2018/05/07 – Goodbye Croatia & Plitvicka Nat Park

Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th May

Time to say farewell to Martina and Ralf again, though this time we are heading in different directions so expect this time it really is farewell.  Never say never!

We continue to agree that some of the most memorable moments of our trip have been with total strangers who have become friends.

We headed inland away from the coast and after a very long drive today we arrived at our campsite.

Our campsite for two nights:  Camping Bear Plitvicki, Rakovica – GPS  44.947762N   15.637490E

Only a small campsite with about 30 places, though over the two days it swelled to lots more as campers arrived on bikes and cars and set up tents in every spare spot.  Our site which we thought was ours exclusively ended up with two tents at the back of us – no problem though.

Very quirky little family farm with makeshift buildings for tent campers to sit and eat.  Lots of trees and greenery giving it a very country feel (complete with sheep roaming about in the paddock beside the campsite).

At one time, two young French ladies arrived in a car and began setting up a portable fence around their camp space.  Out came 4 dogs – all different makes and kinds with three very large and one small playing about in this area – didn’t think there was room for a tent as well but they proved me wrong.  Not sure where the dogs slept as they were still roaming about well after we went to bed.

Rebooked our spot for the night with management and put two chairs in our space to reserve this and then headed off in Ziggy early to get a good start at Plitvicka National Park and Falls. 

First view in the Park

Arrived at around 8.30 am, parked in the huge car park adjacent, took a parking ticket and walked across the road to the entry where there was already a queue.

Another 150 kunas ($34 $AUD) entrance fee each and everything they say about this magic kingdom is more than true.  The national park extends over a surface area of 294 square kms and is the largest in Croatia.  Again another UNESCO world heritage site.  The paths and boardwalks take you through rich green forests and over and around lakes, waterfalls and steams.   16 lakes tumble into each other via a series of waterfalls and cascades.  There are over 18kms of wooden footbridges and pathways that take you around the three sections of the park.

Timber walkway over one of the Falls

It took us nearly six hours in total and that was making use of the parks complimentary shuttle buses and the small river boats which travel between sections 2 and 3.  Doesn’t say in the brochure, however you can only take one boat ride (your ticket is stamped) but unlimited bus rides.

Beautiful scenery along the track

Had just the most wonderful day with numerous waterfalls large and small along the way – even saw a rainbow at the big waterfall.  The scenery is spectacular, the numerous cascading waterfalls just so picturesque and the lakes and forests just so beautiful.

Unfortunately pictures do not do the scenery justice

This is a “must see” in Croatia and really well done however the signage throughout the park is woeful and very confusing.  We asked questions at the tourist information office several times as did so many other people and have to say these people should not have a job as they were totally rude to so many confused people. 

Looks like a bridal veil

Left with so many memories here and lots of pictures – none doing justice to some of the magic sights.

Everything so lush

By the time we left late afternoon, the park was totally crowded with tour groups and school kids – so glad we started early.

The parking price was a surprise to us as cars are charged at 7 kunas per hour but motorhomes get slugged with a one off charge of 70 kunas ($16 $AUD) regardless of how short or long the stay – till 11pm only – no overnight parking.

Navigator and Driver exhausted but happy

Arrived back at Camping Bear to find a tent in the middle of our reserved site.  The man was not very pleasant and it took a few very harsh words from my driver (and the threat that Ziggy might make the tent look a little dishevelled if he didn’t move) before he slowly moved to another location.  The manager had told us he had asked him to move earlier.

Settled in for another quiet night and watched as this little farm swelled with tents and campers – hate to think what it would be like in July and August.  All cash money too – what a rip off as I am sure very few of these camp spots would declare total income inc the 25% GST or VAT they are supposedly collecting.

Left next morning very refreshed and ready to leave Croatia to continue our adventures in Slovenia again.

Croatia summary

Absolutely stunning scenery along the coastline.

In the hinterland the countryside is fairly boring with not much farming land and mostly a shale rock landscape except for the beautiful national parks, lakes and waterfalls.

Croatia appears to be almost totally dependant on tourism for its economy.

Croatia has become quite expensive to tour, compared to most other countries in Europe – diesel over $2 AUD/ litre, no wild camping, Stellplatz or Aires so forced to stay in camp grounds which are expensive even in the off season and triple in price in summer to over 70 Euros or in excess of $100 AUD/night – when you are self-contained in a motorhome and don’t need all the facilities provided by camp grounds it is a bit annoying to have to pay for facilities you don’t need.

Eating out at Restaurants is very expensive and we had some of the smallest serves and worst quality food we have experienced whilst in Europe.

