Wednesday 21st of April
Today it was on towards Switzerland, on the back roads which makes the travel through Europe really interesting seeing how other people live. Crossing the border into Switzerland now is basically a nonevent, they don't even stop you look at your passports. However finding a campground in this country is a little bit more challenging, we drove on to Lucerne and eventually found a campsite near the lake and at the equivalent of $NZ60 it was not what we called reasonable!
Switzerland is .15 the size of New Zealand has 179 people per Sq Km compared to 15 in NZ or 6 in the South Island so they are packed in compared to us!
After parking the motorhome we went to walk into the city along the waterfront, a rather pleasant 2 km walk and of course the same distance back!
Many times today we were very thankful of the GPS particularly when we were in the wrong lane to turn left and we had to drive on several kilometres to get back on the route which the GPS did sort out for us. I'd hate to think of going back to maps.
Watching the international news and the effect that the Icelandic volcano has had on international travel we both consider ourselves to be very lucky that we booked the tickets to fly when we did, on the route that we did. Friends who left the same day as us, to flight to Heathrow via Hong Kong with a stay over in that city ended up in Frankfurt which was okay as they motorhome was stored in France!
Thursday 22nd April
Today we headed off south to Italy and set the GPS to avoid the motorway. This took us through delightful scenery on back roads were often were the only vehicle travelling and winding in an out of the villages with the mountains as a backdrop was very photogenic.
Passing some large signs on the side of the road as we were moving into the mountains I did notice only one of what ever they were showing us was green with the rest of them red. We found out an hour or so later what they were talking about and it was the mountain pass, St Gothard's was closed, on the secondary road, I suspect the motorway goes through the mountain with a tunnel, looking at the map it appears to be about 18 km long and hopefully with the motorway it will not be as bad as some have been through in the past.
We got as far as Hospental and the road was closed, the GPS told us we could go another way if we did not mind a ferry, my mind immediately thought of water, but when we got there to Realp the ferry was a train to take us through the mountain.
The scenery of course is spectacular with a good thick coating of snow on all the mountains around us in the mountains seemed to go on forever. One of the mountains around here is the Matterhorn, not sure which one it was as they all look pretty big but the train that passes by every 30 minutes or so has that label so I guess it's got to be round here somewhere. I just checked out the Encyclopaedia and I've seen what the mountain looks like a hill Luda has photographed today.
We decided to turn back and go via the motorway and then we found a very large parking area at Andermatt at 1430 m elevation, so will see how we fare here for the night. We've just been joined by a French motorhome who may feel that the German numberplate will give him some sort of protection.
Friday 23rd April
Early this morning we heard several helicopters moving around this area and we had started wondering if we had parked on a helicopter landing pad like we had done in Russia, but no I think it must have been just the Swiss Army working on manoeuvres, and was seen as few Army personnel wandering around this town and marching past our camping spot with large packs on their back, not looking like they were enjoying themselves.
I was beautiful fine morning as we set off to follow the GPS to the Gothard tunnel which turned out to be just a few kilometres back the way we had come. The tunnel turned out to be 17 km in length and when we exited in the tunnel we were still in Switzerland and it took another five Km tunnel to get us into the Lago Maggiore area of Switzerland and then after a few more kilometres we passed through the border to Italy with the border guard merely giving us a flick of the eye to drive on through.
The speed limit through the Gothard tunnel was 80 km/h and I was comfortable at 70 km/h in a Mercedes 500 showed his displeasure when the one lane turned into two lanes at the exit of the tunnel by giving me a big blast on this horn as he passed.
It was a narrow road round the lake with the rough edge of the rock face trying to reach the passenger side of the motorhome but we were able to avoid that meeting even if it meant going slightly slow.
Our destination was a motorhome parking area in Verbania on the edge of Lago Maggiore but that turned out to be far from satisfactory, and of course all the campgrounds around the lake were priced at a five star rating so we decided to drive on to Milan to a campground where it two years ago which is just a nice short bus ride in from the city.
We did this by the toll motorway per a cost of €4.5, which when you consider the large amount of tunnels on this road and the high concrete bridges across the valley was a small price to pay, the exit came just before the next tollbooth but it still cost us €2.5 to get off the motorway. It certainly was faster than the slow road through the villages but of course you see nothing and it was raining when we came out of the Gothard tunnel and the cloud cover was down over the lake it was not a day for driving slowly to get the wonderful photographs that this area produces.
