Brunette reads travel magazines with the same feverish interest Rupert Murdoch brings to listening to other people’s meant-to-be-private phone conversations. A couple years ago she read an itinerary in Sherman’s Travel for a trip from Venice to Dubrovnik and proposed a sisterly sojourn. All such proposals get approved. We chose our travel dates and planned to do as much of the trip as possible using airline and hotel points. However, it turned out that when we wanted to begin our trip coincided with the Venice Film Festival and there were no rooms at the inn(s). Not two to hang out in a manger (that’s for virgins), Blonde cleverly said “let’s just do the itinerary in reverse”.
What sounded simple was very complex – at least to us. One of the most challenging parts was booking tickets for the ferry from Rovinj to Venice. The ferry schedules weren’t all online, they had conflicting information and shared the rude habit of being written in the language of the people who used them. Finally we had our ferry tickets purchased and a Croatian itinerary concluding in Rovinj.
We had driven down the Dalmatian Coast, beginning in Dubrovnik, and were pleased to turn in our car and be done trying to navigate road signs that sometimes combined Cyrillic script with the “real” alphabet. The people of Croatia were pleased that they could now safely let their children back out of their houses with us off the road.
When we arrived in Rovinj we found our hotel, the Hotel Park, easily. Our room had a spectacular view of the Old Town and the Adriatic Sea. The hotel’s location was convenient – a 10 or 15 minute walk along the sea to the Old Town. It also had a decent swimming pool but an annoying system where you had to go track down beach towels and pay a deposit for towels that were not theft-worthy in the first place. The room air conditioning was the pouty, Eastern European kind that doesn’t produce cool air and any food on the premises was over-priced for the quality . We have been very spoiled by staying for free on points at Starwood properties (Westin, St. Regis, Ws, etc.) so when we’re actually paying with real money and it isn’t spectacular we can get grumpy and petty fast!
Any-who, Rovinj was originally, in Medieval times, a walled island. The walls kept out two “Ps” that were’t popular – pirates and plague. Eventually the place got a tad over-built which is why the Old Town area is as tightly packed as spandex on a fat girl. We aren’t historians but do recall that Rovinj was part of the Venetian Empire back in the day and this region of Croatia (Istria) was part of Italy until shortly after the end of World War II (maybe). So you get a blend of cultures. Examples: men who look at women and flirt (elsewhere in Croatia men never even turned their heads to look at a cute butt walking the other way – WTF – how do they even get more Croatians? ); good gelato; Croatian seriousness and Italian drama and an improved selection of wines. It was a good blend – kind of like Blonde and Brunette!
Although Rovinj is clearly a tourist destination it has handled its popularity well – think Kate Middleton versus Lindsay Lohan – and is low key about it. We enjoyed a boat ride with a flirty fellow – Gordon – who cheered Blonde up after 10 days of thinking she was in a “No Flirting Zone” in Croatia. He even took us past naked people on the boat ride and he and Blonde vowed to meet again in Boston and both didn’t mean it – fantastic!
When not floating about with flirtatious voyeuristic Italians we enjoyed walking through Old Town. The primary destination is a church that has a good lookout and ear-splitting bells that ring often, loudly and with divine spite. We got to see a cool ship off the coast near the church and even better we got to drink afterwards at the well-known Valentino’s Bar.
We aren’t even going to tell the whole truth about our behavior on the last evening we spent in Rovinj but it still makes us laugh and feel (at least a little) ashamed. Blonde and Brunette share one humor brain so if one hears something that can be interpreted in a sexual sense the other one has the same thought and if someone walks onto the scene who sounds or looks humorous to one of us, then that same unfortunate being is also cracking up the other sister. No words need to be exchanged before Blonde is laughing so hard her mascara is pooling in her wrinkles. Brunette usually spits out wine and starts to cough. It isn’t subtle and it gets a lot of strange looks. And once it starts, efforts to stop it only make it much worse.
Our last evening was one of our most memorable giggle-fests. We were sitting outside at a restaurant having dinner and wine alongside the sea. As tourists walked by, and locals doing their evening passeggio, it seemed as if everyone was a character from the famous Monty Python “Ministry of Silly Walks” sketch. Our waiter was totally mystified as we sat there sobbing from laughing and we were embarrassed but literally unable to stop. We were relieved to be leaving early the next morning as we weren’t drawing very favorable attention to ourselves. If you can watch this video and not laugh you won’t understand our plight but if you think it’s hilarious maybe you will give us some small measure of sympathy.
The next morning, wearing brown paper bags over our heads, we boarded the ferry for Venice. We had paid for first class which meant that we were sitting upstairs where absolutely not another soul was present which was probably best for everyone.
Rovinj calls us to return but only in the figurative sense – not the literal, for understandable reasons.