August 30th, 2022
Croatia officially the Republic of Croatia, is a country at the crossroads of central and southeast Europe. It shares a coastline along the Adriatic Sea. It borders Slovenia to the northwest, Hungary, to the northeast, Serbia to the east, Bosnia and Montenegro to the southeast, and shares a maritime border with Italy to the west and southwest. Croatia’s capital and largest city, Zagreb. The country hosts a population of nearly 3.9 million.
The Croats arrived in the late 6th century. Croatia was first internationally recognized as independent on 7 June 879 and elevated Croatia to the status of a kingdom. During a succession crisis, Croatia entered a personal union with Hungary in 1102. In 1527, faced with Ottoman conquest, the Croatian Parliament elected Ferdinand I of Austria to the Croatian throne. In October 1918, the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, independent from Austria-Hungary, was proclaimed in Zagreb, and in December 1918, merged into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Following the Axis invasion in April 1941, most of Croatia was incorporated into a Nazi-installed puppet state. A resistance movement led to the creation of the Socialist Republic of Croatia, which after the war became a founding member and constituent of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 25 June 1991, Croatia declared independence and the war that followed was successfully fought over the subsequent four years.
Croatia is a republic governed under a parliamentary system. It has been a member of the EU since 2013 and also belongs to NATO, the UN and many more such organizations. Croatia is set to replace its national currency with the Euro on 1 January 2023, officially becoming the 20th Eurozone member and part of the Schengen Region.
Tourism is a significant source of revenue for the country, which is ranked among the 20 most popular tourist destinations.
The red-white-blue colours of the flag were inspired by the flag of imperial Russia, which was an opponent of Austria-Hungary and hence a potential Croatian ally. Although Croatians were unable to establish their independence at that time, the flag remained a symbol of aspirations for the future.
Currency: HRK – the Kuna: $.13 USD / $.18 CDN
Diesel: 12.35 HRK per litre which is $6.24 USD a gallon
EU License Plate Letter: HR (for Croatia in Croatian – Hrvatska)
Well, as we never got the call from the mechanic in Trieste by noon while still in Slovenia, out of the Schengen we drove.
The border crossing was easy; first there was a booth with Police to whom Doug gave our passports to stamp us out of the Schengen (we have fourteen days left to use later in the fall if needed, when we figure out where we’re going to store Minou for the winter and fly home) and then there was the immigration into Croatia.
As Fran’s Canadian passport is going to expire next, we are going to switch to using our US passports to get into Croatia and beyond so there’s no confusion going forward. The border patrol agent must have been a bit confused though to put the very first stamp in our US passports (which we had renewed last year) but she said nothing. Nothing was needed for our vehicle to enter which was nice.
We had been waiting to get out of the Schengen to slow down and as it’s still hot (above 30C / 88F) we decided we’d get an apartment to stay put for a week. The first town we were coming to was Rovinj so we looked there. It’s the end of high season so things are apparently still a bit pricy. Wild camping is hard in this country as well as forbidden in many places so that means campgrounds or camper spots/aires. Even those are hard to find for less than €40 a night! Many campgrounds with full facilities charge €75 per night; we’re hoping that drops after mid-September when high season is over.
Anyway, our issue with getting a place is, of course, parking Minou. Most parking places only fit cars and we are more than a metre longer than most cars. Anyway, we asked a few places and most said no and since on Booking.com they actually give you the address of the place (unlike AirBNB) so we went to check.
The first place we had mind which was a great price, had spot large enough but the woman there said no RV’s were allowed to be parked in this neighbourhood. We found a second and a third; the second did not have an actually parking spot for us but said street parking was okay. The street parking was partially on the sidewalk which we didn’t like doing for a whole week so we checked around the corner and found a good spot. We booked and began packing. It was now 3pm and check in was arranged for 4.
Sanja met us outside and took us in to show us around and explain what we needed to know. It’s a studio apartment with a corner balcony and private bathroom. It has a decent kitchen with stove, microwave, fridge and a dishwasher and there’s a washing machine in the bathroom – bonus! There is a table with four chairs, a king sized bed, TV, AC, Wi-Fi and a small love seat. It’s not huge but hey, it’s bigger than Minou! It also has a small balcony with a small table and 2 chairs.