The arrival at the campground in Milan was uneventful as it should be.
This was the second time we've been to this campground and found it quite reasonable with good amenities and very easy to catch a bus and then the metro into the city.
Saturday 23rd of April
Walked into the little village and bought a bus metro ticket that was good for all day and then caught the bus along with an Australian family that was touring around Europe through eight weeks.
We got off at all the correct places and were very quickly in the centre of Milan in the square with the very large cathedral dominating one end.
Luda has a very good memory and was able to walk straight to the shop where she bought four beautiful blouses two years ago, they were a shop that just specialised in shirts for men and women so that was able to find another four very easy. I on the other hand specialising in white shirts was much harder to please and left empty-handed, (which was just as well).
Just across the walkway was another shop that specialised this time in ties, and to my big surprise they had a large range of bowties, almost as many as the shop in De Hague where I normally replenish my supply. However with a collection of probably 90 bowties the urgency to restock was not pressing so again I left the shop empty-handed.
Sunday 25th of April
We check out of the campground and set the GPS for a free parking area in Cremona, with a side trip to a large monastery near Pavia, construction was started in the 14th century and was finished 200 years later, it is still occupied by the Carthusian monks who live under a strict vow of silence.
Then we carried on driving on the toll ways for most of the trip and found a very large parking area with about a dozen motorhomes parked in various locations so we parallel parked instead of angle parking taking up two places and then did our best to level the motorhome because of the slope and the parking area. Most of the motorhomes parked there had large levelling chocks parked under their front wheels lifting the front wheels about 20 cm off the ground.
We then locked the motorhome up and headed off into the city to visit the museum of the Stradivarius violins evidently Antonio lived in the city and there was a large museum devoted to his drawings and the way in which he designed his world-famous violins.
There was also a lot of mediaeval buildings to be viewed in the belltower said to be the tallest mediaeval tower in Italy.
The violins were the main feature of the city and so consequently many of the shops had models of violins and of course there are lots of chocolate violins which to the writer looked very tasty but Luda suggested they were somewhat similar to the Apple in the Garden of Eden.
Monday, 26 April
Today it was on towards Verona about 120 km away via motorway, these very short distances are not enough to recharge the house batteries adequately and now with the accurate meter giving me the capacity and the amount of storage in the battery it allows us to ration our usage in accordance with our capacity.
The parking area for motorhomes was very well equipped with dumping and freshwater supplies available for €10 for 24 hours with a bus stop 100 meters from the park.
Verona of course is the location of the 16th century story of Romeo and Juliet, so we caught a bus into the centre of the city and then we're at a loss to know which direction to go, so I asked a young Korean girl if I could look at a map, and she said she was just going to Juliet's house, she introduced herself as Sue, so the three of us walked towards this tourist destination along with lots of other tourists, it was then on to Romeo's house, which it appeared nobody was interested in, as there was just a sign and no crowd of tourists like what Juliet attracted.
After these two tourist sites Sue left to catch her train to Leipzig where she is studying for a business degree at the University and we carried on looking round the city and the churches, the castles, and the Roman Colosseum that was almost in the centre of the city.
Tuesday 27 April
Today we headed the Venice, we struck a little the rain along the way and felt it may be a repeat of last year where for two days it rained and we just drove on. However it was fine and we arrived, and a new campground on the mainland side, our Camperstop book suggested there was a good parking area for four euros a day, we eventually found it, they had to remove the height barrier for us to get in with the other motorhomes, and of course inflation had hit since the book was published the book said €4 they said it was €10 but has just gone up to €12. And when we checked out we had to pay €20 so it looks like the old story about not believing everything you read is extremely true.
We thought would be interesting to approach the island from the other side, and it turned out to be a massive mistake, there was only one boat to the island leaving every hour were as on the other side, a boat left every 15 minutes or so sit and talk you right to the centre of the points of interest.
Nevertheless we have an interesting day walking almost every street, getting lost many times, again I was reminded of my policy of having adequate maps, which again on this occasion I thought was not necessary.
