SUNDAY 25TH AUGUST 2012 KAMP PUSCA – KRK ISLAND
Tony went out cycling first thing. I sat writing my blog with the fan blowing onto me and then done a bit of hand washing. There is internet in the campsite but you have to pay for it. My computer said I was connected to it even though I hadn’t paid so checked my emails but when I went to navigate to another site it kept asking me for a password. So I can read and send emails but nothing else but that’s ok then suddenly around 12 midday it goes altogether.
An American chap stopped when passing and was asking about out travels. He retired from the army when he was stationed in Germany and married a German girl and lived there ever since – some 25 years, his accent was still really strong. He had been on the campsite for a while and said it was definitely less busy this week.
I started to feel a bit better in the afternoon so went for a swim with Tony and his lilo then he went off in his kayak taking his fishing gear with him to catch some fish for tea. Everybody here is fishing and catching lots so he’s very hopeful. As we are on electric hook-up (included) I get out the Remoska cooker and do some baked potatoes which actually turn out very well. Tony returns a couple of hours later – no fish so it’s a good job I defrosted some meat just in case!
After tea we sat outside the van with the candles admiring the view when 3 German vans pulled up onto the shore line and parked right in front of us and the Slovenian family camped next door so all we could see was the back of their vans. One of the German chaps got out and looked at both of us and put both thumbs up and said “OK?” – I won’t tell you what Tony said but it wasn’t pleasant and the German chap just shrugged his shoulders and walked away continuing to set up his van. I had to almost physically restrain Tony from going and having a go at him. They then all sat outside their vans talking and laughing until around 12.30 that night.
SUNDAY 26TH AUGUST 2012 CAMP PUSCA – KRK ISLAND
We were woken up early by lots of people moving off including the Slovakian family in the tent next door – they obviously got fed up of looking at the back of the Germans caravan but little did they know , he done them a favour!
Tony went off in his kayak at 8am, I tidied the van and then read for a while until he came back. We could hear thunder in the distance and it looked like storm clouds were approaching so Tony decided to be on the safe side and put the awning away and when it got really quite dark he put everything else in the garage just to be on the safe side. Suddenly at mid-day the storm hit, huge gusts of winds appeared from no-where and whipped through the campsite. People were trying to wind in their awnings, chairs, towels & cushions were being blown across the campsite. Those in tents were desperately trying to keep everything together and keep it dry. The Germans in the vans in front of us had gone out in their cars and hurriedly returned only to find their awning had been ripped out and was flapping around over the top of their van……..
The sea became really rough and all the little boats were bobbing around like crazy, they had to come and take some of the bigger boats out to sea to stop them hitting the jetty.
The thunder, lightning & heavy rains continued until around 3.30pm. We sat inside the van thinking that it was just like when we go away in England!
When the storm had passed and the rain stopped then the mopping up started – especially for those people in tents. The red dust of the campsite had now turned to red mud.
After clearing up and having showers we decided to go to the campsite restaurant for tea. It specialised in sea food so Tony had a Tuna steak and was asked how he wanted it cooked – raw, med or well done – never been asked that before, anyway he said it was the best tuna he’d ever had. I had prawn risotto which was very fresh. The owner of the campsite was eating in the restaurant with his family. Tony had spoken to him earlier in the day and he had told him that he was a passenger on The Concordia ship when it sunk. There were newspaper cuttings and photos all around the walls of the restaurant showing him & his family wearing their lifejackets – it was a bit weird, like some photographer was waiting on the shore to take the survivor’s pictures and then sell to them like you would at a theme park! There were also what looked like citation certificates and Tony thought the chap had been trying to tell him that he had carried out some sort of rescue but as he couldn’t talk couldn’t be sure. There were also loads of pictures of fishermen with big fish that they had caught.
Back to bed, just as it started raining again. Another storm hit, just as fierce if not worse than the one this afternoon. I lay in bed with the van rocking so fiercely I thought it was going to flip over – very frightening and also making my stomach feel wobbly, like I was sea sick. I just wanted to get to sleep but it was impossible. We looked out of the windows at those people in their tents and were only grateful that it wasn’t us!
MONDAY 27TH AUGUST 2012 SENJ – CROATIA MAINLAND
Up early to leave and travel to the mainland.
People were clearing up after the storms of last night.
We paid the bill, more than we thought as apparently the 25% discount we agreed is not on the taxes or booking in fee. It came to 878kn (£23 per night) which considering the few facilities on the site was quite a lot.
We stopped at Lidl en route to stock up. I bought some bathroom scales which were on offer as I was convinced I must have put on loads of weight and wanted to check – and they were cheap anyway.