We got settled and cranked the AC to cool off first! Then we began moving things over from the fridge in Minou and brought over the food we’d need for the next few days. Having a washing machine at our disposal means we can wash things that we’ve been putting off washing in laundromats.
We went through 3 tunnels today.
We both slept very well that night and intend to not only rest up here, but get caught on things and hopefully get some beach time and get a few things taken care of.
Doug still has not found a place to get an oil change so he’s decided to do it himself. He found a shop to get the supplies he needs, the tools he needs (the fellow is even lending him one) and a place to dispose of the oil. Just all that cost about $75! The one place we actually got a price in Italy was €300 so a fraction of that cost He took the vehicle over in the afternoon to pick it all up but one litre of oil. He’ll get that tomorrow on a walk.
On Wednesday Fran began doing a load or three of laundry a day, got a lot of website stuff done and hopes to completely catch up on our blog this week.
Thursday Doug did the oil change under threatening skies but it cleared up and was sunny all afternoon; not as hot today – maybe 26C / 79 F so about perfect! It still doesn’t cool off much at night though. Fran continued to wash everything that needed it (blankets, mats, towels, jackets etc.).
We are really enjoying the slowing of our pace; feeling pretty good. After lunch we took a stroll over to check out the closest beach about a click away.
It was not a sandy beach but it looked pretty and there were people enjoying the water.
We had brought towels to sit on but there were some of those plastic loungers hanging around unused so we grabbed a couple. We sat in the shade under a tree with a nice breeze. It never felt hot enough to go in for a swim due to the strong breeze and after an hour the breeze picked up even more and it began to get too cool in the shade. We have to say we were somewhat disappointed with the rocky beach but maybe further south….. (yes we are “beach snobs!’).
Saturday, we took a walk into old town in the late morning; it’s a cute old town with bricked marble streets that can be quite slippery. We got ourselves some water shoes for these rocky beaches and picked some deli meat, cheese and fresh bread to take home for a couple of meals.
It was warm but getting overcast as it’s supposed to rain tonight.
Sunday morning Fran had about caught up on all our “laundry” so all are nice and clean now. By late that morning she’d also caught up on all photos and was nearly done the blog post up to leaving Slovenia so she felt pretty good.
Doug went over to Minou in the early morning to bring back the cassette to dump here in our bathroom and noticed a sticker on the door – telling us we were breaking the law “camping” here and if we didn’t move, we’d be fined. He just wrote on it saying we were not camping but just parking as we were renting an apartment so hopefully that stops any ticket or chance of towing!
After brunch, we put on our suits, grabbed towels, chairs, Kindles and our new water shoes and went to the beach for a few hours.
We sat in the shade until it got too warm, went in for a refreshing swim or two and treated ourselves to some beer from the beach bar and toasted Fran’s dad who passed away twenty years ago today. After mostly drying off, packed up and went back. It was very pleasant. It was busier than when we went on Friday, but we expected thatbut it was nothing like Sopot in Poland – there was room to find a spot without being crowded amoungst everyone especially if you wanted shade as most people sit right in the sun.
After dinner we watched the Women’s World Cup hockey in which Canada won 2-1 in a nail biting third period.
Monday, Fran did one final load of laundry to be fully caught up including our beach towels and Doug filled up Minou’s water tank (one gallon at a time) and did a wipe down of the outside where it needed it. We have begun slowing taking things back to the RV so as not to have so much to do on Tuesday when we check out around noon. Fran went for a pedi and brow wax and we ate the leftovers etc. for meals.
Fran has found us a deal on a campsite in Pula – our next destination (€17 a night if you book at least two nights) so we are happy with that price. The campground is on another rocky beach but at least we won’t have to walk a kilometre to get to it.
The last couple of days the temps have been in the mid 20’s C / 80’s F and quite pleasant but it doesn’t cool off low enough for us at night so we hope that changes soon too. It’s still very sunny and we are happy about that part for sure.
Tuesday we awoke to sunny skies once again (love it!) and had an easy morning before finishing to pack up and get Minou back on the road. First stop groceries and then southward to Pula. The check in time at the campground is 2pm but we got there about 15 minutes early and that was a good thing – the line at 2 was out the door of the reception.
