Sunday 4th September 2022
Portoroz – Camp Lucija
I left Fusina with a forlorn, last look at Venice across the Lagoon, well it would have been if two more enormous cruise ships hadn’t picked that moment to dock in front of me, completely blocking the view.
Wiping a tear from my eye, we were back on the road again heading ever eastward, towards Slovenia. It was our turn to lead and Wendy was clutching the road atlas and had Google maps on the phone, in case the sat nav let us down. Five minutes into the journey and the sat nav decided to reboot, just as I was faced with a T-junction where we recognised none of the destinations listed. I hung a quick left and in doing so left Andy waiting for the traffic to clear before he could follow me. A few more erratic manoeuvres on my part and I had managed to really shake him off!
This turned out to be a good thing; for them! For as we entered Slovenia, I missed the turnoff to buy a motorway vignette, Wendy said; “it doesn’t matter , we are not going on the motorway.”
WE WERE ALREADY DRIVING ON THE MOTORWAY!
Ah well, we were only on for a couple of junctions. We will have to see what is waiting for us in the post when we get back to the UK?
Portoroz is a little town in the top right-hand corner of the Adriatic, just south of Trieste that is famous for being the venue where Andy and Lesley competed in the 2013 World and European Fireball Championships; and we are staying only a couple of pitches away from where they camped. I must update Portoroz’s Wikipedia page to correct this glaring oversight from their entry.
The sea here manages the trick of being azure blue and crystal clear at the same time. The only complaint is that the sky is lacking any clouds to give it some real character in the photos.
Despite the attractiveness of the sea, the beaches are stony and the stones have sharp edges rather than smooth pebbles. Instead there are plenty of grassy and concrete areas for sunbathing on. We had to walk for 15 minutes, along the coastal path from the campsite, before we could find a spot where we were allowed let the dogs off their leads and swim. They had plenty of energy to unleash after two days of walking around Venice with us.
Saturday was a two bar evening, an aperitif at the beach bar near to where the dogs swam, and then cocktails at the campsite bar after dinner, looking at the lights of Piran across the bay. It turned out that some of those lights were coming from a night club that was just warming up as we went to bed. It will only have been the stone deaf folk on the campsite that were not relieved when the music built to a crescendo and suddenly stopped at 0300!
Giuseppe Tartini (most of his mates called him Joe) Is a bit of a hero in Piran. He could be considered a predecessor of the guys who run the night club that we all enjoyed listening to in the small hours last night. His parents wanted him to be a monk, instead he became an admired swordsman, eloped with the Cardinal’s ‘bit of stuff’ and ended up as a world famous violinist and composer so much so that he was given the first ever Stradivarius violin. To cap it all, he was the first known person to have been accused of selling his soul to the Devil in return for his musical skills. Now there is a statue to him in Piran’s square and they hold a concert in his memory every year on his birthday (8th April). But you can remember him every time you listen to; “The Devil went down to Georgia.”
At the time of Tartini’s birth, Piran was a small port in the Venetian republic and a lot of the buildings are from that time (late 17th/early 18th C). Piran’s roots are, like lots of places we are going to visit in the coming week, much deeper than that. The first recorded folk here were tribes that preyed on Roman shipping. Piran later became a part of the Roman empire, the Byzantine empire, the Frankish empire and the Holy Roman empire. After a breather it became part of the Venetian Republic, was annexed by the Austrian empire, conquered by Napoleon, given back to the Austro-Hungarians, ceded to Italy after the First World War and then part of Yugoslavia after the Second World War; finally gaining independence in 1991. Until the middle of the last century the first language here was Italian (now it is Slovene). These guys must know how to roll with the punches?
We cycled to Piran this morning (Sunday) and it is delightful. The old harbour silted up and was filled in at the end of the 19th Century by the Austrians, and is now a large square filled with cafés and overlooked by an ancient bell tower. We tried to recreate the same photo as was taken in 1879, when the inner harbour was still functioning.
Bryn is clearly not a natural cyclist. The 35 minute ride to Piran was with an almost continual accompaniment of wails, trills and sometimes downright cries for help! However, on the return journey there were definite signs of improvement. He was quieter and his outbursts less frequent. This afternoon we played some more games with him, enticing him to jump into and out of the trailer, in the hope that he is going to take the chariot to his heart and he will see it as a home from home or at least realise that if he sits in it quietly he will get a biscuit!