We drove down the coast to Senj where we found an AutoKamp – a small camping site that takes around 20 vans max, some only take 5. It was right on a small promenade and we managed to squeeze into a plot at the end overlooking the sea. There was a German van parked next to us that was taking up 1 ½ places as they were lounging on their sunbeds partly into the space we needed to be. They wouldn’t move even though they could see we were trying to get in so Tony just kept going backwards & forwards until he managed to manoeuvre the van in, the exhaust fumes were blowing right where they were sitting so it couldn’t have been pleasant for them but they didn’t move an inch!
I made a cup of tea and as I had just bought some cakes asked Tony if he wanted a chocolate muffin – “oh no he said, that’s far too fattening, I’ll just have a jam donut and some Jaffa cakes”…………..
Spent the afternoon swimming, reading and relaxing in the chairs. I fell asleep and woke to find that I was quite sunburnt down my right side, I had been so careful up to now with making sure I had sun cream on but just one lapse is all it takes L.
Around 6pm the German couple cooked their tea and were eating it outside in the space between our vans. They had music on very loudly, German Beer Keller songs and then the old boy started to sing along. It was more than we could take so we decided to walk into the town along the seafront. It wasn’t far and there wasn’t much there really but it was a pleasant walk.
We ate at the campsite bar/restaurant, fish once again and very nice. 2 starters,2 main courses, ice-cream and 4 beers £23!
Back at the van we sat outside and watched the sunset, Tony took lots of photos.
The site was full now and tents were crammed into every crevice. It was quite noisy until late as the road ran along quite nearby.
The electricity in the van was quite low by the time we went to bed, not sure if batteries are OK or not, will have to check in the morning.
Oh and I’ve only put on 2lbs so pleased about that but will have to cut down on the amount of beer I’m drinking or will end up with a beer gut after 3 months!
There was one hell of a cat fight during the night, seemed to go on forever and sounded like it was under our van!
TUESDAY 28TH AUGUST 2012 SENJ – CROATIA MAINLAND
Decided to stay for another night at this site. A lot of people had moved off early and the camp was quite empty again, it must be used a lot just for stopovers.
There is free internet here so check emails etc. sitting at the bar with a coffee, Tony gone pout on his cycle.
We had dinner at the camp restaurant – choppitos (fried baby squid) and Tony asks the waitress if he could have one of the 10ltr empty oil bottles he could see by the kitchen door. He has an idea that he can make a fish trap out of it and catch loads of fish. He had seen some traps near the van and they were really full. He set up the trap, baited with bread, and left it for the afternoon.
Back at the van some more Germans arrived and parked on the other side of us, They’re coming at us in a pincer movement!! Actually, as it turned out, they were Austrians, they said hello to us which is something Germans don’t normally do so we knew they must be a different nationality. Their van looked like it had seen better days and was really battered & worn.
Tony kept checking his fish trap all afternoon but no joy. He says he wants to buy a proper one, along with a big drawstring net he has seen being used.
The German on our left opened his beer Keller at 7pm tonight and was in full voice by 7.30pm.
I cooked a Vesta Chow Mein meal tonight as a) it was easy! And b) really beginning to miss having a Chinese meal every now & again, not seen one Chinese restaurant since we’ve been away which is really unusual.
After tea we sat outside next to the promenade with our candles watching the sunset, which would have been really romantic had we not had some German loudly singing “Audvisenhai my pet” in the background. Tony took some more sunset photos – he’s becoming obsessed with how many different effects of sunsets he can get on the camera and I will have to make sure I download and label them all so we know where they were taken as they do all look the same.
No cat fight tonight but just a lonesome cat howling for hours – sounded like just outside our door – serves him right for probably killing the other one last night!
WEDNESDAY 29th AUGUST 2012 CAMP SIBULJINA - CROATIA
We left the campsite at 10am and headed south along the coast road – at least that was out intention but within ½ mile TomTom took us down a very narrow street which when we got to the end of it we realised it was one way and we had just come down it the wrong way – that accounts for all the funny looks and gesticulations we were getting!
Anyway once back on the main road we were on our way. It was a very winding road with a few parking spaces along the way but no access to the sea from them.
There were lots of apartments (or Apartmini’s as they are called) with their own private jetty’s into the sea, lovely holiday accommodation.
We stopped at a small town Karlbag, and got an ice cream and had a bit of a walk round.
Further along we came across Camping Sibuljina, a campsite right next to the sea and we found a spot right on the front row. We set up and went swimming then had a walk round. There was a bar, restaurant & small supermarket and nothing else but it was very peaceful.
I did 3 loads of washing , bedding & towels etc., which only cost me 5E (actually it didn’t cost me anything as she forgot to add the 5E to the bill!) and soon we had washing hanging on 3 sides around the van!!
After tea we sat outside in the dark with candles and a light that Tony had set up and played scrabble – a closely run game which I won, but only just!
