When we arrived in Croatia we had some knowledge of famous coastal cities like Dubrovnik, Split, and the natural beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park, however we didn’t know anything about the Istria Peninsula located in the northwest of the country. After a wonderful day in the city of Pula, we were eager to experience more of this coastal region of Croatia.
Today’s ride took us from Pula, in the south, along the coast, to the city of Rovinj, and then north to a surprise campsite. Why a surprise? More on that later…
It’s impossible to miss Rovinj as you ride along the coastal road. This seaside town, with its imposing 15-story bell tower, crowned with a statue of the patron Saint Euphemia, just begs to be explored! So explore we did. After parking our motorcycles, we were soon walking along the narrow cobblestoned walkways flanked by tall Venetian-styled apartments and markets.
Rovinj is a jewel of the Adriatic, with a vibrant history and a relaxed seaside charm.
You don’t even have to spend much money here because part of the enjoyment is walking around and exploring the wonderful nooks and crannies full of old stone-work and bright colors.
However, a highlight for us was spending the small fee of 20 kuna ($2.90 USD) each, to climb the 189 steps of the bell tower of the Church of Saint Euphemia.
The wooden steps are not exactly confidence inspiring, but the views from the top are oh so worth it!
Stunning views from the top in 360 degrees! The combination of the orange terracotta shingled homes, and the refreshing blue of the Adriatic Sea, create a romantic memory that will have you clambering for your smartphone or camera.
Although we could have stayed in the tower for hours enjoying the incredible views, we decided to head back down and continue to explore more of this wonderful coastal city.
Walking among the old town was a delight. Our timing in early September seemed like the perfect time to visit. The summer sun warmed our skin, and the streets were free of tourism. Perfection!
This is a coastal city that we could have easily enjoyed longer, but we had a campsite booked a couple hours away to the north. We returned to the motorcycles, and reluctantly put Rovinj in our mule’s sideview mirrors.
As we continued riding along Highway 75, we noticed a lot of signs for various tourist activities. When I saw a sign for an airplane museum advertising that you could sit in a Soviet-era Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 cockpit, I was excited!
Sadly Aeropark Vrsar was closed and a bit run down, but we were able to snap a picture of a Croatian-flagged MiG-21 sitting in a field.
As an American, seeing the most produced supersonic jet aircraft in aviation history, was a treat. The MiG-21 is legendary, with more than 60 countries flying it throughout its more than 60 years of production.
The next roadside sign that peaked our interest was a dinosaur park. Who doesn’t like dinosaurs? Sadly, now that we’ve been adults for more than 30 years, nobody ever asks us “What is your favorite dinosaur?”
For the record, both Chantil and I, like the Triceratops. They went about eating plants, and minding their own business, but could defend themselves from the bully Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The Dinopark also featured another monster of sorts…
Monster trucks! Colorful ”trucks” with HUGE wheels and tires, and names like Inferno, El Toro, and Excalibur! It was fun to see them close up. The drivetrain, suspension, engines, and fiberglass bodies show that there really isn’t much of the original truck left in these crazy cars!
Although it was exciting to see monster trucks and a roadside dinosaur park, we only stayed long enough to walk around the outside. While leaving the parking lot, I joked that we had now seen everything there was to see in the world and we could sell our motorcycles and return home. Chantil laughed, but in reality, we’ve only visited less than 25 percent of the 195 countries, and we have yet to witness any of the seven wonders of the world. We’ve still got a lot of traveling in our future.
As we passed by an outdoor bar, featuring murals of the deserts reminiscent of Arizona’s Monument Valley, we were intrigued. Sadly the bar was closed, but we took a moment to take a picture of our two mules parked in front of this tiny piece of Americana.
Speaking of Americana – Nothing is arguably more reminiscent of an American road trip more than the historic Route 66. Some years ago, my son and I drove a Mazda MX-5 roadster on an epic roadtrip from Chicago to Los Angeles via the Route 66. We promised that we would drive the entire route in summer with the top down. It ended up being a wonderful roadtrip that helped bond a lifelong friendship and a shared love of the open road.
Click on the image above to watch a short music video highlighting our 16-day Route 66 adventure.
A Naturist Camp
Ever heard of a “Naturist Camp”? Chances are, if you’re like me, you thought “I like nature, so a camp that is close to nature sounds pretty good.” The photographs on their website showed wonderful views of the facilities and the beach, so I excitedly booked an overnight stay at Camping Kanegra.
After a long day of riding we were looking forward to a quiet night on the beach. We happily arrived at the camp, and I went into the reception office with my confirmation email. I was surprised when the receptionist, looked at me in my motorcycle gear, and said, “You may not know this, but this camp is a naturist camp.”
I happily replied, “Yep, we love nature and the outdoors!”
“Are you aware that you must be nude once you enter the camp?”
“Uhhhhh, huh?” was my blank stared reply as my brain was still trying to process that I booked, and paid, for us to spend a night in a nudist camp.
Why anyone would want to camp in the nude, on a warm September night, with the threat of blood-sucking mosquitoes, is beyond me. No thanks! We don’t even walk around our own home naked, so the idea of sharing a beach with a group of naked pensioners just didn’t appeal to us.
Thankfully, the receptionist understood our predicament, and offered another campsite just 10-minutes away that was owned by the same company.
With a big relief, we rode to Camping Pineta, where we enjoyed a wonderful campsite and a sensational sunset – all with our clothes on.
Next Blog Post
Join us next blog post as we explore more of central Istria to include the towns of Grožnjan and Motovun, and Petrapilosa Castle.
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4 Sep 2020