We stop at a roadside inn near Plitvice Lakes National Park, looking for a place to stay.
Yet another restaurant/accommodation, “House Sapina,” in the small town of Korenica, pours us a free shot of wormwood based liquor.
If you don’t indulge in the local food and drink of any country, you insult them. In the spirit of “world citizenship,” we must honor our duty! I enjoy the actual spirits more than Marilynn. Of course, we shall spend the night in this lovely place.
In the morning, we hike through Plitvice Lakes National Park, around multiple waterfalls, seven lakes, and limestone-formed pools reminiscent of Havasupai, Arizona.
Despite our off-season travel in the winter, the shuttle bus fills with friendly Asian tourists. This place must be a madhouse during summer months.
Time to drive down the mountains to the coastal town of Opatija, full of old, elegant villas and hotels that the rich and famous used to frequent. We find an apartment on a hill, and better yet, a local eatery. We’re only about an hour away from the Italian border, so no wonder the friendly patrons resemble “Sopranos” cast members!
“You must try our gnocchi in truffle sauce,” our waiter suggests. “We grow some of the best truffles.”
“I make my own gnocchi at home,” I respond, trying to impress.
He’s not impressed. “Try ours,” he says, almost rolling his eyes.
Well, the waiter was right. The tiny cut gnocchi in a sauce of truffles, porcinis, Istrian sausage, and sheep milk cheese could be my new personal favorite dish.
The following day we have time to drive to Pula, a city on the coast that highlights an amphitheater built by the Romans for Gladiator games. I can’t help making an analogy to the NFL stadiums in the United States. Let the games begin!
A final drive north to the fishing town of Rovinj, where the streets are empty and the food is excellent.
Again, the gnocchi impresses. This time it’s a larger cut, mixed with Ox Tail stew.
However, it’s time to drive out of Croatia, onward to eat and drink our way through Slovenia – homeland of the first lady. All we ask for is that the travel angels keep us safe on these narrow, curvy roads, where everyone flies at high speed! Ron Mitchell