Rovinj – A Picturesque Town in Istria

Rovinj – A Picturesque Town in Istria

This year, I fulfilled two dreams with just one journey: I went to the Balkans for the first time and especially to Croatia, which has been on my bucket list for a long time. With my friend and dance partner, I did a three-week motorcycle tour, which started in Rovinj. And I was there for a dance festival that I heard my dancer friends rave about for almost a year: The Summer Sensual Days in Rovinj. You can read here how I liked the place itself and what you can expect when you plan your trip there.

Rovinj – How to get there?

Rovinj is located on the Pula peninsula and that is also the name of the airport you should fly to. Alternatively, you can also fly to Rijeka, Ljubljana, Trieste or even Treviso (like me), but if you like it as comfortable as possible, then Pula is the right place to go.

Otherwise, you can also travel by car or motorbike. That was actually my plan: I wanted to come with a friend and dance partner from Frankfurt to Rovinj on two wheels. Just a few days before we wanted to start our trip though, I had to change my plans because of a family matter and so I flew to Treviso, where my friend picked me up with his motorbike. There are buses from Venice to Rovinj, but not from Venice/Treviso airport.

And last but not least, there are long-distance buses to Rovinj. From Frankfurt, there are even three buses a day, two of which with a short stop in Munich and one in Ljubljana.

Rovinj – Accommodation

There are several large hotels in Rovinj (Lone, Eden, Park, Mulini), some of which even serve as locations for the workshops of the Croatian Summer Salsa Festival. They are all located close to the city center, but are quite expensive, especially during the festival times. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.

You get a much better price-performance ratio in the countless apartments, which are available in every size, price range and in the most diverse distances to the center. This year, I shared a flat with six other dancers. This is definitely a different feeling than living in a hotel room alone or with a friend.

If you decide to rent an apartment further away, you should consider renting a scooter or a bicycle. If you dance a lot, you don’t don’t want to walk a lot to get home after the party.

Rovinj – Restaurants

There are many restaurants and cafés in Rovinj and it can be hard to choose one. As in any port city, the closer to the sea you are, the more expensive the restaurant is.

We usually went grocery shopping and cooked in our apartment but there are two restaurants I can recommend.

On the one hand, the restaurant Lovor where I had excellent mussels. It is located directly at the marina with a beautiful view: The turquoise blue water on one side and the old town island on the other.

And secondly, in the old town itself, Veli Jože is highly recommended. It’s not particularly cheap, but particularly good.

And for all night owls who still want to fill their stomachs after the parties and recharge their batteries, there is the bakery with the name that says it all: Dan i noc – day and night. Open 24 hours a day, the bakery offers sweets and snacks for hungry dancers, tourists, and locals. The choice is not huge, but there are a lot of goodies and always freshly baked mini pizza (for 10 kuna ~ 1,50€).

Rovinj – Shopping

Besides various small supermarkets (mostly Konzum) and kiosks, there are three large supermarkets on the outskirts of the city. A German discounter with four letters (no, not ALDI, which is called Hofer in Croatia as well as in Austria). It’s LIDL.

Beside the LIDL there is a big Konzum with a really good selection and behind it a Plodine, in which I haven’t bought anything yet. Unfortunately, by foot, they are not easily accessible. At least the LIDL is open 7 days a week from 7 am to 11 pm.

Rovinj – The Old Town

Even though it is very tempting to just lie on the beach during the day and relax from all the dancing, I can only strongly recommend spending at least one afternoon or evening taking a little walk through the old town.

Rovinj Old Town

Walking up to the church is rewarded with a fantastic view over the sea and the offshore island of Sveta Katarina. Whoever wants to can also climb the bell tower of the church. Unlike most other churches, you don’t even have to pay extra for it. The panorama is magnificent.

Rovinj Old Town

Besides the church on the summit of the Old Town peninsula and the daily small market on the north side, the charming, winding alleys are the real highlight of Rovinj. Here you can stroll for hours on the pavement polished by countless tourist shoes, escape the midday heat in the shade of the alleys and sweeten your day with a delicious scoop of ice cream.

Where to travel after Rovinj?

If you want to explore other places in Croatia, I can recommend the Plitvice Lakes and Zadar. Both are quite easy to reach from Rovinj. The routes there are really nice if you travel by rental car or, as we did, by motorbike.

