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From Croatia’s coast through Bosnia & Herzegovina and back.

A thought provoking and friendly journey through Bosnia via Mostar, Sarajevo and Jajce.

Monday 31st May

Today we were heading into Bosnia & Herzegovina, a country we wanted to have a look around. We wouldn’t be going off any beaten track walking mind, as this country still has many un-cleared landmines. In fact we would in the next few days see many landmine clearing land rovers roaming around. Before entering though we stopped at a gas station near the border, as we had been told that they could refill our gas bottles. No such luck, the Repsol bottle that was empty they couldn’t do. But he would be able to do the other one, only problem was it wasn’t empty as yet! We entered Bosnia & Herzegovina via the border point near Metkovic and were slightly disappointed not to get our passports stamped!

Our first point of call was going to be Mostar to see the famous bridge, that has been rebuilt since it’s destruction in the war. We headed north and past many old war damaged houses and bullet-ridden homes, something we would continue to see through out this country. But life seemed to still go on, after such recent terrible times they have been through. This country is and always has been a mixed ethnic and religious place stooped in history. The country though, since the war and the Dayton agreement has been split into different area’s depending on their ethnic background, i.e. Bosnian Serb (North and West) or Bosnian Croat and Bosnian Muslim (rest of the country).

As we came closer to Mostar the rain started, there were no campsites in Mostar itself so we headed down the road to the village of Blagaj and to a campsite called Camp Wimbledon, complete with tennis courts! After the rain ceased we took a walk down into the village and to the site of a Dervish Monastery. This was an old building perched under a cliff, where the Buna river gushes out of a cave.

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It is still a retreat for Dervishes, so when we went upstairs our shoes had to be taken off and Lorna had to cover her hair with a scarf. It was a beautiful situation for a place of contemplation, also the countryside around and what we had seen so far was lovely and green. On the walk back to the campsite the rain came heavily down, so the rest of the day was spent inside.

Tuesday 1st June

With the weather a bit more settled, today we left the campsite and drove into Mostar to find some parking. Arriving we found that parking was a big problem, but after a drive around we did find a car park right next too the old town. Parking up we then found the price was very high per hour, but with not really any other options we stayed and headed into the old town. Due to our concern with the price per hour, our Mostar trip was pretty rushed but still well worthwhile. Entering the old town and walking through the cobbled streets of the old Ottoman quarter, was like entering another time and world.

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We then came onto and crossed the famous Stari Most (Old bridge), although of course this like the old town has been rebuilt since the war.

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We wandered the other side down small cobbled streets lined with cafes and stalls selling copper items, as the area is famous for copper smithing.

Coming out of the cobbled streets onto a main street, was where the realities of the war hit. Most of the shops and houses bore the scars of warfare, including a concrete block of a theatre strewn with bullet holes. In front of this place was a large telling graveyard, full of headstones that shared the same date of death for the years between 1992 and 1995.

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We decided to head to the museum to learn more, a strange place run by a strange but friendly character who took us in and sat us down in front of a large screen. We watched a short film showing how Mostar used to be, with young lads competing in diving off the bridge and into the 5 metre deep waters below. The film then turned to the war and the destruction of the city and the bridge. It showed people still carrying on their daily lives amongst the rubble of the old town. It was a very poignant short film and certainly made you slightly aware of what they had gone through. The film finished with the rebuilding and grand opening of the new bridge, through a fan fare of fireworks. After a short look around the rest of the museum we thanked the curator and left.

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After a further walk around Mostar and up the former front line of the town we paid our high parking fee and got back on the road.

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We continued north through lovely countryside to Sarajevo, our next destination. Outside of the main city we found a campsite called Oaza in the Ilidza district, near the tramline to the city centre. On arriving it was raining again and as it was later in the day we decided to leave the city visit till tomorrow.

Wednesday 2nd June

Walked off down to the tram station, bought our tickets and hoped on the rattley old tram. Before long we are coming into Sarajevo, a city maybe going to be remembered for that long siege. The tramline we were on actually headed down what was known as sniper alley. Past the famous yellow Holiday Inn, where the foreign journalists stayed during the war. There are new buildings next to large burnt out shells of buildings and as we have seen so much before already, many many bullet holes. This road was where the Serb artillery up in the surrounding hills fired at will down on anything that moved.