We found the gondola rides had suffered from inflation, a 45 minute gondola ride three years ago was €80 this year it was €150, perhaps if we had been really interested we could have negotiated a better price was one of the operators but we enjoyed how walking. We noticed a smell of bad drains on many occasions and they tell us this gets worse in the summertime with the large influx of tourists.
Eventually we had filled in the five hours until the next boat left for our parking spot and I staggered back to the motorhome and thought I may need assistance from Luda at one point.
On arriving at the motorhome park we discovered parked across from us a Swiss motorhome with the New Zealand sticker on the rear near the number plate like we do, and I was on my second vodka and Coke when a Kiwi voices asked if we were really from New Zealand, turned out to be Richard and Verena Gits from the North Shore in Auckland, they had purchase their motorhome through Verena's mother in Switzerland to overcome the registration problem and had been wandering around greater Europe for the last 18 months and tomorrow catch a ferry to Greece to carry on their travels.
We had a great chat catching up on each other's travels and whilst we were basically travelling in the same direction, they travelling by ferry and with us travelling by road will probably separate itineraries by at least a month, but will take on each other's telephone numbers so we can text each other should we feel we're getting close.
Just one final word Hank told us that the other side on the peninsula was the better location for Venice and of course he was correct, this time! We did notice there was a main road to the island and on the alter route map that shows there is parking their and we did notice some motorhomes driving across the causeway so we wonder if perhaps we could have driven closer!
Wednesday 28 April
So we said farewell to Venice and expensive overnight camping Park, said " see you later" to Richard and Verena, and headed on our way towards Trieste, keying in to the GPS a parking area when we got closer, finding that it was useless when we're really close but around this time we saw a motorhome camping sign so followed that through to the dumping area where we got rid of our wastes and then headed off towards Croatia.
There is a slight problem to get to Croatia from Italy yet to go through Slovakia, and you venture into Slovakia you need a motorway vignette in the cheapest one is for seven days at €15, will I guess I am contributing to the coffers of the country and they then can waste that whatever they wish.
Well 20 km later after entering Slovakia we entered Croatia and then carried on down towards a city called Pula via the motorway and realised we are missing a lot of interesting countryside so we exited the motorway and headed towards a small town called Porec and then we found a massive car park with room for about 100 motorhomes, all brand new, they have not started charging for its use yet as we did not get a ticket as we came in which hopefully means we don't have to pay to go out!
With the motorhome on a level spot we then walked in to the city 1.5 kilometres, there was a city that appeared to be set up solely for the tourist, as all of the restaurants and shops had that very strong flavour, and then of course there were the real estate shops they were wanting to rent you villas or apartments, or perhaps even sell you their new offering on seaside real estate.
Thursday 29 April
Today we carried on South through to Rovinj which in Roman times was a heavily fortified island and on about the 17th century a causeway was put across giving it easy access to the mainland, very interesting city with the houses built on the edges of the cliff so it was almost sheer from the water to the house rooftops. We found parking about a kilometre from the city centre which made access easy.
It was on then south on secondary roads which were fair certainly not as smooth as most motorways but totally driveable, and we reached Pula very quickly and found parking right on the waterfront and found we had the local Coliseum right behind us which is handy for the photographs. It appears the Romans really liked this part of the domination coast but then I guess anything to get out of Rome!
We then turned north to Ladin which had quite an interesting write up but then of course the best photo of the city on the edge of the hill was taken from the road as we went past, had we entered the city of course we would have not got such a view.
We are directed on to a bypass which took us round through the countryside and was interesting to note that the speed limit on the road was 40 km/h, yes the road was reasonably narrow it was a two-lane highway, and in some places the condition of the road was not pristine but we certainly driven on worse, at a higher speed.
We are trying to stick to the back roads in most countries these roads take us through villages one after the other, so far in Croatia is really only been taking us through the countryside in most villages, if they are there, are hidden. This I think is quite interesting because it has a density of 359 per square kilometre which is the same density as China and more dense than Germany and has .21 land mass of New Zealand. All I can think is that the dense population of this country must be to the north or in the major cities.
