An Istrian Summer

How do family holidays ever get past the planning stage? The "must haves" is just a list of incompatibles. Somewhere for teenage girls to lie beside a pool, somewhere for an adult with poor attention span to be distracted. Obviously, I'm talking about someone else there...

Our compromise took us to the Italian Istria coast. An apartment in Muggia with access to a pool, across the bay from Trieste, available day trips to Slovenia and Croatia and an excuse to stop off in Venice. To be fair, our compromise didn't feel heavy on compromise.

We arrived in Venice late on the Friday night. Caty enjoyed her first business class flight as a legal drinker. Mary enjoyed the chocolate dessert so much that she had not one, not two, not even three of them. The queen of blag managed to get four of them. On a two hour flight


We spent the night in Mestre simply because it was the easiest place to get our hire car. Mary and myself enjoyed a very brief breakfast in the centre of the town while the girls enjoyed a long lie. Then it was destination Muggia, via lunch in Grado and a brief, unscheduled stop on the autostrada as we waited for some poor sod to get taken away in an air ambulance.

The apartment in Muggia got an immediate seal of approval, particularly with the spectacular sunset over the marina.

Apartment view in Muggia

The first day was spent loafing around the pool after discovering that our apartment didn't come with free access to the pool as expected. Mary did her usual fantastic blend of "knowing stupidity" and we ended up getting most of our visits for free. I'm still not entirely sure how that happened.

After the pool, it was a short walk into Muggia for the first of what would become a part of our staple diet; Aperol Spritz. It also introduced us to a new drink that has now become a firm favourite in our house, Ramazzotti and tonic.

The following day, we took the ferry over to Trieste. Apparently, others made it with a little more style than we did. Kiwi billionaire, Graeme Hart, was apparently playing with his new quarter of a billion dollar toy. He'd taken delivery of Ulysses just two month's earlier and was enjoying its maiden voyage through the Adriatic.

The smaller boat is worth $3M by itself...

Once we'd dragged our way from quayside, we went to explore Trieste.


Trieste is OK, but no more than that. The Piazza Unita d'Italia is impressive, opening out towards to the sea. And the area up by the Castello di San Guisto was nice, offering views over the city. But the rest didn't feel any more special than any other large, Italian city.

Didn't stop Sophia Loren levels of posing, though...

The biggest plus in Trieste's favour though was its cafes. The city's reputation for coffee is very well founded.

Caffè Torinese, Trieste

The following day, I abandoned everyone and headed into Slovenia to visit the Postojna caves and Predjama castle. Despite many visits to the country, I'd never made to either before. What can I say? Sometimes dragging yourself away from Bled is just too difficult.

Postojna caves, Slovenia
Predjama Castle, Slovenia
Predjama Castle, Slovenia

Another day beside the pool ended early as the attention deficit that always kicks in whenever I'm beside a pool or on a beach made its inevitable appearance. So, it was time for a short drive to take Mary to one of my favourite countries in the world. The girls, inevitably, were staying by the pool.

I hadn't been to Piran since my first trip to Slovenia way back in 2001. It had more of a faded charm than I remembered. But, it was still a charm, nonetheless. Mary agreed and insisted that we take the girls there before the end of the trip.

Piran, Slovenia
Piran, Slovenia

Another day, another trip into Slovenia. This time Bled and this time with a full car.

Bled, Slovenia

Not many photo from this day. There's only so many Bled photos one person needs and I suspect I'm over that limit by a factor of ten. And, besides, I was too busy shovelling Bled cake down my gob.

The next day trip took us to Rovinj in Croatia. It's safe to say that we all immediately fell in love with it. A beautiful old town with a maze of cobbled streets joining large squares filled with cafes and restaurants. What's not to love?

Rovinj, Croatia

Even more importantly for everyone else, it also came with somewhere to take a dip in the sea.

And I even found a wedding to photograph...

It was now time to leave Muggia and head to Venice for one last night. I love Venice but, surprisingly, I seemed to be alone in holding that opinion. Whether it was the rain or the hoards coming off of the cruise ships, no else seemed to be that impressed by it.

Venice, Italy

The next day was better. We headed to the smaller island of Murano. The rain was still there, but the crowds weren't.

And you can't go to Murano without seeing glassworks.

We agreed to spend the rest of the day exploring Venice from the water.

I had one final surprise in store for everyone. The water taxi back to the airport!


All photography © Flyfifer Photography

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