Tuesday, September 18, 2012

First Road Trip: Slovenia and Croatia

My roommates and I took our first European road trip together on Sunday, Sept. 9.  We drove in the evening to our first stop, Ljubljana, Slovenia.  One of my roommates, Kate Wheeler, has a friend in Ljubljana so we were fortunate enough to stay at his apartment for two nights.  Once we arrived at the apartment, we casually tasted some Slovenian wine while we waited for Wheeler's friend to get home from his ice hockey game.  After the first taste of Slovenian wine, my roommates and I realized that Austrian wine is far better.  Despite the wine, Slovenia seemed like a beautiful place to travel to.

The following afternoon, we drove to Portorož just for the day.  With its beautiful mountains and sandy beaches, I can see why Portorož (literally "Port of Roses") is considered one of the country's largest tourist areas.  We walked around the town enjoying the warm atmosphere before stopping for a late lunch at a local bar and restaurant, Alaya.  The cocktail bar, located right on the edge of the beach, seemed as if it belonged in the Caribbean or Hawaii with its straw-like huts and palm trees.  After a few drinks and a light lunch, we made our way back to Ljubljana, which was only about an hour drive.  

With only one night left in Ljubljana, my roommates and I decided to try a sushi restaurant for our last meal.  Sushi is not considered a popular delicacy in Europe, so once we heard that there was a sushi place in Ljubljana, we just had to try it.  We drove two minutes to downtown Ljubljana and arrived at our destination, MoySushi, located in the heart of old town.  The Sushi restaurant did not feel like the Japanese restaurants we were used to for its interior design had a modern twist to the traditional Japanese culture.  The restaurant was almost like a tapas bar since you could only two pieces of sushi each time.  In addition to sushi, the menu also featured other items, such as sashimi, miso soup, and tempura, which reminded us of our hometown sushi restaurants. 

After dinner, we walked around downtown observing the beautiful sites.  In addition, some of my roommates had their first taste of gelato which they enjoyed in a mere five minutes.  After an eventful day, we headed back to the apartment for a good night's sleep for we were traveling to Croatia the next morning.

We arrived in Pula the following afternoon and checked into the hostel, Riva Hostel, where we made reservations.  Pula is situated at the southern tip of the Istrian peninsula and is the area's largest city, according to tripadvisor.com.  After checking in, we quickly took the bus to the closest beach, located on the Verudela Peninsula.  The beach was nothing like my beach at home, Virginia Beach.  Instead of sand, rocks covered the shore, which initially became difficult to walk on.  My flip flops finally came in handy!  Despite the rocks, my roommates and I enjoyed the warm, sunny weather and the clear blue water of the Adriatic coast.  This was our definition of a vacation!  We sipped on some wine and vodka as we relaxed in the gorgeous, beach environment.  Once the sun began to set, we made our way to a pizza restaurant, Pizzeria Jupiter, which was walking distance from our hostel.  My roommates and I shared three small pizzas, which were delicious!  In addition, the restaurant owner was kind enough to buy us several pitchers of white wine, which we appreciated deeply.  It seemed like a great way to end our first night in Pula.

We had reserved a room in the hostel until Friday, so we spent the rest of our days in Pula either at the beach, if weather permitted, or walking around the town center.  We observed some historical sites, including the Arena in Pula, the Temple of Augustus, the Triumphal Arch of Sergius, the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, and the Kastel.

Arena in Pula
Temple of Augustus
Triumphal Arch of Sergius
Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin
For celebrate our last night in Pula, two of my roommates (Chelsea Illchuk and Kate Wheeler) and I went out to a club.  People filled the dance floor of the club as my roommates and I also joined.  We all definitely had a great time at our first club overseas.  On Friday, my roommate, Dayna Janzen, and I drove five hours back to Austria while my other two roommates stayed in Pula to attend an outdoor ice hockey game at the Arena.  Overall, it was a great first road trip and I'm excited to see what adventures we plan next! 


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