This Camping Arena Stoja, is probably the biggest campground we’ve ever been to – there are nearly 1000; yes, one thousand sites! They are not really separated so not a lot of privacy but they are a decent size and there were trees for shade where we parked. There are three ablution stations, lots of beaches (mostly big rocky but the real beach while still rocky, is not far from our site which is number #534), free decent Wi-Fi, dumping access, water and power. At the price we got: – we can’t complain. (Update: turns out that there was the price for the site but the government requires a 1.50 charge per person on top of that!)
After parking, connecting to power and putting out our awning, we went for a walk to check out the bathrooms and beaches. Then we changed, grabbed our chairs and went to sit in the shade to enjoy the afternoon.
We took one dip and enjoyed the breeze in the shade. It’s about 28C / 82F so not bad at all when you can cool off and stay out of the sun.
Unexpectedly, it rained some in the early morning but by the time we got up and had tea, it had stopped and we took the bus into the city (over 4km away). Lucky for us the bus came just as we were going into the Reception to ask about the time and how much and we got on and we’re able to pay in cash. It cost 22 KUNA which is about $3 USD for us both.
We took the bus all the way to the station which is slightly past the town but our first thing to see was not far from there.
The Pula Amphitheater:
The Pula Arena is a Roman Amphitheatre and is the only remaining Roman amphitheatre outside Italy to have four side towers entirely preserved. It was constructed between 27 BC and AD 68, and is among the world’s six largest surviving Roman arenas. The arena is also the country’s best-preserved ancient monument.
The Arena was built between 27 BC and 68 AD, as the city of Pula became a regional centre of Roman rule, called Pietas Julia. The amphitheatre was first built in timber during the reign of Augustus (2–14 AD). It was replaced by a small stone amphitheatre during the reign of Emperor Claudius. In 79 AD it was enlarged to accommodate gladiator fights by Vespasian and to be completed in 81 AD under Emperor Titus. This was confirmed by the discovery of a Vespasian coin in the malting.
The exterior wall is constructed in limestone. The part facing the sea consists of three stories, while the other part has only two stories since the amphitheatre was built on a slope. The maximum height of the exterior wall is 29.40 m (96.5 ft). The first two floors have each 72 arches, while the top floor consists of 64 rectangular openings.
It could accommodate 23,000 spectators in the cavea, which had forty steps divided into two meniani. The seats rest directly on the sloping ground. The field was separated from the public by iron gates.
The arena had a total of 15 gates. A series of underground passageways were built underneath the arena along the main axis from which animals could be released; stores and shops were located under the raked seating. The amphitheatre was part of the circuit of the gladiators.
Each of the four towers had two cisterns filled with perfumed water that fed a fountain or could be sprinkled on the spectators. The amphitheatre could be covered with velaria (large sails), protecting the spectators from sun or rain (as attested by rare construction elements). Below the arena was a system of canals which collected rainwater and effluent and drained into the sea.
This amphitheatre, through its conservation, has served as an example for the study of ancient building techniques.
This was pretty amazing to see – we never expected this and were so glad we didn’t miss this city. As we walked around the streets of Pula, we came across many other Roman archeological sites:
The Twin Gates:
The Dvojna vrata is a Roman city gate located in Pula, Croatia. It was built during the late 2nd century. The Porta gemina is a double arched gate. It was one of the ten city gates of Pula, standing at the north side of the capitol.
In antiquity, Pula was surrounded by walls. In modern times, these were knocked down out of necessity, due to the expansion of the town core. There were about ten city gates, of which the Porta Gemina and part of the walls connecting it to Giardin square are still visible today. In the Middle Ages, the gates were buried underground. They were only recently dug out and brought back to light. The Dvojna vrata, or Porta Gemina, was named after its two semi-circular openings leading into the town, probably built in the late 2nd century or early 3rd century AD on the remains of an earlier town gate.
The relief wreath above connects the composition into a harmonious unit. The slats once used for lowering the lattices in order to close the gate are preserved. Today, the gates—in front of which were discovered the remains of a partially reconstructed octagonal mausoleum dating to the 2nd or 3rd century AD—lead to the Archaeological Museum of Pula, to the Castle and a small Roman theatre.