We then pushed on to Brestova where we caught the ferry to Porozina on the island of Cres, the cost of a 7 m motorhome in two people was 235 Kuna which equalled about $NZ48. It would appear as if the boat goes every one to 2 hours at this time of the year so in theory one should know ahead of time.
Well the ferry did arrive on time two hours after we started waiting for it, uneventful crossing, and then it was a drive on through to Cres, know when you look at an island you sort of imagine it would be flat, well forget that this island is total rock, and it rises up quite high, with jagged rocks on the side of the road, our side, and on the other side there are just thousands and thousands of rocks, a small percentage of those are put to use building fences, although why they would need fences I've no idea, there are of course trees growing everywhere, you can't help admire the trees for the way in which they can take root anywhere, and of course the road going through these mountains is probably one and a half cars wide, so when we met a large Dutch tourist bus coming towards us, it was everybody stop, we backed up a few hundred metres till we found a small indent on the rock side of the road which allowed us to slip in their and this allowed the bus to squeak past us, and then of course we let all of the other traffic going both ways past us, and we had again the road to ourselves, I have a feeling this is a sample of what we will experience in Greece and if so it looks like I'll have to redraw the proposed map substantially.
We eventually made it to Cres, no chance of any parking anywhere in the town, so we headed out to one of the commercial campgrounds that were advertised from the centre of town, and we are currently in an extremely large one, we did have trouble finding our original spot that were allocated, and when we found it, eventually, I decided to go back and ask for more! Currently we are in quite a level site, have electricity connected, and wireless WiFi available, at no charge, isn't that the way it should be!
Friday, 30 April
We spent a peaceful evening, in a modern campground, on the edge of the Adriatic Sea at Cres where we had all of the amenities plus WiFi and received a very pleasant surprise when we checked out this morning and they only wanted €15. No I did not offer them more as I did not want to embarrass them.
We decided that the narrow roads on this rocky island was enough for this trip so we headed for the Port of Merag where we caught a ferry back to the next island that was connected by bridge to the mainland, where good timing this time with just a 10 minute wait. It was a 25 minute crossing at the same costs as getting to the island (NZ$48) so we set into the GPS the next destination which was Krk, again another old Roman city. Then we doubled back the way we came across over a impressive bridge and then we headed towards the direction of Rijeka stopping about 15 km short of that major city in a small seaside town called Bakar-Dio. There was a beautiful spot parking right on the waterfront and I'm sure we could have stayed there all night, but there was a large major noise coming from the building closed by, and whilst one would like to think it stopped at sunset one could not count on it.
It was then back the way we come again passing through Crikvenica and when we arrived in
Novi Vinodolski with our beautiful large parking space right by the small boat marina that we decided to call home for the night.
As it was 5 PM and a pleasant time to take a walk I set off into the town walking along the waterfront and came across eight men sitting at two tables playing cards, they were in the shade of a boat so did not have to worry about sunburn, I guess they're all 60+ which made me wonder what I would be doing about wasn't wandering round the world, doesn't sound too exciting sitting in the shade playing cards!
It's interesting sitting in a motorhome in Croatia watching satellite television and watching a advert for Croatia talks of 2786 hours of sunshine every year, crystal clear waters, hundreds of different species of fish and many other points which may be of common interest, and yes we have had sunshine since we have been here, whenever we see the sea it is crystal clear and does have abundant varieties of fish which are usually hard to recognise particularly for someone that does not eat a lot of fish because of their bones, the bones on a T-bone steak are about as small as I like to have in my food.
Saturday, 1 May
We left our overnight parking spot after experiencing loud music until at least midnight, motorbikes rip roaring through the town till about the same time but apart from that of the peaceful night, another motorhome from Slovakia joined us at some point roundabout sunset.
The roads so far through Croatia are a lot like the South Island roads, they are quite windy and of course most of Croatia that we had been through so far is quite hilly with a lots of it covered with native trees which means even though you're driving along the coast often you do not see the picturesque villages down near the water.
Today we headed down to Senj and then inland towards Plitvice Lakes National Park about 80 km inland passing through Otocac, Zaluznica, Vrhovine and most of it was a main highway with very little traffic. There came a point where the GPS decided that a left turn would probably saved me 500 m of distance and I thought what the heck, it's a narrow road but will see a little bit of the countryside. Sure enough we did it took us through two deserted villages, one village of about 10 houses with two of them deserted and then the road got interesting.
