I wrote most of this on the road, just putting online now.
25 août :
partie La Châtre 9h15 arrivée Chambéry 18h35
dormi à St Michel de Maurienne
The drive started out not so good. I thought we weren't going to make it to Croatia, but here I am 9 days later sitting on the coast of the Adriatic sea while Bernard is being the mechanic once again (yes, more car problems...now the question is, will we make it home).
Although we hade to stop VERY
frequently due to an overheating motor on the a here(first stop being maybe 20 km from La Châtre), the ride wasnt too bad. We stopped in Chambéry for a little visit before heading a little further and to find a place to sleep. Great a few more problems on the way. A stop for dinner in a parking lot which we had originally planned to sleep in till the train went roaring past. Then to another parking lot for the night.
Mechanic time! First thing in the morning fine a café, enjoy a hot cocolate and use a real toilet (it had only been one day, but it was nice). Then it was to work for Bernie. Time to fix our problem and get us to Croatia. (So many of his friends didn't think the van was going to make it that far and we had to prove them wrong
). I headed off to find a boulangerie. Lots of litres of water later we got on the road. A lot later than planned thanks to Jean-Paul (the van) but we headed out, thats what counts.
partie St Michel 11h30 arrivée Brescia(Italy) 21h10
The van works again!!!
No mkore overheating. So happy. The drive was good. We stopped in Torino for lunch then just before Brescia for dinner. We were on the edge of a cornfield and got our our little gas stove to cook some pasta. We had quite the crowd watching us. Finally a little man on his ride-on lawn mower came over and what we understood of his Italian was to not leave garbage. So we finished quickly and went on our way. We headed across Brescia an slept on the otherside of town by yet another cornfield. PS. Italian drivers are crazy!
27 août :
partie Brescia 9h05 arrivée Rijeka(Croatia) 19h45
We got off to a good start. Finally
a good day. Well as good as it gets with Italian signage. We ended up crossing at the wrong border to Slovenia and ended up further north than we wanted to be in Slovenia. To make matters worse, Slovenian signage is even worse. After asking a couple people we thought we were on the right route but 10km later, still no signs. We stop again and a little Slovenian family helped us by drawing and giving us a map. Once again the signs were bad or should I say the lack of signs, and we went off in the WRONG
direction. I have to admit, we did see some nice countryside, but that was not what we wanted to do. Once in Rijeka we visited the town a little before finding a place to camp. We ended up on some mountain road barely
big enough for one vehicle. We found ourselves having to pass another car. I was holding on for dear life hoping we wouldn't fall off the edge. We found a nice(fairly isolated), far from roads place to sleep, have dinner and wash up.
We wandered around Rijeka for a bit in the morning. Went to the market where to my great surprise, I found corn on the cob
. It was no Niagara peaches n' cream but it was decent. Checked the internet and headed out. We stoppek in Bakar for lunch on our way to Krk Island. First stop on the island, Krk. We spent day there, visited the town and spent the afternoon on the beach. We got some groceries and headed south to Baska for the night. We set up for dinner in the bus area next to a parking lot (FREE
unlike the parking, haha). Table, chairs, camping stove....the works. People kept passing. Some were nice and said hello or even "that is life!" Others just gave us looks like "what are you people doing". We were enjoyng our dinner with a view over the city and bay. A bus showed up in the parking. The driver started talking to us though we had NO common language. He knew about 1 English word, super
and the spoke Croatian to us. He said our van was super then asked Bernard if he could take me with him on his bus to keep him company. It was quite comical and he was a sweet man, even when he said he would give Bernard money for me. haha! We went and walked around town and had a nic cream before finding somewhere to sleep. We found a little "road" if you can call it that and camped there.
Back into Baska for a hike, thinking it would just be a little on upto a church and back. On no! About 11km later we were back to town. The views were amazing! Crossed a couple of Italian men, actually, they passed us. Talk about being in shape. To quote one of them on what we could see from the mountain "bellisimo
". Aftar, all hot and sweaty, too lazy to cook we grabbed a bite to eat and hit the beach. It was packed. Late afternoon we headed off with a sop at the beach in Punat(also on the island). We snuck into a campground to take a shower. Finally a shower!!!
It was interesting to see the 3 towns....none of them were alike. Baska was very touristy.
Off the island we went heading south to Senj. A little background information
We are driving a 1982 (yest, I was
born that year) VW Transporter. It is only a 4 speed. The fastest it has gone is probably 100km/h, maybe 110, and that is downhill
. On average we are between 80 and 90km/h on flat ground. Don't even ask about the uphill.
So back to our drive to Senj. Driving along when all of a sudden we are being waved down by the police. Super, just super! Apparantly we were driving 88km/h in a 60 zone. Though the people infront of us were driving a lot faster, we got stopped. Don't really think we were driving that fast. Anyway, he asked for papers and said the ticket was 500 kuna (70€). Then he said the minimum ticket in Croatia is 300kuna and if we paid now
it would be that much. Great...43€. We paid the money and were on our way. We had dinner along the road and then walked around town(Senj) before finding camp in a little "chemin" off the main road.
