On the road in the north of Croatia, with the Alps-Danube-Adriatic Porsche Clubs Tour (ADA): from Opatija via Krk, to Cres, to Mali Lošinj.
The morning breaks slightly overcast, yet still triggers a kind of sunshine in the hearts of the participants. The last few days have not brought the best forecasts. And this, of all things, during a trip through one of Croatia's most beautiful holiday destinations. In front of the Grand Hotel Adriatic, the drivers and co-drivers gather at their Porsches; hotel guests, Porsche fans and influencers join them, raising their phones: stories and videos are uploaded to social media channels.
At 10:15 a.m. sharp, the race is set to begin – on one of the most spectacular routes in Croatia. But as tour organiser Marko Fratrić from Porsche Club Croatia promises us: it’s the most beautiful route in Europe.
Jadranka Kvasnička. The Croatian entrepreneur has been president of Porsche Club Croatia for almost two years now. Since then, she has been passionate about giving the Club, which used to be primarily motorsport-oriented, a cultural focus, including more programs for the female drivers. "Taking on the organization of the ADA with our small Club team was a challenge – but one we gladly accepted." Jadranka lives in Zagreb and enjoys the coast around Opatija as her second home. Perhaps therein lays the secret success factor of the tour: we were travelling with an insider. "The area around Opatija is a paradise, an oasis. Not only as a holiday destination – but also for driving."
We dive into the Mediterranean flair of the Kvarner Bay. The high sun shines into people's minds, breaking hard on walls, alleys and facades that revel in old Austrian splendor. In the air lingers the scent of holidays. In the bays of the small fishing villages to the left and right of Opatija, the fishing boats bob next to luxury yachts in time with the tides. The glistening light on the whitecaps dances its careless song of summer.
The winding coastal roads lead us to Rijeka and up into the hinterland to the Automotodrom Grobnik. We see Porsches in front and behind us. The oldest Porsche leads the way: Andrej Malgaj is on the road with his father and an enamel blue Porsche 356. The most spectacular drives in the middle of the long caravan: Slovenian Club member Rok Drašler takes part in the ADA with his beautiful 918 Spyder. In between: many GT3s, but also a 944 Cabriolet and a 964 Speedster in speed yellow. The whole range of Porsche fascination.
Marko Fratrić. Jadranka's right and left hand. Enthusiastic member of Porsche Club Croatia and a person with a lot of petrol in his blood, preferably 102 octane. A trained Porsche mechanic, founder of the Pink Wing Lifestyle Rally and professional organizer of high-end car events. Of course, he knows the route and the islands inside out, and didn't promise us too much. "The participants should relax and unwind. Have time for each other, enjoy friendships and vehicles. If I managed to do that, I'm happy." He is particularly proud of one coup: the ferry was chartered exclusively – Porsche Only. "Pictures for eternity!" We totally agree with that.
After a short pit stop at the hangar of the sports airport, we continue towards Krk — the island archipelago of the Kvarner Bay lies ahead of us. The aisles carved into the hard, brightly shining karst stone tell us of changing vegetation and landscapes. Roads and paths are literally wrested from nature and have to be secured against the Bora and other forces of nature. Meanwhile, the sun burns hot and merciless on the asphalt. The road story begins. The spectacular bridge to Krk stretches across to the small island of Sveti Marko. On Krk, the landscape opens up. The D102 leads across wide plateaus. We turn off onto the D104 down to the ferry dock in Valbiska.
The ferry will take us to Merag. 98 vehicles have to cross to the other shore without a pile-up. The ferry will be full, the sight magnificent. But everyone still has to wait until the ferry is ready. The participants pass the time between the vehicles, exchange experiences, or treat themselves to a latte macchiato in the shade of the bar — but the first aperitifs also make the rounds. The conversations are relaxed, cheerful; people are happy to be on the road together again. Across national borders, under the banner of the uniting Club family.
Rok Drašler. He has courage. He has a vision. But above all, a lot of feelings for togetherness, enthusiasm, and Porsche Passion. Rok Drašler was on the road at the ADA with his 918 Spyder. “Of course! This vehicle was built just like any other Porsche, for the road and for driving.” The Slovenian entrepreneur bought the vehicle second-hand, and with 515 kilometers on the clock. Now there are a proud 12,970 kilometers. "That makes 12,455 kilometers of driving fun on terrific roads like in Soča Valley in Slovenia, Rovinj, Rabac, Ika and now Lošinj in Croatia, Grossglockner and the Dolomites with Falzarego, Pordoi and Sella. Can anyone give me a reason to miss out on that?" He has enjoyed the ADA and driving among like-minded people. "Being on the road with Porsche Club members means having friendly people with a lot of spirit and passion around you."
From the quay in Merag we head up to the other side of the coast, past the main town of Cres and then across the whole island to Osor. In the small village a channel with a bridge separates the islets of Cres and Lošinj, which were once considered one island. The landscape is characterized by barren stone pastures with the typical macchia and garrigue vegetation – spice bushes, olive trees and flat-growing pines. The vastness of the landscape is impressive. On the open roads, nature and vehicles merge. We let ourselves drift and get caught up in the austere charm of the Croatian islands. We are on the road. The nature becomes breathtaking. A route you must take.
After Osor with its picturesque canal, we find ourselves on Lošinj. For long stretches, the road winds along the coast. Pine and holm oak forests, palms, oleander, agaves and cacti welcome us. The air is filled with the scent of herbs: lavender, sage, myrtle and laurel. Chirping in the air, lush green, dense nature.
Andrej Malgaj. The board member of Porsche klub Slovenia is on the road with a 356 Cabriolet restored by his father. At the moment, the passionate Porsche collector is restoring a Pre-A from 1953. "What I was missing was the right engine. There was a Beetle engine in the chassis." After years of searching, he finally found a matching one, and, as it turned out, he’d found the needle in the haystack: the engine actually had the engine number matching his chassis number. "Matching numbers: after decades, what belongs together came together again.”
After another lunch stop in the picturesque Veli Lošinj, our tour ends at the Resort Hotel Bellevue near Mali Lošinj. The hotel will be the starting point for the upcoming activities. The next day we will take a boat trip over to the island of Susak, formerly known for its wine production, and today a charming and quiet island with 150 inhabitants, car-free (!) and equipped with one of the most beautiful sandy beaches in Croatia. In the afternoon we will visit the Mali Lošinj Apoxiomen Museum. In the evening, just before the gala dinner, a small concours parade will take place in front of the gorgeous backdrop of the picturesque bay of the Cikat Nature Park.
Rasto Ovin. Rasto Ovin is a Porsche Club legend. He is the brains behind the ADA, organizer of the Porsche Parade Europe 2016, and networker between the Italian, Croatian and Austrian Clubs. No international or European event would be complete without the dean and professor of the University of Ljubljana. For him, Porsche is family, a living passion and an enthusiasm for technology. He founded the ADA because the element that connects people is important to him. "Porsche brings people and countries together. The fact that we can enjoy our passion for Porsche together is the most important asset we have."
On Sunday, we take the D100 home again via Cres – but this time to the northern end of the island, to Porozina. The route there is a natural phenomenon. We take the ferry and cross over to Istria again. The last section takes us back to Optaija. Our loop and the ADA is complete.
It is in the DNA of the Alps-Danube-Adriatic Porsche Clubs Tour to take participants to the most beautiful corners of the host countries. The ADA 2023 leaves us with the enriching feeling of having felt, experienced, enjoyed and driven Croatia. Especially the latter. It’s a phenomenal feeling.
Starting point: The traditional spa and seaside town of Opatija is located in the north of the Kvarner Bay in the immediate vicinity of Rijeka. Opatija is often referred to as "the old lady". The town was a popular health resort in the 19th century. Many villas and grand hotels from the Habsburg era bear witness to the flair of days gone by. The former crown jewel is today the pearl of Croatian tourism. The meeting and starting point of the ADA 2023 was the Grand Hotel Adriatic.
Pit stop: The Automotodrom Grobnik is the former Grand Prix circuit Grobnik, near Rijeka. The four-kilometer track with 18 bends is situated on a plateau together with a sports airport, and is one of the few tracks on which it is still permitted to drive without db limits.
Destination: Island of Vitality – With 300 days of sunshine, the island of Lošinj is considered the sunniest place in Croatia. The warm climate also has an effect on the island's flora. Lošinj is known as the island of scents and flavors, and has a unique underwater world where you can discover corals, shells, schools of fish, algae and sponges in the crystal clear sea. The cultural highlight is the "Apoxiomen"; the 2000-year-old statue found on the seabed off Lošinj, representing a Greek athlete.
The history of the ADA: It all began as a preparation for the Porsche Parade Europe 2016. For the first time in the history of European parades, Porsche klub Slovenia and Porsche Club Croatia planned a drive across national borders and with two destinations. In 2015, they undertook a test drive under the name Danube-Adriatic Tour. In 2019, they took up the idea again. Together with Karl Steiner from Porsche Club Graz and Andrea Zorzi from Porsche Club Trentino, they organized the first Alps-Danube-Adriatic Porsche Clubs Tour. In 2022, Porsche Club Trentino organized the ADA at Lake Garda. In 2024, Porsche klub Slovenia will once again be in charge.
The ADA sees itself as a European Porsche Parade beyond the Alps. Club members from Porsche Club Croatia, Porsche Club Adria, Porsche klub Slovenia, Porsche Club Serbia, Porsche Club North Macedonia, Porsche Club Trentino, Porsche Club Graz, Porsche Club Salzburg, and Porsche Club Switzerland all took part in the tour.