It narrow down immediately once it was in the park to a one lane highway winding around the various hill sides with the bank on one side with trees and a gully on the other side with trees, the road itself was covered with leaves except for the area that had been driven on, it was obviously close through the winter, with trees falling across the road, because every kilometre or so we come across a tree that had just been cut up to clear the road and in fact one tree had just been cut enough so we could squeeze the motorhome by, and is not as if we could travel very fast, I think my average speed was 6 to 7 km/h, there was one washout when my wheels wanted to spin but fortunately I had sufficient momentum.
I in actual fact wondered whether the road was going anywhere at all and then about four cars came towards me fortunately at a place where we could pass so I knew one of two things, either they had got to the end of the road and had to come back, or there was a connection to a main road.
We eventually got to Plitvicka Jezera which I keyed in as a destination as it appeared to be a good point to go to, but when we got there it was a minor village so we went back along the small road bringing us into the village about 5 km turned right, which was the correct way to go and we ended up in the car park of the National Park that had taken us so much trouble to get there.
Luda then wandered into the park for the next four hours taking photographs while I did minor jobs on the motorhome. After paying NZ$17 to get out of the car park we started looking for a motor camp and headed out of the park the wrong way so with the added up in a small layby in what looks like a small skiing village.
Sunday, 2 May
Another German motorhome joined us in the layby overnight very quite and peaceful, after all we are away out in the country!
With a overcast day we set off towards the coast to a city called Zadar, a city that has changed hands through many countries over the centuries, however to get there we drove from our isolated area in the country through quite deserted countryside, passing thro Titova Korenica, Udbina, Gracac, very little traffic on the road, quite a good road, many abandoned and deserted houses as we made our way through to the coast, many of the old houses looked like they had not been occupied at least 50 years so we cannot blame the breakup of Yugoslavia for a lot of them.
We started off going through what looked like quite good farming land, except I would guess most of would be covered in snow during the winter because the plateau that we are on is between six and 700 m, which makes farming as we know it in New Zealand a little bit more complex. Eventually we got back to the rocky part of this country and what can you grow in all the land you have is rock?
We parked the motorhome right on the waterfront beside a large ocean-going liner, no indication to say that we could not park there, but I stayed in the motorhome whilst Luda wander around the old city for 40 minutes.
When she got back to the motorhome I was already to roll, so we carried on heading south passing lots of camping grounds on the oceanfront, stopped in at one who wanted €20 which we thought was excessive so we want on and found one at half the price at Turanj. The thing is with the Adriatic coast that the whole coastline is built up for the tourist trade leaving very little empty space anywhere for wild camping.
Monday 3 May
Today we headed on down the coast passing un-countable numbers of rooms and apartments available for rent. It's just as well this coast has the attractive Adriatic Sea, where people want to come for vacation, because with the stony, rocky ground that they have, where sometimes they can grow a few grapes or olive trees, it looks like nothing else will grow, so is just as well that they have "tourists to farm" otherwise they would all be all on welfare, if there is such a thing in Croatia.
Our first city on the coast was Sibenik in the 11th century city that came to prominence in the Hungary and Croat rule, it is notable for the very beautiful large cathedral and the large castle on top of one of the higher hills. We drove around the city until we found a very large car park on the edge of the water where we were able to park at 20 kroner an hour, and when they say an hour they mean exactly 60 minutes because we found at 65 minutes our fee was 40 kroner, so we stayed a few extra minutes and had lunch.
The next city we were heading for was Trogir a Greek settlement dating from 380 BC, the island now joins the mainland and of course is a tourist destination.
The next destination was Split and I think we deserve 100 points for driving into the centre but with a city just short of 200,000 people parking was impossible so after a little bit of fruitless wandering around we set off on down the coast again passing numerous campgrounds, apartments, and Zimmers, which I believe is German for rooms. We eventually found a reasonably large parking spot near the city of Pisak we will attempt to spend the night.
From the parking spot is that is at 170 m above sea level we have a wonderful view along the coast.