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We got off the tram at Bascarsija, the old Turkish quarter containing cobbled streets filled with lovely Turkish buildings and the bazaar.

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This is a wonderful place to wonder around and through out most of the day we kept heading back here. Today though the rain kept coming down, so it was not the most fun for sightseeing! But still we wondered all around the city centre taking in the beautiful old buildings next to bullet-ridden places. After a small bite to eat and a drink we decided our legs had had enough walking around and besides which we just keep getting wet. We hoped back on the tram and headed back to the campsite.

Thursday 3rd June

This morning we left the campsite and headed for the Sarajevo tunnel museum eager, after yesterday’s city visit and with only a slight confused knowledge we had of the whole situation, to learn more about the history of the siege and what people went through. We seemed to have certainly come to the right place, as this was the tunnel that saved Sarajevo. The bullet-ridden house that houses the one entrance to the tunnel is on the one side of Sarajevo airfield, the city centre being on the other.

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We entered the museum and went round to the back, where there was a group watching a film about the tunnel. The film shows the building of the tunnel while artillery fire goes on overhead and then people transporting food and soldiers to and fro. It then goes on to show the day to day lives of people in the city being bombarded, people dodge gunfire to pass the street and over to another buildings. Also a shot is taken of someone driving very fast down sniper alley to get to another part of the city, extremely scary stuff. The whole film is very very thought provoking and makes you realise how bad it must have been to live through the daily and hourly bombardment. The tunnel that saved the city was only 880 yards in length and the average width and height no more than four and a half feet, reaching below the airport and into the city. A small rail line was constructed to enable the better movement of supplies, before eventually telephone cables and an oil pipeline was fed through. The whole tunnel was built by hand, but to understand the great significance of it we need to know why.

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Luckily for us at the end of the film a big Dutch group of tourists who were there got, in English, a spoken history by a Bosnian and we were told we could stay to listen. So I will try and briefly sum up what was said and hopefully not get too much incorrect.

With the death of Tito, Yugoslavia began to fall apart with most countries in turn wanting to break away and be independent. At the time Slobodan Milosevic, leader of Serbia, controlled the Yugoslavian army and this army was mostly made up of Serbs. For years in Yugoslavia and Bosnia in particular, people had lived happily side-by-side and were a mix of different religions and Ethnic groups, without anyone having any problem with each other. Mr Milosevic, when Yugoslavia was on the decline, started stirring up ethnic hatred and decided he wanted to expand the size of Serbia and basically make up a Serb only nation. As he was in control of the former Yugoslavian army he started attacking Bosnia & Hertz, who had no army of their own. He concentrated his efforts in 1991/2 to Sarajevo, thinking if he could take the capital city he would in turn take the country. They surrounded the city and bombarded it day and night. Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb Commander is reported to have said “Shoot at slow intervals until I order you to stop. Shell them until they can’t sleep, don’t stop until they are on the edge of madness”. They cut off all electricity, gas and water supplies to the city as well as the phone lines! Many people fled the city, but many people stayed not wanting to give up their city and thus give up their country. The UN managed to broker a deal to keep open the airport for humanitarian aid purposes, although no Bosnians were allowed in. Also what the UN sent was apparently out of date small food supplies and to rub salt into the wounds vaccinations for Malaria that they didn’t have in Sarajevo! Many people were killed trying to cross the airfield at night to bring in supplies, until they came up with the idea of a tunnel under the airport. This would link the city with the Bosnian free side on the other side. The small Bosnian army had secured the other side, so safe passage could me made into the Bosnian hills and country to bring in supplies and arms. The siege continued in this way for four years with the deaths of many innocent civilians and the people of the city surviving on very little and under continuous gunfire. Eventually NATO and the west decided to act and within a month had bombed Serb artillery points around the city, ending the siege and the war. Leaving Bosnian’s and many people to think why did the west and NATO not take action before then? And how many lives could have been saved?

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After the talk, we took a walk down into the remaining tunnel and viewed the rest of the museum. Now enlightened to the story of Sarajevo and after seeing the city yesterday, it was amazing how everything has been built back up and that it seems such a lively and friendly city. When we left we thanked the curator and spoke with him briefly, he told us that the Bosnians have a saying that “Anything is possible”.

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We headed out of Sarajevo, with many thoughts passing through our minds and out into the countryside towards the town of Jajce.

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We stopped on the way in the town of Travnik and had a look around the old ruined Stari bar (old town).

