Croatian Roadtrip — Last Leg: Udine, Italy

We were sad to depart Rovinj. All the advice and suggestions of our innkeeper hosts at Casa Garzotto were dead-on accurate, and we were really sorry to have to depart for Udine, Italy. It seemed like Croatia was also trying to keep us there — there was a pretty annoying traffic jam right on the border into Slovenia.

The border crossing into Slovenia –back into the EU — was merely a smile and a wave on through. It was just a few hours to our last overnight venue on this trip: Hotel Friuli, which seemed incredibly looming and nearly empty, after having stayed at the small hotels in Zagreb and Rovinj and the large, but full, Habsburg Getaway Joint in Opatija.


Udine looked like a good place to go walk around and have a drink. So we did. I tried something new: an Aperol sour. I liked it so much that a bottle of it made its way home with us (more on that later). For dinner, S&J whipped out their really nifty regional Italian cuisine reference book and I think everyone managed to try something new. Nice food, reasonably priced, in a very casual atmosphere on the edge of the Udine Altstadt. Think Flingers or Tchotchke’s, but without all the flair.

The next day — our last — we drove to a nearby town for lunch, but couldn’t properly find our way out of Udine (blame the driver, the GPS, and Italian infrastructure in equal parts), couldn’t find the recommended restaurant once we got there, and really couldn’t see the point of sticking around there once we gave up looking for it. So we just came back to Udine, sought out lunch there (nice pizzas), took a few pictures, and then did the most important part of the Italian leg of the trip: the supermarket visit. We finally put that cooler to use with meat and cheese transportation home to Germany: some wonderful truffle salami and a nine-pound wedge of Grana Padano. OK, not really nine pounds, but at those prices, we could have bought that much. We also stocked up on olive oil (three varieties) and wine (one red, one white) and a nice big bottle of Aperol. Jul and Scott also made use of their cooler and it became clear that our rental car upgrade from Focus-class wagon to whatever class the Mazda 5, with its ample trunk room and dual sliding doors, was a good move. And that we seemed to have a considerable amount of luggage with us.

The ride home was pretty uneventful. Thanks to the speed limitless stretches of Autobahn, we dropped J&S off, jetted home to Regensburg, unloaded the car, gassed it up, and dropped it off, precisely one minute before it was due.

Notes from a drive through Istria and Friuli — Part 1

Zagreb Bench DudesBeen kinda quiet around here, hmm? We’ve been busy. After work on Tuesday last week, I scooped up a rental car from near the office — upgraded from the Ford Focus class to the Mazda 5 class, which was a very good idea, as it turns out, since we made use of the extra luggage room and the dual sliding passenger doors were handy for tight parking — dashed home to pick up Sarah, and bopped down to Munich to crash out at Chez Along the way, we discovered that a small van-like vehicle such as that Mazda 5 is NOT suitable for one of those stacked parking spaces. Fortunately we figured that out before causing any damage to the car or their stacky thing. We got up early the next morning and got the show on the road to Zagreb.

Größere Kartenansicht

The drive down was rather uneventful, apart from the rain. We each got a passport stamp at the crossing from Slovenia into Croatia, so that was cool and finally arrived outside of downtown Zagreb at the spiffy Hotel Jarun. The receptionist there was quite friendly and helpful and pointed us in the right direction to the tram to get downtown, where we quickly appreciated the city’s charm.

Here are some notes I jotted at the time:

  • Lights on in the rain, else potential 150€ fine (tip from border dude between SLO and HR).
  • Steel-faced border crossing between Slovenia and Croatia. Not very friendly. Does that matter? Another stamp in the passports, at long as they’re still a candidate country.
  • About 7.25 kuna to the Euro at time of writing. Food seems cheaper (restaurant pricing) but retail clothing doesn’t (much) – at least based on window shopping.
  • One-way tram ride costs about a € for one zone. It’s a good 15-20 minute tram ride into downtown Zagreb from Jarun.
  • If you have a one-way paper ticket, look for the ticket-stamper machine in the front car of the tram. Seems most people travel on passes or other magnetic-read tickets.
  • Hotel Jarun is clean and new and well-equiped. Nice techy stuff like big TV and free WLAN (not that we used either much due to being exhausted upon arrival last night after dinner and exploring). Generous shower, decent breakfast offerings.
  • Old town seems cute, mix of old and well-maintained and obviously new-but-made-to-look-old or newly-restored buildings.
  • Don’t like not having a book; our rentention of basic phrases from a podcast J+S brought was miserable.

Here’s the Zagreb slide show: