Leaving our base at Camping Lanterna, we spent the day driving around the Istrian interior which proved to be yet another amazing experience in the mild early May weather (mid 20°C) With plenty more sudden stops like this one at Baredine Caves , this corner of Croatia has something new up it's sleeve at every turn...
A fantastic web of tunnels, passages, stairways and viewing platforms, the astonishing diversity of Karst features at Baredine as well as it's easy access are certainly the main attractions. But our guide was outstanding in bringing this aspect of geology to life... Both girls were completely entranced as he made crystals turn to life in either animal or human form.... a rare gift! Perhaps even more impressive as the girl's have already visited Postojna Caves in Slovenia which is arguably the most impressive series of caves in the world!
Formed over millennia, these features only change in mm's (over deades) and so much of what can now be seen has been in place since WW2... perhaps even the Proteus dates back nearly 80 years! Well priced, with great parking... it's definitely gone straight into our Top 10 attractions in Croatia.
If you're looking for something to inspire you, then Rovinj might just be the place in Istria. A little like Korčula further down the coastline, the coastal resort of Rovinj was originally ruled by Venice for centuries. Istria certainly exhibits plenty of Italian influence, from its road signs to its restaurant menus. But perhaps no more so than Rovinj, where the impressive tower of the 18th-century St Euphemia’s Church dominates the town's skycape.
Enjoying the chance to see the old town from afar, we were soon weaving our way through cobbled streets, under baroque archways and past Venetian mansions, to reach the highest point in town and gaze out over the Adriatic. Before heading back towards the markets full of goods from either limestone quarries or the locally produce olive/truffle infused oil.
Heading south in Istria from Camping Lanterna, you pass the Limski Kanal, a deep inlet that was the favourite haunt of local pirates, who used it as a base to attack the Venetians. Having loved visiting Pula on our previous visit in April, we simply couldn't miss out on taking the girl's grandfather (a history enthusiast!) to see the Roman Amphitheatre at Pula (see here for the full blog post on Pula)
Sadly the camera did its best to sabotage our efforts to record this visit, but therein lies the problem of relying on modern technology... something we'd find out more about at our next destination below.
BAREDINE's TRAKTOR STORY
Istria is serious about food as we discovered at the olive oil tasting at Camping Lanterna. The heart-shaped peninsula is shared by Croatia, Slovenia and Italy – but almost 90% of its landmass comes within Croatia’s border. With a history wedded to it's strong agricultural tradition so where better to learn more than at the Traktor Story at Baredine. We're pretty sure visitors will equally love the olive oil tasting, the history of the tractor and how it has radically altered village life.... it's a hidden gem and well worth the detour.
Istria's been an unexpected bonus as although we'd loved our stays at Camping Orsera and Camping Marina earlier this year, but we really hadn't expected to enjoy this region so much.... however tomorrow sees us head back to another favourite haunt at Camping Krk Resort on the Dalmatian Coastline. Roll on tomorrow!.
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