THURSDAY 30th AUGUST 2012 CAMP SIBULJINA - CROATIA
Up at 8.30 and the camp was really very quiet.
I updated my blog and downloaded photos. There is free wifi but it is very sporadic and not often connectable.
There is a campsite employee whose job it is every morning to rake all the large stones that have washed up onto the stony beach back into the sea and he’s well into his job this morning.
A boat came along, not far off the shore, and dropped some fishing traps. Tony had a look in them later and said they were really full thus making him even more determined to get a fish trap – and just for good measure he says he may need a spear gun!!
Spent the day, as usual, swimming, reading & dozing, and then at tea time we walked (all 100m!) to the camp restaurant for tea. Tony had grilled fish – which he said was great – and I had mixed meats as I was missing meat not having eaten any for the past few weeks, mine was tough and chewy though so best stick to the seafood I think. Pity I don’t like fish as it always looks wonderful – I can’t cope with the bones.
FRIDAY 31ST AUGUST 2012 CAMP BORIK – ZADIR – CROATIA
The van next to us left at 7.30am and almost immediately another van took its place. It was a German family and they pulled right up to the back of our van not leaving Tony much room to manoeuvre out when we left, especially as we were up on blocks and needed to roll back off them first. Anyway, despite Tony explaining all this, the German chap just shrugged his shoulders & walked away…… what is it with these people? They really are very arrogant!
Once again it seem like everyone is moving off today, Friday.
After paying the 310 Kuna (£32) for the 2 nights on this site we left, heading for Zadar town, a big town with a few historical sights to see. It’s been ages since we have been in a big town so feel it’s about time we made the effort.
We drove into the town but there was no campervan parking anywhere so headed straight for the (only) campsite on the outskirts. Our ACSI discount camping card has no kicked in and we are able to stay for £17 on what is quite a biggish site, although I have to say it is quite empty! We parked the van, didn’t bother to get much out but went off for a swim and a walk along the seafront. There were lots of hotels, up to now we hadn’t seen any big hotels, and they were quite busy.
We stopped to look at the advertising for trips to the local national parks – mostly by boat. The chap selling them said that we shouldn’t consider going in the next couple of days as there were bad storms expected.
Back to the van we changed and then caught the bus (No 8 or 5) into the town as directed by the receptionist. We walked around the old town, pedestrianized and walled with usual churches & museums. Most of the restaurants had tables out on the pavements but we found one that had a lovely courtyard so we had lunch there in the cool. It started to thunder and a few spots of rain but nothing developed so we continued looking round. We saw the “Sea Organ” which was quite amazing, steps that lead down into the sea from which everyone was jumping off swimming or sunbathing on, but underneath they were carved out so that as the water rushed in and out of them a musical note was made and so it was just like someone was playing an organ.
There was also a big solar sundial thing on the pavement. Apparently during the day it stored the energy from the sun in its solar panels and then in the evening, at dusk, it all lit up reflecting the sunset. Would have liked to have seen it but it was about 5 hours away and didn’t want to hang around all that time.
Got the bus back to the campsite after figuring out which bus stop to catch it from. It went a different way back to the way we had come and it was only at the last minute that Tony spotted the campsite that we managed to get off at the right spot.
There was an ice-cream stall outside the camp. Tony got one and had intended to have 2 scoops, chocolate & lemon, but after he said “chocolate” the chap put the biggest scoop you’ve ever seen onto this cone, there was no way you would have got another one on there, so he had to make do with one scoop ….. 50p!
We walked to the camp bar on the seafront in the evening and it was deserted, there were another couple of bars around the corner which were also deserted. We sat and had a beer, all on our own in this huge building and asked the waitress where everybody was. She said she didn’t know as it had been packed with people last night but tonight – only us! There were three chefs resting on their elbows on the counter of the kitchen waiting for customers that were nowhere to be seen – strange!
We decided that as we had seen the town today that we would move on down the coast tomorrow and packed everything away ready to move off first thing.
There was a woman that was going through the large bin opposite our van. She was tearing open rubbish sacks and taking out any plastic bottles and tins – must obviously be worth something out here.
1ST SEPTEMBER 2012 OMNIS – CAR PARK (£0!)
We were woken at 6am by the loudest clap of thunder I’ve ever heard, the storm had begun. It was raining heavily and blowing at hurricane speeds once again making the van move although not quite so much as we were under lots of trees – not the best place to be when there is lightning I know but we had no option!
Tried to get back to sleep for ages but in the end gave up and got up.
There was a huge lightning strike and clap of thunder quite near us. We lost the electric sometime don’t know if this is connected to the storm?
When the rain ceased people started to clear up, we were already packed & ready to leave so nothing to do except drive off.
