4 days road trip in Istria.
For our last autumn road trip we chose again a couple of micro destinations in our little part of the world, none further than 150km from Ljubljana. This time to the Adriatic sea side! This time of the year colours in the mountains are divine, as we experienced the previous weekend, but there is something in the warmish Adriatic air that makes late September and sometimes also October my favourite time of the year to visit and take a dip in the sea.
Happy campers in Istria with Dugme
Our route started in Trzic where the Balkan Campers garage is. Ziga, one of the always cheered up owners, introduced us to Dugme, our home for the weekend, with some tricks and tips for this lovely special fellow oldtimer. Quick lunch at the local restaurant Firbc Okn (inquisitive window) to fill our bellies for the road and off we go; no vignette, local roads only, like in the old times. Between Logatec and Postojna we missed the turn and did some extra 30km, but came across the biggest alfa deer we've ever seen! We found out that even though I am half GPS-half human I obviously can miscalculate directions. We also passed UNESCO site Skocianske Caves which is still on my Slovenian bucket list. Roughly 3.5hrs after we started our camper, we were already driving up the hill Krog, our overnight destination above the Secovlje salt fields. We found a levelled spot in the middle of an olive grove to park Dugme and soon the sound of wind sang us to sleep.
dugme camper van enjoying in Istria
Next morning sun greeted us through the window, no time to waste! Let's discover the surroundings! Sun is pleasant and some of the olive trees are still full, waiting to be harvested. There is a small horse ranch on the hill and one lovely youngster is very curious and friendly to us. The view from this otherwise abandoned old fort, that looks like a small village, is great, just as is the day in front of us. Next stop -> Momjan village, which is just a throw of an empty bottle of wine away on the Croatian side. We pass the border fast and with no drive-on-the-side invitations. Momjan is an old, laid back village (in the summer less though) with typical histrian stone houses, an old fort, well worth a walking tour, and two quality, tempting wineries. But no! The day is just too fine to spend it in one place and not, at least for hour or two, behind the Dugme's big steering wheel- such a joy to drive this van! We did some grocery shopping and stopped for a quick spritzer with Malvazija (Ana just could not resist anymore) at Buje town (great truffles shop with free tastings). We had a stylish brunch on the parking lot behind our van with some orange wine and roastbeef we brought for the road and continued to Groznjan, a well known artistic gem which I have not visited before either.
Beautiful city Grožnjan
Nice little town with expensive gift shops, but the bar with the terrace with the view was the best and they can even make decent coffe which is not always a common thing in Croatia. Next stop -> try to find a "by the sea" overnight spot! The thing is in Croatia freedom camping is strictly prohibited, signs are everywhere and fines come regulary, every day. But, in late October all the camps are closed and the police have less energy for fining caravaning turists. So we took a risk and parked near Stinjan village, literally 5 meters from the sea and woke up safely, with no ticket on our front windshield (however, this is not a recommended way to do it).
hidden gem city of Štinjan
The night was surprisingly chilly (or not, since it was almost November), so we waited for the sun to warm us, while we were still tucked under a blanket, enoying breakfast in bed. In spite of water beeing pretty cold, we had to take a dip in the sea - it's never to cold for in and out! Next stop -> Hum - allegedly the tiniest city in the world and honestly, it is really not big. Looks very romantic but the restaurant was too crowded so we decided to climb the Ucka pass to Croatian Monaco - classy Opatija. We were not disappointed with the restaurant Rozmarin (Rosemary); great price/preformance and some traditional style Adriatic sea food. We took a regional road over Velebit to Metlika border pass and to Krsko to come for the Halloween party late, and the road felt long. We found out we've done around 300km in one day. Next time, not more than 200 a day, we decided. After all, it's a journey.