But that was only until six o’clock the next morning when the peace and quiet amnesty was over and the bells began to ring again and through a half slumber I counted the strikes and satisfied that it was still only early dozed on and off between the quarter hours until it was time to get up.
The day started with a crisis because during the over-zealous search routine at Stansted airport Kim had lost her hair brush and didn’t feel able to tackle the day with only the use of the hotel complimentary comb and I was dispatched to try and buy a replacement. At eight o’clock on a Sunday morning I wasn’t terribly optimistic but to my surprise there was a small shop open in one of the side streets and although it wasn’t a state of the art styling brush they had something that would suffice for a couple of days so I purchased it and returned.
It was a glorious start to the day with the sun flooding into the village square, making the water sparkle like thousands of tiny diamonds and the brightly painted boats shine in the reflected light. There was a good breakfast at the hotel and without many guests it was all for us. Despite the reliable early good weather Croatia has a compressed holiday high season from late June to mid September so the hotel was virtually empty except for us.
Being a week before Easter it was Palm Sunday, the day the Catholic Church, celebrates Christ’s entry into Jerusalem and on account of this there was a lot of activity in the square outside the church as more and more people began to assemble. Some had traditional palm leaves but it seemed that almost any sort of vegetation was acceptable and there were a lot of palm substitutes being carried. Soon it seemed the entire village was assembled outside the church and at half past nine they formed into a procession and set off to parade through the streets. It took them about fifteen minutes and then they began to file back into the square and into the church. There were so many people that only those at the front of the parade could make it inside so those at the back had to stand in the pleasant sunshine and listen to the service through loudspeakers attached to the front of the church.
Our plan today was to drive north along the coast to Rovinj and possibly Poreč but we would see how the day went before committing to both. The map seemed to suggest two alternative routes. One was a main road, possibly even a motorway, and so, with my paranoid nervousness about toll roads, we selected what appeared to be a perfectly good coastal route that would take us through a succession of villages along the way.
In theory it was a good idea but some of the roads that the map suggested were actually not really roads at all and in between villages the tarmac often ran out only to be replaced by a deeply rutted track that was completely unsuitable for our little car. Added to this was the inadequacy of the road signs that would regularly disappear leaving us to guess the direction of travel. The result of this was that we were forced to stop a couple of times and turn around and try again and after an hour or so we travelled inland from the intermittent coast road and came to the main road which wasn’t a toll after all and would have been the far better option in the first place.
As time was getting on we abandoned the idea of driving to Poreč and drove straight to Rovinj where we arrived late in the morning. The town was very busy so it took a while to find a parking spot and then some more time to understand the car park fees. It was free on Sunday but I needed to reassure myself completely about this because I didn’t want to get back to a wheel clamp.
The car park was next to the marina just south of the old town and as we walked past the boat repair yards and nautical shops there was a good view of old Rovinj. Like a lot of other Croatian Adriatic places such as Primosten and Trogir the original town was built on an island with a natural moat for protection so the town jutted out into the sea with layer upon layer of buildings crammed around the outside and rising up to a cathedral on the top. The moat has long been filled in and the town has spread onto what was the mainland and we walked around a busy harbour full of pleasure boats and towards the busy main squares.