At the seaside again

At the seaside again

My holiday in Croatia was the first trip abroad lasting more than two days since the outbreak of the corona pandemics. The year 2020 brought a new international train connection from Slovakia which I just had to try. The new link enabled Slovaks to travel to the Croatian city of Rijeka directly which hadn’t been possible ever before. At least in the modern history of Slovakia.

And on Sunday, the 16th of August I set off to explore a beautiful country in the Balkans. I had been there before but there were still places worth going to. I had a lot of ideas where I could go but the trip turned out differently. As is often the case with my trips.

Off to Croatia

I travelled all night and reached Rijeka late in the morning. The plan was to go to the historical city of Pula right away but it took me a better part of the day to find out about transportation options and actually get there. I only had an evening to enjoy the city and so I decided to spend the following day there.

Looking at the Regiojet train having just arrived in Rijeka
I took this train from Lupoglav to Pula
A sinister sky during a storm on my first day in Pula

It was the first time since the beginning of the corona crisis that I had stayed in a hostel. To my surprise Croatia is quite an expensive country for a budget traveller and so decided to give it a try and stay in a shared room. And everything was fine. Despite the virus out there. I was staying in the Crazy House Hostel. Despite the name, there was nothing crazy about the hostel. Quite to the contrary. It was one of the better hostels I stayed in.

The hostel I stayed at

The most famous attraction in Pula is the Arena, a Roman Amphitheatre that bears a striking resemblance to the Colosseum in Rome. It’s spectacular both in broad daylight and by night. Another beautiful spot in the city is the Forum, which is the main square in the city centre. It’s where you can find the Temple of August, another interesting structure to visit. While exploring the city you will also come across the Triumphal arch, Twin gate, Hercules gate or the Little Roman theatre.

Pula Arena in the evening
Pula Arena in the evening
The Forum with the Temple of August on the left
Floor mosaic ‘The Punishment of Dirce’
Pula Arena before sunset
Pula Arena before sunset

What I really loved though was the proximity of the sea. As I hadn’t been at the seaside since I left Thailand it’s what I wanted the most. The sea. Take a dip. And so I did. I took a long walk to one of the city beaches and spent some time on the beach. It felt amazing. I had been missing it. I walked along the coast and came to another beach where I did some more swimming.

Let’s take a dip. Finally!
Another lovely beach in Pula
My second evening in Pula and the weather is much better

Rovinj, another city or rather town on the Istrian peninsula, was my next destination. It’s absolutely gorgeous. The old town is on a hilly peninsula with the Cathedral of St. Euphemia at the top which makes it really charming. The views of the old town from a distances as wells as the views of the sea from the old town are simply stunning.

Wearing a face mask – the new age of travelling?
The colourful houses in Rovinj
One of the great views from the old town
The Cathedral of St. Euphemia

After having explored the old town, I decided to go to a beach again. The coast was more crowded than in Pula but it didn’t stop from me finding a nice place to chill and take that refreshing dip in the sea. I wish I had had more time to spend there but I had to catch my ride to Rijeka. With very few bus connections in Croatia in general I had to find another way to go to Rijeka. And so I did. I was lucky to find a ride through the blablacar website. Still it was too early to leave beautiful Rovinj.

The harbour and the old town of Rovinj in the distance
A kind of a beach in Rovinj

Rijeka was just supposed to be a stopover place but being unable to get up early and catch that only eastbound express train I ended up exploring Rijeka. The Trsat castle was a nice surprise. I am a sucker for views and they are magnificent from the castle as it is built on a hill and so dominates the city.

A beach for dogs close to a container terminal was a place to swim for me
I loved how peaceful the sea was in the evening
Who is it? I don’t know! Just an interesting spot.
The view of Rijeka from the Trsat castle
Trsat castle
Trsat castle
An inspirational quote
You are beautiful, no matter what they say, words can’t bring you down…

Being an avid fan of train travel I took an afternoon train to the village of Fužine. I’d call it an off the beaten path tourist places at least from the point of views of a foreign traveller. I assume, however, it’s very popular places with the locals. There are two reservoirs and so I took a walk around one of them to reach the other one. Fužine is at a higher altitude than Rijeka and so the weather was cooler and refreshing. After that I took another train to Skrad, a village in the mountains, where I planned to spend the night.

Let’s take a train! Yay! As always
Bajersko Jezero (Bajer Lake)
Bajersko Jezero (Bajer Lake)
Bajersko Jezero (Bajer Lake)
Jezero Lepenica (Lepenica Lake)
Jezero Lepenica (Lepenica Lake)

The following morning I took a train south. The original idea was to go and visit the Plitvice Lakes National park but I gave up on the idea and go back to the seaside and enjoy it more. And so I got off at a station in the middle of nowhere, which was closest to the sea and decided to try hitchhiking.

Hitchhiking in the heat of the day

Hitchhiking is normally an adventure and so much fun. This time, however, not so much. It was only 60 km to the seaside town of Senj but it took me 3 and a half hours to reach it by hitchhiking. I think I took a ride with four different drivers but what made it less enjoyable was the weather. It was scorching hot and I was hitchhiking around noon, the hottest time of the day.

But I made it. I had lunch and then I found a place to swim. It was super small beach but I didn’t mind. The water was clean and refreshing. I had been to Senj before and it’s a lovely coast town with a fort nearby.

The sea was the best reward after hitchhiking

After having enjoyed the sea for a bit, I was going to return to Rijeka. I wanted to try hitchhiking. Worst case scenario was taking a bus. There were options here. I found a petrol station and as soon as I came out of the shop I managed to get a lift. It didn’t even take 30 seconds to stop a car. Wow. Amazing. A super friendly Hungarian man, who had just got his boat driving licence, was going to the Krk island and gave me a lift almost all the way to Rijeka. Almost. I got another lift from the turnoff all the way. So I can only say that the evening hitchhiking session was a success.

On the following day, I took a bus to Zagreb and a day later a train to Budapest, another train route I had wanted to travel along for a while. I enjoyed my time in Croatia so much that I wanted to go there again in September. Sadly, the country was removed from the list of safe countries because of increasing number of corona cases and so I’ll have to come back some other time.

Off to Budapest!
Bye bye Croatia!

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