Venice / Croatia - 2004
I did this one-week trip during my summer vacation in July. I've always liked Italy and when I saw the Air Finland summer offers to Venice I booked the flights. After some googling I realized that there are frequent ferry connections to Croatia so decided to combine these two countries.
Places visited (In Croatia - tour started & ended in Venice):
Check out the photo gallery.
Both countries left me with mixed feelings: Venice and many spots in Croatia were absolutely beautiful - but often fully packed with tourists. Croatia was surprisingly western and more or less conquered by German tourists.
The highlights of the trip were Plitvice Lakes National park and the small village of Cres.
24.7.2004 Helsinki - Venice
I arrived in Venice after dark and it was raining. After some wandering around I found my hotel from the industrial ghetto of Marghera that I would not recommend for longer stays. I had booked the hotel in advance from Internet and to my surprise my reservation was found immediately.
I walked back to railway station, which was surrounded by numerous restaurants and chose a random pizzeria. After consuming a quattro stagioni I returned to hotel and tried to get some sleep. It was really hot and humid - therefore I did not really sleep much...
25.7.2004 Venice - Rovinj
I left my backpack to the railway station and started my walking tour. The city is actually really attractive but it was also interesting to realize that most of the buildings are in really bad condition. It is easy to get lost on the narrow streets and often your path is blocked by a channel. After a while the heat took its toll and I decided to continue sightseeing by boat. That was a good idea since that was really cheap and provided fascinating views of the downtown area architecture.
The hell broke loose when I reached San Marco square - the stunning buildings were shadowed by the countless tourists that basically filled the whole area. I decided to skip queuing and started walking to ferry terminal. The ferry ride to Rovinj was fast but fairly bumpy. In Rovinj I once again ran into huge masses of tourists - this time mostly German people partying on the streets. The hotel was somewhat difficult to locate - after 30 minutes I found it from the outskirts of the town. It was quite dark already so it was difficult to get a good impression of the surroundings - anyway the big number of Germans felt slightly alarming...
26.7.2004 Rovinj - Rab
My destination was the island of Rab that according to Lonely Planet was "charming". I don't think that I have ever disagreed more with my trusted guidebook - immediately when I arrived I realized that the whole place is pretty much the same as Rovinj with thousands of German tourists. The old city itself was pretty attractive but once again so packed with people that I got really pissed off. It seemed that most of the hotels were also fully booked so I ended in a overpriced hotel in the city center. Since I did not feel like spending too much time in the buzzing downtown area I had a cheap (and terrible) meal at a local fastfood / kebab restaurant and decided to get some sleep and leave the as the first thing in the morning.
27.7.2004 Rab - Korevice
I finally reached the mainland and was really relieved to get going on the steep mountain roads. Even though I was speeding slightly there were trucks that constantly kept overtaking me - scary! As the rain (and wind) were getting stronger all the time I decided to stop in the small town of Korevice. The only hotel in the town was overpriced so I decided to try local home accommodation ("sobe"). A couple of kilometres outside downtown area there I found a cosy place to stay overnight. Since it was still raining heavily all I could do was to enjoy a good steak in a local restaurant and read a (lousy) book. Hope the weather gets better since tomorrow I'll be heading to Plitvice Lakes National Park...
28.7.2004 Korevice - Plitvice - Senj
Even the huge crowds of people could not ruin the experience. I shot dozens of photos and the scenery became more and more impressive as I got closer to the bigger waterfalls. I quickly forgot the hard feelings from Rab and Rovinj as I was staring at the awe-inspiring natural wonders. I spent several hours in the park - most of the time just sitting on a edge of a cliff enjoying the sunshine. When I finally left the park I headed back to the coast towards the small town of Senj. This proved to be quite a relaxed place with only a few German tourists. I found a cheap sobe to stay overnight (with balcony) and spent the rest of day hanging out in the beachfront area having dinner and enjoying the laidback atmosphere.
29.7.2004 Senj - Cres
After a couple of hours of travelling I arrived in Cres. It was a relief to realize that the place was just what I had been looking for - a picturesque and relaxed small town by the sea. I found sobe accommodation hosted by an old lady. I decided to check out the local beach - which unfortunately proved to be once again a pebble beach like most of the beaches in northern Croatia. Water was surprisingly cold but refreshing. I returned to downtown and had an excellent seafood risotto in an Italian restaurant. In general the town had a strong Italian influence and quite a few Italian people as well.
Valun proved to be a picturesque small village where time more or less stood still. There were two pebble beaches - I decided to do some sunbathing on the less crowded one. The pebbles hurt my bare foot so going for swim was quite painful. Therefore some people wore sandals while swimming! I spent the whole afternoon in Valun and started my sweaty journey back a couple of hours before sunset. Fortunately most of the journey was now downhill. Back in Cres I spent some time on a local "concrete beach" (a concrete platform by the sea with sunbeds and ladders to sea). I watched the sunset near the harbour and moved to a seaside restaurant to enjoy fresh fish (which was excellent and included free grappa). Then it was time to go to sleep since I had to get up early (5.30) in the morning!
31.7.2004 Mali Losinj - Venice-Helsinki
I missed the airport bus as I took the slower ferry so I had to take a taxi to airport. 25€ was not too bad though. The plane was in time and again half empty.
In general this was a good trip - especially when it had been raining quite heavily back home. If you are looking for sunshine and beaches I would not definitely go to northern Croatia but if you prefer hiking and beautiful nature then it is the place to go.
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