RV Roadtrip Croatia – The Istrian Peninsula Part Two
Adjusting to a slower travel pace took a bit of getting used to and after sitting in Polidor for a week we were ready to move on and see some new sites in Croatia. We were planning on three months in Croatia to reset our visa and had done some research into the off season camping that was available which was somewhat limited. We had even considered parking the camper and getting an apartment for a month or two.
Due to the camping limitations, our next destination wasn’t too far down the road near the village of Vrsar at camping Porto Sole. Porto Sole is a massive campsite but as it was the off season we were able to get sea side camping without a problem. In prime season we would be relegated to one of the back lots if we wanted to use the ACSI discount card. In prime season there would also be a couple of restaurants open, a grocery, hair salon etc. They have also worked out a deal with a close by hotel for some facilities sharing but that was under repair during our visit.
There is a small fruit and vegetable stand open and she had some local wine, olive oil, cheese and honey available as well. They do keep the beach restaurant and bar open during the day but it closes at 5 pm so no sundowners for us at the bar.
The sea side camping was pretty amazing and the lack of local facilities didn’t bother us a bit. The village of Vsar was a quick 10-minute walk away and there are a couple of bars and restaurants there by the marina that were open in the off season. There is a small grocery and butcher as well and we were able to provision without issue.
Parts of the village are quite quaint; there is a small church on the hill and the views are stunning in all directions.
According to local legend and a plaque on a wall, a young Casanova once visited Vrsar and presumably charmed some of the local ladies. Curious to find out more, I took to the Internet and learned more than I ever wanted to know. Certainly, a very interesting and complicated individual but rather than a sly complement, a real “Casanova” should imply that the person is quite lecherous and much worse than just a womanizer. To quote the man himself, “I was all my life the victim of my senses; I have delighted in going astray and I have constantly lived in error, with no other consolation than that of knowing I have erred.”
During our stay at Porto Sole we made several trips into Vrsar to wander around and have drinks by the marina. Quite enjoyable, reasonably priced and million dollar views! One thing to note about travel in Croatia, the sidewalk ‘cafes’ usually don’t have any snacks, or are very very limited. As we usually like to have a light snack with drinks scanning the tables to see if anyone is eating something became an added criteria when choosing a spot.
Next to the large Porto Sole is a much larger camping village connected via a nice walking path. Luckily for us, this village was closed for the season but we could wander around and enjoy a very nice sea side walk.
There is also a little island with cabanas, a restaurant and beach bars. Had it been prime season we never would have gotten to explore as it is a camp for naturists, i.e. clothing not allowed! There was a sign on the path showing dogs and bathing suits not allowed (separate signs).
Vrsar has a small bus terminal and a very limited schedule and destinations served but there is a daily bus from there to Rovinj, an ancient sea side town that many people view as the best in the whole of the Istrian peninsula. As the crow flies Vsar and Rovinj are pretty close but they are separated by an inlet that seems similar to a fiord and so the bus route ends up taking about an hour to go around. Dogs (at least in bags) are allowed.
Rovinj was initially a Venetian settlement and in fact some of the buildings are built right on the edge of the water, a la Venice. The main bus station is very near the old town center which made our visit from Vrsar super convenient. The main part of the old town is also blocked off and is pedestrian only which always makes wandering the cobblestone streets much more enjoyable for us and Sebastian!
The old town is on a peninsula, so all three sides have pretty amazing views. We wandered the streets eventually making our way up the hill to the basilica that crowns the top. After taking in the views we meandered back down through the narrow streets and eventually back to the marina.
Hungry, we started to evaluate our options. The places by the water that were actually serving food were a bit expensive but eventually we found a place that had an Istrian ham and cheese plate. That and toast were the only food items they had but it was more than enough, reasonably priced and things couldn’t have been better. The small bar patio had some pretty epic views.
Rovinj definitely exceeded our expectations and I would encourage anyone visiting the area to at least take a day trip like we did. The bus from Vrsar leaves at 9:30 am or 3:30 pm and the return from Rovinj is 6:45 am, 4 pm or 8:20 pm.
After our visit to Rovinj we spent a few more days at Porto Sole but our feet started to get itchy and we decided to move on. In hindsight, we should have stayed there for a bit longer enjoying living on the seaside with the incredible views and easy walk into town.
Alas, adjusting to a slower pace of travel does take some getting used to! If we take the camping car back to the Istrian peninsula we plan on pitching up at Porto Sole for quite a while and who knows, maybe we’ll try our hand at being a naturist for a day or two!
Stay tuned as we head to Krk island where we stay on an olive farm, head to Krka National Park and visit Šimuni Camping Village, another massive resort for 4500 occupants and we were the only people camping there!