Some of the campsites are not open according to their advertised dates which can be quite inconvenient when touring, arriving late afternoon to find closed gates and then having to move on to another site.

Dubrovnik has one of the best walled old towns we have seen, however when there are cruise boats visiting it is better to stay away and time your visit for another time – there are free Apps available which provide the shore dates of all cruise boats world wide – a very handy App to have.

2018/05/01 Croatia – Dubrovnik and Omis

Tuesday 1st and Wednesday 2nd May 2018

Camping Kate, Mlini (near Dubrovnik). GPS 42.624809N   18.208349E

Located approximately 7kms from Dubrovnik, this small campsite was suggested by Ralf and Martina and was selected as it is a short water taxi ride right into the centre of Dubrovnik’s Old Town. 

Bridge to Dubrovnik from the north

Met with Ralf & Martina mid afternoon and headed down the 180 steps to the waterfront to check out the timetable for tomorrow’s visit. Very beautiful waterfront area with lots of bars, restaurants and accommodation.  Sampled one of these bars and sat under a thatched roof right above the waterline.  Again, it was a fabulous sunny day so soaked up the atmosphere before hiking back up the 180 steps again.

Waiting for drinks at the Mlini waterfront bar

Set off around 9.30 am to catch the 10am taxi.  Such a pleasant way to go instead of the bus and thoroughly enjoyed the cool breeze and water views along the way.  The water taxi ride costs 100 kunas/person return which is around $22 and really worth it.

Soon we approached the harbour and were in awe of the magnificence of this town.  

Dubrovnik Old Town harbour from above

Wrapped up and surrounded by the ancient fortress walls, this town is awesome.  We entered Pile Gate into the main square and were greeted with marble streets and baroque buildings. 

Arriving in the Old Town harbour by water taxi

Entertainers were in the main square and the Old Town was alive with tourists from every nation.  There were three large cruise ships in the harbour and we were inundated with British and Asian groups led by pushy tour leaders.

Street entertainment in the Old Town square

We were inspired by the walk along the fortress walls, quoted as being the finest in the world, where at every corner there were spectacular views across to the Adriatic Sea and surrounding islands.

Part of the wall walk (with steps)

Looming above the city is Mt Srd which is connected to Dubrovnik by cable car.   The fortress wall walk is really worth the 150 kunas/person ($34 AUD) and after 3 hours and over 1000 steps offered 360 degree views of the Old Town (and for this navigator some very sore knees).

One of the views from the wall walk

Headed away from the Main Street and the crowds to find one of the many interesting little restaurants which can be found in abundance in every narrow cobbled stone street and found it hard to choose one because of the huge variety. 

Roof top view in the walled city – note the restaurant with 4 air con units

Another hike uphill where we found one of our choosing and sat and enjoyed a very long and well deserved rest.

Our lunch spot in the Old Town

Found our way back to the harbour after some more sightseeing of some amazing cathedrals and churches and caught the 4.30 pm water taxi back.  Another 180 steps to climb that ended a truly wonderful fun day.  Don’t think any of us moved from our chairs for what was left of this day.  A “must do” on the bucket list for Croatia as it would be high on our list of top 5 Old Towns to visit.  Calculated we had done around 1500 steps today apart from all the normal walking!

Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th May

Renee, Shannon and Glen visited Hvar Island around 2006 and recommended we visit there.

We planned to go to Hvar for a couple of days in late April on the way south to Dubrovnik but the campsites were not due to open until the first week of May. There were parking areas available but we dared not risk these – have heard horror stories of fines for wild camping in Croatia.

On the way back from Dubrovnik heading north we found out that the campsites on Hvar were full of Polish students on their Spring break so we decided not to go there, unfortunately.

So we moved on to meet up with Ralf and Martina in Kamp Galeb in Omis but that campsite was also full of Polish students and we were advised if we wanted a quiet night, then Camp Galeb was not the place to be.   Phoned our friends who had arrived here before us and decided to move on to Autocamp Sirena instead.

Our campsite for two nights:   Autocamp Sirena, Omis – GPS 43.407261N   16.776859E

Only a few kms away from Kamp Galeb, this is very much a motorhome site only with steep windy roads within the campsite to pitches etched out of the hillside giving most a panorama view across the Adriatic Sea. 

Our overnight view from Ziggy

We were lucky enough to get one of the prime positions as we arrived just as this one became vacant.  With Martina and Ralf only a couple of motorhomes behind us, we had another super two days of relaxing and doing not much of anything apart from laughing, drinking and eating while having this five star view.

Our overnight premium position

Only downside for me was the bathrooms were on level one at the top and we were three levels down.  Certainly knew I had knees on day one here but better on day two.

