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We drove to Pula, Croatia over a four day weekend. We went from August 17-20, 2017. This was my favorite trip in Europe so far. Croatia will forever have a special place in my heart. I sincerely hope that we can go back soon!
Day 1- Exploring
Pula was our very first long road trip out of the country of Germany and no where we’ve been since has topped this trip! Since we have three small children, we chose to do an over night road trip. We left around midnight and drove all night in the dark while our children slept. Some good friends came with us on this trip and shared our Airbnb with us!
We entered Croatia around 8 in the morning and the drive was just gorgeous!!! Here is a video of the drive after we crossed the border:
Our first stop was for breakfast since we couldn’t check into our airbnb until 2pm. We went to Sareni Papar. Now warning, they have the word “slow” in their logo, but I don’t think we waited too long. The server was so nice and sweet to us, our children and our puppy! She brought out a bowl of water for our pup and wiped off the bottom of their chalk menu board so that the kids could color on it while waiting for our food!
We ordered a breakfast full of bread, fruit, meats and cheeses (pretty standard for Europe, and delicious!)
After we ordered, the husbands got up and walked across the street to get cash out of the ATM. This is something we always do, usually as soon as we enter a new country to take out the correct currency. What’s nice about ATMs in Europe is the machine doesn’t charge you a fee, only your bank does. And their exchange rate is almost always better than taking the currency you have and getting it exchanged at an exchange business.
After breakfast we called our Airbnb for an early check in, headed to the airbnb and dropped off our stuff. Which, by the way, our airbnb was really really nice! The hosts were nice, it had a big kitchen, two rooms, a living room and bathroom. It was also a quick walk to everywhere! A two minute walk to the Colosseum! We parked our cars there and only moved them when we drove to other towns.
After we left our airbnb we went on a walk to the town, we headed straight down into the town and walked into what I would call the marketplace. There were lots of antiques everywhere! When we got into the “market” we took a left and looked at all the food they were selling which all looked amazing! Yummy cheeses and oils, fruits and veggies! Although, I’m pretty sure we almost got scammed.
A woman approached me at the marketplace and said something like “Follow me”, turned around and started walking between two stands and out of the marketplace. She never turned back to see if I was following her. But I surely was not about to follow a stranger in a strange land to I don’t know where. So crisis averted? I’m not sure, but I’m glad I never found out.
After that fiasco, we decided to head back towards where we came from and found a fountain that our kids played in. From there, we saw a sign for rolled ice cream and decided it was a must try after lunch! Except we didn’t eat lunch right away, instead we grabbed some bread from a bakery and explored!
Seeing the Sights
So I began looking at my google maps to find out where all the sites are, which is amazing because they are all marked, and if you click on them it will give you walking directions! We first stumbled upon the Arch of Sergii (first pic in collage). The Arch of Sergii is an ancient Roman triumphal arch that was erected as a symbol of victory at Actium.
Next pictured is an alley, I thought it was beautiful so I snapped a pic!
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The third pic in the collage is The Punishment of Dirce Floor Mosaic. Finding this was a true challenge. Even though I was following directions in google maps, it didn’t take us directly there. And we got so lost trying to find it, I wouldn’t be able to tell you how to either! So take it as a challenge, ask some locals! They are so amazing and helpful! This was beautiful, it was unearthed after the World War 2 bombings, as an ancient Roman floor!
The fourth picture is the Temple of Augustus. You can pay for a tour inside, we decided not to. It is gorgeous! This was also right by the water but we decided to skip the view and head back for more food and ice cream!
Ya’ll this ice cream is DIVINE!! The place is called Flaviani Desserts. It is a MUST go. Thye make it straight from scratch and add in the ingredients. It was so good, after we shared this with our kids I got another one. We even tried to come back to this place on Sunday but it was closed!!! So make sure to not wait until Sunday, go and enjoy at any chance you get! Here is a video of her making it:
So after ice cream, we headed back to the Airbnb for naps, because we drove all night and our children were tired. Unfortunately, our sons refused to sleep so I decided to stay back with my two youngest while everyone else headed out for dinner, which I was sure to regret.
As soon as they left, they saw a lot of people in line at the amphitheater so they asked if there was an event going on and they found out that there was a gladiator show! So they stood in line and purchased tickets for super cheap. They got inside and the event workers saw that our party had children so they sat them right up front!