An archeological dig that was done from 2005-09 uncovered many remains of the cultures that have inhabited this city over the past 3000 years:
We walked up to the Venetian Fortress from the 17th century but did not go inside:
Then we wandered the pedestrian streets and came across the main square with the town hall
and The Temple of Augustus:
The Temple of Augustus is a well-preserved Roman temple dedicated to the first Roman emperor and was probably built during the emperor’s lifetime at some point between 27 BC and his death in AD 14. It was built on a podium with a tetrastyle prostyle porch of Corinthian columns and measures about 8 by 17.3 m (26 by 57 ft), and 14 m (46 ft) high. The richly decorated frieze is similar to that of a somewhat larger and more recent temple, the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, France. These two temples are considered the two best complete Roman monuments outside Italy.
The temple was part of a triad consisting of three temples. The Temple of Augustus stood at the left side of the central temple, and the similar temple of the goddess Diana stood on the other side of the main temple. Although the larger central temple has not survived, the whole back side of the Temple of Diana is still clearly visible due to its incorporation into the Communal Palace, built in 1296 – now the town hall.
Under Byzantine rule, the temple was converted into a church, accounting for its survival to modern times, and was later used as a granary. By the late 19th century, the temple stood at the corner of the marketplace of Pula and was partly concealed by houses, “so that the visitor cannot obtain a view till he is close to it.” It was struck by a bomb during an Allied air raid in 1944, almost totally destroying it, but was reconstructed in 1947. It is today used as a lapidarium to display items of Roman sculpture.
We decided it was worth a visit inside and although it was small it contained several artifacts, mostly of stone work:
(a young couple was getting wedding photos here so it was hard to snap a shot without them in it)
Here’s the back wall of the town hall which was originally part of the Temple of Diana:
We wandered some more and found the ruins of Agirppina House:
As well as a Roman Mosaic that has also been well preserved:
There were many nice looking buildings around the streets to gawk at as well:
As we approached the Arch of Sergi, we came across the statue of James Joyce on a café terrace:
The Arch of the Sergii is an Ancient Roman triumphal arch which commemorates three members of the Sergii family, specifically Lucius Sergius Lepidus, a tribune serving in the twenty-ninth legion that participated in the Battle of Actium and disbanded in 27 BC. This suggests an approximate date of construction: 29–27 BC. The arch stood behind the original naval gate of the early Roman colony. The Sergii were a powerful family of officials in the colony and retained their power for centuries.
The honorary triumphal arch, originally a city gate, was erected as a symbol of the victory at Actium. This arch has attracted the attention of many artists, including Michelangelo and Piranesi.
By now we’re getting hungry for brunch so we caught the bus back towards the campground but got off a bit early at the nearby mall. We’ve been looking for a decent beach umbrella but being the end of summer, they are hard to find except for cheapy ones that we know won’t last long. No luck here either so we walked back to Minou. Doug stopped at the reception to ask about staying another day and paid our bill.
After eating we got our bathing suits on and went to sit in the shade at the beach again for a few hours. It’s a bit windier today but still quite sunny since it cleared up around mid-morning and the temp should be about the same as yesterday.
It’s Thursday September 8th and we are chilling for an extra day at the campground in Pula – Doug has decided to go for a long walk today –a half marathon – before the forecasted rain (which kept getting pushed further out all day). It never rained last night as predicted so we’ll see what happens over today and the weekend. We hope to visit a national park on Monday which looks like the best weather day but considering the weatherman’s accuracy, we might be able to do it Sunday.
We are SO enjoying the way we’ve been able to slow down since leaving the Schengen – more reminiscent of our travels in Latin America; we like a place, we stay longer – no worries about a darn visa expiring.
That night the rains finally came around 8:30 pm complete with thunder and lightning but only lasted about an hour and no further rain overnight. It was partly cloudy on Friday and we checked out of Arena Stoja by noon to begin the long drive to Plitvice National Park. We have decided to break it up over the weekend watching the weather to see if Sunday or Monday will be a better day to enjoy this park full of various lakes.
So after a ten minute rain shower in the morning, we had an early brunch in order to check out of the campground by noon. We dumped and filled after showering and began to drive. We had hoped to stop and visit the town of Hum known as the “smallest city in the world” but right after we turned off the highway and still had 11 km left to go, Fran saw a sign that showed no motorhomes after 4.4 km so we turned around.
