Donkeys, Olive Oil, and Smrikve Return – Day Two in Istria

When we were heading to the Porer Lighthouse to spend the night, Goran, our Visit Istria guide had told us that the island had been rumored to be haunted. I don’t put much thought into those things, but there was a bit of doubt in logic by morning.

At 12:45 am, all six of us in the lighthouse woke with a startle from the loud banging of doors and windows. At first I thought it was the wind, but then realized it was coming from two different directions.

A few minutes after it stopped, an alarm started sounding. It quieted down for a bit, than the sequence started again about an hour later.

The lighthouse keeper had no logical explanation except wind and, quite frankly, I was too tired from two nights of not sleeping to even care. 

Lynn was ready quicky and I tried to get a little work done on my photos before we left.

While I have to admit that staying in a lighthouse on a private island was intriguing, the actual place – with no air conditioning and these creepy noises – was not an experience I wanted to repeat. 

I would get my wish, but it certainly wasn’t in the original plan.

Goran had made sure we were stocked with food, water, and beer on the island. I had a banana, a piece of cinnamon bread and some instant cappuccino for breakfast. Before I knew it the boat was waiting outside to take us to the mainland.

The wind had picked up and the ride was a bit rocky, but we safely arrived at the dock. I hadn’t noticed how beautiful the Adriatic looked here at Cape Kamenjak and took a few minutes to admire it before we got into the van for our ride to Vodnjan.

After learning about the small igloo like houses called kažuni the workers constructed in this area, we headed to this quaint town – by donkey. It was quite an experience bouncing up and down the cobblestone streets and through the piazza inside a cart being pulled by two donkeys.

All the men gathered at the piazza were smiling and laughing at us and we just waved and laughed along with them!

When we got out of the donkey carriage we went in to check out a very interesting museum of the region, Istrian de Dignan EcoMuseum. The museum contains a lot of artifacts from the area, as well as basic equipment to make wine and olive oil.

Our next stop was to find out even more about olive oil at Brist, a top Croatian producer of extra virgin olive oil. After seeing the orchards with Paul O’Grady, who works the company along with his family, we went to the store and tasted their oils – Delicato, Sta. Margherita, Intenso, and Oleum. I was surprised how rich they were in comparison to the Italian ones I was used to. I liked the Sta. Margherito best for its more subtle flavors.

We headed back to Pula, where Paul joined us (along with his olive oils) for lunch at Konoba Feral. We started with some satisfying sparkling wine from Istria and fresh bread, as we had worked up quite an appetite.

The first course was tasty prosciutto and cheese. I really loved the cheese from this area with all the heartiness of a parmesan, but softer.

Next up was a wonderful homemade pasta with spinach in a light sauce, which I added some of the Sta. Margherita Olive Oil to per Paul’s suggestion and it made it even better.

Finally, we were treated to a plate of panna cotta and a heavier, delicious cake, all topped with chocolate sauce.

At the same time, my friend Miodrag Bozovic came to pick Lynn and me up to visit Smrikve.

It brought back many lovely memories to visit his home, see his parents again and meet his beautiful fiancé. It had been nine years since they had welcomed me into their home for a week.

I continued the road down memory lane as we walked through the house, the grounds and the tennis courts, but I also got to see the new addition to the property.

The Smrikve Lounge is an amazing house that is available on the property for rent (I’m already trying to figure out when I can return). To make it even more special, it’s surrounded by lavender bushes, olive trees, and vineyards!

Our visit was too short as Mio brought us to meet up with the rest of the Share Istria group at Bi Village in Fazana, a suburb of Pula. 

Just before we reached the restaurant where they were waiting, the rain started to come down.

It was quite a storm, with thunder and lightning, and we soon realized we weren’t going to make it back to the Porer Lighthouse for the night. We would instead stay at the Bi Village and see what happened with the weather the next day.

After stopping at a store to pick up essentials – all our things were on the island – we settled in. Lynn and I had a nice two bedroom cabin. It had air conditioning and was only about two blocks from the sea.

We were a bit hungry so we walked down to the restaurant and enjoyed some Istrian pizza. It was as delicious as I remembered it to be. We thought about checking out the nightlife (the music was playing behind us), but we were pretty exhausted so we went to sleep in our air conditioned cabin and with the scent of lavendar still in my mind.

Don’t forget to share and like my stories on Istria. There’s a lot more to come and I’m still competing for the Share Istria Grand Prize. Look for #ShareIstriaUSA1 on social media. 


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