Sunday, August 31, 2014

Road Tripping Though Istria

It's the end of August, which means my summer is officially over in preparations for another academic school year. It has been a fully packed month of August starting off with our move to a house in a new neighbourhood in Edinburgh followed by a week's holiday to Istria. It's always so nice to end summer properly with a trip, and our road trip really was a welcomed break to the craziness that comes with moving house. 

Istria is a region in Northern Croatia, Italy and Slovenia that has so many wonderful sights to offer. After our 2.5 hour flight from Edinburgh we rented a car and headed to the Plitvice Lakes National Park which is just outside of Istria. The national park was definately worth the detour. The park is known for its multiple cascading waterfalls and blue/green/clear water lakes. You can see from the pictures below how clear the water was throughout the park. 

The park took about 7 hours to walk through, and the weather couldn't have been better! 

You constantly heard waterfalls all around you while walking through the park. 

Many of the purpose built walkways allowed you to travel right over the falls. 

 The water was so clean and clear...

and the colors were beautiful and would continually change colors from green to blues as you walked through the park . 

If you ever visit the park I suggest spending a full day there in order to see everything. The park was really well taken care of and trails were well marked so that visitors could navigate their way through the main "attractions". 

The next day we hopped in the car and headed North, crossing the border into Slovenia. We decided to check out a new city called Ljubljana, the capital of the country. We only planned on 1 night in the city, which really was the perfect amount of time. 

One of the coolest things we saw while walking through the city was a milk vending machine, where you would put your money in and get a glass/gallon/pint of fresh milk. It was right next to the fresh farmers  market in the heart of the old town. 

The city also is famous for it's canal and bridges. I really loved this one full of love locks. 

This sign speaks the truth, don't you think? Christian's and my story certainly wouldn't have been the same if we started it with a coffee instead of a Guinness. 

The city also has a castle at the top of a hill. We took a funicular to the top and were able to see great views of the surrounding city buildings. 

Having some fun with the camera...

One of the other things we loved about the city is how bike friendly it was to get around. The visitor's centre rents bikes to tourists for only $1 an hour! We decided since we were only spending one day in the city a great way to get around would be by bike. 

A wise man once told me, you haven't been anywhere unless you've been there by bike. 

 The next morning, we decided to head back towards central Istria, and on the way we stopped at a famous castle I had read about. It was built right into the side of a mountain. 
Living in Scotland, we constantly get to visit castles so don't always make it a point to see them in other countries. However, Predjama Castle was worth the stop!

The next stop on our road trip was Trieste, a city in Northeastern Italy. We visited a place called Miramare Castle which was a fantastic place to stop and relax during the road trip. 
 The grounds were free to stroll around, and the castle was right at the water...

 and the Italian garden was so lovely to meander through. 

 We spent around an hour at the castle, traveled through downtown Trieste, and then made our way back into Croatia. 

Our next stop was Rovinj, one of the most popular coastal cities in Istria situated right at the coast of the Adriatic Sea. 

Many of the bars and restaurant were built right into the cliffs off the city's main streets.  

 We also stopped here because we did not want to rush around the entire week. With September being by busiest time of the year at work, I was really able to switch off and relax. 

 The sunsets with the old city in the background were really beautiful. 

Two nights in Rovinj was great, but because it is one of the highlights of Istira it was quite packed. The final two nights, we headed to Kamenjak National Park. This truly was the highlight for both Christian and me. 

We went snorkelling and I was amazed at all of the sea life.  

 People sit right on the cliffs as there are no real sand beaches. You could even see cliff jumping going on at various points along the coast. 
 For lunch we went to a place called "the Safari Bar" that was hidden amongst bamboo trees. They had slides, swings, and ping pong as kind of a playground for adults. 

 The night before flying home from Pula we went to one of the city's highlights, the colosseum. 
Istria was wonderful and exactly what we needed to end the summer properly. I am so glad we were able to explore more of the Croatian coastline. We have such a packed schedule lined up until the end of the year, highlights which include a visits from my brother David, brother in law Andy, our honeymoon to Dubai and South Africa, and then our trip to the USA for Christmas.
Until next time, we'll see you on the internet. 

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