Saturday 5th May & Sunday 6th May

Our campsite for two nights:  Kamp Galeb, Omis – GPS 43.441719N   16.682159E

Arrived here to find Polish students still packing down after a long week of festivities.  Rubbish and bottles were still everywhere and old tents (obviously no longer functioning, left behind).  Looked like a battle scene with many of the soldiers still wandering around in a drunken stupor.

Think they had a lot of fun as the staff looked absolutely exhausted as they tried to handle the hundreds still waiting in line to check out.

Ralf & Martina had already found a site for both of us, so check in was easy and soon with deck chairs and awnings out, we settled into another two days of relaxation.

This is a huge beachfront resort site with cabins, beach deck chairs (a little worse for wear after the onslaught of students) beach volley ball courts and beachfront restaurant.  

The mountains rising high above the town looked like they had been painted – so steep and different shades of grey and green.

Ventured into town where the harbour was abuzz with boats and people.  Only very small but lots of tourist character with souvenir shops, bars and restaurants along the main strip.

The four of us were very disappointed with the pizza restaurant where staff looked like they did not want to be there.  The menu was only in Croatian and they did not want to give us the time of day to do a translation.  The mixed salad turned out to be lettuce leaves only and the filling on the pizzas was more like a paste rather than filling – we complained and the salad was replaced with something that did look like a mixed salad, eventually.

Both nights, a huge red German registered Rollende Hotel bus arrived around 4pm carrying 26 passengers, tour leader and driver.  The front of the bus had seats for its passengers while the back of the bus was three levels high with 28 beds.  We described it like three tiered coffins with bedside lamps.  There would be just enough room to get into the bed.

The big red German bus/hotel

Under these beds and seats, cargo doors opened where huge kitchens with gas topped burners appeared and the driver began the task of cooking dinner for the group.  Chairs and tables plates and cutlery came out and soon the group lined up to get a spoonful of what was in the huge pots?  Must have been tasty as some came back for seconds.

Very disappointed to see huge pots of leftovers of rice and meat dregs swilled with water and thrown recklessly under a camp tree.  Ralf complained to the tour leader and soon the group began picking up their waste and doing the right thing with it.

Had two lovely relaxing days and on our last night with our German (maybe in Ralf’s case American as his English sounds American)  friends coming to an end – very sad – so relaxed I forgot to take any photos

We are heading away from the coast tomorrow while they are still wanting the sunshine for the remainder of their 10 days holiday.

2018/04/25 – Croatia – Murter to Split to Opuzen

Wednesday 25th Thursday 26th April

Had received some photos from Martina and Ralf about the campsite they are staying in which looked amazing so headed there, though not expecting them to still be there.

Our campsite for two nights:  Camp Slanica, Murter – GPS 43.816830N   15.576950E

Quite a narrow road leading to the campsite but fell in love with it as soon as we arrived.   It is a mid size campsite (some larger sites have around 3000 camping, motorhome, tent and caravan sites) with the motorhomes sites getting prime seafront pitches.

Soon found Martina and Ralf only a few Mohos behind us so continued where we left off in Seline.    Took the bikes off the rack for the first time in months and we all headed to town for dinner.  Martina had discovered this fish restaurant on an earlier bike ride so booked us all in for 7pm.  Had a super night with absolutely delicious fresh fish – though we were surprised at the cost.  Lesson learned – ask the price before ordering the fish. 

Our fish restaurant

Time to head the couple of kms home (in the dark).  Three of the four of us took it easily in their stride, while this little navigator struggled and wobbled all the way home – had not experienced riding in the dark before, even though our lights were excellent, I still struggled and sadly walked my bike home for the last few minutes.  Ended the night in our Moho with a reasonable bottle of New Zealand Sav Blanc and finally got to bed sometime much much later.

Martina, Ralf and the Navigator ordering the fish

Not an early start next morning for any of us and we enjoyed a late breakfast, then lunch just reading, relaxing and finally mid afternoon hitting the bikes again for a couple of hours before dinner.  We caught up with some fishermen who donned wet suits and showed us some interesting sea urchins they had caught and would sell to the markets at around €70/  kg. 

The campsite started filling up quickly after lunch.  The activity on the water intensified with a huge number of sailing boats in full sail passing by us and we watched fishing boats bringing in their nets. 

Dressed for dinner in our best shorts and headed for Chateau de Ralf de Martina for a German BBQ feast.   Had the best meal and was introduced to “sundowners” (champagne and grapefruit syrup) and sheep feta cheese (Scharf Kase) which was wrapped in alfoil with shallots and tomato and secret herbs and the best baked potatoes we have ever tasted. 

After that great meal we bought some Schafskase and Semmelknodel

Ate like kings and finally waddled home (only  three doors up)  for a late coffee before hitting the hay.

