Taking off this morning for Pula, Croatia. J and I have not traveled to Croatia before and since I \240get extremely busy with work for August we are taking 4 days to explore a new country. Our flight is out of London Southend (easyJet) direct to Pula. A few hours later saw the blue crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea.

Once we arrived it was off to explore Pula as it’s \240really the only day we have to see what it has to offer. We found our AirB&B, dropped off backpacks and heading out. First we made our way to the Pula Market before it closed. Fish, Meat & Veg (throw in some cheese and honey) and your set.

Pula Market

Next : the Romans

1. Arch of the Sergii - A slightly older Roman monument is this triumphal arch that was erected to commemorate the powerful Sergii family’s participation in the pivotal Battle of Actium in France. It dates to about 30 BC.

2. The church and monastery of St. Francis - \240Pula’s Franciscan church is from the 1300s when this monastic order first arrived at the city.

An interesting bit to this church was the turtles in the courtyard🙂

3. Temple of Augustus - The temple was built during the reign of Augustus, which makes it more than 2,000 years old.This temple has survived because it was converted into a church when the Romans adopted Christianity, although later it became a granary before settling on its present role of lapidarium in the 19th century.

4. Arena - The Pula Arena is the name of the amphitheatre located in Pula, Croatia. The Arena is the only remaining Roman amphitheatre to have four side towers and with all three Roman architectural orders entirely preserved. It was constructed in 27 BC – 68 AD and is among the six largest surviving Roman arenas in the World.

5. Floor mosaic “The Punishment of Dirce”

After the bombing of World War II remains of Roman houses with mosaics were found under the block of houses around the Chapel of St. Maria Formosa. The most impressive one is surely the floor mosaic with the central field presenting the mythological scene of the “Punishment of Dirce”(Amphion and Zethus are tying Dirce to an enraged bull, since out of envy Dirce had been cruel to their mother Antiope.) This figural scene presents the central field of a large floor mosaic composition (12 m x 6 m). The entire mosaic composition is divided into two equal sections with altogether 40 decorated areas dominated by geometrical patterns with animal details (fish and bird). The mosaic covered the floor of a central room of a Roman house, probably from the 3rd century. It has been preserved at the site where it was found, so that the level of house floors in the Roman times, which is 2 m below today’s level, is clearly visible.

Another small Roman arena

View from our flat for the next 4 days.

We decided to eat our larger meal around 2pm as being a tourist is challenging and hungry work😉 Lunch today was had at Jupiter a local recommended wood fired pizza place and it was great. We fueled up then continued our sightseeing. At about 6:30 we headed back to the flat and then heard opera from somewhere out in the night. J went out to investigate and in the arena (next door) a rehearsal was going on for AIDA.

Looking forward to the lunar eclipse tomorrow!


Today we jumped out of bed, packed up, ran to the bakery and then made straight for the ferry to head to Venice for the day. We queued up and handed our passports to the check in desk and were told our tickets were for tomorrow?? Oh well...... Venice tomorrow then! (Ugh)

Re-thought the days activities and decided to head to Rovinj with other destinations undecided at present...

Rovinj is a Croatian fishing port on the west coast of the Istrian peninsula. The old town stands on a headland, with houses tightly crowded down to the seafront. A tangle of cobbled streets leads to the hilltop church of St. Euphemia, whose towering steeple dominates the skyline.

Our goal for the day was to be atop the bell tower for 12 noon to experience the ringing. Made it barely after finding it challenging to actually find the correct cobbled street to get us there.

Made it!

From Rovinj we traveled to Motovun

Motovun/Montona is a medieval town that grew up on the site of an ancient city called Castellieri. It is situated on a hill 270 metres (886 feet) above sea level with houses scattered all over the hill. On the inner walls are several coats-of-arms of different Motovun/Montona ruling families and two gravestones of Roman inhabitants (dating from the 1st century).

Parish Church of St. Stephen

The largest truffle in the world was found in forests of Motovun Istria back in 1999. The founder, Giancarlo Zigante, still holds the world record in Guinness book of records for the largest white truffle ever found in the world. White truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico) was 19.5 cm long, 12.4 cm wide, 13.5 cm tall and weighed 1.31 kg. Its value at the time was estimated at 5.000$, but Giancarlo decided not to sell it abroad: Instead he sold it locally and made many foodies from around the world come to Istria. This definitely helped to put Istria on the world map regarding truffles. Giancarlo Zigante with its brand Zigante Tartufi is today the leading brand in truffle production and sales in Croatia, and he is the number one exporter to USA.

After a sampling of truffles we descend back to our car but not before J jumped a fence and started gathering some plums on the side of the road. 😋 shame the figs were not ripe yet😞.

Next up Bale. Just a quick stop in the town on our way back to Pula. Purchased some lovely raspberries and plum tomatoes on a tiny cobbled street.

The origins of the settlement lie in the Roman stronghold of Castrum Vallis, built by Caius Palcrus to protect the salt-pan road from Pula

After a small village tour for the day it was time to cool off in the Adriatic.

Fully tired out but managed to head out to enjoy the full lunar eclipse with the opera Adia playing in the arena in the background.


Venice - we knew where to go and checked in early as we had practice the day before 😉

Before leaving London we purchased tickets for a 1 day trip to Venice. Ok I have said that I would never go to Venice, and if by chance I did it would have to be off season. Last weekend in July on a Saturday to Venice is what I would call mental. Yup that’s exactly what we did. We are currently on the ferry heading back to Pula after our day out during the high season in Venice.

