As the bus approached the gorgeous border of Istria, the very sight of the endless rows of sun-kissed grapevine, the big blue burst of cotton balls floating in the sky and the sultry smell of the sea, filled us with excitement. The five and a half hour bus journey from Ljubljana was soon forgotten, as we docked into the beautiful country of Croatia.
Rovinj, looked like a twin sibling of Venice with herds of sailing and fishing boats and swanky yachts perched on the island. The buildings and the lanes were splashed in bright color with windows crafted in Italian naves. The winged lion, found embedded on the popular Balbi Arch and the Town Hall was a true reminder of the territory being under Venetian rule for centuries.
From the moment we stepped foot on the Island, we knew that the word of its beauty had spread fast and far and had attracted tourists from all over, especially the rich and the older citizens from the West, taking a bit away from its old-world charm. The streets were lined with loud tourists and shopkeepers selling trinkets at unfairly high price.
Not letting the herds take the better of our excitement, we hit Rio bar, the highly recommended restaurant on Trip-adviser and the like website. Seafood and Truffles, being the local favourite, I chose the Grilled Prawn Mains, whilst Nikhil chose the White Truffle Sauce Ravioli. The food was more than just disappointing and simply did not live up to its repute or the beautiful view facing the restaurant.
Grisia is the very spine of Rovinj, and the town walks through its cobbled pathways into various art galleries, being the epicentre of cafes and lounges, stores selling truffle, local cheese and lavender products- filling the air with its therapeutic fragrance.
Some of the fun cafes and lounges that I particularly liked here were the Meditarraneo Cafe and the Valentino Cocktail and Champagne bar. These lounges had the perfect seating with cushions laid out at the rocks, where you could take a dip in the sea and be back in time for your meal and a sparkling drink. (Note: The Valentino lounge only opens at sunset and stays live through the night.)
From a distance, Rovinj looks like a conical hat with little houses perched at its foot, walking up to the St. Euphemia Church, with a bell tower acting as its tallest tip. From here, the view of the bay and the little town is spectacular. I skipped the climb to the tower and enjoyed the alluring view from its feet.
As mentioned above, Grissia hosts lots of truffle boutiques, but its best not to buy any souvenir from the touristy street and rather head to the lively farmers market near the harbour, which houses stalls selling the regions famous olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and of course truffles in the form of oil, paste, tapenades and chutneys. Despite the truffle being sourced from just 20 miles away, their wares aren’t cheap and one needs to haggle hard. For people, who would like to get a first hand experience at digging truffle, tours are also offered to the near Motovun Forest, which is home to the world’s best truffles.
After a hike around town and getting lost in the confusing lanes of Rovinj (another trait similar to Venice), my feet declared war and we stationed ourselves at a harbor side cafe with a glass of wine, soaking in, the laid back vibe .
Rovinj is beyond a doubt,a treat to the eye, but unfortunately it is a tad bit touristy. What it gains in its views, it looses in culture and local vibe. All in all, it was a delightful experience, but, in my opinion, is worth, only a one night stand.