We bid farewell to Rovinj and followed Steven’s scooter down the street, under the stone archway and past the town gate. After a wave, “goodbye,” we were on our way to Motovun, “the” town to see on the Istrian peninsula.
We spied it from a distance…..it was, indeed, a small town perched high on a hill. We stopped to take pictures and to scan the guidebooks…..hmmm, a steep, strenuous walk up to the town? Streets crowded with tourists? Not much to see? Mediocre restaurants? We decided to admire it from afar and save our energy for the next town.
We faithfully followed the highway signs to Grožnjan….until we were directed onto a gravel road. To go or not to go? Hmmm. We decided to leave off-roading to to the dare-devils and continued along on the highway. We were about to give up hope of seeing any hilltowns today when we spotted another sign for Grožnjan! We turned right and headed down roads that (due to multiple construction projects) got smaller and smaller….making that gravel road look mighty appealing. The last turn took us to a parking lot just outside the town wall….fortuitously, there would be no steep, strenous hike up to this hilltown!
We should have checked the map more carefully. We took the highway into Slovenia but somehow missed the turn-off to Piran so we turned around…..and missed it again! Another look at the map showed that Piran’s turn-off was actually in Croatia! Not wanting to cross the border another two times, we decided to drive up to Koper and backtrack to Piran from the Slovenian side…..adding another hour to our journey. Did I say hour? That would have been true only if we had we been able to find our hotel.
We drove to Piran, finding a gated city that’s closed to traffic, so we drove past Piran, into Portorož, out of Portorož, back to Piran, around Piran, back to Portorož, back out of Portorož, above Piran and back to Portorož. With no signage on any of the local streets, our directions to the hotel were useless!
Obviously, it wasn’t our destiny to stay here tonight….I was ready to forget it and move on, but Craig was obsessed….he was a man on a mission….Piran would not beat him!
He did the unthinkable… he stopped to ask for directions! Of course, he would settle only for ‘manly’ directions, so he stopped at a bar and asked a group of burly bikers. Turns out we had been on the right street and close to the hotel a number of times….it was just inside the city gate (wish our on-line booking site had included that little bit of information). We returned to Piran (by now, we could have driven there blindfolded), entered the parking lot inside the town gate and, voila, there was our hotel!
We had called yesterday to confirm our reservation and was told by the owner that although she was out of town, the door to our room would be open, the keys would be inside and an associate would come to check us in as soon as we called him.
It was not to be…..we called, we waited, we called back, we waited some more….biding our time reading our guide books since we were unable to log into the internet without the hotel’s passcode. Finally, a gentleman arrived on a bicycle, took our passports (needed to check us in), gave us the internet passcode and left….saying we could pick up our passports at a downtown bar. Hmmmm.
It was a little early for dinner, but we had missed lunch and were famished, so we walked into town hoping to snag a table at Restaurant Neptun, one of the town’s most popular restaurants (actually, this is a good strategy….since Europeans dine late, we rarely needed to make reservations).
We were seated at one of the prized outdoor tables and ordered another huge meal….salads, gnocchi with shrimp and a seafood platter for two (two kinds of fish with calamari and squid). A corpulent cat from the apartment next door was let out and joined us….patiently waiting for his share.
A couple from Orgeon was seated next to us….a retired Methodist minister and his wife, a retired teacher. They had just arrived from Lake Bled and were on their way to Rovinj….while we, fresh from Rovinj, were on our way to Lake Bled. Our lively conversation soon turned to the wars that had pitted friend against friend when these countries reclaimed their independence two short decades ago. I asked this man of the cloth if he could explain how these countries, so tied to their faiths, could have inflicted such cruelties. He was as puzzled as we were. He said he had read about it, thought about it and studied it…. but he still couldn’t comprehend it. In this circumspect mood, our waiter arrived to clear our table. I shared our thoughts with him and asked how Slovenia was able to regain it’s autonomy in only ten days while Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina were torn apart for years. He smiled and said, “That’s easy, it’s all about the money.” His simple answer confused us even more.
“If we don’t end war, war will end us” ~ H.G. Wells