Yeah, I blogged about last year’s trip.
I’m gonna combine English and Croatian, like the last time.
This year we went to Istria. Although we did have a good time, the trip could have and should have been a lot better. The trip lasted four days instead of the usual five days. To people from Zagreb, a four day trip to Istria is like a picnic.
We were only in Croatian part of Istria and despite having more than enough time, we didn’t go to, in my opinion, many places. Those places include Savudrija, at the Croatia-Slovenia border. Not to mention that we could have crossed the border. Okay, I guess Slovenian border control would fuck us in the ass, since Croatia is becoming a EU member on 1st July, so they’re going to use their power while they can. I even brought my binoculars to look at Piran over the border, but noooooo. There was a group or two that went even to Trieste… Furthermore, we only passed by Motovun (yeah, movie fans might have heard of Motovun film festival), didn’t go to Umag etc.
Little bit about Istria
Istria is a peninsula in the Adriatic Sea currently divided between three countries: Italy (Trieste), Slovenia (Koper and Piran) and Croatia. Most of the peninsula is in Croatia where most of Istria forms one county. Notable extension is Opatija which is pretty much part of Rijeka and administrating a town from one county that is merged with a city from another would be screwed.
Ethnically, Istria is quite diverse. Although the ethnicity pretty much follows borders between countries, different ethnicities are present all around the peninsula. There is a large Slovenian community in Trieste and Italians have a big community in Croatian Istria. Italians generally left a big imprint in coastal Croatia. Many coastal towns have dual Croatian-Italian name despite the number of Italians in a particular settlement (e.g. Umag/Umago, Poreč/Parenzo, Pula/Pola, Rijeka/Fiume, Senj/Segna, Zadar/Zara, Split/Spalato etc.). While Italians constitute only about 5 % of county’s population, they have a strong community in the county, so Italian is a coöfficial language and most signs in the county are bilingual (Italian-Croatian).
The bilingualism is real bilingualism in this case because Italian and Croatian differ a lot (i.e. there’s no way in hell a person speaking Italian and a person speaking Croatian can understand each other without the knowledge of the other lingo although the local dialect has been influenced by Italian a lot). Unlike the crap about introducing Serbo-Croatian bilingualism where Serbs constitute a large minority. Serbian and Croatian are totally mutually intelligible and we (Croatians, Serbs, Bosniaks etc.) can understand each other perfectly. Okay reading Serbian Cyrillic might be a little troublesome to a Croatian, but other than that… Introducing bilingualism there is pure political game, especially since people in those areas speak pretty much the same, whether Croatian or Serbian, except, of course, those who accentuate the difference.
Another interesting ethnicity in Istria are Istroromanians. They mostly speak Croatian now, but there are still a few speakers of Istroromanian. A professor kept talking about them in the bus and I was so excited about meeting them, but he ended the speech with We’re not going to see them... He did say that they’re lingo is the most endangered one in Europe, but I think there are a few Sami lingoes that have no more speakers than Istroromanian…
Now that I said something about Istrian ethnicities, I can continue with its history. Well, I won’t say much anyway 😛 After Histri, the peninsula was colonized by Romans (the arena in Pula is one of the few preserved Roman arenas). Istria was the first stop of Croatians upon the great migration of Slavs. Specifically, the river Raša (although pronounced the same as Russia, the river has nothing to do with Russia). The river served as political border for many centuries while today there is a planned town extending to both sides of the river. Although that was certainly not intentional when the town was being built, the town of Raša is now a symbol of Istria as a whole.
Ironically, Istria wasn’t part of Croatia until Italian capitulation in WWII in 1943.
After Italian capitulation, Istria had to wait till 1954. Until then it was uncertain whether the peninsula would be returned to Italy or given to Yugoslavia as a spoil of war. The city that was kept in suspense the most was Trieste, but since we didn’t even go to Trieste, screw Trieste 😀 Let’s just leave the city for another time.
In the end, it was decided that Italy would keep the area with Italian majority while Yugoslavia would be given the area with Slav majority (by the way, Yugoslavia is spelled Jugoslavija in Slavic lingoes – jug means “south“, -slav- is for Slavs and -ija is the ending used often in the end of country names –> literally meaning Land of South Slavs). Then, there was just the matter of dividing Istria between Slovenia and Croatia. Again, ethnicity was the main factor. After the division of Istria, many Italians left Yugoslav Istria. The deal was finalized in 1975. Since, ethnicity was the main criterium in the division of Istria, even if Trieste did go to Yugoslavia, the city would’ve been incorporated into Slovenia, not Croatia. Especially, since Slovenia got the area south of the city.
