Porec, Rovinj & Zagreb
Apr 03, 2001
Porec, Rovinj, and Zagreb
What a great feeling. After two months of hard work and stress I'm walking out the door. A very deep sigh and I feel all the tension release. I had just made a quick round of goodbyes to my coworkers. Some of them tearful, some not so. Some I had promised to have a couple of drinks with when I quickly stop back in Milan on my way to SF.
I was heading out the door with Franko, a Croatian coworker. It amazes me, but he drives home from Milan to Porec, Croatia almost every weekend. This week he's taking me with him. It's a 6 hour drive plus the hour that it takes us on the bus to get to his car at the edge of Milan. As Franko knows every speed trap on the route we make good time. He drops me off at at hotel in Porec at 1 in the morning.
The weather is great, but there isn't much to see or do in Porec. That's alright though, Rovinj was my true destination. From the picture that I had seen it was incredible - a miniature Venice sitting on a tiny peninsula. While waiting for the bus I get a whim to rent a motorcycle and ride down there. The hotel recommends Avis (pronounced Ah-vees). Avis has shutdown, but the third place I try has scooters for rent.
I'm cruising through the country side, on the Croatian highways on a 50cc scooter that have been speed limited to 30mph. Some of the cars and trucks fly past me, but the older Communist era cars can't go much faster than 30mph themselves.
So, I'm in a bar packed full of people all speaking Croatian. I know that some of them also speak German, but as far as I know only one person other than myself speaks any English. He's a Croatian electrician from Bosnia who has been working in Iraq, and Syria. Most recently he was working in Austria, but was forced to leave by the new government who is very anti-immigrant. The girls are hot, the beer is $1, and the "Fame" theme song is playing. That was Saturday night.
Rovinj lived up to my expectations from the photo and more. This is my kind of town. The nightlife on Saturday was a good time. The city is beautiful. The old town on the top of the hill is filled with ancient stone gray buildings. The less-old town is filled with beautiful colorful Venetian buildings from when Venice ruled Rovinj. The waterfront is filled with nice cafes and well dressed people. The weather is great and unlike venice the water is clean and clear. There are tons of scooters and motorcycles around town. The Harley club of Rovinj is parked in front of one cafe. Again, this is my kind of town.
After two days in Rovinj I feel obligated to go and see more of Croatia. Rovinj is nice, but perhaps it is too nice - even the one homeless person seems nice. Where is the adventure? Where is the poverty and destruction of a war torn country? Where is the 'real' Croatia? Dubrovnik would have been my destination of choice, but it was 17 hours in the wrong direction. Instead after a scooter ride back to Porec, 2 busses and 2 trains I find myself in Zagreb.
If you're looking for war torn and impoverished, Zagreb is not for you. Zagreb is a nice very international city. I hear a lot of English walking around the streets. The central square bares a striking resemblance to the Plaza del Sol in Madrid. A bar selling Belgian beer sits across from Gap Kids. There is a nice Chinese restaurant filling the ground floor of my hotel. The streets in the center are lined with hip cafes. The weather is good and I find myself once again in Croatia sitting in a cafe, drinking an espresso and watching the beautiful people walk by.
I might not return with any stories of great adventure, but I'll probably return well relaxed with a bit of a tan. Twelve hours on a train on Thursday. Twelve hours on a plane on Friday. Then I should be back in San Francisco on Friday afternoon.
P.S. I'll add photos of Croatia when I get back to Milan or SF.