Morning tour in Senj before continuing south to Zadar. We got there mid afternoon and visited the city. The sea/wave organ was really neat. We went up the city tower and ate dinner(picnic) along the coast. That night we met Mirja (from couchsurfing) and got a delicious ice cream. Then we met a couple other CSers (one she knew-an Italian and Spanish) for drinks. It was a fun night. Bernard and I ended up sleeping very little
that night as we stayed in the city. Croatia has a 0 tolerance for alcohol.
Early morning. Another little visit arond town before hitting the road, direction Sibenik & Krka National Park. A short visit to the old part of Sibenik and the cathedral which was really nice then to Krka. This was wonderful! After having lunch we took a boat up the river then walked into the park to find a magnificant waterfall...or shall I say multiple
waterfalls. It was great. Nice hiking trail all around and then for a swim, even under the falls before a short storm. It poured for aout 15minutes, even hailed. On the road, AGAIN. (2 weeks including driving from central France = NOT ENOUGH
) to Trogir where we visited the town by night and camped.
In the morning we toured the city and then were off to Salona, the ruins. It was so hot and there was no coverage. Had lunch halfway up one of the mountains where we saw where some of the forest fires took place. We headed into Split and had a beach afternoon. That evening we were going to see about paying in a camping just to use the showers but decided to just spend the night. Turned out bing a relaxing night (well needed....can't forget the nice hot shower we had.
Lazy morning at the camping beach, before another hot shower, packing and going into town. Grabbed lunch intown and visited the city. Not much open Sunday afternoons. We had a nice Croatian fish we bread and Croatian olive oil. Mmm delicious! A fairly relaxing day. Enjuoyed some music around town in the evening. Had our best camping spot along the Adriatic seat about 3 or 4 metres. GREAT!
though we had more car problems that Bernard was going to look at the next morning.
That brings us to today! As I already metioned, the morning began with me tanning and Bernard looking at the van. We are currently in Bosnia on our way to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Still a ways to go and a lot of hills. You know what that means....overheating. So here I am writing in the mountains while Bernard tries to get us to our destination. Almost the end of our travels. Tomorrow the park, then direction France on Wednesday. It's la rentrée
for us Monday.
** continue my writing now as I type
It was an interesting drive to seem of the "interier Croatia" and Bosnia. It was different than the coast. Houses don't seem to be finished and there are lots of abandoned ones. The towns looks sad
compared to the coast. In Bosnia we visited one town and saw some traces from the war. Bullet holes in walls and even in a statue. That night we found a campsite of the main road not too far from the park. Nice stary sky when we headed to bed around 21h45....yes it's early.
Woke up to a huge storm. Rain and thunder, cold grey. Not good. The one thing that we had been waiting for the entire trip was the visit to this park. We had heard so many great things and seen so many amazing photos. We decided to lie in bed for awhile hoping it would clear up. Finally around 11 we decided to hit the road. It was not going to clear. Off we went....encountering yet again.....car problems. This time we decided to stop in a garage and have them look at it. Only one of the men spoke a little English and we mangaged to tell him the problem. They told us to wait about half an hour so we headed next door to the restaurant for lunch. Back to the garage where we ended up spending the entire afternoon. It was wet and cold. Not the best of days. I was very disappointed about the park, but it just means we will have to go back! The men in the garage were nice. They started working on the van around 2 and finished around 6. Normally they finish their day at 4, but for us stayed. We decided to drive a little further before finding a camp spot...this time NO
van troubles. We stayed near the town of Delnice.
On the road again. A quick stop in Rijeka and then back on the road. We drove to Venice and spent a couple hours in the city before going north 20km to Treviso to meet a couple friends that live there. We had a delicious Italian dinner at their place and then tried some italian liquors. Alberto took Bernard and I out after for a quick visit of the city and then to bed. We camped out right infront of their house that night.
From Treviso to the France/Italy border. We drove about 500km. We decided not to take the tunnel that had cost us 42€
on the way there seeing as the van was in tip top shape. We drove up the mountain, zigging and zagging at about 30km/h. Luckily there was no one behind us. We camped out in the mountains at about 2100m, overlooking a lake. We were in bed even earlier this night. 21h30. It was getting chilly and there was lots of wind. The stars were amazing so we lied in the van with the curtains open looking at the stars. Saw a shooting star or two.
Last leg of the trip. We headed out around 8. It was too cold to stay in bed. The lake was beautiful. On the drive down the mountain we even saw frost on the grass in the shady areas. When we made it to the bottom the temperature was about 5°C, so I can only imagine the temperature overnight. Another 500km to do back to La Châtre. The drive was pretty easy. Saw lots of nice scenery along the way. Sad the trip was coming to an end.
Well folks, that is it!!! Great trip altogether!! Can't wait for the next one we have