Croatia has a land mass of 56,538 km2, a population of around 4.5 million and has 1244 islands along the Adriatic coastline.
The capital is Zagreb, the currency is Kuna and the official language is Croatian.
There are currently around 4.67 Kuna to the Aussie Dollar.
We are quite excited as we approach Croatia as we have heard so much about this country from family and friends.
It is a beautiful day and we are in shorts and summer clothes for pretty much the first time or maybe the second time in our fourteen months away with most of these months being equivalent to and mostly colder than home. The sunshine and warmth is a welcome relief. The daytime temperature is a wonderful 25 degrees.
We have no issues at the border as we pass firstly from Slovenia with a stamp and then into Croatia with another stamp – a little surprised at the 2 passport checks as both are Schengen countries and therefore supposedly no boundary – apparently the Syrian illegal immigrants have been accessing central and northern Europe through Croatia so maybe that explains the checks.
There are no vignettes required to be purchased here and within a couple of kms, we reached our first toll booth. Much more civilised here where you take a ticket on entering the motorway and only pay for the distance you travel.
Wild camping is not allowed in Croatia and we have heard differing reports about what is acceptable. We have opted to take the safe way out and stay in campsites and live the Life of Riley while we are in this beautiful country.
There are campsites around every corner – obviously the tourist industry is the major industry here and campsites are quite expensive compared to other countries we have travelled through. Even private home owners and restaurants have joined the band wagon and advertise rates to park in their yards and car parks. Restaurants offer free parking in exchange for a meal (usually at inflated prices).
Thursday 19th & Friday 20th April
We have moved from a tree to sea change and are relishing the change and so enjoying seeing the sea again.
Our camp for two nights: Autokemp Bor, Krk – GPS 45.022885N 14.560945E
Our next toll is to cross the bridge to the Island of Krk – only around $10 and no toll on the way back.
We travelled through the town and up a hill for about a km to this camping spot. Still not many motorhomes about, but we can feel the tension as the holiday season is just around the corner. This campsite is gearing up to be double its size before July. It is perched on a hill with limited views across to the sea.
Wandered down at dinner time to the village which is really quaint with many restaurants along the harbourfront. They even have two red submarines in the harbour (can be hired for sea trips) and some very unusual statues set in a garden that is now blooming with spring flowers.
After some exploring, settled down for dinner in a waterfront fish restaurant and tried out their seafood risotto – very good!
Most campsites take euros so as we had not had time to change money, the campsite and the restaurant happily took our euros until we found an ATM.
The bathrooms in the campsite are the best we have experienced but the electricity which is included in the price is about 50 metres away and water not much closer. The staff were very helpful and provided long extension cords but we found a drop off in power because of it.
Great little spot nonetheless and we enjoyed the two days spent here.
Saturday 21st April
All parking in towns is by prepaid parking tickets and even some supermarkets charge parking. Outside of the town there are lots of free magic places to stop for a break and take some great snapshots.
Our camp for tonight: Restaurant Martina, Senj
Decided to try the restaurant option – meal in exchange for parking. This restaurant was perched high on a hill with nothing short of breathtaking views across the sea.
Booked in for dinner with front row seats on a balcony in a really beautiful restaurant, with a spectacular sunset. We were disappointed at the quantity served (not much bigger than a child’s serve) and the price was ridiculous – very tasty otherwise. Decided there and then in future, to choose our campsite and then chose where we wanted to eat.
Sunday 22nd & Monday 23rd April
More perfect weather and from the future forecasts we were in for at least a week of sunny skies, no cloud and early summer temperatures.
The first two campsites we selected were closed until further notice – very frustrating to say the least as much time is wasted driving there only to find they are closed.
Our campsite for two nights: Autocamp Pisak, Seline – GPS 44.272888N 15.477690E
This is a lovely treed campsite right on the Adriatic Sea with all facilities and Internet for only €18.
The beaches here are small pebbles only with no sand but again the views across the sea, like home, are amazing. Went for a long walk on the beach then to a boardwalk and small Marina and passed by many restaurants that were not open for the season as yet. Nearly every property on the beachfront offered some kind of caravan or boat storage or motorhome parking.
Ralf and Martina from Germany parked in behind us and soon Rob went over to say hello. Ralf has an amazing American accent and we were not sure if he was an American pretending to be German or a German pretending to be American. We spent many wonderful hours chatting and laughing and not sure if we should speak English or German – we spoke both.
Decided to stay on another day and did much the same on day 2. It is just so wonderful to be in shorts and we felt hot for the first time since leaving home 14 months ago.
Tuesday 24th April
Left around midday with the promise of trying to catch up again with Martina and Ralf somewhere in Croatia or back in Germany where we have an offer to spend time at their home near the Black Forrest and with a reciprocal to them to visit us in Australia.
We travelled back on the A1 again today with another toll but again only cost a few dollars.
Wanted to stay on the outskirts of Zadar and travel in from there to see the town, but the campsite we wanted was situated next to a cement factory (we had just had two magnificent days on the beach) so moved on into town in a free parking area only – GPS 44.113201N 15.236500E Great parking spot occupied by buses and ambulances and a few cars and only a 15-20 minute walk to the Old Town (Stari Grad).
Well worth the visit as the Old Town included many great old buildings, quaint narrow cobble stoned streets with open air restaurants and much of the architecture having a Roman influence.
The boardwalk around the harbour passed by some beautiful parklands with spring flowers in gardens now in full bloom.
At the end of the boardwalk, many tourist buses were parked and Asian and British tourists were everywhere. The feature at the end of the boardwalk is a sea organ, where the waves hitting the concrete boardwalk walls pass through various size pipes and create different sounds much like an organ. We waited until a tour boat went past and the sounds were intensified by the wake caused by the boats.
Couldn’t resist an ice cream from one of the shops in Old Town before heading back to Ziggy and moving on to camp somewhere for the night.
Our campsite for tonight: Camping Kozarica, Pakostane – GPS 43.911011N 15.499630E
Quite a large campsite with great ratings. We arrived at 5pm after rejecting some other spots and asked if we could just have a park for the night without all the trimmings as we intended to leave early next morning. Reception offered us a park just outside the main gates, where we could stay, have electricity (which we didn’t need ) Internet and use of the camp bathrooms for €6. Perfect and we could go for a stroll on the beach as well in the morning – who could ask for more!