Croatia

Pula, the city that never seems to sleep

 

The airport at Pula, Croatia

The airport at Pula, Croatia

Our trip from Brussels Charleroi to Pula, Croatia goes smoothly. With minimal baggage and being on the third row of the seats in the Ryanair flight, we are among the first at the immigration queue. The Croat immigration officer takes my child’s dutch passport and my Kenyan passport. He holds onto the blue document scanning page after page.

Ahhh…,I’m having a déjà-vu moment. I probably expect questions about how much money I’m carrying, where I will stay, how long I will be in Croatia and what I will be doing while there. I have handed over my dutch resident permit hoping that it will in some way ‘rescue’ me from the embarrassment of being ‘the-one-made-to-wait-by-the-immigration-desk-answering-strange-questions.’  No such thing, both documents are thoroughly scrutinized. No matter that I live in the Netherlands and I’m visiting Croatia, a country recently admitted to the European Union.

Finally,…a question. Not the question I expect however.

‘Would you please write down your father’s name?’ the officer in the glass cabin asks as he pushes a folded piece of white paper under the slide towards me.

I write down my late father’s name wondering what this is about and how they will make the connection that I’m truly his daughter. Apart from the last common name, there’s no indication of any such connection and my birth certificate which would provide evidence of such information is not on me.

By this time, the whole plane has emptied out and all the Caucasians have whizzed by, happily, with their passports swiftly stamped.

The second officer in the window asks which hotel I’ll be staying at. I fumble with my wifi-less iPad to show them where I’m booked at. They stamp my passport and let me in. I’m officially in Croatia.

I take my bags at check-in and get outside to look for the shuttle bus to the center so we can get to our hotel cum apartment.

A burly guy hovers around the crowd of waiting passengers. He has a steel hard look about him, and I look away not expecting him to walk towards us but he does, announcing that he can take us by taxi to our location for 150 kuna. I bargain to 100 kuna and he obliges, we are soon at the apartment.

Over the next few days we discover Pula and the people who call it their home.

We quickly identify favorites; the supermarket near our apartment, the city centre that bustles with energy not seeming to sleep and Verudela beach.

Multi-colored beetle on a tree at Verudela beach, Pula.

Multi-colored beetle on a tree at Verudela beach, Pula.

My daughter enjoying a swim

My daughter enjoying a swim

Entering the waters for a swim

Entering the waters for a swim

Sunset at Verudela beach, Pula

Sunset at Verudela beach, Pula

We spend whole days basking in the hot sun and jumping into the Adriatic Sea when we feel sufficiently heated up. A few old white women at the beach have chosen to bask topless, I quickly look away when I realize I’m the only one staring in shock.

At the city centre, I observe the people. There’s the flirty waiter who persistently asks to come to the place I’m staying at, yet hasn’t even asked what my name is. Incredulous to say the least. I continue buying the delicious gelatos that my daughter loves and ignore his winks.

Delicious gelato flavours

Delicious gelato flavors

Strawberry and vanilla flavors

Strawberry and vanilla flavors

Some people we meet on the streets have permanent scowls on their face, some stare at us curiously, others regard us with vapid indifference. The  elderly women smile  at my daughter and pat her head or admire her braids. It is easier to chat with the youth. I get talking to a couple of Slovenian tourists over the Yugoslav War and the Balkans region. They state that their country was virtually unscathed in comparison to Bosnia which bore the full brunt of war.

A group of young Croats stop us in the streets, ‘Click click?’ they enquire. I agree to take a picture with them.

Posing with a group of youthful Croats

Posing with a group of youthful Croats

We are scheduled to have a boat tour around Istra. For the most part we encounter choppy waters and angry winds tossing our boat to and fro. While I’m queasy and want to lie down, some passengers squeal in delight and enjoy the motions. The fish lunch is a good break.

Our boat tour on the Melissa cost 405 kuna, and we had a two hour stopover at the beautiful town of Rovinj. There are a couple of boat tours going as well to Venice. Excursions Heju provides many other options.

It is worthwhile to take this trip, it would be great to go on a good day, weather does make a difference and would be better to sail in calm waters than choppy seas.

Excursion around Istra

Excursion around Istra

Tour boat "Melissa.."

Tour boat “Melissa..”

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There’s no end to merriment when we get back and we revel in the party-like atmosphere. Many artistes give daring performances in front of hushed crowds. When the performance ends, a few people toss coins into the hats passed around. Others quickly disperse in search of other forms of entertainment.

Daring performance by street artistes outside forum, Pula.

Daring performance by street artistes outside forum, Pula.

Street performers

Street performers

Some drummers

A band

Beautiful music

Beautiful music

Random dancing in the streets of Pula

Random dancing in the streets of Pula

The crowd enjoys a free lesson in salsa

The crowd enjoys a free lesson in salsa

More nocturnal entertainment

More nocturnal entertainment

Golden statue man

Golden statue man

Pula has been quite interesting but it’s time to set off for Dubrovnik…

76 replies »

  1. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for your
    next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

    Like

    • Hi, we are going to Pula this weekend can you tell me where did you get your boat excursion tickets at? Did you get them through Nenad Heinrich (Excursions-Heju) or the Melissa Izlet Excursions? I keep looking and I don’t want to get ripped off bc he has that boat on his site but confuses me because it has different names. Can you point me the right directon?

      Thanks,

      Dawn

      Like

      • Hi Dawn,
        We booked our excursion on the beach and had to pay 405 kuna for Melissa excursions, it was okay, not too expensive..other guys on the beach were selling excursions at about 450 kuna. I didn’t see the Melissa excursions website, hence I quoted Heju excursions which have a website for easy reference..but I must confess I didn’t use them hence I can’t tell how good they are..if you are at Pula and walking around the beach there are salesmen selling these excursions. All the best!

        Like

      • Thank you so much. I booked online through Heju and we are going on the Melissa also! We are paying 270 kuna per person so I guess it is better to book on the beach. Nice to know I will have a good time though thanks…..Ciao!

        Liked by 1 person

      • As long as the weather is good and the seas are calm, I think you will have a great time. There are several tops on the way..for example you can walk round Rovinj, and as well go to the restaurants on the island, and there were other trips as well sold on the stops, for example dolphin excursions etc..it would be nice to book something during the stops or check them out..I will probably do so next time I visit Pula.

        Like

  2. I love your subtle descriptions of what it’s like to travel as a black person in Croatia. I especially took note of your experience going through immigration. We drove from Nice to Monaco not too long ago, and as soon as we entered Monaco, we got pulled over by the police while all of the other cars whizzed by without any problems. We had to provide our passports, and like you, we got questioned about our parents’ names. They had us pulled over and were questioning us for a good 20 minutes. It was a very telling experience, but we didn’t have any problems or issues after that. Oh, the joys of traveling in color!

    Like

    • Ahhhh…the joys of traveling in color! Dana you put it so well..The immigration experience sometimes can get to me…crossing borders in the Balkans was something else, with strange questions being asked..I think as well they feel “we” are not just traveling but are there “trying to find a way to stay…” I found people were friendlier (warmer) in Bosnia than in Croatia, but that’s a story for another day…:-)

      Like

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