About halfway there, as we drove through hills and past cute villages, Damon's mom realized she had forgotten her passport. Croatia isn't in the EU yet, so there is a border check at the Slovenian-Croatian border - a passport is definitely necessary. Not wanting to return to Ljubljana or squash our dreams of exciting border crossings, Damon's parents offered to visit a town on the Slovenian coast, Koper (because it was on signs and Damon remembered it being on the coast), and let us take the car further on to Croatia.
We dropped them off in Koper, Slovenia, which is on the very northern tip of Istria, a peninsula on the Adriatic Sea which sits mostly in Croatia. Then we headed south to Poreč. As we went south the landscape started to look different - dark red dirt, vineyards, skinny evergreens planted around like in Italy, and little gray towns with steeples sitting on hilltops. NICE!!! The border crossing was easy and friendly.
I didn't read up too much on Poreč so there would be some surprises, but I was a little nervous. Sometimes coastal towns can be touristy in an ugly, modern way. I think Poreč might have been like that around the periphery, where huge, hideous resorts could be seen lining the coast. The center, however, on a little peninsula jutting straight out to sea, was beautiful!
Poreč was to us what every tourist seems to be looking for. It was beautiful, small, and there weren't many other tourists there (out of season I guess). Cheaper than Slovenia - we took out 50 EUR (the equivalent thereof, anyway - Croatia has its own currency) and had most of it left over after lunch, a cafe stop, admission to a bell tower, and a couple of little souvenirs. People were friendly. It was just empty! We climbed a tower that used to be part of a town wall, visited a basilica with 6th-century mosaics and climbed its tower, sat in a cafe on the seaside, and had calamari for lunch - and she prepared a sauce for them from scratch right in front of us. There were souvenir shops, but overall there really wasn't the feel of a place overrun with tourism and looking to get your cash at every turn. We actually felt kind of bad - it was so nice, and the place where we'd dropped off Damon's parents hadn't looked as good from what we saw.
|Poreč Okt 09|
|Koper Okt 09|
In late afternoon we returned to Koper to pick up Damon's parents, thinking we needed a couple of weeks to come back to properly explore Istria and maybe some further points south on the Croatian coast. We thought we'd take them to a nicer town on the Slovenian coast (a look at our book while we had some time that afternoon made Piran sound nice) for dinner, but when we arrived in Koper they'd decided they wanted to return to Ljubljana for dinner. I guess their experience wasn't quite as nice as ours - Koper's prices were like Ljubljana's so they didn't get the nice break we did. I thought going back to Ljubljana for dinner was a mistake, though. Again, we had trouble finding a restaurant within the limited guidelines I explained in my last post. We ended up at some overpriced Italian joint on the river. No one was there, because all the restaurants (within the guidelines) were empty. Then, his dad was craving a crepe. We looked all over the center for a crepe and finally found a place that had them on a menu. It only had outdoor seating but we decided to deal to finally get that crepe. It turned out they were out of crepes. Argh!! Ljubljana: not fun for eating. A pretty town though, and it was nice in the center with some live music going on and all the buildings and bridges pleasantly lit. We didn't stay out too late - we had a lot of driving in store for the next day - off to Austria!