I had thoughts of a vineyard tour of Istria, in the knowledge that the wine grown there is of high quality and low quantity, and mainly produced by small companies. However, most of the vineyards are in the north, and Pula is in the south. The only organised wine tasting trip from Pula went to places we had already visited, so instead we walked from our apartment to Vina Benazić, just outside Pula.
We really enjoyed the samples of five wines, and the excellent lunch platter, served with olive oil also produced by Vina Benazić. Katarina, one of the two daughters after whom some of their wine is named (the other one is Veronika) spoke to us about the family business. The wine was superb.
After the week-long Huck Finn Istria Multisport trip, we rented an apartment just outside Pula for a week. Pula is a nice size of town – not too big, yet it has an international airport. It was an important town in Roman times, and they certainly left their mark in terms of the 1st century amphitheatre.
There are also several Roman gates and arches. James Joyce’s brief sojourn in Pula is celebrated by a statue beside the arch shown above.
Down the road from the city walls is the Roman Forum.
The Historical Museum of Istria, on the top of the hill overlooking the amphitheatre, is definitely worth a visit. It is situated in the 17th century Venetian fort, which reminded me a little of Fort George near Inverness in Scotland, which was built a century later.
Nearby is a small Roman amphitheatre.
The final day of the Huck Finn Istria Multisport trip was spent walking in the Plitvice Lakes National Park. We went there via a back road from Rijeka, through vast woods, and saw an instance of the Yugoslav Wars, a house with bullet marks on it from when the Serbians (or was it Bosnians) had attacked Croatia.
The park, which is near the border with Bosnia, is on the the UNESCO World Heritage register.
There’s a series of lakes and attractive cascades, and the water is crystal clear. It can get pretty busy near the entrance. For some unknown reason, the park is particularly popular with visitors from South Korea. Everyone seems to obey the rules of the park which do not allow off-track walking.
The sedimentation processes which created the lakes are described in Wikipedia.
The day after the bike run along the Parenzana, we went truffle hunting with a Motovun restaurant owner, and then it was back to cycling. This time TJ and Tim from Huck Finn drove us to Draguć, a pretty hill village. It was a very clear day, and we could just make out snow on the Dolomites, far to the north west.
There were several stops to eat cherries on the bike run, and we enjoyed lunch at Sovinjak, a particularly picturesque village. We were well-guided by TJ and Tim, with TJ in the van behind us, and Tim in front, on the relatively busy road before Istarske Toplice. The ride finished at Livade.
After some hill walks last summer I was finding that my legs cramped up while driving home, to the extent that driving became impossible and I’d sometimes have to stop the campervan and stretch muscles. After the walk up A’Bhuidheanach Bheag and Carn na Caim yesterday I did quite a lot of stretching before getting into the driving seat and this seemed to do the trick.
Selfies at the top of A’Bhuidheanach Bheag
Despite a below average forecast, the weather stayed reasonable for the walk, though a bit windy and some drizzle later on. These are two relatively easy mountains, as you start the walk at some altitude on the A9 and there is not much descent between the two.
On the way, we heard stories from Lindsey’s friends about their walk up Mt Kenya last year.
The track down the mountain was not difficult, but there were some loose stones in some steeper spots, making the descent hard on the balls of the feet.
The two mountains were my 86th and 87th Munros. I’ve been at this lark for decades, and haven’t even climbed 100 yet!
The town on the hill in the photo above is Motovun, and was to be our destination for the night after a bicycle ride which started in Livade, went up the mountain and over to Grožnjan and then down part of the Parenzana.
Grožnjan is an attractive Istrian town with a long history. It has some Roman buildings, including the one above, which was a Roman pub. A number of artists have settled there in recent years.
From Grožnjan we joined a section of the Parenzana. This is a cycle track along what was once a railway between Trieste and Poreč. After the Great Depression the railway was not profitable, and the Italian fascist government dismantled it. Nowadays it is a fairly popular hiking and cycling route. TJ and Tim, the guides from Huck Finn, were very helpful in pointing out the parts of the Parenzana where you needed to concentrate because of larger stones in the pathway.
Looking back towards Grožnjan
Our room for three nights was in Villa Borgo, an hotel with gorgeous views over the valley.
One thing I noticed in Istria was that while the roads are well-maintained, and there are hardly any road diggings, the same can’t be said about many buildings. In the backstreets of the lovely hill towns you can find many crumbling houses.
The second day’s activity involved kayaking around Rovinj.
We started north of the town, went round an island and back towards Rovinj, landing on the island we’d been staying on a few days earlier at the Hotel Katarina.
The boat was a two-person sit-on kayak, and very stable. It was nice seeing the town from different angles.