Summer 2017: Rovinj

Day Zero

We arrive by ferry – and are surprised at it docking on the north side of Rovinj. Google Maps had assured us that the ferry port was on the south side and so we had routed our onward journey accordingly. I go so far as to ask the staff on the ferry to be sure and the look of disdain indicates no further movement of the ship should be expected. 

We decide a taxi may be in order so approach a cluster of drivers nearby. But the guy we speak to says the address we give him is in the old town, and so off limits to taxis. I figure if a taxi driver is passing up a fare it’s too close or as he says, inaccessible, so we restart google maps to navigate us a route and head off.

We’re picking up the key to our accommodation from a bar which sounds kind of dodgy, but apparently the bar owner also runs the hotel, and we’re arriving too late for them to meet us at the room, so fair enough. 

The first thing that strikes me about Rovinj is that it’s tiny, its only an extra 5-10 minutes from where the ferry actually stopped to where we thought it would stop, and in that time we’ve walked about half the circumference of the town. 

We ask for the owner at the bar and the barman says that they’re not there but he can ring them. He talks and talks and talks and then wanders off, chatting on the phone.

We’re standing there for five minutes looking at each other and when he wanders past again I collar him. “Excuse me, whats going on?”. 

He grins and says, “I have the key, follow me”. I’m a bit relieved because the hotel doesn’t appear on Google Maps, and so I hadn’t wanted to have to find it alone. The address from the booking confirmation is for a street that exists but nothing seems to match the hotel – a personal guide therefore sounded perfect.

The walk to the hotel is picturesque: we complete a circuit of the town with our guide pointing out a few of the landmarks. The restaurant we’re having lunch at the following day gets high praise which is a good sign. 

After checking in we head off back to the harbour for dinner. Unlike most Italian cities it looks like they don’t eat this late: it’s 10pm and a lot of the eateries are closed or closing.

We stop off at one restaurant to peruse the menu board. Ange frowns and points out that the menus all look the same. I glance over and it looks like she’s right. One of the waiters comes over, presumably to answer any questions we may have, but he doesn’t say anything and just lurks awkwardly.

We continue along the harbour until the last eatery, Aqua2, catches our eye. A quick squizz at the menu prompts a waitress to come over and she regales us with the specials. Enough appeals to warrant sitting down, and over menus the waitress continues with her recommendations. It’s pleasant enough: certainly not the hard sell. The closest she gets to that is bringing over a platter of the fish of the day. I’m a fan of seafood, but I don’t know how long my fishy friends have been staring at people from the their platter, so I pass and have the mixed grill instead. Ange has the risotto.

We had passed a number of gelateria on the way through the restaurant section of town and decided to stop off on the way back to partake in the local ice cream. While I am up at the counter ordering, one of the local elder gentlemen has decided that Ange needs a flower, plucked from a nearby bush. I pretend to be upset that a stranger is giving Ange a flower, so he laughs and gives me one too. We all grin and Ange and I wander off back towards our room.

Day One

The next day dawns wet and doesn’t stop raining all day. I nip out first thing with an umbrella to go to the grocery store which I was told was two minutes walk from the front door. I initially mistake the fish market as the entrance to the grocery store, but even before my morning coffee I figure out my mistake and find the correct door.

We’ve got a booking at La Puntalina at lunchtime, so catch up on some work until then, listening to the rain on the cobbled streets and alleys outside.

After lunch the rain pauses, so we head back to our room the long way and enjoy the sights while we can. We prepare for dinner in the evening by collecting all our local currency, 118 Croatian Kuna. Ideally we will be able to spend all that for our last evening meal and exhaust our supply of Kuna. We head out to the port and its restaurants with the goal of spending exactly 59 kuna each on dinner (the exchange rate for the Euro was about 7.5 Kuna to a Euro).

Sitting on the water beside the port with views out to the island is a pizza and grill restaurant called the Copacobana. After singing the song to ourselves we check out the menu outside. There are a couple of dishes for 59 Kuna so we figure we can have one of them each and come out of Croatia with minimal local currency. Success!

We take a seat inside and then take a look through the menu. A huge section of the menu is devoted to desserts and their siren song calls from the plastic laminated pages. We tell ourselves we’ll order something from the dessert menu and split the bill so we use up our Kuna and then pay the rest on the credit card. the flaw in our plan is not running it past the waitress before ordering.

This only becomes apparent when we go to pay the bill and are told that we can only pay all cash or all credit card – not a combination. Bugger!

Day Two

In the morning we get up very early for the ferry back to Venice. We arrive at the docks at 6am and are the first onboard. We’d sacrificed sleep in order to be able to react quickly should the ferry’s starting point be elsewhere from where we got off – a bit paranoid I guess, but better to be safe than having to pay for additional tickets!

We get good seats by the window and are just thinking that we should be underway when a frantic woman rushes up to the gangplank outside and starts beckoning to someone down the road. We’re curious as to whether the staff will allow this late-comer onboard when a huge line of teenaged girls come into view. Apparently someone overslept and a school group has only just made the sailing.

After checking everyone in, the table with the laptop on it gets folded away and placed in a bag and in a jiffy we’ve cast off from shore and are heading up the coast to Poreč (amusingly pronounced “porridge”) for passport inspections. The dash across the Adriatic is less bumpy than our first and in no time at all we’re cruising past Lido into Venice’s lagoon.

We listen as the trip across to Venice consists of a sales pitch to buy various things from the ferry company and look bemused at each other as they sell Vaporetta tickets for €27 (€20 at the machines) and maps for €10(free at most hotels). The selling continues with the promise of accompanied walking tour to St Mark’s Square, a tourist meal (“it won’t be the best meal you ever had”) and a shared gondola ride. Ange sums it up well – if you wanted to do Venice in a day it’s not a terrible way of cramming everything into the time available, but they just don’t know that they’re getting ripped off. Ah well.

Would I Go Back?

Rovinj was lovely – a beautiful old town with flash new hotels nestled in trees across the harbour. I’m happy I went but wouldn’t go back – there’s not enough to draw me back for a return visit when there’s so much more of the world to explore.