After Italy, we took a boat (kind of like the Victoria Clipper) over to Porec, a town I chose on a whim. We didn’t know anything about Porec as we booked our stay, but it turned out to be a great little town right on the water, easily walkable, and with a huge bike trail leading to the adjacent towns and countryside.
The entire space reaching 5km past either side of Porec is swimmable and has ladders built right into the boardwalks. We stayed a bit north of the main town so were able to enjoy the sunsets looking back onto the ocean and town. The Adriatic Sea is surprisingly calm without waves, and during each sunset the water was as calm as glass.
We had a few great swimming days in the ocean (this isn’t the first time on the trip I’ve brought my 9 year old style back; we invested in goggles and aqua socks so are looking super cool). We were staying at Apartments Pical, which was the cheapest thing I could find in town- it was luckily owned and managed by a 4 Star Hotel where we got to use the wi-fi and the pool, and borrow bikes for free.
The apartments were perfect for us- we got a two bedroom with a patio and an equipped kitchen. Porec is a resort town, full of chubby vacationing Germans, so it wasn’t the most cultural experience, but it was beautiful and relaxing. We had happy hours on our deck, and I took up watercoloring (if you want a hand-painted postcard just message me and I’ll send you one!) Then we both got sick and couldn’t drink anymore but it was still nice and relaxing.
The Porec Tourist Office had a flyer advertising ‘a bike and gourmet tour,’ suggesting routes around the Istrian countryside that passed through wineries and past restaurants that would have food and drink specials. So we planned to take a day to do one of the suggested tours. After getting rained out the day we wanted to go, we locked our bikes to a post on our front patio and planned to leave the following morning.
Lo and behold… we wake up and the bikes are gone! There had been a storm overnight, complete with thunder, lightning, and dumping rain, and someone cut our lock during the storm in this sleepy little town! Cale and I were in a panic because they weren’t our bikes and we thought we’d be liable for the cost… we reported it to the hotel staff who calmed us down, saying they would just go through insurance and we wouldn’t be liable for anything. What a huge sigh of relief. All they needed from us was a police report.
So we borrowed two more bikes (I know, I know) and rode to the police station where we were told to sit and wait for 5 minutes. Cale immediately jammed the vending machine and the poor police officer on duty had to come out and help him un-jam it (didn’t work, I’m sure the drink machine at the Porec police station is still jammed, FYI). Then about an hour later the cop we need to talk to finally comes out to interview us but Cale had stepped out to the store to get a drink since his was stuck in the machine. So Cale returned and the cop, already annoyed with us, spent an hour asking us what happened. But it was really confusing because he was asking us the age and cost of the bikes, and we didn’t know but were guessing. He was also really interested in taking down all details about our address in Seattle and Cale’s dad’s personal info… then finally at the end he was like ‘oh, you’re saying these aren’t your bikes? There’s a different procedure for that.’ And then he sent us away without a police report, and told us the hotel staff needed to come in instead.
Another day gone without our bike tour, and now we were on a mission. We had to take this bike ride, we had romanticized it so much in our heads. So the following day we rented new bikes but one had a flat and the hotel didn’t have a pump. After finding a pump at an adjacent hotel, we discovered it was a real flat and needed a new tube. We thought we’d be nice and get it fixed for the hotel since they had been so kind to us, so we walked it to a bike shop in town to buy a tube. The owner of the shop sold us the tube but then got really pissed when we asked to pump it up saying “I make my money off of sales and repairs and you’re wasting my time, get out of here!” So… back to the hotel we go to pump up the tube and then discover that not only is the tube the wrong size for our bike, it’s also got a huge hole in it! At this point we had spent about 4 hours going back and forth from hotels to bike shops trying to fix a flat tire so couldn’t go on the bike tour (again). Eventually we got the tire fixed… and another day was gone without a bike tour.
In true American fashion we try, try again! We have nothing if not for our gumption! Instead we probably should have listened to the universe telling us not to take the damn tour. The day we finally went, we realized the tour seemed organized but none of the trails were marked and none of the restaurants and wineries that were listed on the tour schedule seemed to know anything about it. One of the wineries wasn’t even open that day! Luckily we were able to find a little wine bar that made their own wine (not listed on the tour brochure) and a great restaurant that was really nice to us and threw in dessert and coffee for free after we showed them the brochure. And we did see some nice Istrian countryside. But we learned we need to get better at calling audibles.
All in all we spent a week in Porec, with our final evening spent at Oktoberfest for Cale’s birthday. It was a German party, put on by our Croatian hotel chain, with an Austrian band singing Sweet Home Alabama. It was a good night.