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We then continued on to Jajce and a campsite on the outskirts, by the lakes called Plivsco. We pulled up in the campsite onto the grass and as it had been raining a while, proceeded to get well and truly stuck! After much wheel spinning in the mud, we managed to gain the help of some lads playing tennis as well as the guy on reception. We got Hymer out of the mud through sheer brute strength. Then decided we would just park up for the night on the concrete track! Later that evening I ended up watching the Bosnian v Germany game with the lad from reception, while he kept giving me wine and local rajki. The night ended up with me getting my guitar and both of us playing, that is until the night watch man came on duty and he headed home.

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Friday 4th June

Took a walk around the lakes

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and found some very odd little huts! I have no idea what they were used for?

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We then headed off through the Bosnian beautiful and green countryside, back towards Croatia.

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We were aiming for the peninsula above Dubrovnik called Peljesac. We ended up making a few wrong turns when we were back in Croatia, but eventually made it back to the coastal road. It was heading south near the peninsula that we then had to cross back into Bosnia, as they have a very small part of the coastline, well one town really called Neum! It was strange no sooner had we passed the checkpoint in we were passing it going back out. By the time we reached the peninsular it was getting dark, so we headed for the first campsite on the coast near the town of Ston.

Posted by marklorna 03:44 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Tagged automotive Comments (0)

South Slovenia to Split, Croatia, via the Plitvicka lakes

It’s all about the water!

Monday 24th May

Woke up in our field and with the bikes, set off to find this hill of blooming flowers. She had given us directions and told us it was 6km down the road, but it felt like double that as we were constantly biking uphill. Still it meant it would be downhill all the way back! We eventually found the path and took a walk up onto the hillside in the sun, to see the flowers and the surrounding hills.

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Back at the motorhome, we decided it was time to say goodbye to the small but beautiful country of Slovenia and head into Croatia. During the journey we had planned to post some postcards, but before we knew it we were at the Croatian border! We were leaving the EU for the first time since Morocco, so got our passports stamped again. Straight after the border we found a Croatian post office. Where I explained about our Slovenian postcards and stamps, to be told just to drop them in the post-box! So I hope the people we sent them to did get them?

Croatia at first was not too different from Slovenia apart from more houses and faster drivers. We came down to the coast and the large industrial city of Rijeka, so we headed quickly past and down onto the coastal road. The road was very narrow with houses either side and we wondered whether we had actually taken the right road, but before long it came out on the coast. Croatia seems very built up, not like Spain with many high-rise apartments etc, just lots and lots of houses.

Armed with a campsite map from a tourist office we passed, we headed off to find one to stay at. We stopped at a few along the way, that were actually open, till we found one we actually liked the look and the price of. I think it was called Ujca, just past the town of Senj. It was a lovely small site with it’s own private bay and pebble beach. The only problem was to get into it we needed to go through a tunnel, under the road. With the measurements of the tunnel, retrieved from the campsite owners, it would in theory be possible. So we began and just managed slowly to squeeze ourselves through, with the kayaks a couple of times scrapping the top! We then set about the task of deciding on a spot to park up in. This is always more difficult than it seems, especially at the end of a long day with people watching you! Still we finally decided on one and settled for the night.

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Tuesday 25th May

Woke up overlooking a small bay and a very calm sea, on a gloriously sunny day. Life is so hard on the road! The sea was in fact so calm it looked like a lake, this is no doubt due to the surrounding islands though. As the sun was out and the campsite was relatively cheap, we decided on staying another night and enjoying the day. The campsite was basic but charming and seemed to have most of the family living there. They were still also doing some maintenance work before the season really kicked off, so a cement mixer was on the go for most of the day. I decided to head off on my bike to the nearest village to get some supplies, the ride was lovely along the cliffs overlooking the sea.

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In the afternoon we got the kayaks out on the sea to investigate the coast, it was great. We also met Greta from Austria, who has travelled all around the world and visited many inspiring places. After a bbq that evening, we headed over to chat with Greta and Gunter. We had a great chat with them over a good few glasses of Austrian red wine. I think Greta’s solo travelling adventures really inspired Lorna.

Wednesday 26th May

Woke up with major hangovers! After exchanging contact details with Greta, we said our goodbyes. Hopefully if we visit Vienna we can meet back up with them both. Before attempting the tunnel again, we decided it would be better to go through with out the kayaks on the roof! So with the tunnel done and the kayaks back on the roof, we hit the road again.