We stopped for gas and a drink near Rijeka and then got to a picnic area outside Crikvenica beside a very shallow river to park for the night. This is a wild camp but a few others have stayed here with success so we’re going to see if we, too, can get away with it. It’s not a major road and it’s quite large so we’re hoping we don’t get hassled.
Today we passed through 11 tunnels one of which was 5km / 3 miles long.
We spent a quiet night and left our campsite by 8 on Saturday morning beginning to make our way south first before heading inland to the park.
What a beautiful drive along the coast highway. Much of the time there were trees obstructing our view but we got a enough open areas to see the sea and the island across the water with its steep cliffs:
We passed through the cities of Novi Vinodolski and Povile which had a good number of RV parks right on the water – pricey but they looked nice. Some had beaches, others not.
We turned inland at Senji and drove many switchbacks climbing up to 694 m / 2277’ then dropped down some before climbing again near the Plitvice Lakes National Park to 800m / 2625‘. We were approaching from the south and passed by Entrance 2 of the park – we were booked for Entrance 1 but we stopped in to see if we could get info to try and plan our day tomorrow as at €40 pp a day, we wanted to see as much as possible in one day.
The young man at the gate to the parking lot directed Fran to the info office that had a huge line but there was a counter with a woman without a computer so she looked like she was not a cashier and Fran asked her for a map. She got one and was told we should consider entering at Entrance 1 so we were happy to hear that.
We carried on passed Entrance 1 to Seliste Dreznicko where there is a restaurant to park at free if you have a meal so that’s our plan.
We got there around 11 and decided we’d have brunch in Minou and then dinner at their restaurant. Fran went in to confirm that this was all possible and got a two thumbs up. The weather got cloudier as we headed inland and now it’s got some sunny breaks so we ate and then did some walking and reading over the afternoon. By 3:30 the sky was getting darker and about 4:20 the skies opened, the thundered crashed and there were a few lightning strikes and to top it off there was about three minutes of hail – some f it nearly golf ball sized! It sounded horrific on the roof so we hope the solar panels are okay. By 4:30 it was down to a misty rain but we continue to hear thunder in the distance.
Near our campsite on our walk we saw this monument of some sort:
And there were lots of these tiny wild berries:
We passed through only one tunnel today (because we didn’t take the toll route).
We were up and at ‘em on the early side today to get into the park before 8 – our start time. We awoke to rain and the forecast now said rain till 11! Oh well, it is what it is and we already have the tickets so we’ll pack appropriately.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Here’s the description Foder’s gives for this park:
“Triple North America’s five Great Lakes, shrink them each to manageable size, give them a good cleaning until they look blue, envelop them in lush green forest with steep hillsides and cliffs all around and link not just two but all of them with a pint-sized Niagara Falls – the result: Plitvice Lakes National Park! “
This park became a UNESCO site in 1979. It covers nearly 30,000 hectares and has 16 turquoise coloured main lakes with numerous smaller ones. The highest water falls is Veliki Slap at 78 m / xx ‘ (tallest in Croatia) and has three sets of caves. Being so special, it has a number of dos and don’ts including no swimming, camping, biking or fishing. There is an electric boat that takes you across the largest lake and a train system to get you from one end to the other.
We arrived before 7:30 and decided to see if they’d let us in early; no problem. We had our rain jackets and umbrellas, two small backpacks for supplies and food.
Leaving the parking lot you take a pedestrian bridge up over the road and then you are near the info booth, bathrooms, cafes and souvenir shops. We passed the ticket check and began the hike to the first lookout in the bad weather:
Then you walk down a zigzag path to get down to the lakes and begin the hiking. It’s about 8km total over trails, boardwalks and stairs.
We took a bit of a detour to the “Big Waterfall” but as Croatia, like the rest of Europe, has been in a drought, it had little water to fall.
We carried on exploring the trails of the lower lakes.
We arrived at P3 – pier 3 and took the boat across the large lake to P2 and then walked some more trails. Other than the very first view point (above), this was probably the best part.
The rain finally let up on this section and we were able to put the umbrellas away.
Walking along the trails through the woodier sections we saw several spotted salamanders which surprised us as their home territories is supposed to be North America!
It was still on the cool side and we made it to the “end” where you can catch the shuttle bus back to the beginning.
