Istria, Croatia – wine & water
For us, our exploration of Slovenia was all about natural beauty and wildnerness. It has been truly stunning, but it’s time to keep moving. Our next stop is into Croatia.
We had originally planned to just meander down the Croatian coast, stopping in towns and villages as we went. Until we found out that Grandad and Nans were arriving in Porec around the same time.
Quick research showed that there was a nice campsite not far from them so we decided it was time to have a mini holiday! Because we’re not actually on holiday… right?!
Arriving in Croatia
And in a flash we were at the border for Croatia. We quickly searched out our passports as I assumed we were leaving the EU – I was wrong! Croatia is part of the EU but it is working towards being part of the Schengen. Yep, I have no idea either being both ignorant and British! But to clarify (as I’ve had to check myself).
The Schengen area comprises 26 EU states that have officially abolished passport and all other types of border control! By the way the UK opted out of this. See… everyday is a school day!
But regardless it wasn’t an issue for us as the Slovenian guard glanced at the outside of the passport and sent us through.
The Croatian border wasn’t anymore interested and whilst on the phone the guard waved us through without even looking at any documents!
But I wanted a stamp in my passport proving we’d entered our 8th country!! How rude – ha ha!
Istria Wine Region
We knew that most of our time in Croatia would be spent along it’s wonderful coastline & islands. So we took a diversion through the Croatian Vineyards first.
We were hoping it would be cooler but also that we could see some of the local produce as Croatian wine isn’t something we see stocked on our shelves at home, but I’ve heard it’s lethal!
Accommodation in the Croatian Vineyards
Thunderstorms were lingering in the distance but the Croatian lady assisting with running the campsite signalled, with broken English, that it would not arrive! She was right!
The facilities at the campsite were fabulous as it had just what we needed and the owner had his own (yes it was lethal) wine for sale. We obviously had to indulge! It was a tad fizzy and not quite to our taste but after a little cellaring (2 days), tasted alright! The boys also enjoyed picking the olives from the trees around us.
The most favourite part of the camp was the innovative outdoor shower. It was very popular & refreshing!!
It was mentioned that there was a lovely walk to a nearby village but our brief stop, prior to meeting family, meant it was just a stopover and far too hot to do anything. Unfortunately the wine didn’t help with the heat either!
We arrived in Porec after just a short drive and checked into our fancy pants campsite… with pool! Porec didn’t have any campsites in or outside the town, so we researched and found that the campsite we opted for had a regular tourist train into Porec (much to keith’s displeasure!)
We decided a cycle would be a good idea (similar distance to our Piran cycle) and also flat so made our daytime visit easy!
Zelena Laguna Campsite
We arrived to a HUGE… no I mean REALLY HUGE campsite based in Funtana, only 5km from Porec. It was so big that when I suggested we walk around to find a place to park the receptionist laughed and suggested we drive instead – I can see why!
It was a little intimidating! Keith and I agreed that smaller campsites are more our style. However, for comfort this one included a pool and lots of beach areas, coastal walks, kids clubs, bakeries, shops, supermarkets (yes plural!) and much more. In fact, for early June we were very surprised to see how busy it was.
We settled in and went for an explore, which pretty much took all afternoon!
Cycle to Porec
From our campsite there is a very easy and relatively flat cycle into Porec. The route takes you along the coastline (and again at times we weren’t sure if we were allowed to cycle or not – but did anyway!). It weaved in and out of a number of other resorts and followed the same route as the tourist train.
When we arrived in Porec we found there to be another beautiful walled city, seeped in history and architecture. It was situated on a busy Marina with lots of restaurants and bars lined along the sea front. As we stepped back into yet more narrow streets, we found cozy little bars and cafes along with more tourist and boutique shops.
Definitely aimed at the tourist market and offering everything you could need for a short break.
We had arranged to visit Grandad and Nans outside their child-free hotel *insert ‘we didn’t know honest!!’* ha ha!!
But naturally the theme of the day was very much on entertaining and treating the boys. So much that Grandad and Nans arranged for us to take the boat across the bay to their ‘child-friendly’ sister hotel with activity pool!! The boys loved it.
We had a play at the pool, beautiful lunch followed by a family snorkel at the beach and enjoyable company – perfect!
We were thoroughly spoilt with a lovely day out where we didn’t stop chatting from the moment we met. Having entertainment for the boys also meant they were in their element. Big grins for our first day. And even more so when Grandad stated that he would be taking us all out for steak dinner, which we did the following evening!
During the day though, the boys had spotted an assault course (which were actually scattered around the area) and begged us to go on it. We haven’t done anything for them in ages, so we agreed they could have the half an hour. Now, being in ‘laid-back’ Croatia this turned into an hour or laughs, giggles and dive bombs! They thoroughly enjoyed themselves!
The next couple of days felt more like a holiday with treats galore, which the boys loved. We also had a chance to chill out and it was actually nice to speak to people. Up until now we have been quite isolated with our conversations restricted to our number plate! GBM plates cause quite a stir amongst the camper community!
After a lovely few days with family, we were now back to deciding where to go. We last visited Croatia, 10 years ago when I was pregnant with Ethan. It wasn’t an adventurous stop as I couldn’t really do much, especially in the heat, but with a promise that we would return one day. So, we planned to spend our longest time here. However, there is one problem. There’s too much choice!!
We decided on Krk Island. Mainly due to the high number of campsites in the area – meaning it was probably suitable for our needs. It is an island which is attached to Croatia via a bridge, so we opted to aim for the main town, Krk.
Krk Old Town
Krk, another walled city with some character and lots of beautiful coastline. We had a wonderful time and spent most of it with our heads in the water. Most of our time in the area was spent snorkelling the crystal clear waters and exploring the area.
We would have ventured out further, but if I’m honest I was a little tired – maybe from the heat, maybe from all the driving, or maybe just from the fact that we have been on the go for 7 weeks!
Either way, I was a little disappointed that we didn’t do more but we were exploring – just in a smaller area!
As you’d expect Krk is a quaint little town with a lovely marina buzzing with life, especially when all the boats returned from their adventures. The town itself has lovely narrow walkways with 2 main streets to wander through.
Camp Felix Accommodation
We decided to use Camper Contact again in order to find a lovely small Aires called, Camper Felix. It was only 300m to the beach – albeit the return journey was all up hill so be prepared for some huffing and puffing during hot days!
The Aires was lovely, as were the owners – who gave us plenty of information about the area. It was basic facilities but met our needs perfectly.
To Trogir or not!?!
And the answer was NOT!
Much as I would have liked to visit Trogir I was starting to feel like it would be another walled city by the sea. It was time for something different. So we decided to head slightly inland and visit the less advertised national park, Krka. We had read that it wasn’t as frequently visited as the Plitvice lakes but was beautiful and you could also swim in the lakes.
With that in mind we chose a campsite within cycling distance, Camp Krka. It was organised but basic. They had a pool (more of a plunge pool) which was nice to just cool off in.
However, the next day was to be one of our most memorable moments of the trip so far! So much, that I’m dedicating a whole blog post to it!
Croatia is definitely a country which offers you more than just a beach holiday!