on February 12, 2010
Trying to find apartments or hotels in Istria (North West Croatia) in high season is always going to be a challenge. Much of the area is geared to family tourism and a lot of the apartments were for 6-8 people which were too much and based around resorts. My partner and I wanted an apartment for the two of us, our first choice of a base was Pula, and we wanted to avoid the beach area 3km out of town in favour of the Roman Old Town and its transport networks for exploring the region. I really struggled to find anything to fit our brief and began to rethink our plans when I came across the Arena Apartments. They were perfect for us! I sent off an e-mail asking about price and availability. The owner, Ratko, came back later that afternoon with a quote and availability - the apartment would be Euro56 per night (in peak season) and was available when we wanted to visit and I excitedly booked it. We paid in cash on arrival. The reason why the apartment was perfect for us was location, location, location! It was literally next door to the famous Pula Amphitheatre, one of the best preserved surviving amphitheatres left. The bus and train station were both about 5 minutes walk away, as was the marina for boat trips. Supermarkets, local shops, restaurants and sights were all in walking distance. As mentioned above the apartments are walking distance from the bus and train stations, as well as there being a bus stop outside the apartment. We arrived by ferry, so literally walked across the road and through the small picturesque park opposite to the apartment. We had no cause to visit the airport, which is out of town, but it is served by taxis and a local bus company. Upon arrival in Pula we telephoned Ratko and he arranged to meet us at the apartment to let us in, where we would pay him also. Ratko has four apartments in the building and we had one of the studio apartments, which sleeps 2-3 (the third person on the sofa bed). It was well laid out, so you didn't feel cramped, with a small, well equipped kitchenette area, and a dining table as you came in. The bed - a double with two single mattresses - was round the corner, and there was also a wardrobe, sofa, coffee table, cupboard (with brochures and local info), coat stand and TV. The TV had satellite, which we couldn't get to work, but as we weren't that worried about watching TV whilst there we didn't try and get it sorted. The apartment is also air conditioned. Off to one side was a separate bathroom with shower. The apartment was clean with modern furnishings which were in good condition, and nothing was damaged. We had a front facing apartment with a view of the park. The kitchen has two hobs, a fridge (with small ice box) and a coffee percolator. There is no oven, or kettle (the Croatians don't really 'do' tea, so bring a travel kettle if you can't cope) but plenty of pots, pans, crockery, cutlery and water glasses as well as little details such as chopping boards and pan stands. One other point to consider is that the apartments are not serviced whilst you are staying there, so whilst a clean towel per person and bed linen is supplied; it is not changed until you leave. When we went out to explore we found (as well as the amphitheatre, which you couldn't actually miss) it was easy to get to the local shops and restaurants and other Roman sights. The Old Town is quite compact and easy to navigate. There are quite a few restaurants and bars, although for the main nightlife and nightclubs you would need to go down to Vedura, where the beach resorts are. If you are looking to stay in a reasonably priced apartment in Pula old town then I would recommend the Arena apartments. It is not a good location for a beach holiday, but if you are planning on sightseeing and using it as a base to explore the region, then I would say that this is an ideal place to stay.
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