View from the bus through the trees:
As the sun was out we go back to the first lookout to get more photos before walking back to the parking lot to Minou. Due to the recent drought, we are sure these waterfalls and lakes are more spectacular when there has been more rain and the waterfalls would be much more numerous but we thought it was pretty amazing as we saw it anyway.
We got out of our damp clothes and then since it was still only the middle of the day, decided to make the drive all the way to Split on the south coast which was next on our route. It was over 200 km but with any luck, we’d have good roads and save some mileage (and money) not taking the toll roads – the latter added about 45 km.
Well we did not hit too much traffic, a few slow pokes once in a while but we made good time. There are two options for campgrounds near the city; one had terrible reviews and was a bit pricey and the other so, so ones but we tried that one anyway for convenience sake but it was full. So rather than go to the terrible one we went 10 km further down the highway away from the city towards Omis and found a nice place on the beach for a less money but it meant a longer bus ride into the city.
Camp Delfin has all the amenities and it shares a nice beach front (and good wifi from the hotel across the road – we’re not sure how they are connected, but the beach bar is run by that hotel so we figure they also own the campground).
There is a bus into Split about every 30 minutes as well. It was a bit crowded but the camping trailer she put us beside was not used much she claimed and so we took the spot. The other choice was right up beside the road and this one was close enough as it was. There is a lovely constant breeze here so the temperature of 27C / 75F is quite bearable. We had showers and then attended our monthly KEGS Zoom call before dinner.
Today we passed through six tunnels.
Monday morning, we decided we should do a walking tour of Split so as not to miss anything and Fran got online to book a tour at 9:30. We went out to the street to catch the bus into the city; it came at 8:40 and we figured it would get into the city in 30 minutes but we hit a huge traffic hold up about half way and Fran had to reach out and cancel the tour. We did not get into town until 9:48 and in the meantime Doug found another tour from a different operator at 10 so we did that one.
Roco, took us around the “palace” of Split (which is what is considered historic old town) with lots of stories and history and was quite entertaining. He was born and raised here and was a child in the war in the early ‘90’s.
Split was named by the Greeks who were the first to arrive here in the 2nd or 3rd century BC; it is name after a flower. It became a prominent settlement in 650 AD when Roman Emperor Diacletian settled here. He claimed to be a god and had banned many things for common folk like wearing bright colours but unlike many emperors, who were killed, he reigned for twenty years and before retiring, he built the palace here which is 200 m x 200 m square. About half of the palace was for Diocletian’s personal use, and the rest housed the military garrison. He traveled extensively and brought back items to decorate the palace including sphinxes from Egypt, three of which remain and one is quite well preserved – it is 3500 years old.
The octagonal building in the palace was built as his mausoleum but when the Christianity came in the 7th century, it was turned into a church and his body was destroyed along with many other Roman items. There was no bell tower back in the day as it was built after the mausoleum became a church.
The basement is quite well preserved because during the middle ages it was used as a garbage dump and often latrines emptied into it. It was rediscovered in 1850 and cleaned out. It was used in Game of Thrones in the 4th and fifth seasons.
Today the palace forms about half of the old town and consists of many residences, restaurants, and other businesses. It has many narrow alleys and is quite fun to explore. It was designated a UNESCO site in 1979. Three of its four walls still stand today; the fourth was deconstructed by the Venetians to build other structures.
The tour was about 90 minutes and by the end we were hungry and thirsty. Funnily, most of the tour group consisted of people from commonwealth countries: Australia, India, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and New Zealand.
Some Game of Thrones locations: (Croatia was one of several countries where locations were used to film the series especially here and in Dubrovnik.)
The palace Vestibule was where Daenerys locked up her dragons to train them and later was used as her throne room as the Meereen ruler.
The palace basements were the location of where Daenerys trained her dragons as they grew larger:
Many of the palace’s alley ways were used for scenes for the Meeree slave revenge and the corridor where the Sons of the Harpy waited for the Unsullied.
We heard a Kiwi ask Roco about a good place to have a beer and joined her at the place he recommended. We thought we’d eat there too but nothing on the menu was appetizing to us and the waiter said the kitchen had a power issue so no hot dishes could be served yet. We ordered drinks and chatted with Alicia before parting ways and went to find some lunch.
