Slightly flustered by the time we had parked and retrieved our gear, we approached the dock. Apologising for our lateness, we took time to look around us. We were the only guests to be seen. This was the last tour of the year - the boat would be stowed for the winter in other quarters, so we were feeling fortunate indeed. Some time passed. We asked our convener whether more guests were expected?
"Oh, yes, of course," he replied in his delightfully accented English.
So we waited.
|Our boat at Rovinj|
The scene was delight personified. As Porec shrank behind us, the rugged and rocky coastline grew in front, revealing mysterious and deeply shaded copses of Mediterranean pine. The sea sparkled, arrayed in its Sunday best. Azure blue met sky blue and set off dazzling green and pale gray to perfection. In time, we drew in to Rovinj, a gorgeous port city. The 'old town' rose steeply above the sea before us and bewitched us with its dreamlike prospect.
|Rovinj's old town arch|
We entered the 'old town' through its arch. Everything I saw was a pure delight. My senses were pleasantly crowded with scents and sounds and sights that were all new, all entrancing. We wandered up the steep and twisting cobblestones to the church far above us. The vista from the churchyard was breathtaking - the pines couldn't have been more green, nor the sea more blue, than on that day, at that hour. The cup was indeed full to overflowing!
We realized that time was running short, so after a quick stop in the lovely church, we descended onto a picturesque street. A woman was leaning out an upper window, hanging her laundry, when the church-bell rang. That moment is forever imprinted on my memory - the sun, the sea, the sound. Tears in my eyes, I reluctantly turned my feet to our boat after stopping in the bustling market.
When we got to our boat, none of the passengers had arrived yet. Again, we pondered the mysteries of the Italian timekeeping. We waited near,, and then on the boat, for an hour before the others guests trickled back. Our meal of fish and salad was served, and we were off.
We made a stop in Vrsar, a delightful coastline fishing village on a hill, before heading back to Porec. (More on Vrsar later!) When we arrived back in Porec, flushed with sun and sea and memories of beauty fresh upon us, we made an important discovery.
|The sea view from the hilltop church at Rovinj|
By one hour.
We had been an hour early all day...
So, my apology to the acumen of Italians everywhere regarding their ability to read a watch.
We have certainly gotten a lot of mileage out of this gaffe...
One more delightful human comedy which flavours our trip with character and colour...and has become one of the many delights of Croatia.