[Not only is Kali growing up and starting to look like Mariza, she has now also started to write like Mariza! – Jarik]
After our reentrance to Croatian Istria, our aim was to find something (anything!) cold or wet to rid ourselves of the terrible heat. Hoping we would be able to swim, Mum led us to a nearby lake and a little village close to it. The car struggled up a narrow, dirt road to reach a tiny hilltop village.
We asked at a restaurant whether we could swim in the lake below. The answer was no, but the restaurant ended up being the tasting room of a world renowned truffle supplier. Dad, Mum & I were warmly welcomed and introduced to the wonderful world of truffles.
Truffles are difficult to find and very expensive as a result! They grow underground between the roots of trees such as hazel and oaks. Truffle hunters in Eastern Europe use pigs and dogs to sniff out truffles. To me they have an intense, musty and earthy flavour and smell. We tasted all sorts of oils, butters, spreads and dips all containing traces of the flavourful truffle. Even just a small bit of it is extremely strong.
I really liked the truffle and white chocolate spread. It was delicious and I could’ve finished the entire jar. Here I was, sitting in a free tasting room, critiquing an array of truffle products. ‘Hmm.. this is good! I’m going to taste it again… delicious! Oh! This is even better!’ And so it went on. Only later did I find out that you could pay up to $2000 for a kilogram of the musty fungus.
As we were leaving, the lady showed us a stunning view of a neighbouring walled hilltop village. She said it is called Motovun. It was where we would be staying for the next few days. All extremely excited, we headed off to discover this magical place.
On the bottom of the hill, all visitors must park their cars and walk the steep winding road to the village. However, because we had a special ticket from our hostess, we could drive up all the way to the centre of the ancient hill top town. I felt so important, driving past all the walking tourists that were perspiring their way up the hill. The smooth cobble stone streets are so narrow that two cars cannot pass each other. Our car struggled and slipped, but made it in the end. It was so worth it!!!
Zvjezdana, our hostess, warmly welcomed us to a clean and spacious apartment situated right in the centre of the tiny village. It was inside the ancient village walls and there were even two cold beers, and four cold chocolate milks set out for us! It had stunning views of neighbouring villages, vineyards and the largest truffle forest in the world, all spread out below. From being nearly dead from the heat, exhaustion, hunger and thirst, we all suddenly felt a tremendous spurt of energy. Ruzow, Eulain and I immediately ran back down to the bottom where the other cars were parked, to play soccer at the sports grounds. Every little village we’ve been to has at least had a little soccer field. (Esto was still out of action from the tummy bug.)
Mum and Dad sat on the balcony, soaking in the complete serenity of the surroundings. It was stunning! As the sun started its descent and the sky became a rich red-orange, us three soccer stars started huffing and puffing up the hill. The stone buildings gleamed as the sun struck their smooth surface and birds darted around the bright sky. I wish I could describe it better. Indescribable!
We spent our days either exploring beloved Motovun or other nearby gems, such as Kalmanjak and Pula (the Istrain capital). I absolutely LOVE Istria! It is a magical and wondrous place.
When we had to leave Motovun, we greeted Zvjezdana with big hugs and kisses. Suddenly, she dashed into her apartment and came back with a foot long slab of chocolate for us. It was delicious (and quite a mess in the car as it was melting very quickly)! Thank you so much, Zvjezdana for having us stay in your picturesque Motovun! We will certainly be back!
Until next time,