A Little Down Time in Istria
Full time travel is rewarding but it can also be tiring. Between traveling from place to place, packing and unpacking, planning activities and itineraries, keeping up with schoolwork and blogging, travel can feel like a full-time job. After three and a half months on the road we were ready for some down time so we booked a stay at the all-inclusive resort Valamar Club Tamaris near Poreč on the Istrian peninsula.
Being late September, our stay was well into the shoulder season which allowed us to get a good rate and avoid the crowds. The downside was that fall weather was beginning to move in; the first couple days of our stay were warm enough to swim but a mild cold front made it a bit too chilly to enjoy the beach later on.
We had the pool nearly to ourselves most afternoons!
Friends from Home!
During our stay on Istria we had a real treat – our dear friends from back home came to visit us for a few days as part of their trip to Montenegro and Croatia. It was fantastic to be able to spend time catching up with them. The adult interaction felt especially good since we’d spent most of the last four months in close proximity to the kids. 🙂 The kids got a break from us as well; the hotel had a kids club where they got to dress up as pirates and take part in other activities.
We made a visit to nearby Poreč , a picturesque town on the coast with Roman and Venetian influences. We wandered through the narrow alleyways and found a street cafe where we enjoyed some coffee and gelato before proceeding to the UNESCO listed Euphrasian Basilica. The current basilica dates from the sixth century.
The entrance features a wonderful mosaic.
The basilica complex was full of mosaics of varying ages. In some places we could see mosaics installed on the floors on top of earlier mosaics. It made us wonder if the old mosaics had gone out of style, kind of like finding layers of linoleum in older houses these days.
After leaving the basilica we made our way to the Temple of Neptune. The temple dates from the 1st century and sadly not much of it remains other than part of a wall and pieces of columns strewn on the ground.
One day we took advantage of some of the mountain biking trails that crisscross the peninsula through olive groves and vineyards. Later we stopped for a cold beer in a seaside village before heading back.
Fortuitously, our friends’ visit coincided with Annette’s birthday. Even better, the hotel was hosting an Oktoberfest celebration on site with music provided by “Die Granaten“, a group from Austria that bills themselves as “The ABBA of Folk Music”. In addition to traditional folk music, they included covers of ABBA songs. The evening could not have been more perfect 🙂
Here’s a sample of the music we were treated to.
Istria was a great place to kick back and relax for a few days and it was great to spend a couple of days with friends from home. Much of the time we felt like we were in Italy due to the Venetian architecture and plethora of olive groves and vineyards. At the resort itself we often felt like we were in Germany since most of the other guests seemed to be German or Austrian and German was the primary language spoken there.
Since we were keeping a slower pace we didn’t try to make it to some of the other major sites (e.g. Rovinj and Pula) but that gives us a great reason to come back to Istria again!
In our next update, we travel to Plitvice Lakes National Park to see the waterfalls and emerald blue lakes.