Tuesday, 4 May
It was a peaceful night once the traffic died down about 10 PM and we slept well with the beautiful panorama view outside the motorhome. This morning we set off towards the island of Hvar and we pass through the city/ villages of Donja Brela, Baska Voda, an area called "Makarska Riviera", Tucepi, Podgora, Igrane, Zivogosce, Drvenik where we caught the ferry across to the island again about 213 kroner.
Again we drove on almost deserted roads, through the rockiest countryside I have ever seen, and in places where they have try to make a garden they have picked up oceans of stones and made fences from them or just put them in a large pile some times as large as a house. They obtain a pitiful amount of land this way and we normally see grapes planted, but have seen potatoes and vegetables.
Once on the island we started heading towards the city that bears the same name as the island passing through Jelsa, we stopped at this town and I wandered into the small grocers shop and there was a middle-aged man standing behind the counter in a shop that was stocked with the bear necessities of life, and it looked like a shop out of the 50s in New Zealand.
The road on the island is about wide enough for one and a half cars, with a speed limit of mostly 40 K all the way, and were begun to realise that the road code and the speed limit is basically posted for tourists and does not apply to the locals as they will over take anywhere and drive at whatever speed they wish. One part of the road was very interesting as they were busy resealing that part of the road, with one of the new cold mix machines which seals one side of the road at one time, now of course the road is one and a half lanes wide so this gave us half a lane to get past the new sealed portion of the road plus the large machine, plus the truck that was servicing the machine, as I said it was interesting!
Luda was not really excited about these roads as her side dropped off some times several hundred feet and unless I drove in the centre of the road, which considering the speed and the lack of attention of the Croatian drivers was extremely dangerous, she was not terribly excited as to how close to the edge her side of the car often went. It is going to be interesting in Albania where I'm told the roads are perhaps the worst in the western world and from what I read the landscape is very similar to Croatia being extremely hilly!
Luda is extremely impressed with local population, she says she always gets a lot of attention as she walks through the villages, with people talking to her, sometimes someone comes up and gives her a flower, I'm becoming a little bit suspicious as I have a vague feeling this attention is not coming from the female section of the population!
I often think of Wellington when I'm driving round these roads with the houses built on the hillside running right down to the water with hardly any land that can be cultivated.
It was then on to Starigrad, and finally Hvar. It's a mystery to the writer as to why people live on this island as there is really no land that is not covered in stones, massive amounts of stones, more stones than you can even imagine.
We thought we may spend the night in a motor camp 3 km outside the town below are geared up for holiday people that want all of the amenities possible, of course their price was in accordance with what they are offering, which was massively surplus to what we needed.
The guidebook says we can catch a ferry from this town but the GPS is not really up to date on Croatia, and the signs on the streets directly to the ferry are no help so we headed back towards Starigrad where we saw there was a ferry back to the mainland and tomorrow we will check things out as were found a small off road parking spot where we will curl up for the night.
Wednesday, 5 May
We decided to try to find the ferry to the island of Korcula, on the map it shows that there is a ferry, so we drove back to Hvar and the first person we asked as to where the ferry left from told us we had had to go to Starigrad as the ferry from Hvar did not carry motorhomes.
Yesterday as we are driving into the island we saw to motorhomes coming towards us which made us think that they were going the opposite way to us and had arrived at Hvar but I think it was like us they just thought the ferry would run from their so they were heading back to the starting point.
So we drove back to Starigrad and checked with the ferry office and yes we could catch a ferry to Dubrovnik but we have to wait 20 days, the ferry to Split was 600+ kroner and would still be left with 90 K is to drive to get back to our starting point where we caught the ferry to the island.
So we decided to drive back on Ludas favourite road, she compare that to a bridge one and a half lanes wide with no barriers either side and of course several hundred feet off the road, but I told her this time should be on the inside of the road and only have the rocks protruding on the road to worry about.
Driving back on the narrow road we came to a caution sign and then a recovery truck with a small 1500 CC Ford on its tray, both front wheels were written off so I guess it was one of the locals not observing the speed limit and suffering the consequences.
There is one problem having a motorhome that the 7+ meters long as almost all of the ferries have a price for over 7 m. Luda bought the ticket coming over and got the 7 m price, I bought the ticket going back and was charged 7+ metres, lesson in this is to always let Luda buy the ticket.
