As so often, it was spontaneity that lead us to the city of Pula. To be honest, it was one of the only cities where we could find a place to stay. So as a future reference, if you’re travelling without a plan, you have to be ready to compromise on the destination or even the place you’re staying at. I wouldn’t say that you have to expect the worst, but it’s safer if you don’t set your standards too high, and that’s when the magic happens (a perfect example is in our previous post).
With that being said, our first impression of our airbnb stay wasn’t that great. The flat had great potential, but it looked a bit shabby and filthy. The landlord didn’t really put much effort into making it a welcoming place. Nonetheless, we eventually decided to stay the four nights, and now I am really happy that we did. The same goes for our first impression of Pula. The buildings on our way to the city centre looked battered, and the old city centre served as a perfect setting for an abandoned town in Western movies. The only nice, even if not mind-blowing attraction we could find at that time was the amphitheatre, which is by the way one of the biggest to exist. As a literary student, I have to point out that no one less than James Joyce had lived in Pula for roughly six months where he worked as a teacher (can we introduce a #literaturefam?). So, with a lot of cynical remarks about what we saw, we just kept walking until we arrived at the ocean. Out of frustration, and with a nagging regret that we’d left Verona behind us, we booked a sunset dolphin tour for the second day. And, for some intangible reason, it was at that point when things started to turn around…
But first, food. Yes we are easily manipulated, but seriously, in what kind of world are you living if a good meal doesn’t take away a part of your gloominess? Pula and its surroundings is a true heaven (and haven haha) for fish lovers. However, I should mention that the Istrian coast isn’t very used to us greenies. Given that the Croatian coast has a strong affiliation to the fishing industry, I had a difficult time explaining to people that fish instead of meat wouldn’t make the trick for me. Anyway, it is possible to survive as a vegetarian, so your diet really shouldn’t be a reason to stay away from the north of Croatia (you should really try their Croatian pastry though, it’s a perfect guilty treat!).
Another crucial discover we made is that the city of Pula lives during the night. Which makes sense, because it really is tiresome to explore the city with the sun burning on your shoulders. By night the city sparkles of life: a vibrant mixture of locals and tourists ligthen Pula up, and at nearly every corner there’s an artist trying to impress you. I know, that this isn’t unusual for touristy cities, but I need to stress it here, because that’s how we met an extraordinarily talented man. With no one but himself, ‘Tacabanda’ manages to orchestrate a whole band on his own. It’s amazing what creativity can do. (Do us a favour, and check him out here).
So, even if at first Pula seemed to disappoint, we changed our mindset about the place after the first night, as to say, after we’d witnessed the first sunset. After you know how to blend into the Istrian lifestyle, experiencing the northern coast of Croatia can be fun. In the second part of this blog post, we will tell you about where to find a nutty opulent island, how to have dinner while watching dolphins and if it is OK to rent a boat without a license. The most important was that we’d learned to truly make the most out of the day: we lived after the sun, meaning that we planned our days in such a way that we were able to witness the astonishing sunset every single evening. And that’s when I knew that Pula wasn’t a mistake: even if our apartment was kind of rubbish and even if there are many cities I prefer over Pula, it made me realize how we take the wonders of nature for granted, when really we should be sitting down every single evening and be grateful that we have the privilege to soak it in with all our senses. Cheesy, I know. But it is for moments like these that we live. And maybe you too.