The Area We Live In
Our village is small (but has four restaurants) – however, we are not isolated. We are surrounded by vineyards, hilltop towns, fabulous restaurants. Our nearest town is medieval Oprtalj and it is, quite simply, stunning. There are two excellent restaurants, a newly opened wine bar, a cash point machine, a post office, a mini market, a number of small galleries, an antique shop, a gift/interiors shop and a beautiful Venetian Loggia.
The nearest large supermarkets are in Buje and Buzet, with more choice a little further towards the coast in Umag, approximately 35 minutes away. We often travel to Koper in Slovenia or Trieste in Italy to shop – both are accessible in around 40 minutes. Although this may seem a long journey, once you switch into the Istrian way of living, you’ll soon realise that driving to supermarkets becomes a pleasure, as you wind your way through valleys and vineyards and follow the coastline.
There are many local wineries where you can take your bottles and fill up – wine bought this way is generally of excellent quality and inexpensive. As a rough guide, we can currently buy five litres of wine from our nearest winery and pay 75 Kuna (approximately £9.50 / €11). Honey and olive oil are also readily available.
We inevitably drive a lot more than we did back in the UK, but you very quickly adapt to this, simply because everyone does.
We have been welcomed into our new way of life in the most heart-warming way. Croatian people are well renowned for their kindness and we have experienced this first hand. On the day all of our belongings arrived from England, neighbours helped us and this has continued to this day. We have been gifted potatoes and runner beans and courgettes and cherries and eggs and figs and kiwi fruit. We’ve been given wine from neighbours who make their own.
We have developed a strong network of people who we now call friends and are always there to help when needed.
We also have a fabulous go-to-guy who has worked with us on the house, and who has himself, a fantastic network of trusted tradespeople. The local restaurant owner introduced us to the people we bought our cars from. Another local builder, whose brother is a policeman, helped us to initially start to work out how we could make ourselves “legal”. A local shop owner introduced us to our go-to-guy – and from this meeting, we’ve made a whole new circle of friends.
The local telecoms guy is at the end of a phone if we ever need Internet assistance. And we buy our olive oil from him.
Our solicitor, who is a Manchester music and European football aficionado, has become a great friend and we meet up with him socially. Along with our builder (go-to-guy), he’s someone we would definitely introduce the new owners of our home to.
So, yes – we can’t deny that where we live now is small, compared to where we lived back in the UK. But, we never feel isolated or lonely because we are surrounded by beauty and good, trustworthy people, who are always there for us.