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Croatia: The Magical Istria

After the short stop in Trogir we drove to Pula where booked accommodation for 3 nights to explore the city and surroundings. 

The country side on the way to Pula
The drive took around 6h with some stops on the way. After we checked in we went directly in the city center for dinner. One speciality I saw it on the menu in the area is grilled squid with Swiss chard and potatoes. I was hesitant with the green leafs because they waiters were saying it's like spinach and I'm not a big fan of it. But this one was really tasty!  

Grilled squid with Swiss chard and potatoes @ Kantina Restaurant
The next day we went to one beach in Pula in the morning, another beach in Rovinj in the afternoon and stayed for dinner in Rovinj and explored a bit the city center.

Hawaii Beach 
Hawaii is a pebbly beach, with big rocks but it's worth it! The water is crystal clean and a good spot for snorkeling. It also has some high cliffs that attract the adventurous ones who want to jump in the water.

The beach is situated in a small peninsula with a resort and surrounded by pine trees. I went exploring a bit to see how the nearby beaches look like.
In the afternoon we drove towards Rovinj (~40 minutes from Pula) and enjoyed the sunset from Mulini beach.

Mulini Beach (Rovinj)

The magical sunset

After the sunset we went to explore a bit the old town in Rovinj and had dinner. Rovinj is a charmingly picturesque town with narrow, cobbled streets.
It must look so pretty also during the daylight!
I can endlessly wander on these cobble stone streets
Balbi Restaurant
We had to wait a bit to get a table at the restaurant but it was worth! The food was amazing, the ambience, the company! We even assisted at a marriage proposal. When we were on the beach there was another one, someone proposed by having an airplane flying with a banner on which was written "Marry me?". The city has something magical that makes it an attraction for loving couples.  

Seafood pasta

I couldn't resist the temptation to have a lava cake
Night walk
    




The city harbour

Rovinj is a must to visit when in Istria. I wished we could have stayed longer there, but who knows what the future has in its cards.
The second day we took a boat tour in the nature reserve Kamenjak and we spent the afternoon exploring Pula.
I am super proud of myself that I managed to swim to the cave hidden in between the rock walls without life jacket. Okay fine, they didn't have any life jackets on the boat (maybe that's not okay) and I didn't have any options. I didn't want to stay on the boat and miss all the fun. In the cave I didn't enter because it required to swim a bit underwater and I'm still uncomfortable with that. One fear at the time!

A lighthouse in the middle of the sea

Ceja island 
We also had lunch on the boat and afterwards we were dropped on Ceja island. 

The island has a small harbour, a beach bar and a small restaurant. We spent there 2h30'. I went also on a walk around the island. It took me 40-50 minutes to do the tour.
After a short stop at the accommodation for showering we went exploring Pula. First stop was Arena Pula, the most preserved Roman amphitheater to have four towers intact.

I'm not sure how busy it is normally but when we went, around 5pm was perfect: the light was good for some instagramable photoshoots without any tourists in the background.




We left the amphitheater behind and went finding the other ruins of the Roman era.
The Arch of the Sergii is also impressive. It dates from 29 BCE and it's onetime city gate.
Meow! Feed me

In the city Forum there's also the majestic Temple of Augustus.

Temple of Augustus in the sunset lights

For dinner we went to Veritas Food & Wine. I highly recommend it, the service is impeccable. We had to wait 15 minutes for a table and they brought us some honey liquor. 

Impressive architecture found random on the way back to the accommodation
The next morning we decided to go for a few hours to another beach in Pula before driving to our next destination: the famous Plitvice Lakes.
Valkane Beach

This beach is also accessible for people with disabilities. And like the majority beaches that we've visited so far they have changing rooms and showers which are very practical.

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