Pula is the largest city in Istria so I suppose it was inevitable that we would get lost leaving the place. In theory it should have been easy to pick up the coast road and drive the short distance to Fažana but after fifteen minutes or so it was obvious that we were going in the wrong direction, away from the coast and driving into the hills of the peninsula.
Istria derives its name from the its first known settlers , the ancient Illyrian tribe of the Histri, who arrived there in the early bronze age who were the first to use the geographical advantages of the peninsula to establish trade routes and develop commerce. Istria’s privileged position was however to become its burden as one by one other, more powerful and aggressive neighbours moved in to take control and take advantage of the trading and strategic military advantages that it offered. First the Romans, then Byzantium and after that Slavic tribes from the east and over the following centuries Istria was governed by the Franks, the Venetian Empire, the Hapsburgs, Austria and in the early twentieth century by Fascist Italy. It was later absorbed into Yugoslavia and following its break up divided by modern day Slovenia and Croatia.
Once we had realised our (my) mistake we corrected it quite easily and as we were in an elevated position we could see a road that led to the coast and although there were no signposts to help we trusted to luck and set off west. We were right and soon we were in Fažana and after parking the car next to the sea we went to find our hotel, the Villeta Phasiana which turned out to be ideally located in a small square right next to the harbour.
After the girls had enjoyed their first speciality ice cream we moved the car to the designated car park and walked the short distance to the hotel where we booked into some simple but stylishly furnished rooms with a good view over the square, the harbour and the sea.
We stayed long enough to unpack and untidy the perfectly presented rooms and then we assembled back outside to explore the village and enjoy the late afternoon sunshine. The hotel was in a perfect position right at the centre of the pretty little village and we took a stroll along the seafront to examine the restaurants for later on. We hadn’t got very far when a tall man with a dog spotted us as tourists and launched into a sales pitch for a boat ride around the islands for the next day or the day after. He told us his name was Alex and a trip with lunch was two hundred Kuna (about £15 each), Micky offered him a deal which he declined so we said we would think about it and he left us his mobile phone number.
We didn’t walk to far and quickly returned to a harbour side bar/restaurant called the Konoba Feral where we sat out of the wind that was getting stronger and had a couple of drinks and thoughts began to turn to evening meal. Back at the hotel the helpful receptionist recommended the Feral for food and as it wasn’t far to walk we agreed that we thought that it was a good idea to take her advice.
In the sky the late sun and some occasional clouds were beginning to assemble into an impressive sunset ensemble like a bonfire in the sky and with Kim’s magic camera (if you remember, it can capture a sunset even if there isn’t one) it seemed certain that we would be able to get some good pictures.
Micky and I met first and after taking the pictures we took an outside seat at the tavern and over a beer we approved the menu by making sure that there were not too many slippery things from the ocean on it and there were some suitably plain alternatives for Sue and Christine and having satisfied ourselves that it was alright we sat and waited for the others to join us.
It was an excellent choice and the food was perfect. Micky had steak, the girls had spaghetti and Kim and I had a scampi buzura which is Adriatic prawns in a pasta sauce which was a bit messy to eat but tasted divine. We had chosen well and it was an excellent meal and after good food and wine we ended a long day with the short walk back to the Villeta Phasiana.
Opposite the hotel was the village church which regularly chimed the hours from the campanile bell tower and we worried about that, especially after we discovered complimentary ear plugs in the bed side cabinet but we needn’t have concerned ourselves because at eleven o’clock they stopped and a pleasant peace and quiet descended on the village.