Because Tito sealed Istria’s fate in Croatia, he is stilled loved in Istria (you really can’t go to a town without a Tito square) despite the opposite situation in the rest of Croatia.
Upon the breakup of Yugoslavia, Slovenia kept the part of Istria they’d had in Yugoslavia. Likewise, Croatia kept the part we’d had.
We still have a border issue between Slovenia in Piran Bay (we often call the Pirate Bay, Piran Bay 😀 ) though.
The symbol of (Croatian) Istria is goat. Our guide in Poreč told us the symbol is goat because a goat is Istrian’s first love and you always remember your first love 😉
Before continuing, here’s a map of Istria:
We went to Rijeka, Rabac, Raša, Pazin, Grožnjan, Rovinj, the Brijuni Islands, Poreč and Pula
This is the first time I hadn’t brought a backup book with me on a trip and the first time I read the one which I had brought 😡
Zato sam, dok sam čekao trajekt za Brijune, na kiosku kupio dva Alan Forda 😀
Do you know how the ceiling in old castles and stuff is low? They say that’s the case because people were shorter in the past. Well, based on the bus we travelled with, I’ve come to a different conclusion. Tolkien seriously misunderstood hobbits when he said they rarely lived in castles. I’m pretty sure old castles are their doing and that they secretly make buses now. Most of the time, they get the human hight correctly, but every now and then they screw up. I rode such a screw-up. The ceiling was so low that even I bumped my head a few times and I’m short. Many people had to literally crawl to move around the bus.
Either that or the bus was a prototype of a Jeffies tube. Take your pick.
Rijeka is the largest port of Croatia and the third largest Croatian city. Like many Croatian settlements, its origins go to the classical age.
During Austria-Hungary (Austria–Hungary was a dual monarchy, where Austria and Hungary had equal power despite the monarchy being constituted of many other lands), Rijeka served as (main) Hungarian port [both Austria and Hungary are landlocked (to this day, an expression He doesn’t care that Hungary is landlocked is used in Croatia to say that someone has no care in the world), so they had to use Croatian coast instead, which they just declared as being “Austrian” or “Hungarian”]. Therefore, Hungary invested a lot in Rijeka.
Things go interesting after WWI when, after lots of debating, the city got split into two parts. The part north of the river Rječina was incorporated into Italy. The part retained the name “Rijeka” (officially Free State of Fiume, later Italian Province of Fiume, Fiume is the Italian name for Rijeka to this day). And the part south of the river was incorporated into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. That part was named Sušak. That part of the city is still called Sušak.
One would assume that the Italian part was more prosperous since Yugoslavia was a shit hole. However that was not the case because Rijeka was just one of the many Italian ports, so it wasn’t important to them. Sušak, was, on the other hand, a very important port for Yugoslavia, so the kingdom invested a lot in the port.
Now, a bit about Rječina. Rječina is the river Rijeka was named after. Rječina means “an enormous river” (while rijeka itself means “river”). When hearing that “an enormous river” flows through Rijeka, one would assume that Rijeka lies on the Nile or the Amazon. In fact, Rječina is quite small.
The River Rječina
Rijeka is settled in between hills. That creates orographic effect meaning Rijeka is as rainy as London ×D Yes, it rained cats and dogs while we were in town…
Zapravo, u Rijeci stalno pada kiša zato što je Šegota u svoj udžbenik napisao da u Rijeci pada puno kiše i sad se svi ravnaju po tom, uključujući i vrijeme 😡
Being settled in between hills is also a big problem for the city to expand. Although the city extends a lot to the nearby hills today and it is pretty much merged with Opatija (which we didn’t go to…), hills are still an obstacle. They resulted in high buildings. Such urban structure, actually, impairs the old city structure, but it is necessary. Note, though, that a “high” building, in Croatian eyes, is 10+ stories. If a building has 20 stories in Croatia, we say that it’s enormous.
Panorama of Rijeka
Read more about Rijeka and Rječina on Diana’s Escapes.
Pazin is a town pretty much in the centre of Istria County. Because of that it is the capital of the county even though Pula is the centre of population and activities. Actually, vehicles in the whole county have PU on their licence plates. This is the only case in the country that letters of the county capital are not used at all on licence plates.
Speaking of the centre of Istria, there is a settlement nearby Pazin called Sveti Petar u Šumi (literally St. Peter in Forest). The saying says that Sveti Petar u Šumi is the centre of the world because, the village is geographically in the centre of Istria, Istria is geographically in the centre of Europe and Europe is the centre of the world.
Since the town is settled in a sort of depression, the temperatures are usually lower than in the rest of Istria (not counting the mountains Ćićarija and Učka, of course.
