarking on a convoluted route around the outskirts of Pula to drop two more passengers off at a hotel there. It wasn't a problem for us, because we weren't able to check into our apartment until 2pm anyway, but it's good to know for future reference in case we come again and need to make a connecting bus!
We strolled from the main bus station into the centre of Pula and got our first tantalising glimpse of the Pula Arena, the city's enormous Roman amphitheatre.
A little further and we were in the centre of town. We stopped to get some lunch with a view of the Arch of Sergii, an ancient Roman triumphal arch thought to have been constructed in 29 BC.
We'd struggled a bit to find a restaurant, walking past lots of places with outdoor tables which looked promising from a distance, but then upon closer inspection turned out to be serving only icecream and coffee, so we were relieved to find this place and sat down without paying much attention to the menu. It was therefore with consternation that I eventually opened it and saw, among the multiple pages of drinks, only two pages of food headed "Riba" (Fish) and "Salata" (Salad). Oh dear!
Right at this point the waiter came over and asked whether we wanted to order anything. In desperation I asked him if that was everything that was on the menu and he burst out laughing, saying "Isn't that enough?!". Once he had finished having hysterics it transpired that the two pages of our menu featuring meat and pasta had become stuck together so I had missed them. Oops!
After lunch we took a slow walk towards our accommodation, which was just around the corner. We had arranged to meet the lady who owned the apartment at 2pm, but when we arrived at approximately that time she wasn't there. The entrance to the apartments was in an alley way with a small souvenir shop, and the lady who ran it started trying to help us out. She actually caused more confusion, trying to ring what she thought was the number of the apartment we were going to be staying in and establishing that there was another guest in it. It was starting to feel vaguely reminiscent of the problems we had checking into our apartment in Belgrade last year, but fortunately the panic only lasted a couple of minutes before the lady we were waiting for turned up. She had just been slightly delayed, and we were staying in a different apartment which was happily vacant
Check-in went smoothly after that and the apartment was nice and roomy, with excellent air-conditioning We were pretty tired by this point so had a bit of a rest and then set off for a preliminary stroll around Pula.
First impressions are that there are some really beautiful buildings here.
Eventually we found the sea! Most of our holidays this year have been quite land-locked, so this seemed especially exciting today
We're looking forward to exploring Pula in more detail tomorrow