Plitvice Lakes

All in all I really liked Rovinj and I am already looking forward to the Summer Sensual Days 2019, which I really want to attend again.

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Motorbike Road Trip Through Croatia – 3 Weeks on the Balkan

Motorbike Road Trip Through Croatia – 3 Weeks on the Balkan

In June, I finally went to a country that has been on my bucket list forever: Croatia! The reason for my trip was the dancing festival Summer Sensual Days in Rovinj.

Start: Treviso

The original plan was to drive to Rovinj by motorbike with a dear friend of mine. Unfortunately, I was forced to stay a few days longer in Germany, which is why I had to change the plan and fly to Treviso where my friend picked me up. Since there are relatively cheap flights with Ryanair to this airport I can recommend you taking a look at flight there when you want to travel to Croatia, too. From there, it’s easy to take a bus to the Balkan.

Stop: Triest

Die On our five-hour drive from Treviso to Rovinj, we stopped only once to check out Triest. The Italian city is super close to the Slovenian border and absolutely worth the stop. Have a gelato at Piazza d’Unita where you have the grandiose ostentatious palazzi on one side and the sea on the other for a very special experience. Have a stroll through the alleys and discover the hidden gems like a Roman theater that is simply waiting next to a pathway as if it was the most normal thing in a city. That’s how I like sightseeing.

Sonnenuntergang Triest

Conclusion: It’s definitely worth a stop!

Station #1: Rovinj

Rovinj is a real gem. The old town rises on a peninsula and the Basilica of St. Euphemia is its highest point. The idyllic alleys have their very own charm. The view of the city from the other side is also fantastic: only the sea and the old town with its red roofs.

Rovinj vom Wasser aus

Conclusion: A picturesque city that I would like to explore again. I’ll come back next year and hopefully stay a bit longer.

Station #2: Plitvice Lakes

The Plitvice Lakes (Croatian Plitvička Jezera) were one of my absolute highlights. For me, the turquoise blue water in contrast to the wooden bridges is the epitome of peace. Although it was a busy day the crowds were still manageable. But I only admired the big main waterfall from afar. When I saw how many people went there and since I had already been to several much bigger waterfalls like Iguaçu and the Niagara Falls, I decided to skip the big waterfall.

Stege an den Plitvicer Seen

Conclusion: One of my absolute highlights!

Station #3: Zadar

Zadar was another highlight: We rented a boat (careful, sport boat driving licence necessary) and made a day trip. We had chosen a not so calm day for our exploration of the Kornati Islands and got some splashes of water, but apart from the crossing from the mainland to the archipelago, the sea was relatively calm.

Brücke Kornaten bei Zadar

Conclusion: A boat tour makes the trip to the oldest continuously inhabited city of Croatia perfect!

Stop: Split

Split may be a beautiful city. But I personally felt oppressed by the crowds and could not really enjoy the almost two millennia old buildings. When we wanted to relax at the promenade at the edge of the old town, football fans (it was the time of the World Cup, but on that day there was no game) came and went completely crazy: glasses and bottles burst, there was a loud roar and Bengalos were ignited, whose cloud of smoke followed us. This is not my idea of a pleasant break from motorcycling. To make matters worse, on our return we discovered that our jackets had been stolen. That sucks! We went to the only motorcycle shop that was still open according to Google: A Harley Shop! Since the jackets there exceeded our budget a little bit, the extremely friendly owner recommended a second hand shop only five minutes away. There were actually motorcycle jackets and by some miracle exactly one in my size and one in the size of my travel companion. So we started the last stage of the day with two hours delay.

Altstadt Split

Conclusion: One day I’ll give Split another chance, but on this trip it was a stop I would rather like to forget.

Station #4: Mostar

Did you ever have a place on your bucket list for years? A specific place, not a country or a region. And then suddenly you’re standing right where all the beautiful photos on Instagram have been taken. When we arrived in Mostar that evening several hours late, I was almost moved to tears. To see the world-famous bridge from the garden of our Airbnb was simply magnificent. The next morning I even got out very early to take a picture of it during sunrise. So I almost had the bridge to myself!

Alte Brücke Mostar

Conclusion: A dream came true and I am glad that we took this detour!

