To say the ferry ride from Venice to Rovinj was bumpy would be a severe understatement. I’m not sure if we passed through a storm or if it was just the nature of that part of the Adriatic Sea, but the boat was bobbing more dramatically than any I’ve been on. It took about 2.5 hours to reach Croatia and the sailing got a lot smoother once the boat was back in coastal waters. Before arriving in Rovinj, the boat stopped at another town on the coast and there was an ambulance waiting at the dock. A guy was put on the stretcher and then everyone else who was getting off at that town exited the boat. After that it took fifteen minutes for the boat to reach Rovinj.
The town of Rovinj is in the region of Istria, which is towards the northern end of Croatia’s long coastline. The city has an Italian feel to it, which is probably due to the fact that it was part of the Venetian republic for a long time. For me, Rovinj marked a major point in my journey as I transitioned from western Europe to eastern Europe. When I arrived in Rovinj it was already dark so I couldn’t see much. I was staying at a room I had found on Air BnB and my host met me at the ferry dock. He walked me over to the room, which was inside Rovinj’s old city and gave me some basic information of the neighborhood. Nothing else happened the rest of the night. Most everything was already closed so I would have to wait until the next day to get to work.
The next day there was a lot to do, and much of it was not sightseeing related. That said, the old city of Rovinj can be seen in just a few hours, so there was no real issue. One of the main things I had to get done was to purchase a bus ticket for the following day to Zagreb. While in much of Europe I normally travel by train, in Croatia the train network is more limited and buses generally are the better way to travel. To buy the bus ticket I also needed to get some money from the ATM, as Croatia does not use the euro. On the plus side, the Croatian national currency, called the kuna, is worth much less than the euro or the dollar and everything is cheaper in Croatia than in western Europe. This was especially welcome after my time in Venice, which financially was akin to me setting my wallet on fire. Once all the necessary mundane work was done, which was around 1:00pm, I finally got started on exploring Rovinj. I started at a parking lot, of all places, outside the old city walls which has a great view of the old city. Nearby it is a monument from the old communist days, recalling the time when Croatia was part of Yugoslavia. There’s also an outdoor market out there. I took a little time to peruse the stalls and noted that oils were the most common ware being sold, so maybe they are a local specialty. From the market I followed Garibaldi Street to the “Square at the Bridge,” which is not so much a square as it is a confluence of several streets. From what I understand, there used to be a waterway dividing the old city from the surrounding land and Square at the Bridge is where the bridge over the water was located. Further south is Tito Square, which as a water fountain that commemorates when the city finally got running water. From there I entered the old city under the Balbi Arch; a former city gate. At the top of Rovinj’s old city is the St Euphemia church and after checking out the church I climbed the bell tower. The stairs in the tower are not so much stairs as they are wooden slots sticking out of the walls and they can at times be tricky to climb and descend. When I came down and finished with the church I went down the northwest side of the city to a path above the water. I passed by a rocky area where a few people were lounging by the sea. After walking around the old town some more, I went back to my room and then went for a bike ride on the bicycle my host had let me borrow. Like the one I borrowed in Amboise, the bicycle was not in the best shape, but I wasn’t going to argue with a free bike ride. I followed the coast for awhile and then turned onto a bicycle trail that went through a forest/park. Some distance up the trail I decided to turn back and then I rode the bike all the way back to the room. By then it was time for dinner. Later that night I walked around town, though Rovinj doesn’t have much going on after dark. The day ended and I felt like I had gotten done everything I wanted to.
I slept in until 9:00am the next morning. My bus wasn’t until 1:45pm and there wasn’t anything urgent left to do in Rovinj, so there was no need to hurry. My host didn’t have anyone reserving the room that night and I took my time getting ready for the day. After packing up and cleaning the room, I spent my last bit of time in Rovinj walking through both the newer and older parts of the city. While I was out I also got some medication for my throat, which had started to bother me in Venice but had now turned into a standard sore throat. On my last trip I had gotten sick briefly in Milan, so with this ailment I guess I created a tradition of getting sick while overseas. I also visited St Euphemia one more time before leaving, and then went back to my room, got my backpack, and walked over to the bus station. The little town of Rovinj had taken me in and welcomed me to the east. Ahead was Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.