We finally made it to Poreč (pronounced Porech)! But it was the longest journey of our entire trip (so far).
We caught our train to Zurich just fine and were both really excited to be on our way to Croatia. Zach had made reservations for our overnight train so we went to the ticket window to pick them up and that’s when we realized we had missed our train. When the girl at the window said the words, we both looked at each other in disbelief. As it turns out Zach had accidentally gotten the time wrong and we had planned on catching our train two hours late. The next train to Ljubljana didn’t leave until the next morning at 8:40 and wouldn’t get us there until 6:30pm. We were absolutely devastated. Tears welled up in my eyes and Zach looked more than apologetic. We were in such a shock that we really did not know what to do next – all of our plans hinged on that train. In fact, it was the only train this entire trip that we really needed to catch. So we put down our backpacks and Zach got on the computer. He looked up flights to Ljubljana and Zagreb, other trains, driver services to get us from Ljubljana, etc. It was a solid hour of disbelief. I don’t think we could really wrap our minds around the fact that we missed the train entirely. It was a long night from that point on – to say the least. We eventually started to think about that night specifically. I seriously considered staying in the train station overnight – we even found the showers, bathrooms, and waiting room – but eventually we decided to go to a hostel. We only knew of one hostel with 24 hour service, so we caught the tram and 30 minutes later, walked to the hostel. Thankfully they had room and we literally dropped our bags on the floor and fell asleep on the beds – in our clothes.
After a fitful sleep, we woke up at 6am to shower and eat breakfast. Then we left for our loooong day of travel. We caught the tram, then a train to Salzburg, and transferred in Salzburg for another train to Ljubljana (pronounced Loobleeahna). The train ride was beautiful and we saw a lot of Austria. At one point we were on a cliff overlooking a valley; most of the ride we were smashed between majestic peaks. When we made it to Ljubljana it was almost 7pm, and although Mihaela (the owner of the vacation apartment) had told us it would be no problem to catch a bus to Poreč, we had a feeling there would not be one. One of the reasons it was so important for us to catch the overnight train was because there are only 3 buses from Ljubljana; the last bus left at 5pm. As we assumed there was not a bus to Poreč until the next morning, but we were determined to get to Poreč that night, somehow. So we called Mihaela and she told us to catch a bus to Rijeka (pronounced Reeyaykah) and then we could find a connection there. Luckily there was a bus leaving at 7:40! So we bought tickets, ate at our first McDonald’s of the trip, and got on the bus (which was an old charter bus with green and gold interior). As we drove through Slovenia, the “highway” was a narrow, two-lane road that wound through the mountains. It was a gorgeous landscape and as the sun went down the mountains looked like the Blue Ridge. About an hour and half through we stopped at a hotel for a restroom break – I think it was mainly a smoking/drinking break for our driver and his sidekick (he took the tickets, made the announcements, put our bags under the coach). We then continued to the Croatian border where border agents got on board to check our passports – we got stamps! – then we continued on to Rijeka. Of course, when we made it to Rijeka – around 11pm – there weren’t any buses going to Poreč. We were targets with our backpacks and a few people approached us with room offers for the night. We decided to take a taxi and – after calling Mihaela to alert her of our late arrival – found someone to do the job. We eventually made it to Villa Mihaela around 12:15am. Hooray!
The next morning, we slept in until around 11am! Then we met with Mihaela and she gave us maps of Poreč and Istria. We decided to make it a lazy, relaxing day so we went to the beach. It’s only a 10 minute walk and we stayed there most of the afternoon. It was really wonderful. The water was a little chilly, but after laying in the sun for a while it felt great. We made dinner at our apartment last night and watched the Netherlands defeat Uruguay with German commentary.