People in tents near us had spent the night sleeping in the toilet block and were now washing out their bedding. When I went to pay the bill there was a couple in reception with all their wet gear packed up ready to move on. I felt so sorry for them, but not sorry enough to offer them a lift as they were covered in mud!!!!
We headed off for Sibenik. The traffic was at a standstill as the roads were pretty much flooded and there were several broken down vehicles that were stranded as well as raised manhole covers. Where cars couldn’t get through the roads they were driving up onto the pavements which to be honest were not much better. The traffic lights had stopped working at a very busy junction and it was mayhem, everyman for himself with no one giving way. Tony tucked himself behind a coach which was barging its way through!
It took us around an hour to do about 15 miles.
Once clear we stopped at Lidl and I went in and got bread & milk – nothing on special this week! Tony sat in the van and watched lots of people who appeared to be queuing at the back of lidl’s with bags full of plastic bottles etc… so perhaps Lidl bought them or exchanged them? They sell a lot of beer in glass bottles so they might have deposits on them I suppose?
We passed lots of Autokamps along the coast road but they were all too small for us to stop on so we kept plodding on. We stopped at some sites we could get on but they were around £20 a night and Tony wouldn’t pay this. We eventually ended up in a car park at the back of the town of Omis. We had been on the road for around 7 hours and I was totally fed up, had a headache and was tired. Tony said we were staying in the car park overnight, it was 7pm by now so we didn’t have much choice. I said I wasn’t cooking so we were going to go into the town to get something to eat when the heavens opened and it began to thundered & lightning once again and looked like it was set in for the night. The car park became quite flooded so we decided not to venture out. I went to finish the book I was reading on my kindle and found it wouldn’t work – won’t come off screen saver…..I gave up and went to bed, not a good day!
SUNDAY 2ND SEPTEMBER 2012 CAMP MALE CISTE - ZIVOGOSCE
Tony up early and had a look round the town then said he was off cycling up the mountain tracks to look at the river as he wanted to Kayak.
I had a walk round the town then sat at the van whilst he cycled and kayaked – wouldn’t have minded if it was a nice car park with a view but it was a dump and every now & again a funny smell wafted over!!!!
Anyway when he came back, having finished all his activities, we moved on and had to go a lot further down the coast before we found an Autocamp that we could get in to. There are lots of “Apartmanis” vacant at this end of the country and people (and I mean LOTS of people) were sitting at the roadside laybys in their cars with “APARTMANIS FREE” written on big bits of cardboard – like someone’s going to stop and say “oh yes, just what I’m looking for”.
Some of them were old women, looking like old prostitutes sitting on chairs outside vacant apartments with their pieces of cardboard stating “Apartmanis Free” on it – maybe it was a code? Obviously some people stop or there wouldn’t be so many of them doing it.
There were also vehicles parked in laybys with their boot lids up and what looked like bottles of drink for sale , or it could have been olive oil I suppose but it seemed a bit too yellow for that – had a feeling it was homebrew!
Anyway, eventually after looking at several sites we came across a campsite that we could get in to and Tony checked and came back with a price of £15 for 2 nights – a good price & it was a decent site as well. Should have known better but after we had parked up and I was checking the leaflet we had been given it was actually £15 each night so not quite the bargain Tony had thought. I’m just glad to be on a campsite and not in some awful car park for another night!!
We parked the van, we were next to a German couple and the woman was doing exercises on an exercise mat but they both said hello. She seemed to be doing these exercises for ages.
Had a swim and then a cup of tea and as have internet (at a cost!) I checked to see if there was a fix for my kindle fault. Lots of people had the same problem as I had (couldn’t get it to come off sleep mode) and there were a few suggestions which I noted but the majority had returned them to Amazon who replaced them under warranty or if out of warranty, as in my case, replaced them at a discount, so I am not hopeful of fixing it whilst we are away.
Fajitas for tea, a few beers and then bed. Hopefully no storms tonight.
MONDAY 3RD SEPTEMBER 2012 CAMP MALE CISTE - ZIVOGOSE
Good night’s sleep despite being next to a main road with lots of traffic noise. No storms anyway.
Tony was up early and went out on his bike for a look round; I had a lay in until 9am.
The woman in the next van is still doing exercises on an exercise mat with some different sized bands, she does this for about ½ hour and then they go out!
Over a cup of tea we studied the maps to see where we should head for next. Dubrovnik is the obvious place but, although it is in Croatia, to get there we have to go through a narrow strip of coastline belonging to Bosnia, which is a problem as our van motor insurance, recovery & medical insurance is not valid for Bosnia. Some people just wing it but I’m not sure I want to do that – sods law it will be us that get stopped by the police or border staff to get checked or if we broke down or had an accident it would be even worse. I had read that it was possible to obtain 3rd party road insurance at the border so that may be an option, at least we would be legal and would have to keep fingers crossed for all else.