Speaking of temperatures, it was cold throughout Central Europe when we were on the field trip. Kinda like May last year. There was even snowfall on the peaks of Učka (probably Ćićarija too), but did we go there? Nooooo. I had to settle with this picture of the snowy Učka peak…
Snow on Učka
Speaking of cold weather. Everything seems to be fucked up. I played a bit with Yahoo! Weather today. Said it was 23°C in Tromso, Norway; 25° in Kiruna, Sweden and 26° in Rovaniemi, Finland while it was only 12° here (Zagreb, Croatia). Tromso, Kiruna and Rovaniemi are in Sampi. Just Google Earth Sampi and Croatia (or Central Europe in general since it’s currently cold throughout Central Europe).
Vrijeme se urotilo protiv Šegote 😀
Malo su pobrkali Magnusa i Bunkera, ali važno je sudjelovati 😉
Like I said, Pula is the most populace town in Istria (okay, Trieste is more, but I’m talking about Croatian Istria here) and the centre of all activities.
The town is most known for one of the few still preserved Roman arenas. The arena is twice less in size than the Colosseum in Rome.
The arena of Pula
Like Rijeka served as the most important port of Hungary in Austria-Hungary, Pula was the most important port of Austria. The town served mainly as a military port.
A seagull on top of the ferry that took us to the islands.
Brijuni are a group of small islands. They are one of eight Croatian national parks.
They have served as a resort of Croatian,and Yugoslav presidents before, including Tito.
Actually the national park is all about Tito and Koch (the guy who got rid of malaria that was killing everybody on the islands).
The park officially has a safari, but that’s no safari. The animals are those given to Tito by foreign dignitaries and their offspring. Okay, species are exotic (like zebra), but they’re all in cages and you tour the park in a tourist train (referred to later simply as chu-chu). It’s just a wannabe safari zoo.
Seagulls really pissed me off. They kept chilling in cages of other animals while I was in the chu-chu and couldn’t take any pics. When I went out, the bastards just flew away, this is the best pic I got:
The other legacy of Tito is “his” museum. The museum has two parts. One is full of various pictures of the guy. The other of the stuffed animals Tito “got”.
U, sunce ti kalajisano! Izet Fazlinović bi dao cijeli svoj crni štek za ovakvu sliku s drugom Maršalom ×D
Nije ni čudo da je lik bio strah i trepet divlje Juge kad je furao ovakvog ljubimca…
Yaser Arafat and Tito. Look what Arafat is looking at…
DI SI GAZDA?!
Tito i Castro na cugici 😉
Now about the other part – stuffed animals. The guide told us that the museum has animals, that Tito had got, stuffed after they died. Well, unless lions are half a metre long… Furthermore, some winter animals (e.g. white hares), that would find even the winter in Brijuni too hot, are in the museum
Nevertheless, I just had to take this pic:
Fuck, yeah! 😀
Although we were stationed in Poreč the whole time, we, at least officially, visited the town on the last day.
Although Istria is Croatian-Italian bilingual, the hotel we stayed in had only channels in Croatian, English and German. Indeed, the hotel was full of Jerries (and English). Judging by the licence plates on the cars parked outside the hotel, they were mostly Bavarians, Baden-Württembergians and Austrians. The only lingoes that could be heard in hotel were German, English and Croatian (in that order). I only heard a couple speaking Italian the last day.
The guide told us that the town (with the population of 17 500 at best) has more than 30 roundabouts. Indeed, we saw quite a few roundabouts, but since he, also, said that the high concentration of aerosols (yes, pollutants) in the air, makes the town more attractive; I come to doubt his wisdom…
He, also, told us that Poreč is the only town with Roman cardo (north to south) and decumanus (east to west) streets that still carry the names Cardo and Decumanus.
The most popular sight of the town is Euphrasian Basilica listed UNESCO world heritage.
Entrance to the Euphrasian Basilica
Baredine Cave is a geomorphological monument of nature. The climb in the cave (actually fall ×D ) proved to be too much for me. I only reached the first touring station. Animals that inhabit the cave include an interesting endemic species – olms. They inhabit deeper levels of the cave, so I didn’t take the pic myself:
Before talking about Rovinj, I’d just like to mention Monkodonja, remains of a Bronze Age town.
Here are some pics:
Well, I can’t say much about Rovinj since professors just said We’ll meet at the bus in 5:00 PM. Please be punctual. I don’t wanna say who was late, as usual. All I’m going to say is that students were punctual, like we were told 😉
Well, maybe a pic:
That’s it, from Rovinj we headed home.
Posted on 31st May 2013 at 11:13 GMT
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