They had a blast! My oldest couldn’t stop talking about it, and even though I’m sad I didn’t get to go, I’m glad he got to spend some time with just his dad! Here’s a video to show you what they saw:
From what I understand, they have these shows all the time, I tried to find an event calendar online to see if they were going to have a show the next night but I couldn’t find one.
Day 2- Our Beach Adventures
The next morning we woke up and found a new breakfast spot called Fortuna. As we were walking into the main area, we kept seeing citizens of Pula eating ice cream. For breakfast. In the morning. It was amazing. When I say I loved everything about Pula, I seriously loved everything!!
The restaurant Fortuna is on one side of the street and the seating area is on the other side. We became very familiar with this place, not only was their breakfast amazing, their gelato and desserts were too! Which by the way, we also saw people eating for breakfast.
Have I mentioned that the best coffee I’ve ever had was in Pula? I don’t know what’s in it, but it is amazing. I couldn’t stop drinking it everywhere we went.
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We ordered way too much food, that I didn’t take a picture of because I accidentally bumped the server as he approached our table and made him drop and shatter a plate. I was mortified and embarrassed. So I couldn’t focus enough to take a picture. But I remember the breakfast was amazing and there were nutella crepes. Also, during the middle of breakfast, my trusty-dusty flip flop broke. So I had to go next door and buy some new ones.
From here we headed back to the Airbnb, got in our cars and headed to Bijeca Beach. We drove all the way through to the pizza restaurant on a suggestion of someone else. I had heard that it was the only beach with sand. We ate at the restaurant first.
Then we headed to the “beach”. And my oh my were we disappointed. Ya’ll I’m sorry but just don’t go here. The water is full of rocks, the area is so small and it’s really just sad. You can see there’s sand in the pictures but just bring some water shoes and go to the other beaches we went to.
We stayed here for like twenty minutes. We decided to try to find a better beach, and boy oh boy were we glad we did!
This my friends, is Hawaii Beach! When you get here and park, it seems like a far walk but it is worth it! There are only rocks, no sand, so please have your swim shoes! Our kids had theirs on, we braved this place without them and totally regretted it. Our hubbies decided to jump off the rock on the left side! They took so long to come back we thought something was wrong but they were just trying to figure out how to walk on the rocks through the water to be able to come back!
As we were leaving we saw this other little spot that we climbed down into.
There were no waves so it was perfect for the kids because they could stand up in it! Unfortunately, as you can see from the sky, it looked like it was going to rain. So we didn’t stay too long.
When we headed back up to the car, we stopped at the restaurant at the top because we were thirsty. I tried to buy bottled water and they were so expensive!
If I can give you one tip, before you go to another country download a currency converter. Because you need to know what you’re buying converts to. You’d think a small bottle of water would be inexpensive but it was a few dollars. I chose to stick to buying bottled water at the markets because it was so much cheaper!
Next we drove down to Medulin to eat dinner. We ate at Salt and Pepper. If you don’t do anything else, PLEASE eat here. But make reservations first! It was seriously some of the best food I’ve had in my life (and I’m a foodie). Their pasta was amazing. The desserts were amazing. Their service was amazing. I can’t say enough great things about this place!
My husband said that this was the best burger he’s ever eaten!
So funny story about this place, we tried to make a reservation online but it was all booked. So we showed up and my husband dropped me off in front. I asked if they had room for us (we were a party of nine) and the server told me there was no room. I begged. He said we could sit outside on the balcony and I told him it was going to rain. So he said he would make room for us. Seriously, such a blessing. He got a huge tip! And it also started raining while we were eating, so I was so happy we got seats!
Wine and olive oil
When we left I walked across the street to this place I heard had wine and olive oil on tap! It is directly across from Salt and Pepper. If you bring your own jugs or bottles they’ll fill them up with wine and/or olive oil for you. I didn’t have any jugs so I bought a huge plastic bottle from them and he filled it up. And then I also picked out some already bottled olive oil.
When I went to pay and he told me the total, I accidentally handed him the total in Euros instead of kuna. Which was like $80 difference. The wine and olive oil was super cheap. And what an honest man to not take the wrong currency and tell me my mistake! I felt so ignorant, but so happy that he did the right thing! That was the end of the night for us, we went home and slept!
Day 3- More Exploring & Beaches
The next day we ate at Fortuna for breakfast again because it was just too amazing. Then we decided to walk around, get lost and see what we could find. We happened across this really cool underground tour. It was cheap so we went inside. Since it was so hot, it was nice to cool off for a bit!
These underground tunnels were erected during WW1 for shelter in case of air raids. It was really interesting to see and read all of the stuff inside! Then we walked around the little town and found a Pula sign and of course had to take a picture!
