To continue our Bus adventures, i haven't got to this years trip yet, but somewhere after Istanbul we treated ourselves with a week long tour around a very special place near our home. Most of you have heard of Croatia through football, i know this as i have many British friends, (i personally couldn't care less about football) those more acquainted might have heard of Dubrovnik which is only a very tiny bit that's managed to exploit itself to the world, and i'm quite glad it hasn't gotten further. Part of what makes a special place, special is not everyone knows about it. I'll brake the rule this once. Our bus Vincent crossing an 18th century bridge at "NoviGrad na Dobri" The place we are going to is called "Istria" it's a peninsula on the northern Adriatic. on our way there we stop to take a shower in a waterfall. We sleep over at this hidden park near Labin, the park which looks more like a big field is full of interesting sculptures, but not to bore you too much, I wont be showing much of those. it contains paths, each segment of which was designed by a different artist. Finally we hit the heart of Istria... Town: Mutvoran. Istria was nicknamed "little Tuscany" reason for which you'll probably guess on your own. Some unpaved roads lead to hidden treasures, and Vincent was never intimidated by a little gravel. a little amphitheater. Later that day we continue to explore some archeological sites. As our main rule is avoiding larger towns, we only make a short break in Pula. this is the largest amphitheater in Croatia, today mostly used for concerts. It was getting dark, so we found a deserted beach in Barbariga, our own woods for shade, sea and everything. We cooked dinner, and opened a bottle of wine.. (i think i've shown this picture before) In the morning while wondering around i found this Olive plantation. You may not believe me, but Istria makes some of the worlds best quality olive oil, kind that you can in no possible way ever attain in a supermarket, it's bitter in taste though, takes a bit to acquire it. If you ever come here, DO NOT miss out on olive oil, Olives are a kind of religion here. > washing the dishes in the sea. After Barbariga we got to this ancient deserted army base, said something like "do not enter" "dangerous" on the gate. ... but that only tempted us. so we entered. it's a really creepy place though. so... we moved along. a bit of offroading for Vincent. (the photo doesn't portray the off-roadieness well enough though) We stop in a place called Balle. no one to be seen here, a guy dusting the church steps, and a dog. Bale is a place that keeps old dinasour stone prints, but they are kept in a place that was closed, so we left the town slightly disappointed. later that day we visited a special village. People refer to them as hippies, but they have less to do with hippies than meets the eye. It's a place where people left their everyday lives and moved to a place where they grow their own food, build their own houses and lead a new life. Some of them were successful businessmen, but exchanged it for time and peace. The village is led by Igor Drandić, who traveled most of the world on foot and is a photographer, motivational speaker, environmentalist, etc... Due to it's position, Istria has a very unique independent climate, you can never tell what the weather will be like. but it tends to be much warmer and sunnier than on the other side of the Ućka mountain that encloses the peninsula. After Eia, we head for a small town "Svetvincenat" again, no one to be seen, it's super quiet. we take a break and eat some lunch here. we pass the ancient ruins of Dvigrad. look, real people! after that we head to a place where a certain old lady lives... she keeps the key to a special little church. If you give her some money and take her there, she'll open the church for you to see doesn't give away much on the outside. The walls of the church are covered in very old paintings, their condition was kept so well due to very little light reaching the inside. Most famous of all is the image called "dance of the dead" I was not allowed to use any light, so the images aren't very clear. After we returned the old lady with the key home, we headed for Motovun. Motovun is now a touristically exploited town (as i like to call it) it holds a Film festival in July every year which is the sole reason of its boost in popularity. (i mean this in a bad way) When people know about it, it goes bad. we don't like people. We have dinner here. they make one of the best pizzas here. the place is called "Propeler" highly recomended. Afer Motovun, we head for my favourite town of all. Groznjan, a 14 km long gravel road will lead us there. Half way up the road we decide to leave it for tomorrow and hide in the woods for night. we had a drink and listened to the sounds of animals at night. In the morning we enter the gates of Groznjan. Remeber when i said, don't leave without trying olive oil? If for whatever reason the path leads you here, ask the locals where you can find the Pucer family. Ring the bell, if they find you likeable, they might sell you some of their olive oil. don't cook with it, that's olive gold.. it's to be consumed on it's own or with a piece of bread. an old Olive press, now a monument. The plaque says. "When you pass by an Olive tree, bow to it's magnificence" Groznjan's declaration of Olive oil I have yet to see a prettier town from Groznjan. Narrow alleyways. Groznjan is an artist colony, most of it's original residents are artists of some sort. />Sad to leave Groznjan, but we must continue our adventure... Ghost town Markovici. Oprtalj. Time for a beer and snack. We park for the night and observe the sky. in 30 minutes it's changed colours from green, purple to bright red and yellow. In the morning we go for a swim in Kotle.. a Ghost town turned into a resting place for the rare who know about it. Unfortunately it's a very dry year, so we only find muddy waters. standing in a place where water normally flows. The name "kotle" comes from the shape which the water has carved in the stone. it's made up of smooth round holes. Reading the signs... After we left Kotle, i followed an unmarked path. (it's unmarked on the map as well) It's a very steep gravel path leading down. I know where it's heading as i've been there before, but never with a car. Since i was last there, 2 years ago, the rain made streaks in the ground making the terrain much rougher. I figured, we'll go down as far as i feel comfortable, but if it starts going too steep, we'll stop and head back. Eventually it got too steep and rough and i stopped. but the bus wouldn't go back. we've gone too far. no room to turn around, it will not reverse, the ground is too loose. I took a minute to calm down. It's very important that i don't panic, as my sane keeps my girl sane. I looked at my phone, but the signal was out of reach (not that i would know who to call). After many more failed attempts to reverse up the hill, the only option left was to go all the way down and hope that the bus will be more willing to go front way up if and when i turn around. Going down i was sweating from worry, thinking "no way in hell will this bus make it back up this road" The road leads to a real Ghost town... no one has lived here for years. houses still there, but now mostly housing insects and snakes. Eventually we got down and found firm enough ground to turn the bus around. Not at all in the mood to explore the town, i wanted to see how i'll ever get this bus up that road. I hit first gear, throttle almost to the floor... tires gripping... gravel hitting... it was like a miracle.... I could not believe it, but the bus made it up the road! after that we sat there just thinking in amazement. So... if it made it up once... let's go back down and see the town. .akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/s720x720/301187_10150318097728415_608429737_n.jpg" alt="" /> As you'd imagine I was in no mood to take pictures in panic, but what i do have is a photo of Vincent in the town itself. It's a moment i'll never forget, the picture is hung on my bedroom wall. We explore the rest of the town... Unfortunately not much is left. Overwhelmed with Istria, we decide to visit the last town on our list and head home. It's the town of Hum. google: smallest town in the world There are 17 residents left here. A priest in Hum once mixed some herbs together, main ingredient of which is Imela - a sort of mistletoe and crated an alcoholic drink called "Biska" It was used as medicine. Today Biska is enjoyed all over Croatia. And that ends our short trip to unexplored parts of Istria. this time next year this will all be part of the EU, the magic is counting it's last days.