08 October 2013

Climbing in Rovinj, Croatia

After a half-day in Zagreb and sleeping for 12 solid hours, I was ready to CLIMB! We loaded up the cars (the available vehicles were these tiny little Chevy Sparks, so we needed to get two just to fit all of our luggage), and set out for Rovinj (pronounced Ro-Vin, the "j" is silent, or also acts as a "y" in Croatian), a 2.5 hour drive to south-west.

I swear I didn't pick the color, but they just know me so well.

All you need to know about driving in Croatia is that you will get lost. A lot. Never in my life have I been so lost than I was Every. Single. Day. in Croatia. If not so comical, it would have been endlessly frustrating. Eventually we just started planning on being lost, then it just became part of the journey. But early in our trip, before we knew this wisdom, caravanning to Rovinj turned into a harrowing affair when we decided to take a pit-stop for a potty break. 

We didn't have much in the way of maps (Lonely Planet was beyond disappointing, and the guidebook's directions were laughable at best) and we were without cell phone service. Ed, the smart one in the group, did buy a road map, but even that was difficult to navigate. None of the roads are marked. Okay, occasionally, if you are in a town, you will see the road name notated on the side of a building, but for the most part you are on your own. 

We drove through some hugely awesome tunnels

Welcome to Istria!

When traveling between cities, the toll-ways are quite good IF you know where you're going....but that’s a pretty big IF. Before you go anywhere, you HAVE to know your "ultimate destination" - by which I mean, not where you are going, but where you are headed.

For example: you can’t just be like, “Oh, we want to go south.” Nope, they don’t do north/south/east/west. You need more forethought and detailed thinking: “I’m in Zagreb, I’m going to Rovinj, but Pula is the ultimate destination at the end of the freeway that goes sort of near Rovinj, so I need to head towards Pula and hope I don't miss the single sign and only turn off to Rovinj.”

I won’t bore you with more details. All you need to know is we were separated then miraculously reunited in the center of a major city, and resumed our caravan to Rovinj, where it only took us about an hour, and 5 stops, before we met someone who successfully delivered our little caravan safety to our apartment.

It was a cluster.


THEN IT WAS CLIMBING TIME! Sarah opted for a 10-mile run while Ed, Linnea, and I set off to find some urban climbing just outside of town. We only got lost twice en route to the crag, then got lost pretty catastrophically on-foot once inside the park. Hey, who doesn’t love a good hour-long walk when it’s only supposed to take 10 minutes?

Wandering toward the crag

This view doesn't suck

At least the views were great. Right on the Adriatic Sea. And our wanderings took us past an elaborate field of cairns. Can you spot the one that looks like the Eiffel Tower?

Cairn Field

Finally at the rock, I was stoked to get on my first limestone in almost a year. We only had time for two routes before the sun went down, and despite climbing on graffiti (a first for all of us) the rock was stellar and the views were even better.

Can you tell I'm ENTHUSIASTIC!

Linnea pulling up on the textured limestone

2nd lead of the night

Can you spot the climber?

Right out of the movies

Seriously? Such ridiculous beauty.

Mmmmm....graffiti walls....

Rovinj from afar

For dinner, we went into tiny Rovinj and scarfed down a myriad of dishes at an “Italian” restaurant. The food was so-so, but the wine was delicious and our spirits were high planning for the next few days. They weren't even quashed when we to the car to find a parking ticket. Blerg.

Ending the night on a high note, we were proud to find our apartment in only 15 minutes (a 3-minute drive.) Not bad team Croat!

Happy faces

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