Ancient Art and a Tormented Octopus

Poreč (19 May 2013)

I had to take 2 trains and a bus to get to Poreč from Divača. There is a direct bus from Divača to Poreč that runs from June and I was too early to enjoy the service. This is like the story of my life: it is not right if I do not do things the hard way.

From Divača I had to take a train to Pivka (pronounced like ‘Piuka’) and then switch to another train to cross the border and get to Rijeka. I must admit that the border crossing was quite interesting to me and there was a little drama involving a Pakistani woman trying to enter Croatia without a proper passport but with some document. I think the reason given was that her passport was still being processed, if I remember correctly. I wonder how that worked out for her. In Rijeka, I had to find my way to the bus station (it was a little confusing but someone showed me the way) and catch a bus to Poreč.

It all sounded like an ordeal but I have to say that the entire journey, long as it might have been, was not too bad.

Finding my way to the hotel was not difficult although it was getting dark, since I only had to follow the beach. E had already checked in at the hotel by the time I arrived. It was comforting to know that I would have company for a while on this trip. I actually enjoyed people’s company! Amazing!

The main reason people come to Poreč is to see the Euphrasian Basilica. Its name is really the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of Mary. I kept wondering about the “Euphrasian” bit of the common name and it was later that I learnt that the church was built by a bishop named Euphrasius. The current structure was built in the 6th century and the mosaics from that period still remain. That is pretty awesome but the mosaics reminded me too much of the ones I had seen in Ravenna. They were also created in the same era.

The sanctuary

Close up of apse vault and ciborium top

Close up of apse

Outdoor mosaics

The problem I had with the mosaics in this basilica is that, although they are beautiful, I was more impressed with the ones in Ravenna. And since I was in Ravenna only two years before, the contrast was even more stark. All the awe that that sort of church art could have struck in me was struck in Ravenna and had 2 years later all but faded away.

But all the same, the basilica is a quaint little ancient church and that was enough for me to feel that the visit was worthwhile.

The baptistery

Remains of early church pre-dating the current basilica

View from the basilica’s bell tower (a scene that would repeat itself all along the Croatian coast)

After wandering around aimless for a few hours, we were absolutely done with Poreč. The old city is definitely charming, despite the Sunday crowds, but there was very little to keep a tourist occupied (and away from boredom) beyond a few hours.

E and I visited the Poreč Aquarium which was just a really sad place. We were firstly disappointed with its size. Its being small meant that we could not spend a lot of time in there. But that was still OK. Secondly, the tanks were very badly maintained. It was appallingly dirty and we felt really sorry for the creatures kept captive in them. In fact an octopus that had the great misfortune of being imprisoned there had lost one of its tentacles. The lost tentacle was still lying in the tank and I suspect the octopus might have bitten it off in a bid to numb its psychological torment. The place was more like an Auschwitz for sea animals to me.

We got quite bored by about tea time and decided to go back and enjoy our lovely hotel a bit more before dinner. The Hotel Mauro was simply lovely.

Poreč street

The building serves as a customs office when international ferries arrive. E almost missed it when she arrived from Venice.

Poreč street

Poreč street

Old Poreč from across the bay

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