We arrived in Groznjan on a cold and rainy day and we left on a colder and rainier day. The original plan was to take a cab to the bus stop in Buje and hop on a bus to Rovinj, but once we climbed into the warm, dry taxi we decided to splurge and pay the extra $35 to have the driver and her teenage daughter take us all the way to Rovinj. This saved us a 2+ hour wait in the rain at the Buje bus stop and a potentially wet walk to our apartment once we arrived in Rovinj. Sometimes it’s just worth it to spend the extra dough.
The rain stopped by the time we arrived in Rovinj so we dropped off our bags at our AirBnB apartment and went out for a walk to explore the old town. Since we stayed in the heart of the old town we were able to explore a good amount of it the first evening.
The old part of town, where most tourists stay, is quaint and charming. Its pedestrian streets are all slippery stone, perfect for killing the hordes of elderly cruise tourists who descend upon the small town every summer. If you do manage to survive the walk through town then you can enjoy listening to the romantic saxophone musician who plays everything from Broadway show tunes to The Jackson 5 while you dine al fresco with your beloved.
There’s a small church, St. Euphemia, situated on higher ground where you can climb the bell tower for a fee to view the Adriatic Sea and the town. The church itself is nothing special, but the story of St. Euphemia is a tad interesting if you’re into that kind of stuff. I’ll give you a quick rundown so you don’t have to scour the web for it. Euphemia was a 15 year old girl who was so devoted to Christ that even when Roman soldiers tortured her on the wheel she wouldn’t renounce her faith and was thrown to the lions. The lions killed her but didn’t devour her tasty flesh. She became a martyr and her marble sarcophagus was kept by the Christians until it was thrown into the sea by the Iconoclasts hundreds of years later. A short time later the sarcophagus containing her body floated into the little town of Rovinj where a young boy managed to haul it up to a hill with the help of a couple of cows. That’s where the Church of St. Euphemia sits now with her sarcophagus. St. Euphemia is the patron saint of Rovinj and they celebrate her special day every year on September 16th. Leave it to the Christians to turn the torture and mauling of a teenage girl into something to celebrate.
The next day we walked around Rovinj and then we met up with a Couchsurfer, Awya, for drinks and dinner and learned a bit about Rovinj and Croatia in general. She’s originally from Germany, but moved to Croatia with her two children after a horrifying stint on The Canary Islands where dead cockroaches carpeted the streets during regular extermination periods. When they aren’t dead and crunching under your feet, they’re flying in your face as you try to kill them upon finding them in your shower stall in the morning. I’ll take Awya’s word for it and cross The Canary Islands off of my list of places to visit. It’s nice to meet fellow travelers who give us the inside scoop on nasty pest infestations so we know which places to avoid.
Thanks to Awya’s recommendation we visited the small town of Bale the next day and had a surprisingly delightful lunch at a small boutique hotel restaurant that was unexpectedly good for a place in such a tiny town. And, the service was impeccable; one of the best dining experiences we had in Croatia. In case you didn’t know, the people in the Croatian service industry rival the Russians with their indifferent and borderline rude attitude. Maybe I’m a snob, but I expect everyone in the service industry to kiss my ass when they’re serving me. Unless, of course, it’s in NYC Chinatown where shit is cheap enough that they can get away with acting like they don’t need your business.
By the end of our time in Rovinj I decided that I wasn’t crazy about it. If it weren’t for our time with Awya and her recommendations, I would’ve been bored by the second day. Rovinj is too touristy and too pricey for what it is. We didn’t know this at the time, but as we traveled throughout Croatia we found that there are much more beautiful places to spend time in where the people are friendlier and the sights are more worthwhile.
More pretty pictures on our Flickr album.