I have read a lot of blogs and people who have gone to Dubrovnik have said it wasn’t worth the hassle, just another old walled town with ancient churches, museums etc… They suggest if we really wanted to visit then get a cheap flight with Ryanair and go for the weekend!
The other frightening thing is Tony keeps talking about going on from Dubrovnik into Montenegro and Albania so if we did go we might never come home……………….
We went out on our bikes in the afternoon to a very small bay just up from the campsite that has a lot of apartmanis and consequently a few restaurants and bars around them, we decided we would go back there tonight to eat. We are beginning to notice there are a lot of vehicles with Bosnian number plates so must be popular tourist destination for them.
We had ice-creams and then returned to the van for a swim. When we went to the small stony beach we found two towels spread out, in about the only spot there was, with no one on them and no one swimming in the sea nearby, obviously Germans had got there first!! We plonked ourselves down right next to and almost touching these towels, which had been secured with rocks to hold them in place. We went for a swim and then lay on our towels but it was too uncomfortable on the stones so after about 10 minutes we got up to go just as the two Germans came down the path to the beach to return to their towels, they gave us a real funny look like we had done something wrong….. should have done an Oggy and chucked them in the sea!!
Back at the van I tried all the suggested fixes for my kindle to no avail so have put it away until we get home.
Tony informs me that his Garmin bike sat system is not working. I noted that he had put it on charge but instead of using the Garmin charger had used the TomTom charger (This was tucked away in its own bag under the seat and had a big white sticker on it saying TomTom so why he used this I’ll never know!) It seemed to have frozen. He put it on charge with the correct charger (which was in his cycling gear box!) for a few hours then started pressing all the buttons – it suddenly sprung into life but all the information he had on it from previous rides had been lost so he must have done a factory reset somehow, anyway at least it’s working.
A German couple had arrived and started putting up their tent near us so we had the “tent peg tapper” for ages until they got sorted. I have forgotten to mention this before but this phenomenon has followed us from almost the first campsite we stayed at. Every time we sit down to relax this noise of someone knocking in metal tent pegs somewhere on the campsite starts – I’m sure they do it on purpose!!
I went to the bar area to send some emails & messages and thought as I was sitting there I should buy a drink so I had a beer. Tony was snoozing back at the van but I had left a note to tell him where I was so he came down to join me. He had a beer, commenting on how strong it was, then had another and when we asked to pay she bought out some liquor drinks – Tony’s was like a schnapps mine was very fruity (and nice!).
In the evening we cycled back up the road to the restaurant. I was looking forwards to having a steak as had not had one since leaving the UK. Tony had the small fish platter which turned out to be huge! He had a metal tray with sardines, tuna steak, whole marcel and shark together with vegetables, he said it was fabulous. My rump steak was quite big and came with mountains of chips. I was a bit dubious as the waitress had not asked me how I would like my steak cooked and I was right to be so – it was like chewing a bit of shoe leather and not at all nice, I only ate a small bit of it and had some chips, left the rest as had lost my appetite by then. I think I may have to venture down the fish route next time we eat out or stick to pasta! The only saving thing was that the whole meal was really cheap.
Whilst we were sitting at the table fruit kept dropping from the fig tree above us, one dropped right into Tony’s dinner.
We cycled back to the van along the main winding road. Tony had no back light so I had to keep up close behind him and had to keep shouting at him to slow down. We made it back safely though just as it started to rain.
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 4TH 2012 AUTOCAMP PERNA – OREBIC – PELJESAC ISLAND
Woke up, opened our door and the woman in the next van was already up and exercising on her mat with her bands – she smiled and said good morning. I have deduced she is either an exercise freak or perhaps has something wrong with her back or posture that she needs to keep doing this.
We set off for the border hoping to buy insurance for Bosnia. On the way we start passing fruit stalls at the side of the road. What starts out as 1 or 2 a mile turns into 1 every 100 yards. Everything is much greener here and as the road goes slightly inland we can see that there are rows and rows of green fields growing fruit so it must be a very fertile area.
We got to the border, 4 booths all manned by police. The guard spoke very good English but informed me that it was not possible to buy insurance at this border, she didn’t know if it would be possible at any other border either? We saw campervans going through, admittedly none of them English registered, and each one was having passports checked but it didn’t look like they were checking van documents so perhaps we could have just gone straight through but now, having informed them that we had no road insurance we couldn’t and they made us turn around and go back the way we had come.
We pulled into a layby and I telephoned the insurance company in the UK to see if we could pay extra for cover in Bosnia but they said they would not provide any cover for Bosnia on any account and didn’t know of any other insurance company that did. I wonder how people get on when they travel to India etc… there must be specialist insurance companies somewhere.