This is right by the information center. I went inside to ask where a book store was, because I like to buy a cookbook at every country we go to but it was Sunday and they were all closed. If you have any questions, they speak English and can help you!
After this, we tried to get some more rolled ice cream, but since it was Sunday they were closed. So we walked back to Fortuna for ice cream, and that’s when I discovered the most amazing cake. Ever.
First, let’s talk about their gelato. It’s amazing. The most amazing gelato I’ve ever had. It’s so smooth and creamy, I still remember how it tasted! I got peach, and my children and hubby each got different flavors. They were all so tasty!
I grabbed a piece of the Kremsnita to go and I put it in the fridge when we got home. I wish I would have grabbed more because it was the best ever! Now, cake is my favorite food. And I wouldn’t really consider this cake because it’s like a bunch of cream and no cake-y texture at all. But I would drive to Pula all over again just for this dessert. We also found a similar cake in Budapest.
I ate it late at night when the children were sleeping, because honestly, I didn’t want to share. And I had to wake my husband up to try it before I demolished it all so that he could taste it’s decadence. That’s why you can see flash in the picture, I ate it in the dark while my children slept right next to me. That’s right. Judge me.
Next we headed to Ambrela Beach. This was my favorite beach of the entire trip. It was a little hard to find. You have to drive into this huge parking lot that has a man standing at the gate, which makes it seem like you can’t park in there. But you can. Once you park, you have to go towards the forest and turn right towards the beach, follow the path and TA-DA! You’re there!
So when we got there we set up camp, and my hubby took the boys to the water while I stayed back with the baby. I heard him yell something about jellyfish but I figured if there were any we would just have to leave. Little did I know….
He came back with one in his hand! So at this beach, there are like a million little jelly fish but they have no tentacles and can’t sting you!
People were picking them up and throwing them at each other. I made sure our children didn’t do that but they picked them up and put them in their little cups and dumped them back in the water.
It was a blast! The water was amazing and crystal clear. You could see all the jellyfish swimming around everywhere! And there weren’t too many rocks in the water, but you still need swim shoes for this place.
Our children loved this beach so much they cried when we left.
There were bathrooms up top at the restaurant, and food at the restaurant in case you choose to eat while you’re here, but we didn’t.
My friend actually lost her phone at this place and someone turned it into the restaurant. The people of Pula-they are seriously the best. My husband and I have actually talked about retiring here we loved it so much!
Everyone was extremely courteous in Pula. In fact, when I was sitting with Sarai on this beach she took her first step and the people around me clapped! I mean, who wouldn’t want to be around people who are full of love and eat ice cream for breakfast!
We headed back to the Airbnb after this and our friends were so sweet to volunteer to watch our children while we went on a date night because this day was our eight year anniversary! We picked out a place got ready and headed out! Unfortunately, since I broke my flip flops, and the ones I bought were unbearably painful, I had to wear tennis shoes with my skirt haha!
The first place we went to, even though it was empty, they turned us away because we didn’t have reservations. Have I mentioned how important it is to have reservations in Europe?? So we found another place, Restaurant Oasi, called to make sure they had room and headed that way!
I’m so happy we found our way here because they had black risotto on the menu. I wanted to try it so bad, I had looked for it the whole time we were on our trip. I had searched Pinterest for what to try in Pula and this kept coming up.
Little did I know that it was risotto made with squid ink! I looked up what it was after I ordered it. But we still tried it and I’m so glad we did because it was amazing!
We ordered a meat dish for two that came with an assortment of meats and vegetables. The food was amazing. We skipped dessert because we wanted to get home to our children.
The service and staff here were great, I would definitely recommend this place!
Day 4- The Drive Home with a stop in Slovenia
The next day we woke up and walked to a bakery since I still hadn’t found any frutile doughnuts. They are doughnuts that are filled with fruit and special to Pula so I wanted to try them! We got lots of bread and pastries, some drinks and coffee and headed back to start our drive home!
Living in Germany, we drove a route through Slovenia. Since we drove during the day this time, we decided to stop at Lake Bled, Slovenia.
We ate second breakfast here and lunch after we walked halfway around the lake. It was gorgeous! You could see straight through to the bottom at all the little fish. Our pup loved taking a few dips in it too! We plan on going back here in July 2019 so we can stay at one of the cabins on the lake and go glamping! I can’t wait to go to Lake Bled and actually explore, I’ll update this post when we do!