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traveling in a pack

I usually travel solo.

There are a lot of reasons for that. The most obvious being I’m single. Also, a lot of my trips have been the result of a sudden decision that if I don’t go Tunisia in the next week, I will spiritually perish. It’s really hard to convince a friend or loved one who doesn’t know what continent Tunisia is on, that they should drop everything and fly 9 hours to see it (it’s worth it, by the way).

I’ve heard people wax poetic about how traveling with someone is so much better than traveling alone because you’re SHARING the experience.

I tend to believe if part of your concentration is focused on the person or people with whom you’re sharing the experience, that dilutes the core experience. But that could just be a lonely old hag rationalizing.

I do have empirical evidence to support my theory. On one of my first “big” trips, I went sailing off the coast of Turkey with a soon to be ex-boyfriend now refered to as “Toxin” (nothing personal, of course). That was 15 years ago when all anyone knew about Turkey was Midnight Express and the most exotic place I’d ever visited was England.

I remember very little about the cultural coolness of being in Turkey from that trip. The truth is, It took two subsequent trips to Turkey on my own before I figured out exactly what my route with Toxin was and what villages and towns we visited.

It’s not that I didn’t remember visiting those places. They were clearly imprinted. There was the beautiful place where Toxin got really, really drunk. The beautiful place where I was full of seething rage. The beautiful place I was seasick. The beautiful place where he was nauseous. The beautiful harbor where I wasn’t getting enough attention, the beautiful place where I proved useless in the galley.  The beautiful place where I was happily in love.   The beautiful place where I almost crashed the boat.    And the beautiful place I had the nightmare about fleeing Toxin and trying to get back to the US from godknows where I was in Turkey without any money. Not that I didn’t have a great time and I’m not eternally grateful to Toxin for the trip. I just wasn’t viewing the amazing experience through the clearest lens (it was as fogged up as hell.)

The point is, for better or worse, traveling with people changes the experience. I’m prepared for that.

Right now, we’re headed for Rovinj, which is described as a stunning medieval fishing village that juts into the sea like an exclamation point. The old town still bears the influence of the many empires that captured it over the centuries. It’s surrounded by clear teal blue water and to die for views. One legend has it that Rovinj floated away from Venice at one point or another. It’s about a two hour drive. I’m definitely excited to get there. We all are.

There are supposed to be some interesting sights on the way between Ljubljana and Rovinj.

postojana caves

The Postojna and Skokjan Caves are near the Slovenia/Italy border and sound amazing. They elicit deep discussion. Some of us get a little claustrophobic. And what if the mandatory guided tour is too long and we can’t escape because we’re in a cave? what if we get lost in a cave? That would be horrible. Can you imagine having a heart attack lost in those caves? And there are probably stairs. Lots of Dark, narrow, clammy stairs. And i we stop to see the caves, do we go to Postojina or Skokjan? Which one is better? It would be horrible to make the three hour detour and later discover we went to the lesser cave. That would just be too painful. Hey, didn’t we just pass the exit?

Our next potential stop, Koper. A medival town on the 30-mile Coast of Slovenia. It says it’s a 20 minute detour. But that’s what they said about Zagreb Airport. Can we risk loosing the three hours to get here and 7 hours to get back? It doesn’t sound nearly as charming as the next medieval town on the way.

piran

Next potential stop, Piran. A medieval town that’s supposed to be more charming than Koper. It’s also on the Slovenian coast, but further off the highway. We don’t like the name. It sounds shifty. Didn’t we just skip a medieval town? Why did we skip that one? Is this medieval town supposed to be more charming than OUR medieval town? Can’t we just go there?

We skip Umag because nobody has gotten to U in their travel guides’ list of places to see in Slovenia.

Not wanting to be total wusses, we do exit the highway at one point for a detour visit to the Porec, a charming Medieval town on the Croatian coast. But it’s closed, in preparation for

porec

some boat show. Well, it’s not really closed. The parking lot is full and we’re waved towards another parking lot which turns out to be over a mile walk from the old town, and it’s hot and screw them.

After Porec, we’re never quite sure we’ve found the right road to Rovinj or are even traveling in the right direction. This prevents us from making further scenic route attempts. So if any of the charming Medieval coastal towns of Istria complain that they don’t have enough tourists, blame it on Porec.

We dare not venture a meter further off the mapped route than necessary or we we’ll never see Rovinj in this lifetime, So the roadside mom and pop farmhouse type inn somewhere between Ljublana and Rovinj seems the perfect place to assuage our now raging hunger. (We were planning to eat in goddamn Porec.)

I don’t know the name of the restaurant, but it’s very picturesque. A hearse is the only other car in the make due parking lot. (looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of that).

I’ll never remember what I’m having for lunch. It was either meat or fish. It’s pretty good though.   I will remember that one of us had cramps, that lunch really hit the spot, and we hope we don’t get food poisoning.

During the trip we also contemplate stopping at several rest stops and gas stations before finding one that appears up to our discerning standards (clean, not groddy, do they sell Pringles?).

I do happen to notice that the countryside is beautiful. I steal a moment to savor the rolling hills of a sunsoaked, dusky wine region with the legs of a sparkling Adriatic shore.

rovinj (we’re almost there!)

When we see the isle- town of Rovinj from a far we feel pretty darn smug. It only took four hours, not including the lunch stop to get here. Mission Accomplished! We pat ourselves on the back for being such worldly travelers.

With that success under our belt, we surge onward. It only takes another three hours to find our hotel.

 

One Response

  1. We have traveled these roads, and we have loved them. Porec is spectacular. Have you checked out Knin? We drove through, but Alice didn’t want to stop for coffee when she saw all the guys in HV uniforms and telescope rifles, looking East. Got into a traffic duel with some guy who called me an Ustashe (we had “HR” decals on the rental) near Ljubljana. I love these countries.

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