Buzet, in Istria, Croatia

 

Why travel?

 

So that you can drive through a tangly, bristly forest in Slovenia, sure that at any moment you will have to brake for a gray wolf emerging suddenly and silently from the trees, into Croatia, where you must wend your way up a narrow track into the old town of Buzet with its several dozen families (who studiously ignore you) and its views (spectacular) and its lovely hotel, at which you will be received with a degree of nonchalance that disconcerts you — “Did you make the reservation just today?” as he paws through his paperwork — but that in the end belies the excellence of the establishment, not excluding its restaurant, where at least half the items on the menu feature the local black truffles, the enjoyment of which (in a creamy bean soup, for example, paired with figs, or shaved on top of ravioli stuffed with white chocolate and drizzled with an amaretto glaze) is not spoiled exactly but undeniably lessened by the eighteen-odd motorcyclists whose earlier arrival at the same hotel, you understood at the time, could not bode well, and who, during your dinner, sit and stand and wander around on the patio just outside the dining room, every last one of them a chain smoker, with the result that you must battle your way through the smell of burning tobacco to savor the taste of medallions of pork with a sauce of porcini mushrooms, but never mind, you’re on an adventure and it’s all part of it, so you smile and finish your dinner and stumble off to bed.

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