Anyway, on studying the maps we found that if we got a ferry from Ploce across to the island of Pelje we could then drive to the south of the island where it re-joined the Croatian Southern mainland at one point.
We went to the ferry terminal and enquired how much it would cost – 328KN/£35 one way.
So we bought tickets and waited for the ferry not knowing what to expect. It was a ro-ro ferry holding around 50 vehicles, mostly cars, and the crossing was 1 ¼ hours. We alighted at Trpanj and drove to the north of the island to Orebic to find a campsite for a couple of days thinking we might as well explore this island, although quite small, as we were here.
We pulled in to a couple of campsites but they were mostly terraced or had low trees and we couldn’t fit on them. I was beginning to think we would have to find another car park when we came across Autokamp Perna which was level and had lots of spaces, it was also on the sea.
We found a good pitch, parked up and then went for a walk along the promenade and then for a swim. The narrow stony beach was, as usual, full of towels with no one on them. We went for a swim and noticed that the water was much colder here, don’t know why that should be, and even when you went out quite far it was still shallow.
This camp as it turns out is in a windsurfing area and so there are hundreds, yes hundreds, of windsurfers around. The stony beach at the headland is full of windsurfing gear with a couple of windsurfing schools and a surf shop. There doesn’t seem to be much of a wind about at the moment but Tony says that as it’s fairly shallow its ideal for beginners with enough wind for them to get up and going.
We had a BBQ tea with meat I had bought at the local supermarket. The sausages we inedible – threw them away! – and the pork steaks were tough. I’m getting fed up with this (excuse the pun) and thinking of turning veggie as there is only so much chicken you can eat!
Pasta for tea tomorrow I think.
After tea as it was getting dark we had a wander along the promenade in the other direction. There were lots of apartmanis, mostly empty, and one restaurant.
We walked back to the van where I read and Tony watched TV. The power didn’t last long though so he soon came to bed. It was a real hot & sticky night and around 2am Tony got up and plugged the van into the electric so we had power to put the fan on, which was heaven.
Just dropped back to sleep when I was woken by music – a heavy disco beat – coming from somewhere. I’m sure nobody would have music on that loud in their tent this time of night so it must be coming from a disc somewhere in the vicinity. I managed eventually to get back to sleep.
WEDNESDAY 5TH SEPTEMBER 2012 AUTOCAMP PERNA – OREBIC – PELJESAC ISLAND
Awoke about 8am to a rumble of thunder, about ½ hr later the heavens opened.
I had been reading in a paper that we picked up in the camp reception that this year was the worst drought that Croatia has had in 50 years – well they seem to have been making up for it in the last couple of weeks. Luckily most of the rain has been at night so it hasn’t been a problem – just the mopping up.
The rain didn’t last long and when it stopped Tony went out on his cycle to explore the far north of the island. He came back and said it was really hilly and pretty monotonous. He had gone into the small town to the south of us and found that there were a few restaurants & bars. He also found an Aires right on the seafront – it was basically a small parcel of land that the owner was charging people to park on - £5 a day for cars but you can park a motorhome on it overnight for £10 including electricity & water, you could fit around 10 motorhomes on it so not very big but a good spot. Wish we had found it before we went onto the campsite!
Around 6pm we both cycled into the town, had a walk along the seafront and then had a drink and something to eat in a bar overlooking the sea. They had two specials of the day – grilled cod & chips, which Tony had and Scampi & chips, which I had. After all the disappointing meat meals I was looking forwards to a nice fish meal for a change and was very hungry.
When my meal came it was two langoustines with a pile of chips – looked very nice but by the time I had taken the meat out of the shells there must have been the equivalent of around 4 bits of scampi!
Looking round the shops along the front I found an English newspaper, the first one we had seen for around 4 weeks – OK it was the Daily Mail, but beggars can’t be choosers so I paid the equivalent of £3.50 for it! We stopped at another bar to have a beer and a quite read – same old rubbish in it but a few good articles to read later. I was still feeling peckish so had a pancake – I fancied a honey one but the choices were marmalade or chocolate so I chose chocolate and got one filled and covered in chocolate sauce, very sweet & sickly.
We rode back to the camp site in the dark – Tony still not got batteries for his back light so I had to keep up with him, especially as the roads were very bendy and there were no streetlights whatsoever.
When we got back to the campsite we could hear loud music again so put the bikes away and set off to find out where it was coming from. It seemed that on the campsite there was a ‘hotel’ a small block of rooms like something out of the 60’s – all Formica and flat pack, floral nylon furniture. There were a couple of chaps playing the keyboard & singing and a few old ladies dancing together. We stopped & watched for a while, mainly because we weren’t sure it was actually real…..but it was so we decided not to stay and moved on to the surf bar at the beach which was still open for a nightcap drink. Tony had a double gin & tonic & I had a glass of local red wine (just about drinkable!) and whilst we were there we caught up on the internet with the free wifi. We could still hear the music from the hotel in the background – they were now playing ‘La Bamba’.