After lunch we wandered over to the docks to see about getting a ferry/catamaran to one of the islands but learned nothing. What we wanted to do was a trip to the island of Brac and then a tour on the island before going to zlatni rat – a famous beach before heading back from a different port but found nothing. We searched online while on the bus back to Minou and the only one we found was not currently running. We looked into renting a car, e-bikes or taking Ubers but in the end decided it was not worth expense just to see a beach which we knew wouldn’t be a sandy beach with palm trees anyway.
Speaking of palm trees, here in Split, we saw our first in Europe:
We returned to our campground, checked out the beach – while it looked sort of sandy, it was really just fine gravel and there were still some small rocks right at the shore so our new water shoes came in handy again.
As it was super windy, we decided to visit it tomorrow and not go to the island at all. It’s supposed to stay nice for two more days (fingers crossed the forecasted rain never materializes or is not as much as they say as their accuracy record sucks) and we’ll had towards Dubrovnik in a day or two.
Tuesday, we spent at ‘home’; Doug walked into town to get a couple of items, Fran worked on photos in the morning and we spent the afternoon enjoying the sun and the beach.
What a great life we have! We are so blessed and feel so grateful to be able to live the way we do.
The price of petrol went up in Europe over this past week so the price of diesel here jumped from 12.35 HRK to 12.88 bringing the USD gallon price up to $6.50 – a pretty big jump.
The forecast all week has been for rain to begin on Thursday night so we have decided to leave here on Wednesday to drive the 200 km / 125 miles to Dubrovnik in order not to be in the rain when we tour the city. After Doug’s run, we showered, did dishes and cleaned up before attending to leaving the campground details. We’ve enjoyed our stay here and would have stayed longer if not for the weather. If the forecast is in fact, wrong we’ll fit in another beach day or two before leaving the country. Camping here was 25 euros a night plus 1.50 per person.
The drive southward was spectacular – we were so happy we chose to drive it today and miss another beach day.
We made it to Dubrovnik by 12:30pm after stopping to eat brunch around 11:30. It used to be that in order to be to the southern part of Croatia, you had to drive through a narrow piece of Bosnia – no more. They’ve built a bridge to the peninsula that juts north like an island. This bridge and the following tunnel, were just opened in June so that was fortunate for us.
Like many big cities, there is hardly any place for a motorhome to spend the night, especially in a country where wild camping can result in a fine. There is one campground that charges €76 a night and it’s nowhere near Old town. Doug found a parking lot at a hospital where many others have stayed and it’s 5 Kuna an hour so we went straight there. There were already four other campers there and we got a spot along the outside with partial shade. After downloading the correct app (Fran has SO many parking apps on her phone!) we paid for 6 hours of parking as the other option was 24 and we will leave first thing in the morning so that’s too long. We’ll added more time once we return later.
It was a 3.5 km / 2.2 m walk into the Old Town, mostly downhill so as it was getting hot and Fran needed steps we walked into the city and will Uber back.
Well, we were quite blown away with Dubrovnik’s Old Town. The city walls are all intact, the buildings are well maintained and it’s very clean and ALL pedestrian streets. Doug had a few pings on his phone for us to check out and Fran had found a few Game of Thrones (GOT) locations for us to check out. It was getting pretty warm upwards of 28C / 79 F and only a small breeze which got better depending where you were. The walls are still intact around Old Town and you can walk on them but they charge you a ridiculous fee so we opted not to do that.
The spots we stopped to see are not in any particular order, are below and with their reference to GOT if applicable.
Onofrio’s Fountain on the right – huge fountain with many spouts will clean drinkable water:
St. Ignatius Church:
St. Dominc street – served as market streets in Season 2 and the location where Bronn and Tyrion hear the uproar against Cersei and King Joffrey and the Domincan Monastery (on the right) served as the location in Season 2 of the “Ghost of Harrenhal” protest speech against the Lannisters
The Stradun between the Sponza Palace and the Cathedral – was featured in the Walk of Penance in Season 5
The Rector’s Palace – this was featured in Season 2 where Daenerys visits the Spice King to request ships
The Jesuit Staircase doubles as the Great Sept of Baelor in Kings Landing; was part of Cersei’s infamous walk of shame
The Minceta Tower – which is the highest point in the Old Town was featured as the House of the Undying in Qarth in Season 2 where Daenerys searches for the entrance in the walls while in pursuit of her stolen dragons.
