Monday, July 21, 2014

July 5th to 10th – La Izola Bonita

As you descend from Slovenia's mountainous interior towards its tiny sun-drenched Adriatic coast, you notice a real change in atmosphere – the temperature gets warmer, the air smells of pine, and the architecture changes from Middle Europe to Italian (as the many church bell towers change from Austrian-style bulbous tops to Venetian-style pointed tops). In fact, the whole atmosphere seems much more Italian, and much more focused on mainstream tourism.

It's no surprise that the Slovenian coastline feels Italian, because for most of its life it was governed by Venice, rather than governed by the Austrians like the rest of this young country. That means that Italian is the other official language here, all the restaurants serve pizza, and that the towns are known by alternate Italian names too – Piran is also Pirano, Koper is Capodistria, Portoroz is Portorosa, and the place where we stayed Izola, is also Isola.

Even the campsites felt much more like Italian coastal sites than the spacious, ordered ones of non-coastal Slovenia – much more crammed in and ramshackle than we'd experienced in the rest of the country. However, if you were lucky like we were, and had a shady pitch right on the sea, then there couldn't really be many more idyllic spots than we enjoyed for our last week in this wonderful country.

Izola retains its historic feel, but even though it is a holiday town, it still has the feel of a working class fishing port – a genuine town rather than the more tourist-focused resorts up the coastline. We loved the seafood, the sea breezes, the relaxed atmosphere, the cycle rides, the swims to cool down, the friendly people, the drinks outside the van as the sun set – all in all, a lovely place to spend the end of our stay here in Slovenia.

PS. From Izola we did side trips to other places like, Koper, Piran and Lipica – highlights to follow.