I remember, as a young lad, being titilated by the mysterious prospect of "adult only" holidays. Indeed, as someone once told me, that could only mean nudie beaches and round the clock 24 hour orgies, especially in Yugoslavia where one only needed to flick through the pages of the Yugotours brochure to find photographs of nubile dusky maidens with perky boobies posing on sun bleached beaches as evidence of such debauchery.
Of course the reality is not as this. Yes there are acres and acres of unspoilt inlets, coves and peninsulas peppered with beaches, and yes there are people walking round with their floppy wrinkly bits flopping and wrinkling about the place. But I guess the 24hr orgies went the way of Tito as it is clearly too hot a country to have huge steaming sweaty mounds of writhing fornication littering the beaches.
Having been to Croatia before, I knew well that wall to wall bonkageddon was not likely to happen, I’m not entirely sure about Zoe though. I initially thought the a slight look of disappointment on her face when we arrived in the resort was due to the streets of Medulin not resembling something off Pornhub, but I quickly realised that it wasn’t disappointment at all and that she was perhaps just floating an air biscuit.
Medulin itself is a small resort village; Three or four hotels, a collection of holiday villas and a gaggle of restaurants and bars in a small bay capped either end by two well provisioned camp sites catering for those tourists from Austria, Slovenia and Italy with RVs and caravans. Oh, and it’s hot. Very hot.
From the outside, our hotel looked like a Soviet apartment complex; perfect lines, functional and practical while surrounded by a seemingly impassable metal fence. However the inside revealed a well manicured interior with well presented staff. The room was nice too with air conditioning and a little sticker thing over the toilet informing me that it had been sanitised for my protection. So thoughtful.
Our initial walk around the resort for me was a reconnaissance exercise looking at restaurant menus for a preview of dinners to come. It soon became apparent, however, that pretty much every restaurant in the resort did pretty much the same thing: grilled meat and fish, pizza and pasta. Still, one restaurant’s grilled fish platter might be tastier than another. Indeed, when you boil it down to the bare components, all restaurants globally do pretty much the same things as each other, just slightly different variations and combinations of flavourings.
Sometimes, when walking through the resort, it felt like someone had popped Croatia on pause during the 1990s and had only recently taken the pause off. You can detect the embryonic attempts at drawing in the young with their high disposable incomes by the number of titty bars and shop selling tat. Even the bars seem to have this IBEEFA feel to them, especially at night.
Much of our time was spent lazing around, drinking free soft drinks, the occasional cocktail and reading various on and offline platforms while soaking up the sun. Oh, and melting, we did plenty of melting. Of course, Zoe doesn’t like sitting round doing nothing for long and so a healthy mix of day trips, evening walks and scenery changes were peppered throughout the week.
Two major destinations come to mind. The first was Venice.
Venice can be reached from Croatia via Sea cat, in our case the MSV San Fransisk, in about a 90 minutes. I’d heard so much about Venice from people over the years: It smells bad, it is unclean, there are rats everywhere, it is very expensive, people often get in the way of James Bond there. None of this was true. It didn’t smell any worse or unclean than Goole. Rats, didn’t see any and as for James Bond, well I guess Roger Moore is Roger No-Moore now. But it was expensive.
Venice was built by Merchants. You can see how the vast wealth generated by trade had contributed to the architecture, design and prominence of the floating city. The dominance of the region by the Vehnizians was also indicative of the colossal wealth that gravitated there. One might think that such wealth had long passed to the far side of the Atlantic with trade growing from the New World instead, and yet there still seems to be an air of “you will never earn this much money” in Venice.
Of course, if you’re wealthy enough to afford to live in Venice, you probably think about a new boat in the same way as I think of a new pair of socks and paying £7 for an ice cream is good value. That said, if you’re wealthy enough to afford to live in Venice, you probably don’t care.
The second destination was the Croatian city of Pula. A small city, about the size of Banbury on a good day. Lots of ancient ruins litter the area, a former Roman colosseum takes centre place and here and there clearly Austro-Hungarian architectural influences intermingle with Socialist Yugoslavian era developments. Oh and apart from the odd bit of graffiti here and there, mostly teenage territory marks, Pula is clean and unthreatening.
The colosseum itself is a grand structure. Walking amongst the ruins one can imagine walking through the ghosts of gladiators and slaves who went to their deaths there. It also shows how many grand Roman buildings have been lost to progress and laziness throughout history. But curiously the colosseum in Pula is still in use though not by blood thirsty sports, more concerts and plays however, you can see the inside from the outside, so if you’re watching your pennies, just walk around the outside and peep in through the holes in the walls. Not exactly the same but close enough.
Croatia is rapidly becoming a popular place for holidays within Europe. It could be the easy going attitude of the locals, or it could be the relentless heat. It could even be the glorious and beautiful scenery, once a magnet for British and European tourists attracted by Yugotours. But I feel that it is simply just the forgotten holiday destination, now taking advantage of the unpopularity of Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia as destinations due terrorists, Spain because of their “sustainable tourism” tax and Portugal because of their disappearing children act. A forgotten holiday destination that has been remembered, a bit like that bar of chocolate you didn’t really fancy when you bought it, forgot about it and then remembered it’s on the top of the fridge since Christmas.