Back at the van we had another drink sitting outside with the candles…… I made Tony a gin & tonic which was so strong he had to have 2 cans of tonic to make it drinkable, I had a nice mug of Olvaltine!
THURSDAY 6TH SEPTEMBER 2012 KAMP SOLITUDE - DUBROVNIK
Once again it rained in the night, unfortunately we had left the chairs out so they were soaking, never mind, they will dry out when we can put them in the sun. At the moment it is very overcast but very warm. We paid the bill – 288Kuna and left around 10am heading for Dubrovnik.
Along the way we saw several road signs saying beware of wild boars! Also we noticed lots of shops at the side of the road selling local wines and spirits.
We came across the town of STON right at the southern tip of Peljesac where it joins the mainland, it had a lot of old buildings and a castle so we decided to stop and look around. It appeared to be quite a tourist town as there were a lot of people milling around with stickers on them saying “coach 5” or “coach 3”. We wandered the narrow streets and found a set of steps which led to a wall which went right around the town and hillside, you could do the walk but it was quite a long way and there were literally hundreds of steps so we decided against it.
This area is famous for oysters and sea salt, both of which are farmed just outside the town. We decided to have lunch at one of the many restaurants and had oysters as a starter, they were good but not as good as the ones we get at home from Mersea. They were 60p each so quite reasonable so we had 10, followed by spaghetti Bolognese which was also good.
On the way back to the van we bought 2 bottles of local wine from a small wineshop. The seller gave us the spiel about how they grow their own grapes and make the wine. The price of each bottle depended on how long the wine had matured starting at £3.50 for this year’s crop to £20 for a 20 year old bottle. We sampled four of them – small tots I should add as Tony was driving – and chose a five year old one for £5. It’s not spectacular but will make an interesting bottle to take to a dinner party.
We carried on to Dubrovnik. When we came to the bridge we stopped and had a look over the city to see if we could see the campsite and ascertain if it was within our scope. Couldn’t see it at all! We drove on down the coast to within a few miles of the Montenegro border and wasn’t very impressed with anything we found so drove back to Dubrovnik with a view to finding the one and only campsite there was there.
We had to drive through the centre and whilst driving past a line of parked cars there was a tremendous bang. Tony stopped, thinking he had hit something and it turned out that a child had opened a door of one of the parked cars as we went by. It had knocked our wing mirror back (the loud bang) and had caught the awning stay clip and one of the locks from the rear garage door and broken both. The door of the car was also damaged, bent and dented.
Tony parked up inspected the damage to our van whilst I got out our insurance paperwork to see what we should do. There was not too much damage to the van that Tony couldn’t fix when we got home and the lock and awning stay would probably cost around £75 to replace. We decided that as we had a £250 excess this would probably be more than the repairs and the likelihood of getting our excess paid by some Croatian chap was almost nil so we would probably end up losing our no claims bonus as well so after having a chat with him (he was 3rd party only) we settled on not contacting the insurance company but just covering the repairs ourselves. He actually had the cheek to say it was partly Tony’s fault as he was too close!
Hope we have done the right thing and don’t get home to an insurance problem if he changes his mind!
We found the site OK but on turning into it there was an almighty crash from inside the van as I had forgotten to secure the cupboard that I got the insurance documents from and we also kept 4 bottles of spirits in there and they had all crashed to the floor…….only one broke, a litre bottle of Pimms and there was glass and liquid all over the carpets & rugs.
We booked into the site – the dearest yet at £31 per night. It was far too much money but just wanted to get settled for the night after all that had gone on. We set about cleaning up and washing the carpets & rugs out as best as possible then went for a quick walk down the beach area, about 500mtrs away. We sat and watched a big cruise ship that had docked earlier leave the harbour, reversing out and then turning around in the channel. It was so close you felt you could almost touch it, the captain must have been very confident and the channel must have been deep as there were no tugs to help it.
Back to the van, tuned in the TV and found we could get the English film channel (with Croatian sub titles) and watched a good film. I cooked some of the patties that we had bought from Lidl last week not really knowing what they were. They turned out to be some sort of meat and were very nice, mind you the potatoes, peas and Bisto gravy probably helped make them better than they were.
One downside to this camp is there are a lot of mozzies which up to now haven’t been anything of a problem. I got bitten several times in the first five minutes…..
Went to bed, making sure we put everything away in case it rained in the night. Drifted off to sleep and then suddenly at 12.30 we were woken up by ferocious winds. Tony had to get up to secure a few things and then we went back to sleep with the sound of the ‘tent peg tapper’ in the background as someone tried to secure their tent.
