Having reached our furthest destination north we started to travel southwest down the Istrian peninsula. We planned to go to Pula and stop at a few bays on the way. We slipped our lines at Opatija marina and sailed 19nm along the coast to a very pretty bay called Uvala Prklog where we anchored for the night.
Surrounded by hills covered with trees, a beach, clear water and small local boats moored along the waterfront it was an idyllic location. Even the dolphins enjoyed it here with several swimming into the bay in the evening to entertain us and dine on the local fish. (Unfortunately I was too slow to get a good picture of them, just the splash after they jumped and swam off under the water).
Our next stop was a 12nm down wind sail to Luka Krnica, another nice bay with good holding. There are only a few houses and one taverna here so as we were getting short of food on board we decided to have dinner out, however, when we arrived there were no tables available. As there are not any other options in the bay we returned to Ziggy for cheese and biscuits while watching the moon rise. (Perhaps we should have realised that if there is only one taverna, it would be a good idea to book in advance!)
Continuing down the coast we passed many campsites and had to weave our way around little boats, kayaks and canoes as we approached Uvala Burle just outside of the town of Medulin (a popular holiday resort).
We anchored here in the sheltered bay for a couple of days to wait out some thunderstorms which bought heavy rain and strong winds gusting 35kts. The clouds were very dark and low making it difficult to see the town or across the bay at times. Our anchor did us proud and kept us secure through the storms.
Once the storms passed over, the sky cleared giving us another beautiful sunset.
The following day we continued the final 17nm around the peninsula to Pula which is a major working port near the southern tip of Istria. As we approached it looked very industrial and not particularly attractive with the Uljanik shipyards dominating the view.
Continuing around the shipyards brought us to the head of the bay where there is an almost landlocked harbour. Situated in the ‘valley of seven hills’, Pula is Istria’s largest city, it has a long tradition of winemaking, fishing and shipbuilding but is best known for its ancient Roman buildings. We anchored in the bay with fantastic views of the most famous monument, the enormous amphitheatre known as the Arena of Pula.
It was built in the 1st century between 27 – 68 AD, the same time as the magnificent Colosseum in Rome. Standing at 133m long, 105m wide and 32m high this Roman amphitheatre is the sixth-largest in the world (of those that still exist) and is the only one remaining with a complete circle wall.
The three-storey structure held 23,000 spectators in Roman times and was the site of gladiator fights. Public legal proceedings were also held in the fighting ring and punishment was executed there for murderers, bandits and mutineers which consisted of unarmed or poorly armed convicts being brought to the beasts.
Today it hosts less brutal events including the Pula Film Festival, various concerts, operas, ballets and sports competitions. Despite much of the seating having disappeared over the years, the Arena still has the capacity for approximately 5,000 spectators.
The underground passages housed the wild beasts and were used to drag away dead gladiators, they now contain rather more genteel displays of ancient vessels and equipment used in the production of olive oil and wine.
Due to its size the amphitheatre is situated just outside the old town where there are many more ancient buildings and parts of the city walls. We walked through the Triumphal Arch of the Sergii which was built between 29 and 27 BC in honour of members of the Sergi family who fought on the side of Octavius in his victory at the important battle of Aktium.
We found some nice cafes around a pretty fountain for dinner as the sun went down.
In the centre of the old town, situated in the city’s old Forum, stands the well preserved Temple of Augustus which was built during 2-14AD. The Forum was once the main square in Roman times surrounded by ancient buildings and is still a bustling piazza today with its many cafes and restaurants.
In the evening as we walked through the piazza, a jazz band had set up outside of the temple and was about to play. We sat down at one of the cafes to watch, a great location for a concert!
Pula Cathedral stands along the main street that leads to the Forum. Although it has gone through a series of enlargements and reconstructions over the ages, the present-day church has been used for religious worship since ancient Roman times.
When we returned to the boat we had a spectacular view of the ‘Lighting Giants’. The 100-metre-tall cranes at the shipyard are illuminated as a part of an impressive light show in the evenings.
We had a nice few days in Pula, the weather was very changeable with some periods of rain, sun, wind and cloud but we had a great time exploring the amphitheater and old town. There is also a large indoor/outdoor food market selling fresh produce such as fish, meat and vegetables sourced from local farmers where we were able to stock up on necessities ready for our onward journey south.