My cousin Mia, her boyfriend Kreso and I drove from Zagreb to the coast of Croatia, and we hit three cities the first
The views of the water from the stone stairways are stunning. We were there in September, which is past the tourist season, but the weather was unseasonably hot and beautiful. We walked around the city and shopped in the market, including picking up fruit for our journey. Part of what I loved about Europe, in general, processed food is fairly difficult to find and fruit is sold at reasonable prices everywhere.
We then made the short drive to Pula, the largest city in Istria county. If you are a fan of archeology and history, Pula is the town for you. Truth be told, we only stayed for a few hours because we were on a tight schedule. But I love archeology, fossils and ruins, so Mia squeezed Pula into the schedule so that I could spend time in the ruins of the coliseum. I snapped tons of photos and took video that will eventually find there way to flicker and youtube. The coliseum was spectacular. Until Mia had told me about the ruins and filled me in on more Croatian history, I had been unaware of the extent of the Roman relics and ruins that have been found along the coast. There is evidence that Homo erectus lived in Pula one million years ago, and pottery from the Neolithic and Bronze Age has been excavated all along the coast.
We spent the first night in Rijeka, which is situated on Kvarner Bay, an inlet to the Adriatic Sea. The city has a great outdoor shopping plaza full of stores, restaurants and nightclubs, and is slightly less touristy than the opposite end of the coast (Split, Dubrovnik). We wandered around, had a great Italian dinner and went to sleep fairly early in an apartment that was in the main square. In the morning we grabbed quick food and started the long, but beautiful drive down the coast.
There is a lot of Italian influence along the Croatian coastline. I had great food everywhere and Croatia is full of fabulous outdoor farmers markets and fruit and vegetable stands along the highways. Some other fun facts that I learned while on the coast, Croatia is known for its lavender, sea sponges (good for exfoliation), olive oil and wine. Now, I understand why.