Station #5: Dubrovnik

I was really looking forward to Dubrovnik. Unfortunately we lived a little outside and always had to go by motorbike to the old town 15 minutes away. That is what we did the first evening and the following morning. Here, too, it really was worth getting up early. The picturesque streets of the Croatian capital are usually so crowded that you can hardly get through. At 6 o’clock in the morning there is already an astonishing amount of people around, but it is no comparison to the crowds from 8 AM until late at night.

Dubrovnik von oben

Conclusion: Photogenic city, but except early in the morning too crowded for my taste.

Station #6: Trogir

I had never heard of Trogir before. I was all the more surprised when I saw with my own eyes how beautiful this small town on a little island is. You can walk around the whole island in only 15 minutes. So there is not much to do. There is a small fortress and the alleys of the old town where you can have a relaxing stroll. Trogir is a fantastic place to get lost and take nice photos.

Die Gassen von Trogir

Conclusion: Perfect for a few days of relaxation!

Stop: Krka National Park

Is there actually a word for the opposite of highlight? Then I would like to use it for Krka National Park. Yes, the waterfalls are nice, but in my opinion this park is a tourist trap. The entrance fee is almost 30 euros and all you can do is walk along the plank (which is not as beautiful as the one in Plitvice) along a river, which leads you to two waterfalls at the end. The other waterfalls can only be seen from a boat, which costs an additional 30 euros. Everything per person, of course. Nice! Then they advertise that you can swim in front of the waterfalls. Yeah, that’s right. Unfortunately, when I was there, it was so crowded that you couldn’t even get to the water. It may be a little more bearable in low season. Also, my friend I was there with thinks I just wasn’t in a good mood. Yes, even travel bloggers sometimes have a bad day.

Krka Nationalpark

Conclusion: Tourist trap! I’m never going there again!

Station #7: Senj

We just spent the night here. The place looked very cute from our roof terrace of the AirBnB. But that’s all I can say about the place itself. On the way to Senj we stopped in a small village by the sea to fill our hungry stomachs and watch the sunset. Two elderly gentlemen came by and asked us if we were looking for a place to stay. So if you’re in the area and you haven’t booked anything: No problem! You’ll soon find something here.

Station #8: Ljubljana

Ljubljana was my first encounter with Slovenia. This country has also been on my bucket list for a loooong time. And the way from Senj to the Slovenian capital… This is probably the dream of every motorcyclist in Europe. Wonderfully rolling hills and valley landscapes with picturesque villages that lie along quietly rippling streams. The city itself is relatively small, so you could probably explore the old town in one afternoon. But I think it deserves a little more time. So next time I would like to stay a little longer.

Gassen in Ljubljana

Conclusion: A nice city, in which I could perhaps imagine to spend a few weeks.

Station #9: Bled

Bled was together with Mostar my absolute highlight. Because I really wanted to photograph the famous island in Lake Bled. So already in the evening, we started looking for a suitable place from which we could take pictures of the sunrise the next morning. We found a nice spot and came back at 5:45 after a short night. I was worried because it was pretty cloudy but in the end the sunrise was simply magical.

Sonnenaufgang Bled

Conclusion: Another highlight. I am very happy that we changed our plans and stayed here for one night.

Station #10: Chiemsee

On our last station I was a little tired. From the long and for me somewhat unusual way of travelling. But we did not want to miss the last sunset. So we drove to the Chiemsee and enjoyed the evening air after having a typical Bavarian meal. It was a worthy end to our three-week journey.

Sonnenuntergang Chiemsee

Conclusion: An ideal stop on the way back to Germany.

The time in the Balkans flew by and I am almost sure that next year I will do the tour like this again. Because the Summer Sensual Days will take place again in June and I definitely want to be there. And who knows? Maybe then I can take more time for some of the places and also explore one or the other, which we had to leave out on this journey. The Balkans still has a lot to offer…

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Villa Punta in Zadar – Your Perfect Base for Tours Around Croatia

Villa Punta in Zadar – Your Perfect Base for Tours Around Croatia

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At the end of June, the time had come: I finally made it to Croatia. This country has been on my bucket list for years, but only the dance festival Summer Sensual Days made me plan my trip.

And this time, I had a very special plan: I did my first motorcycle tour! With a good friend and two bags of clothes (good, that I’ve been traveling minimalistic for a while now!) we drove to Dubrovnik and back to Frankfurt. Zadar was one of our nine stops. And with Villa Punta, we had a really nice accommodation for the two days in the picturesque Croatian town!

