Tag: Croatia

5 Things We Love to do in and around Pula

There are many interesting places and events that you may not find in regular tourist guides and here we are a just a few of our favourites:

1 VISITING NEARBY ISLETS AND LIGHTHOUSES

We love swimming and snorkelling in places that are only approachable by boat. We either visit the islets scattered along the coast (some with the lighthouses on them), find a quiet bay surrounded with steep rocks, or sail to the very end of the Istrian peninsula and visit an islet of Fenoliga just off the Cape Kamenjak. There you can see imprints of dinosaur’s feet, as he was marching in a straight line in the direction of the sea. The dinosaur was accompanied by a smaller friend who walked on his left side. The sea around the islet is beautifully clear and great for swimming and snorkelling, however, we would strongly discourage any attempt of swimming to/from Cape Kamenjak due to very strong currents between them. It is always best to stay near the islet or your anchored boat/sail and ensure that you can always return to safety.

2 RESTING IN SAFARI BAR AFTER WALKING THE DINOSAUR TRAIL

Cape Kamenjak is the very end of the Istrian peninsula. It can be accessed from Premantura by car, bicycle, boat or by foot. The place you should not miss is the Safari Bar. It’s a very popular outdoors bar at the end of the Peninsula made of all sorts of things found on the coast, such as floating planks, fishermen’s nets, pieces of wood, fishnet floaters etc. The Safari Bar brings out the child in you and is a source of endless joy for kids as they discover many wonderful hand made contraptions to play on, hidden in the ‘jungle’. You can get a bum massage on a slide made of fishing net floaters, swings hung on three-metre poles that make you feel like you’re flying, a large rotary wheel… well, let’s not reveal it all, but according to many, it’s a ‘must-see’. The Dyno lovers will appreciate the Dynosaur Trail that runs alongside the Cape Kamenjak, and if you bring a dog, you’ll appreciate the Doggy Bar. We made the below photos while visiting Safari Bar in winter (New Year’s Day) and we had it all to ourselves.

3 JOGGING ALONG THE SEA

Not far from our Villa is a Jogging Trail with exercise spots. It runs through a shady pine forest by the coast. While you jog you inhale a pine-scented air (aromatherapy says that it improves breathing, clears the airways and alleviates coughing), mixed with the salty breeze from the sea. You have beautiful scenery to rest your eyes on – the sea, the rocks, the people on the rocks, the sunset, the birds, the boats… Now and then you will come across an exercise spot, marked by a yellow board on the tree. Each one is numbered and gives graphical instructions. There is also exercise equipment, marked with numbers. Take your dog along, a friend or children (they love it) and have a little competition. The path ends on Valkane beach where you can have a refreshing swim and a well-deserved drink.

And here’s a little trivia for you: the Valkane beach is the first home of the Valkane Beach Party which was featured on the MTV more than a decade ago. It has moved elsewhere since, and Pula has got many other summer festivals, most of them in the amphitheatre.

4 STROLLING AROUND BEAUTIFUL TOWN MARKET AND FORUM

Pula Town Market is not to be missed. The best time to go is early in the morning when everything is fresh (including the sellers), the temperatures are cooler and people are setting up their stands. The market itself is a beautifully colourful sight. The outdoor market features concrete stands loaded with herbs, fruits, vegetables, flowers, honey, and other local produce. The sellers make a great effort to set their stands up as beautifully as possible so that you’d be tempted to stop, taste and buy.

The market building was built at the beginning of the 20th century in Secession or Art Nouveau style. On the ground floor, you will find the fish market on one side and dairy and meats on the other. On the gallery above there are cafes and various shops and the back wall is decorated with a beautiful mural.

It is a time when citizens of Pula like to stroll around the market, meet friends and have an espresso and a chat in one of the outdoor cafes. By the time most tourists wake up, they are already home, getting ready for a quick swim or cooking. As the word goes, the currency exchange rates on the market are usually best in town.

5 HAVING A DRINK WITH JAMES JOYCE

In the old town centre, you will pass under the ancient Arch of Triumph or Arch of the Sergii which locals also call Porta Rata. Next to the arch is a small cafe Uliks where you can have a drink with Irish writer James Joyce. Mr Joyce ended up in Pula teaching English to Austrian Naval officers. Although he wasn’t too happy with his stay in Pula, he wrote a novel here that later became “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”.

Joyce stayed in Pula for about 6 months after which time he was transferred to Trieste. The Cafe Uliks (Croatian for Ulysses) was a language school in those times and there is now a life-size bronze sculpture of Mr Joyce, sitting at one of the tables and we love keeping him company with a cup of coffee or ice cream.

James Joyce at Cafe Uliks

Valjak, D. (2019). James Joyce at Cafe Uliks, Pula. [image] Available at: https://www.thevintagenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/1422864158_6985da7b79_o-480×640.jpg [Accessed 13 Sep. 2019].[/caption]

The One Thing You Can Not Miss in Vintage Villa Magnolia

The one thing you can not miss in Vintage Villa Magnolia is the large, leafy garden. In fact it is so unmissable that many passers by stop and look over the fence, even if they pass it every day. The garden is spacious, shady and green. In summer it provides plenty of shade but there’s more than enough space for sunbathing. There are gazebos with comfortable deck chairs and tables, old trees such as Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica), Mediterranean cypress (Cupressus semprevirens), Mimosa (Mimosa scabrela), Ligustrum or privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium), shrubs such as a bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), lavender, sage, rosemary, buxus (Buxus sempervirens), hydrangea and others. There are medicinal and culinary plants we love to use in cooking, giving our daily meals that special feel of eating home grown food. 

Lazy summer afternoon

There are terraces and patios equipped with comfortable furniture, cushions and shades, with a lovely view over the garden. You can relax listening to bird song and cicadas, enjoy the gentle breeze that rustles the old cypresses and fills the air with the aroma of herbs and roses, and coaxes the gentle perfume out of the magnolia blossoms.

Depending on the time of year you visit, you can taste organic loquat fruits from the tree that is over 100 years old and therefore did not get a chance to get GMO-ed. There are plenty of passionfruits, too. You can even set up the barbecue and enjoy your meal with domestic wines from the local producers while watching the Milky Way above.

Morning
Morning coffee in the Garden

When you decide to wander out of the garden and explore outside world, you will find that everything is within walking distance. You can easily take a stroll to the historic town centre or jog to the nearest beach bar. There is something for everyone in Pula, plenty of cultural happenings, festivals, concerts, and open-air events.

The ancient Roman amphitheatre has hosted bands like Foo Fighters (2019), Status Quo, Placido Domingo, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, as well as festivals like Dimensions, Outlook and International Film Festival which happens annually.  When you tire from swimming, dancing or partying, the tranquil garden is waiting quietly, like a calm haven in the middle of the summer buzz.

Rest for a moment before you head into the house. Inhale the fragrance from the flowers and herbs, close your eyes for a minute and listen to the sounds around you. This is the meditation, a mindful moment that precludes a deep, regenerative sleep.

Ode of Joy in ancient Amphitheatre