Martina, Ralf and the Navigator at our waterfront campsite

Friday 27th April

Said our goodbyes, though expecting we will run into each other again before leaving Croatia.

Our campsite for tonight Trogir – GPS 43.511560N   16.246774E

Not a huge number of camp sites to choose from and headed for one on the island (Park4nite App) which was just a short downhill walk to the Old Town.   The site was a bit of a shock as it was fully overgrown with grass and the entrance was so narrow and on an uphill hairpin bend.  Didn’t stay there but right next door on the high side is a huge carpark where the boom gates were locked open so we ventured in and looked for a pay station.  Appears that this has not been operational for a while so took advantage, parked  and headed into town.

Trogir old town

Magic town set on a fabulous harbour full of yachts and massive cruisers owned no doubt by the rich and famous.  The Old Town though only small is considered to be one of the best preserved Romanesque-Gothic towns in Central Europe (got that straight out of the brochure!) and was a real treat and just so interesting with its old castle and fortress right on the point – another UNESCO site.

Trogir harbour front

Can’t believe how hot it has become so quickly and soon we found a very shady place to sit and have “our must have local beer” and watch the passing parade.  There were many shady outdoor restaurants on the harbourfront to choose from.

Trogir harbour front

Came back to Ziggy which was now in the shade (very grateful for that) and had a calm peaceful night.

Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th April

Our campsite for two nights:  Camping Stobrec, Split – GPS 43.504169N   16.525829E

Wow what a great place.  Has won many awards for being the best set up campsite over many years.  Takes around 150 campers with the pitches being large and shady and some facing directly onto the white pebbled beach – still can’t get used to rocks on the beach but the locals don’t seem to mind and happily sit on towels in the sun.

We are only one spot from the beach and have fabulous water views even though the campsite was full most of the weekend and lots of families with kids. 

Around 100 meters to the bus stop which leaves every 30 minutes to Split Old Town.

The Old Town is called Diocletian’s Palace which is one of the best preserved monuments of Roman architecture – another UNESCO site.    We rate it very highly and put it in our 5 top Old Towns to visit.

Split Old Town

The narrow cobbled stone streets weave in and out with multi level stone buildings with little restaurants in every nook and cranny – some built directly into old roman stone  walls.  The boardwalk is a tourist Mecca with stalls selling souvenirs and waterfront restaurants eager to entice the tourist to spend more tourist dollars.  Queues formed around every ice cream shop where the choice of variety of flavours was astounding.

Split Old Town

Several churches and cathedrals are found in the central square as are Roman statues and frescoes.    We even saw a wedding party outside the cathedral but not a lot of privacy for them as busloads of Asian tourists mingled with them taking happy snaps (mainly selfies) while they were waiting to enter the cathedral.

Split Old Town

Monday 30th April

Had some difficulty finding a campsite that was suitable.  Many are really expensive and a lot insist on cash only (and are reluctant to issue receipots) – bit of a tax rip off we expect, but nice for the pocket.

Our campsite for tonight:  Opuzen – GPS 43.0292N   17.5514E

A little private farm just off the road but lush green well kept grassed pitches set amongst the mandarin orchard.   Limited facilities with electricity and water, one bathroom, one shower and a washing machine included in the €10 per person price – but the friendliest host ever.

Sat in the shade reading when our host arrived with a large plate and filled it with marinated cherries and whipped cream and a nip of the best alcoholic cherry syrup we have ever tasted – 27% proof he told us (included in the camping price).  Also presented us with a litre bottle of fresh mandarin juice.

He sells all kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables and we sampled some of his produce – not cheap – but fresh.

All the fresh produce available at our campsite

We met a young Dutch couple who arrived on their bikes towing a carriage with two small dogs in it.  We had seen them some miles back going up a large steep hill and commented on the carriage they were towing.

They are biking around the world over a two year period but only to places that allow dogs to campsites.  Ah to be young again – what a wonderful adventure and was very envious of them.

2018/04/19 – Croatia


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.

Typical scenery on the road in Croatia

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.

Tourist submarines in Krk

After some exploring, settled down for dinner in a waterfront fish restaurant and tried out their seafood risotto – very good!

Now that’s a statue

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.

Our view from the restaurant in Senj

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.

Our overnight view from Ziggy near Senj

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.

The Navigator with Ralf and Martina – our lovely neighbours from Germany

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.

Our overnight view from Ziggy in Seline

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).

Looking from Old Town Zadar across to New Town Zadar

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. 

Roman ruins in Old Town Zadar
Roman church in Zadar

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.

Tourists sitting and listening to the pipes of the sea organ

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!