This trip will end up taking about 12 hours in total. 3.5 hrs one way... above is our first glimpse of Saint Marco’s Square. I was so looking forward to being with the 70-80 thousand tourists that visit Venice every day.🤪

We jumped off the boat and caught a taxi to Murano. The island known for glass blowing.

Murano was initially settled by the Romans and from the sixth century by people from Altinum and Oderzo. At first, the island prospered as a fishing port and through its production of salt.In 1291, all the glassmakers in Venice were forced to move to Murano due to the risk of fires. In the following century, exports began, and the island became famous, initially for glass beads and mirrors. \240Aventurine glass was invented on the island, and for a while Murano was the main producer of glass in Europe. The island later became known for chandeliers. Although decline set in during the eighteenth century, glassmaking is still the island's main industry.

After exploring a bit we jumped on another taxi back to mainland Venice. Alighted near Rialto Bridge.

The Rialto Bridge (Italian: Ponte di Rialto; Venetian: Ponte de Rialto) is the oldest of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. Connecting the sestieri (districts) of San Marco and San Polo, it has been rebuilt several times since its first construction as a pontoon bridge in the 12th century, and is now a significant tourist attraction in the city.

Next onto Saint Marco Square. Now my knowledge of Venice is very limited (my plan was to never come here remember) so I was not expecting anything. The squares architecture was amazing. Hence to 80 thousand visitors each day, but it really was remarkable.

Saint Marco’s Basilica

We skipped the queue (J bought tickets on her phone in the Square) and we headed in. Amazing in all its grandeur except if you want to actually see other areas of the church, they all require more money. Every corner, room or artifact is yours to see for a price and photos are not allowed. I’ve been in churches all over the world and this was a first. A bit sad really but it is what it is.

The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark (Italian: Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco), commonly known as Saint Mark's Basilica (Italian: Basilica di San Marco; Venetian: Baxéłega de San Marco), is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, northern Italy. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. It lies at the eastern end of the Piazza San Marco, adjacent and connected to the Doge's Palace. Originally it was the chapel of the Doge, and has been the city's cathedral only since 1807, when it became the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, formerly at San Pietro di Castello. For its opulent design, gold ground mosaics, and its status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, from the 11th century on the building has been known by the nickname Chiesa d'Oro (Church of gold).

Next up the Bridge of Sighs

The Bridge of Sighs (Italian: Ponte dei Sospiri) is a bridge located in Venice, northern Italy. The enclosed bridge is made of white limestone, has windows with stone bars, passes over the Rio di Palazzo, and connects the New Prison (Prigioni Nuove) to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace. It was designed by Antonio Contino (whose uncle Antonio da Pontehad designed the Rialto Bridge) and was built in 1600.

The gondola is a traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boat, well suited to the conditions of the Venetian lagoon. It is similar to a canoe, except it is narrower. It is propelle a gondolier, who uses a rowing oar, which is not fastened to the hull, in a sculling manner and acts as the rudder. There are approximately 400 licensed gondoliers in Venice and a similar number of boats, down from the thousands that travelled the canals centuries ago.However, they are now elegant craft, instead of the various types of shabby homemade boats of the distant past.

Venetian masks 🎭

Momjan Castle

Final day. Decided to head north again to visit a Momjan Castle ruin, with several stops along the way and back again.

First we awoke and headed to the bakery one last time in Pula. Found this interesting loaf, with some fresh goats milk cheese and tomato’s - the perfect breakfast😊

Pulled off at Vodnjan to explore some dry stone huts in Istria. This hut below is Sv. Franjo built in the Middle Ages.

These are reproductions near by the real thing so you can get a sense on how they were constructed.

We did stop off in the town of Vodnjan to visit the church of St. Blaise which is known for its mummies. Unfortunately it’s Sunday and a service was in session, alas no mummies for us today😞

The church of St. Blaise in Vodnjan was built between 1760 and 1800 and is the largest church in the wider area.

The collection preserved in the church contains up to 370 relics from 250 Christian saints. Among them are preserved bodies, which are considered to be a phenomenon as scientists have not yet discovered what has prevented their decomposition. Besides the bodies, the clothes in which the saints were buried have also been preserved. The mummies are kept in glass coffins.

Next we stopped off in Baje, enjoyed a quick walk around, heard the morning church service then it was on to our Croatian castle.

Momjan Castle

Built in 1234, it has been mentioned that the Momjan Castle was ruled by Dominus Wosalcus de Mimilano up until 1548 when the castle was purchased by the knight, Simone Rota from Bergamo, for 5,500 golden coins. Rota then reconstructed the fortress into a trapezoidal shape, renovating the living rooms and constructing the chapel of Saint Stephen as well as put in a new stone bridge. For the next 300 years, the Rota family inhabited the castle, which is oftentimes referred to as the Rota Castle, although it is not its official name.

Unexpected next stop, Slovenia ! This was not planned but realizing that we were so close to the boarder we thought, why not. So from Momjan we found an ‘un-named’ road and with our sturdy rental car took to it. 😉 Now we both realize that this might not be the best decision but did we hesitate🤪 nope. We made it within 1km of the boarder before the road became impassable🙃. J managed to turn around in a sort of field with a 200 point turn. Whew......🤭close one. Backtracked and made it to the boarder.

First views of Slovenia.

Crossed back into Croatia and found Novigrad a sleepy fishing village with of course their own bell tower. One of the 120 bell towers in the Istria region.

Time to head back to Pula, because M needs to be at the airport 2 full hours before the flight departs. Now, Pula airport has only four gates! Imagine spending two hours in an airport that big! (J just hijacked the tablet from me....) we were actually right on time!!!

Wonderful 4 day trip to some new countries. Experienced and saw some great history and fully enjoyed every moment.