The City Walls – featured in Season 3 when Tyrion, Bronn and Podrick walk along the walls as workers are repairing the damage from the Battle of Blackwater. In Season 4 they feature in the scene where Mountain kills prisoners and again in Season 5 when Lancel apprehends Loras Tyrell leading to his arrest and it’s from the walls we see the ship carry Marcella’s body en route to King’s Landing in Season 6.
The Bokar – was used in many sea shots of King’s Landing. It is in the background where Tyrion and Lord Varys discuss defence strategies for King’s Landing
Fort Lovrijenac – this was the Red Keep of King’s Landing making frequent appearances in Seaons 2 and 3 (we were into the sun to get this photo so not very good we’re afraid),
The Pile Gate – was used many times in Seasons 2 and 3 most notably when King Joffrey returns to the Red Keep after Marcella is sent away to Dorne and he is attacked by angry mobs.
The Pile harbour doubled as Blackwater Bay in the series. The jetty in this little harbour was the site where Sansa Stark and Shae watch ships and Littlefinger discusses escape plans with Sansa.
We were getting pretty hot and sweaty by now so we stopped on the Stradun for a cold drink and then debated what to do next – we had not gone grocery shopping as planned as we thought we’d do dinner in town but it was only 3:45 so we thought a cold beer was the next thing to do. Get this: the most expensive diet cokes we’ve ever had: €8 for a .25L bottle!
While walking we’d see a sign saying “cold drinks with a breeze and the best view” so we headed to the Buzza Bar where we played musical tables for a bit before getting a seat along the rail in the shade. Turns out you go to the bar to get drinks, there’s no waiter, so Doug went up to get a couple of beers for our standard beer pic that we do in each country with their local beer. Turns out they only take cash and we were running low on Kuna so we could only afford that anyway! They wouldn’t take Euros which was weird as everywhere else does but at least we got to enjoy one.
While sitting there we decided we’d do dinner back in Minou – we had a bunch of left over nice bread from dinner last night, a few carrots we could cut up and we had cheese so if we just picked up some cold cuts we had dinner complete with a can of mango slices.
We made our way out of the city walls, walked about a city block, found a grocery store to get what we wanted and Doug called an Uber. We were back at Minou shortly after five. It was clouding over and the temperature was beginning, ever so slightly to cool off but the low tonight was not supposed to be as cool as we had on the beach (as there’s not much breeze here) the past few days but we’ll manage with our fans.
Today we drove through 4 tunnels.
After a quiet night, especially, for a parking lot, we headed out of Dubrovnik around 7:30 to leave Croatia. This meant driving north about 90 km (back across that new bridge) to reach a border crossing with Bosnia. It was a cloudy day so we were sure glad we did the drive south yesterday in the sunshine. It is still rather warm and it’s supposed to rain tonight which makes it feel muggy. Thank goodness the AC in the vehicle works!
Leaving Croatia entailed stopping to getting waived through customs (there was NO line) and then getting our passports stamped out of the country – that all took a whopping 40 seconds – so different from Latin America!
We drove a total of 942 km / 586 m in Croatia.
Fun Facts about Croatia:
- Croatia is famous for truffles and the largest found weighed 1.31 kg (2 lb 8 oz) in 1999 near
- The necktie is from Croatia. Asit was named, the cravat originated from Croatian soldiers who served as mercenaries for the King of France.
- A lot of The Game of Thrones was filmed in Split and Dubrovnik
- The longest word in Croatian is prijestolonasljednikovičičinimawhich means little heiress apparent to the throne.
- DNA tests have proven that the yummy Zinfandel grape variety originates from Croatia.
- Croatian coins are named after a lime tree. The Kuna is divided into 100 lipa, which is the Croatian name for the linden lime tree.
- Croatian citizens can start voting at the age of 16, provided they are employed. If not, they have to wait until they are 18.
- Fiddler on the roof was filmed in Zagreb
- Nikola Tesla was born in Croatia – he had one Croatian parent and one Serbian.
- In 2011, the largest box of popcorn was filled in Croatia measuring 52.59 cubic meters – the box of popcorn took almost 2 hours to fill!
- Croatia has 1244 islands, isles, islets & reefs for you to sail through. Just 48 of them are inhabited.
- Built in 1296, Dubrovnik still has in use today one of the first medieval sewage systems