Posts Tagged ‘Istria’
Don’t you love hotels with sleek, new amenities and facilities? Now that Istria has been annointed must-see-must-go-destination-of-the-year by a swarm of publications in 2011, local hotels are scrambling to present the finest accommodation experience. Millions of kuna are flowing into the coveralls of builders and architects to get Istrian hotels shiny and ready for this year’s expected influx of visitors. Here’s a look at some of the changes:
Hotel Histria: Pula‘s finest hotel will be even better after a 185-million-kuna investment by Pula’s Arenaturist. I stayed there last September and liked it as is but starting around May when the renovation is complete the hotel should be extraordinary. It will have four stars and be known as the Park Plaza Histria Pula.
Punta Verudela: Also on Pula’s woodsy Verudela peninsula, this two-star hotel and apartment complex needs a renovation and will get one. The exterior won’t change but expect more modern and spruced-up apartments.
Hotel Sol Garden Istria: Here’s another great family hotel in Umag, ready to improve with the construction of a whole new pool, water slide and entertainment area for kids. I can tell you from experience that this is a very lively kid-centric resort.
Hotel Melia Coral:Ready to leave the kids at home? This hotel is Croatia’s first for adults only. Enjoy the renovated night bar, beach club and the new sports playground for adults. It’s also in Umag.
Mobile Homes Park Umag: This luxury four-star camping resort will receive 22 new mobile homes. Stay here and avail yourself of three swimming pools and free internet access.
Hotel Neptun-Istra: This is the premier hotel on Veli Brijun, the inhabited part of the Brijuni Islands. It is currently receiving a six-million kuna upgrade and should be good to go for the summer season.
Hotel Velanera: Located in Sisan, only 8km from Pula, this brand-new four-star boutique hotel is surrounded by a huge landscaped park. The decoration reflects the latest in Italian design and of course you can expect a swimming pool, jacuzzi and fine restaurant.
See my choice of the Best Hotels in Istria
Learn to salsa? Practice your groove moves? The Salsa Festival in Rovinj will be the center of salsa on the Adriatic for seven days this summer. Beginning on the 19th and ending on the 24th of June, the ancient, hilly streets of Rovinj will throb to a Latin beat for the eighth edition of the Croatian Summer Salsa Festival. In ten venues around town, there will be workshops in Cuban salsa, Mambo, Rumba, Cha-Cha, Linear salsa and other forms such as Zouk and Bachatango. Instructors and artists from around the world will be on hand and nearly every night there’ll be a party, concert or show culminating in a party boat trip on June 25. Rovinj is one of the most delightful towns in Istria at any time but now with this Salsa Festival, who would want to stay at home? For information and online reservations click here.
The catamarans from Venice to Croatia are a delightful and easy way to augment your Venice trip with a jaunt to Istria or to hop over to Venice from your base in Rovinj, Porec, Pula, Rabac, Umag or Mali Losinj (which is actually in the Kvarner region). Beginning on April 18 and running until October 6, these passenger ferries whisk you over the Adriatic in comfort in a trip that lasts from about 2 1/2 to 4/12 hours. The frequency of the other ferries depends upon the season. The ferries run to some destinations daily in July and August. New this year is a route to Umag but only weekly in the high summer season. See more about ferries to Croatia
Check the schedules and book online:
For years Valsabbion restaurant, just outside Pula, has been considered one of Croatia’s finest gastronomic restaurants, maybe even the finest. Part of the Valsabbion hotel, the restaurant was known for its creative, even daring dishes, a rarity along the Croatian coast where expertly grilled fish is usually enough to please the crowd. Yes, it was pricey relative to other local restaurants but the quality was superb. A similar meal would cost many times more in neighbouring Italy. What happened? In an interview, owner Sonja Peric remarked that the cost of running such a restaurant was extremely high and the profits were negligible. It seems that the local population does not have the financial means to support such a restaurant and tourists are too easily satisfied with a seaside inn serving inexpensive food.
It’s a serious blow to the Croatian gastronomic scene just at a time when Croatian food and wine is starting to attract international attention. Yes there are other restaurants in Pula but none, frankly, at that level.
As 2011 draws to a close and travel publishers issue their “Best” lists, Istria has emerged as the must- see, must- visit, must-go destination of the year.
Lonely Planet placed Istria number 2 on its “top ten regions” in this article.
Travel and Leisure named Istria as a “life-changing trip” in this article.
National Geographic named Istria “best of the world” in this article.
Is this a case of jumping on the bandwagon? Maybe a little bit. After all, Istria has had the same mild climate, great wine, sparkling sea and rolling hills since the Romans marched in 2000 years ago. The Venetians built the colorful port towns, the Austrians built the infrastructure, the Italians left their cuisine, Tito built the hotels and not too much has changed since except that the hotels have sprouted wellness centers.
So why is Istria bursting onto the “best of” lists now? Because Istria is relatively unknown to the American market (and thus, readers of National Geo and T & L) and seems like a daring alternative to the over-familiarity of Tuscany and the French Riviera. That’s not to say that Istria doesn’t deserve all the attention. It does! By all means, swim the waters, dine in the fine restaurants, bike the hills and wander the old towns. But book ahead because I have a sneaking feeling that, after all these lists, Istria is going to be very, very busy next year.