When an overcast sky is what welcomes you when you awake on your vacation you might think the day ahead could be less than stellar. However, if you are on the Istrian coast, fear not, a day that fills the senses can easily be on the horizon. I experienced this first hand waking in the coastal town of Barbariga to dimly lit skies that ended with a day full of memories and laughter.
A fellow blogger, DeeAnne, and I were driven by our wonderful tour guide Filip first to Rovinj and then towards the wine country of Buje and the Veralda Vineyards. The mist that fell did the reverse of dampening our spirits, but actually created so much laughter and good repartee the drive literally flew by. Our first stop was the coastal medieval town of Rovinj. I had recently biked here on my own, but to visit this place with a tour guide and to share it with someone who hadn’t seen it before made it fresh and interesting. The “Croatian version of Venice” is a really a post card spot. The colored shutters on the windows and the brick red roofs provide that classic European look. The beautiful harbor and quaint shops are great attractions, but the main draw is to climb the hill to the top where the St. Euphemia church sits. Before we made the climb I was introduced to a Croatian treat called Burek – think a croissant filled with either cheese or meat, and of course a macchiato at a café at the hills base. As we reached the top we took a moment to enjoy the splendid view of the Adriatic. Took a shot of my companions for the day. It costs 20 Kuna to climb to the top of the bell tower for a spectacular view of the landscape beyond. As we were taking pics and enjoying the views the bells started to ring. We didn’t realize it was noon, so we received the full “treatment” of the music of the bells. Note to self: Climb the tower at 1pm! We headed down and roamed the shops and appreciated the views before we jumped in the car and headed to the Veralda Vineyards.
Croatia is best known in the wine world for its white Malvasian wine. The Veralda vineyard did not disappoint here, but also served terrific rose, merlot, and some sparkling. We started the tour in the storage area and the owner pulled off samples from the tanks of several types – all delicious and most had a hint of fruit. We then checked out the presses and were able to climb in from the bottom of a recently run press since it’s harvest season to really see the inner workings. After checking out a breathtaking view of the vineyard from outdoors we headed inside where the real tasting began. This tour really differed from other vineyard tours I’ve taken as the tasting room was really a restaurant. Most times you are given some cheese and crackers to accompany the wine, but we were served delicious home cooked meals by the grandmother (Baba) of the owner – a seafood pasta, of course a whole fish along with fresh tomatoes from their garden and a tasty dessert. Each course came with a new wine to sample, and can say I was certainly getting very “happy” to be there.
It was a good thing we had a driver and Filip took us on our way. In our current state the jokes seemed funnier, the stories more poignant and the camaraderie stronger. We reached our home base, and it only then struck me that it had been misty and overcast the whole day. We had seen so many sights, tasted amazing food, touched the polished stone of the ancient pathway up to St. Euphemia, smelled the ocean as it sat still on a humid day, and lastly certainly heard the bells of the church tower. All my senses stated I realized the day was as bright as any other. Rovinj and wine, a perfect pairing.
Written by guest blogger Bob Ackley