Villa Punta – Getting There

Zadar has its own airport (ZAD), which for example is served by Ryanair. So getting there is easy and cheap.

However, I was traveling with a friend and dance partner on a motorbike and Zadar was one of our stops on the way to the south of Croatia.

On the way from Plitvice to Zadar, we just escaped the rain. Nevertheless, we could enjoy the view of two wonderful rainbows from the small beach directly in front of Villa Punta.

Villa Punta Zadar Strand

Villa Punta – The Place

Villa Punta consists of a large house with two floors. The owners live on the ground floor and manage the rental of the apartments. We were welcomed warmly as soon as they heard our motorcycle arrive. This makes you immediately feel welcome.

They showed us where we could leave the motorbike overnight. There was a small garage that had just enough space for it. Regular parking is available in front of the door for four cars.

Then we were led to the second floor where our apartment was located. It consisted of two rooms, which they had lovingly prepared.

Villa Punta Zadar Schlafzimmer

Villa Punta Zadar Esszimmer / Küche


Villa Punta Zadar Wohnzimmer

And the view from the balcony was just amazing. I would have loved to have more time to enjoy it!

Villa Punta Zadar Balkon

Leaflets and an information folder were waiting for us so that we had all the information at a glance.

Villa Punta Zadar Barbara

Zadar

Zadar is the oldest city in Croatia, which was continuously inhabited. Its origins date back to the 9th century BC. It is located on the Adriatic Sea and provides an ideal base for exploring the Kornati archipelago.

Zadar reached urban proportions during Roman rule. Under Julius Caesar and Augustus, the city walls were built. Until today you can admire the Roman Forum in the old town.

I really liked the Cathedral of St. Anastasia – a Romanesque basilica from the 12th / 13th Century – and the Church of Our Lady of Health from the 12th Century.

Kathedrale St. Anastasia Zadar

Marienkirche Zadar

If you would like to make a short detour to the old town, as we did, I recommend the small rowboat, which runs over to the old town peninsula from the end of the pier behind Café Barka on the mainland.

By the way, with a bit of luck you can find a parking lot right at the café. If you do, the café operators will surely be happy if you also order a drink. You can not only admire the sophisticated luxury yachts, but you also have a brilliant view of the sunset – good weather and timing provided.

Sonnenuntergang Zadar

The rowing boat costs 6 kuna (nearly one euro) per person and runs continuously from 7 in the morning until midnight. You can also drive around the old town by car or motorbike and try to get hold of one of the coveted parking lots, but then you miss a romantic crossing, with a young Croat who earns a bit of extra money through real emissionless muscle power.

What to see in and around Zadar

From Zadar we made only one trip: We spontaneously rented a boat to explore the surrounding islands from the water. Fortunately, my travel companion had not only a motorcycle but also the sports boat license. Because in Croatia, this is a prerequisite for chartering. Although we had taken care of it too late, it was not a problem to spontaneously get a boat for the same day. Thanks to the advertising banner on the quay wall of Bonaca, we were able to ask directly for available boats by phone and not even an hour later start the engine.

Auf Bootstour durch die Kornaten – Zadar, Ugljan und Pašman – Ranieri Boats

If you also want to rent a boat, I would recommend you (as we did) to take the passage between the two islands of Ugljan and Pašman from Zadar, passing under a bridge that is not quite unphotogenic.

Passage zwischen den beiden Inseln Ugljan und Pašman

For the rest, of course, we visited the old town and with some ice cream in our hands let the ancient and medieval buildings with a Mediterranean flair on us.

Other destinations are the Plitvice Lakes with breathtaking waterfalls that you should not miss, the Krka National Park and the ancient city of Split.

Final Thoughts

Since this was my first trip to Croatia, I admit that I had never heard of Zadar. Of course I knew of Split and Dubrovnik, but I also heard about Rovinj only because of the dance festival.

I am happy every time I am invited to unknown places, which then turn out to be little gems. As already mentioned, the day trip by boat was my absolute favorite among the experiences in Croatia and also the tour through the charming old town was beautiful and a worthy end of the day.

PS: I was invited by Villa Punta for two nights. I have not received any financial compensation for this article. My opinion is and remains my own and is not influenced by this collaboration.

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