It’s time for part 3 of 4 in the mini-series that covers our Vacation this year around Europe. After we did enjoy some great time in Germany and Italy, it was time for Croatia to be checked off the list of countries that we have visited – and we went for Pula & Rijeka (alongside Zagreb which will be covered later on).
These are not the most popular destinations in Croatia, but we mainly chose them because of their proximity to each other and the other cities we had on our list. So how was it? Read on to find out, if you will!
It was fun to choose to visit this city because its name is a really nasty word in Romania. I just couldn’t help get my friends “I love Pula” magnets and t-shirts and use all the puns in the world to describe how enjoyable Pula actually is. But really, jokes aside – it’s really beautiful and the way to getting there was absolutely spectacular:
Yes, we did choose to travel by bus through Croatia because during my research, I found out that it’s faster than by train. And it sure looks great – just as our little apartment does: one that was filled with toys by our AirBnb host who knew we were bringing a 2 year old with us.
Again, we were pretty unlucky weather-wise in Pula, but we still made it to the beach one day. It was not that hot and pretty windy, but not that bad either. It was our only day at the beach during the stay. There might also be better beaches in Pula, but we chose the one that was closest to us and it was spectacular.
Apart from the beach and a really nice central area filled with pubs and shops for tourists, Pula doesn’t have a lot to offer. It has a beautiful Amphitheater near the beach – Pula Arena – where concerts and big events are held. It’s extremely impressive because it’s so well preserved – it’s actually the only remaining Roman amphitheatre to have four side towers and with all three Roman architectural orders entirely preserved (according to Wikipedia).
There is also a nice castle that offers a great view over the city. The castle was built in the 1630s and it’s also well preserved. There’s also a museum in there, one that sends you back in time and shows how the pharmacies looked back in the days.
During our stay in Pula, we had the wackiest selection of sweets ever (it was mostly jelly, shaped as fried eggs, croissants, frogs and so on). Insanely sweet and not as great as you’d expect them to be, flavor-wise, but it was fun to try out each shape and find its flavor.
We also had a really unwanted visitor during our stay there, and we found it in our room hours after arriving there:
Yup, that is a real scorpion and we were shocked and scared when we found it. After doing some research, though, and talking to our host, we learned that they are actually pretty common in Croatia and they are not dangerous, even though if you get stung, you’ll have some pain. Despite all that, we slept all nights with the lights on and thoroughly inspected the room when we got back after a walk.
All in all, I was expecting Pula to be way cheaper than it actually was. It seems that being a touristy place does bring the prices up – they are definitely higher than prices by the beach in Romania and similar to what we had in Italy or Germany.
Apparently, near Rijeka, there’s a beach that keeps getting awards in Croatia. Guess who didn’t visit it because of the craptacular weather? Yup… we were again unlucky with bad weather which kept us indoors and within the city limits. At least we stayed at the 4th floor in an old building, right in the city center, so there were no worries for Scorpions. No elevator, either…
But we were already used with all the climbing and Rijeka also had a ton of it. Croatia itself is developed on hills so you are really kept in shape there. I just think that as you get older, things get more and more complicated…
Unfortunately, Rijeka is the most unspectacular city that we visited – fighting with Trieste for our least enjoyable stay. There are a few old buildings and some hilarious Roman ruins (just a few walls that could’ve been a public toilet back in the days), but they do have a leaning tower: a sign there says that it’s 45 centimeters, but you can’t really see it. But, well, anything that’s at least slightly interesting here is worth seeing as there’s not much else left to do.
We did manage to find an amazing place to eat, though. My wife got a complete feast: grilled ribs served on a wooden platter with bits of onion, as well as three side dishes: potatoes, the most delicious beans we had in recent times and a cucumber salad that resembled the Greek tzatziki. All this was just 4 Euros and we actually paid more on the bottle of mineral water!
Rijeka came like a solid break for us – the bad weather and the fact that there wasn’t anything to do in the city because of the bad weather kept us inside for a long time: we did sleep a lot and filled up our batteries, so it was, in the end, an enjoyable break. However, Rijeka itself should not be the first city on your list if you decide to visit Croatia.
Later update (2018): Overall, I have grown more and more in love with Croatia since visiting it back in 2015 and I came back often to visit. I have even purchased a blog about Croatia, things to see and do and much more. Although right now it’s not in a perfect shape since the previous owner didn’t really took good care of it, I am working to turning it into an amazing resource for those who are interested to learn more about this beautiful country. If you want to, you can check it out by following the next link to Croatia Wise (yup, a good name at least!)
And this concludes our third episode – stay tuned as I have one more, detailing our final two cities, Zagreb and Belgrade!