Day 3: Brijuni Island
We already booked our excursion to and around the national park of Brijuni, and it cost 200 Kuna (around 27 Euros) per person including a meal and drinks on the boat. We started early in the morning with our tour from Pula pier. We just saw most of the islands from far away, and the information by the guide wasn´t that spectacular (“there’s a golf course!”), but my fish was excellent, and I love being on a boat. It was also fun to hand-feed the eagerly awaiting seagulls swarming the boat with the leftover from my fish.
Anyway, the main attraction was the stop on the island of St. Jerolim (Otok Sveta Jerolim). They gave us two options to choose for our return time, and we could select spontaneously. When we arrived, we saw a small gravelly-sandy beach right next to the pier, but it was already a bit crowded. So we decided to walk straight through the island, which is a very short walk because it’s a tiny island. At the other end, there was another small beach area with gravel that was quickly got crowded.
So we went to the east, surrounding the island on the rocks, searching for the perfect spot. While there are rocks to lie on and sunbath, there are not really good places to swim in the east of the island. After being back to our starting point at the pier, we searched the west of the island and quickly found a place to sunbath and swim – the west is much better for that than the eastern part of the island. Swimming in the crystal clear water was refreshing. The sun was searing hot, and we stayed under the shade of a tree. I didn’t realise that there were the remnants of a dead bird where I placed my towel. (It took more than a couple of washing to get the stink off the towel) We had enough then, so we decided to take the earlier boat going back to Pula.
It was still early afternoon when we got to Pula. We decided to walk to the bus station which is just a short walk from the pier. Thanks to the map we got from the tourist info (our Lonely Planet map of Pula didn’t include the location). On the way, I noticed something strange, that happened to be a public urinal, which reminded me of one in Lisbon. My friend, having a terrible fear of not getting a bus ticket because of overcrowding, wanted to buy our bus ticket from Trogir to Dubrovnik a few days ahead, so we went to the autotrans-office at the bus station. They told him that he can buy a ticket from Trogir in Trogir only, which didn’t appease him. But as we were at the bus station anyway and there was a timetable which showed a bus to Rovinj leaving soon, we immediately bought a ticket for that and went off to Rovinj for a short visit. There are many bus connections from Pula to Rovinj and Poreč that are not necessarily listed on the internet.
The bus to Rovinj wasn’t really full, it is quite cheap and only about 40 minutes ride from Pula. From the bus station in Rovinj, we went directly to the marina, overlooking the peninsula, where the old town is situated. It looked great. My old sunglasses didn’t last more than two days in Croatia, so I bought a new one from a street vendor, which then cracked before we even reached the old town. It was a short and pleasant walk along the water. From the main square “Trg Marsala Tita” we entered one of the many narrow alleys through the old town and tried hard not to slip on the slippery stones with our flip-flops while going up and down. It is really a beautiful and charming little town with a lot of cultural life going on and a swimming area next to the rocky coast.
With not much time left we continued to the main attraction of Rovinj, the St. Euphemia’s Basilica, which set on top of the hill overlooking the town. We walked a bit through the alleys of Rovinj, passing the Arch of Balbi, before getting back to get our bus to Pula. Before we left I passed by the shop where I bought my new sunglasses and asked for a replacement of the broken one that I bought an hour earlier. The guy selling the sunglasses was alright, and I got a new one without having to pay again.
Back in Pula, we passed by the arena and the Temple of Augustus and the first restaurant we went to. We decided to eat our dinner there on our last night in Pula. The city has its charms. We really could have stayed longer because we didn´t have the time to visit some of the villages in the region like Motovun, that is supposed to be lovely, or the Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč, which is a World Heritage Site. You can even make a day trip to Venice by boat from Pula, Rovinj and Poreč.