FRIDAY 7TH SEPTEMBER 2012 CAMP SOLITUDE – DUBROVNIK
Woken at 6am by torrential rain hammering on the roof but it didn’t last long. The campsite floor is a red dust which was now a red mud so we have to be careful not to tread it into the van. We caught the bus from outside the campsite which goes to the Old City. It costs 15Kuna each to buy the tickets on the bus, we found out later that if we had bought the tickets from a kiosk they were only 12kuna or we could have got an all-day pass for 30Kuna each, still £1.50 is not much to pay for the ride. Tony wanted to cycle there, I didn’t want to cycle on the main roads with all the traffic and no cycle path so managed to persuade Tony that £1.50 was a good price!
Arrived at the entrance to the Old City and it was packed full of people. Usual tourist coaches dropping people off and also there were two cruise ships moored in the harbour which had also deposited people. There were lots of companies offering guided tours for about £9 which seemed reasonable but we had just missed the departure times and it was a couple of hours to the next ones so we settled for the hire of an audio tour £7 in which we were basically given an iPod with information about the city on it and an A4 map showing us which way to go. There were 2 tours, one round the city and one round the city walls. We decided to do the one round the city first as there were massive queues to get tickets for the city walls – yes you had to pay extra to get up there, we would then have some lunch before doing the wall tour.
We set off with the map and turned into the back alleys of the city and continued round churches, monuments and markets, it was a good tour and we saw things we may have missed if we had just wandered and it also gave us lots of information about buildings & monuments. There were lots of fountains around with lovely cold drinking water. We looked around the craft & local produce market which mostly consisted of lavender bags and essence and lace tablecloths with a few nut & fruit stalls thrown in for good measure.
We had lunch in a small restaurant sitting at tables in the street, it was a three course set menu of the day and was really good. As we had free wifi at the restaurant I took the opportunity to send 18th birthday wishes to my lovely nephew Ryan – can’t believe he is really 18!
Talking to the waiter Tony remarked on how busy the city was and asked if it was always like this. He replied that it was only because there were two cruise ships in that day and most of the people on board were walking round the city. It was not good for him as they all had to be back on board by 2pm and would have lunch there. Apparently on one day there had been 10 cruise ships, I dread to think what that must have been like.
Judging by the number of American accents we heard, at least one of the ships must have been an American cruise liner. Whilst we were looking around one of the buildings a tour group came in and the guide explained the history telling them that in the 13th century the building burnt down. One American woman piped up “Gee did stone burn in those days?”
After lunch we walked the 2km around the city walls, it was very hot and saw lots of Japanese tourists who were covered from head to feet with clothes, wearing hats and using umbrellas. Many of them were wearing these detachable elasticated sleeves on top of their shirts and dresses as they don’t like the sun on their skin, don’t know how they could stand it!
The iPod was very informative and told us about the Homelands war – the recent war between Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia in the 1990’s. Bit of history coming now …………In October 1991 the Serbian Yugoslav National Army (JNA), supported by irregulars from Montenegro and Serb-dominated eastern Herzegovina (only there for the plunder), occupied the high ground of Mount Syđ overlooking the city. The siege of Dubrovnik lasted until May 1992 with artillery shells raining down onto the old city and snipers killing civilians in the streets. Serb military illogic considered Dubrovnik an easy target, damaging Croatian morale and breaking resistance elsewhere in the country. But Dubrovnik's defences stubbornly held and a Croatian offensive from the north finally broke the siege driving out the Serbs and re-uniting the region with the rest of the Croatian homeland. The senseless and wantonly barbaric damage inflicted by the Serbs on the historic heart of the old city was enormous. International financial support enabled reconstruction to begin almost at once, but repairs left Dubrovnik to shoulder a monumental burden of debt, and tourism, its major source of income, took several years to recover. There are now few visible signs of war damage, other than the aesthetic one: the varied and time-worn subtle tones of those old roof pan-tiles not ruined in the shelling now contrast starkly with the even garish orange-red of the new replacement tiles used to repair the damage caused by Serb aggression.
Anyway, after completing the tours we caught the bus back to the campsite, traffic was horrendous and I was so glad we hadn’t cycled although Tony said we would have been home3 quicker! We went for a swim, as the road to the beach was steep we cycled it but on the way back I couldn’t get my electric bike to work and by the time I got back up the hill to the van I was huffing and puffing like a good’un and collapsed in the chair. Apparently a wire had become loose on my bike so all I had was my own pedal power… just reminded me how good my electric bike is.
We are making the most of having electricity and have everything on charge, wondered if the receptionist noticed the surge in electricityJ I managed to get another Daily Mail today so looked forwards to reading it tonight.
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