We made it back to Sucuraj and crossed over to Drvenik on the mainland and was extremely interesting looking at Croatia from the island as how they rose up out of the water to a great height with settlements of houses grouped together clinging to the mountain side.
So back on the mainland we headed south travelling through what we called normal Croatian country until we got to the city of Ploce, where all of a sudden we started seeing some sort of agriculture, all of the stones had disappeared, or perhaps they may have still been there but not in the great volumes, we kept hearing South and crossed over the border into Bosnia where as we were on just the normal motorway we went through the inspection of passports, where as I believe had we gone on the tall way we would not have even stopped.
So we drove the 10 km through Bosnia and entered back in to Croatia, they didn't even want to look about passports this time, and we drove through the village of Opuzen, passed Dubrovnik and on to a village of Srebreno where we found two campgrounds, the first one we went into had disappeared, they actually have a chain up over the entrance which had been pulled out, so we turned around and went back to the first one which we had missed because we did not turn fast enough, and no they weren't open yet but we could stay for €10 a night with electricity, buses available in to Dubrovnik every hour so we have settled on this for the next two nights.
Thursday 6th of May
Today we caught a bus into Dubrovnik, were let off up on the main road high above the city and had to walk down to sea level to see the city itself. Walking down I realised this could be a lot easier than the return journey.
We went in through the castle walls to the old city and wander around the seventh century city. There was no sign whatsoever of the heavy bombing during 1991 -- 92 where it is recorded over 2000 bombs and guided missiles fell on the city. There are certainly a lot of tourists fear at this early time in the tourist season, American voices, German voices, Luda heard some Russian voices, Polish voices and of course English voices.
This is the number one spot I believe every tour bus stops at, and it almost appears, looking at the tourists wandering around the city, but the average age of the tourist is probably in the early 70s, and remember I said average age. Was interesting to observe a group of Contiki tours teenagers gathering together to go out on a boat trip, that compared to the rest of the people they look oh so young!
Luda decided she would like to walk around the walls of the town, and I'm too wise to think of doing things like that, so she was gone for about an hour and a half and I spent my time people watching.
Every time I observed a group of tourists on my travels that are obviously on a guided tour and I see them being herded off the bus, around the tourist site, into the gift shops that have arrangements with, into the restaurant they have arrangements with, and finally back onto the bus, I sort of feel sorry for the participants in as much as that is the only way they feel they can safely visit a foreign country and of course there's probably their only trip of a lifetime.
Once Luda had finished her walk around the wall and taken about 200 photographs we had lunch in one of the cafes by the harbour and then walk back up the hill to catch the bus. Normally when you catch a bus to go back to the spot you got off the bus and catch it from the bus stop opposite. There are a group of about 12 French people on that bus stop, looking at the bus timetable, all talking at once, and we managed to peer over the top of them and observed that bus number 10 did not leave from this location, Luda spotted the plan that the number 10 bus stop was on the lower level on one of the roads we crossed to get to what we thought was the bus stop.
So we walked back down to the illustration indicated the bus was leaving from leaving the French people still talking and gesturing at the timetable. We soon found out we were in the correct place and the bus arrived 15 minutes later with standing room only, so is back to the campsite, packed into the bus, every seat taken, the centre aisle packed with people so all we could do was peer out the window and observed how high we were from the sea, and how close to the edge the bus was being driven, and how fast the bus was going, and imagining the headlines that would be possible if the driver had lost his concentration for a few moments.
However we arrived safely back at the bus stop for the campsite, risked our lives crossing the busy road, then observed one of the bus passengers emerging from a tunnel under the road, and thought we must remember this the next time!
Back at the motorhome was time for a good stiff vodka and Coke, Luda uploaded all the photos into the computer, and I made a resolution to get a larger drive on the computer as we started fiddling with external drives, do the washing, and a slight problem with our washing machine, considering the price and the way it is made, I think it is probably due for replacement on a regular basis.
Friday 7th May
We left the campsite just out of Dubrovnik and continued on our southward trek passing through
Cavtat, Cilipi, Gruda, and then a few kilometres later crossed over into Montenegro without any problems, Luda had her passports stamped that she could stay until 6 September! I got no stamp!