3 Slovenian Seaside Cities & Pula, Croatia

Well this day started off pretty interesting. First of all, the night before as we parked the car on the way back from Ljubljana, I looked at Cierra and said, “I don’t know how I’m going to get that out in the morning”. There was only one spot in the entire parking lot available and the hotel concierge (my new best friend) told me it was o.k. to park in the smallest parking space ever!!! Every time I get the tiny-tiny Eurocar I wish for more space, but on this occasion, I was regretting not getting that little wind-up tincan thing you see cruising around big enough for only one person. That might have had a hard time even fitting in this space. I was wedged in, in between a large stone column, 3 walls, 2 cars and an entire row of really expensive looking mountain bikes. I sighed as I walked away (beep-beep car alarm sound) and hung my head. I knew I had an interesting morning ahead of me.

And oh yeah, did I?! As we went out to the car, the spot in the daylight somehow looked even smaller and I swear the mountain bikes multiplied over night. I just laughed, and said oh well, everybody in, we’ll figure it out. Well after 20 minutes of inching back and forth, left and right, back and forth, left and right (like that scene from Austin Powers), I managed to somehow, I don’t think I do this again in a million times, turn the entire car perpendicular to from where I started and draw an entire crowd of onlookers from the hotel including my concierge friend, another manager (who in the 20 minutes smoked an entire pack of cigarettes and looked way stressed out about the situation and in disbelief that I was somehow smiling and enjoying it), a few other hotel employees, and an Italian family (2 small kids, a mom and a dad who was by profession apparently an Italian stunt car driver). So, the good news was the car was kind of out, the bad news was the car was now in a position where it literally could not be moved another inch, check that millimeter. I was now literally next to/on to the car that was originally behind me and stuck between the bikes and the wall(s).

Needing a break for a second, I got out and just laughed. My concierge friend, one of the hotel staff, and the Italian stunt car driver and I literally tried picking up the car beside us and moving it, that didn’t work. The Italian stunt car driver was telling me to somehow use the emergency break to “jump the car”. No idea what he was talking about, even if I understood what he was saying, he asked for permission to hop in and try. Well, he either was going to pull of some miracle or I was going to get back in and keep trying until Christmas came or we would have a huge dent/scrape on our car, the neighboring car and a wreck of really expensive bicycles. Hey, I was fully covered why not. So I let the Italian stunt car driver hop in and all of us stared mouth agape as he pulled the e-brake and made the car do things I’ve never seen before. He literally jumped the car back and forth, front and back until he had it completely turned so that it was manageable to get out. We kept moving the bicycles (very carefully one might add) and praying that he would not jump the car into the other..or the hotel. Somehow, he did it. I wanted to hug this guy, but settled for a great pic with us both giving the thumbs up! Now, that’s how you start an adventurous day!

After finally getting my nerve back we headed southwest towards the Slovenian Mediterranean coast to check out Koper, Izola and Parin. Not knowing much about them or what they were like, we figured we might stay there or head to Croatia for the day. All 3 were very nice, Koper (the industrial/marina fishing village), Izola (a beach and marina town with great view of the harbor), but clearly Parin was the nicest of them all. However, it was like a fortified town, seeming to keep tourist out and only the posh/rich in, so we just opted for a quick jump out/in at all 3 and try our luck with the Slovenian/Croatian border. Now, we were getting somewhere on the adventure meter!    

O.K., hon….you’re turn!

This morning we left the beautiful scenery of Lake Bled and drove south to the coast of Slovenia. Since our GPS did not have Croatia programmed, we followed the signs from Slovenia, through the famous salt marshes, and on to Pula, Croatia. Yep we were feeling adventurous all right, go figure. The drive to Pula was very easy. The kids, and us, I have to say, were pumped to get stamps in our passports both leaving Slovenia and entering Croatia. They were high-fiving in the backseat with the new stamps because they had a car on them…too funny! 

Overall, the roads in Slovenia and Croatia are very easy to follow and understand. THANK GOODNESS! Everything is in the native language, Italian, German, and English. Almost everyone we encountered spoke English so we were very relieved since we didn’t know the language. We did learn how to say THANK YOU. In Slovenia and Croatia it is hvalla. We’ve found that learning just “Please”, “Thank You” and “Excuse Me” alone can go a long way when meeting locals in a foreign country.

We found our way right to the Croatian coast and the famous ancient Roman amphitheater (http://pulainfo.hr/en/kamo-ici/monuments/33/amphitheater/240/) and found parking right by it.  It was built in the 1st century AD during the reign of Emperor Vespasian, at the same time as the Coliseum in Rome. It is the sixth largest in the world and one of the best preserved. We let the kids run around and pretend they were gladiators, running through arches, up and down stairs, and jumping around broken columns. After that we found Temple of Augustus. This temple was said to be constructed between 2 BC and 14 AD. We snapped a few pictures of the kids running around the temple and had linner (lunch/dinner) right in front of it. We walked through the old town and let the kids play in the park. There were so many Roman ruins that they were even scattered throughout the park. We searched for a hotel and found one right by the amphitheater and settled in for the night. Tomorrow, we head back north to Austria, not quite sure yet, but we are working on that part.

Tip: Croatia does not use the Euro. They have the Kuna, however, it is very easy to exchange the Euro for the Kuna almost anywhere. We did this at a gas station on our way into the town. The ratio is 1 euro to 7.6 kuna.

Tip: By The Way – I must say that Slovenia and Croatia have had the BEST public restrooms so far! AND THEY ARE FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is important especially with kids.







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