Today we were heading inland towards the Bosnian border and the world heritage site of the Plitvicka lakes. At this point, TomTom decided to give up the ghost again and wouldn’t charge, so back too the maps. We continued on through the countryside and hills, occasionally passing some bullet ridden old homes. We were in an area that would of suffered during the war, in fact there were a lot of abandoned homes and a lot of very new ones.

We reached the lakes and then had the choice of three campsites in the area. After a look around them all, we opted for a fairly large one in the woods and then the problem came of finding a space! Most of the site was uneven and a lot of people were already staying, this made finding a suitable spot hard. Eventually we did though and settled down for what left of the day.

Thursday 27th May

Up early, to get off this expensive campsite and down to see the lakes. Now campers can sometimes be a strange breed! A lot of the time a majority don’t seem to have any patience or are suddenly overcome by the need to be the first one in, to find a spot or the first one out, no matter what cost! We experienced this today first hand. As we were leaving we needed to empty our toilet, so drove around to the designated area and joined a short queue. When we got there and I went to empty our toilet, the motorhome and caravan behind us decided they couldn’t wait and came to empty theirs, as I was doing mine. They didn’t seem to care! I on the other hand did and thought it was a bit rude. I don’t particularly want to be right next to others emptying their toilets, it just seems wrong. Anyway, while I’m moaning I also want to point out another thing that bugs us. People should really be more careful when they come to swill out their toilets. Hoses do not need to be stuck down into the toilet nozzle, you can pour water into it from above. It doesn’t seem very hygienic really and other people will use the same hose to put into their clean water tanks! I don’t know call me prudent, but people seem to have a blatant disregard for others.
Anyway after that, we had fun at the campground exit! As this seemed to be every camper for themselves, in a rush to leave. No one seemed to want to wait, people were driving around each other in a hurry to get out and almost running Lorna down in the process! There is no need for it, what is the obsession? Will waiting a couple of minutes really set your whole day askew? Patience seems a virtue held by few.

Still we got out unscathed and headed for the lakes. We had been told they were very special and we hoped they would be. As with the entrance fee and the ridicules parking prices, it would not be cheap. With the sun out though we were not in the slightest bit disappointed.

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It was a huge park filled with turquoise blue lakes and pools, connected by many many waterfalls of all shapes and sizes, truly stunning. There was a lovely wooden footpath all the way round, in some places going right over the falls.

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You could stand on the wooden platform and see the water gushing through the slats, to down below.

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There were clear pools and waterfalls galore.

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By the end though we were waterfall-ed out, but it was an amazing place to visit.

After we headed back to the coast, towards Zadar and ended up in a convoy of 3 other motorhomes. We were again driving through areas affected from the war, as there were ruined buildings and many roadside graves. We also passed by an area that still had land mine signs up, a stark reminder of the recent war and the scars it has left. Landmines are such a terrible weapon of war, they harm so many innocent victims and take years and years to clear areas. Also I believe these types of weapons are still being manufactured by arms companies, seems people will never learn.

Anyway at Zadar we rejoined the coastal road, heading south in search of a campsite for the night. There are many many options for camping along the coast in Croatia, with campgrounds and what are known as mini camps. Now the mini camps, or what they are often signed as auto camps, are small and are literally in someone’s back garden! They do range in size and price, from tiny areas crammed with caravans to slightly larger area’s crammed with caravans! Some though do have more room and we managed to find a nice relatively cheap one, with space right on the sea front. On another note, Croatia isn’t really what we were expecting it to be somehow. The coastal waters are lovely and clear, but so far it has reminded me of Spain.

Friday 28th May

Left the small mini camp and headed further south on the coastal road, stopping in Split for a look around. We found some parking by the football stadium and walked into the city centre, through some concrete block housing.

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Down at the sea front we found the walled town and stepped in to take a look. This is the old city, when you walk in you are confronted by a mix of Roman ruins and old Croatian buildings living happily side-by-side. It is a lovely but strange mix, with Roman pillars next to churches and shops.

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After a good wonder around we headed back to the motorhome and continued our drive south, in search of another campsite. This is our only problem in Croatia, as you can’t free camp we have the continual cost of campgrounds! We ended up finding a lovely terraced campsite overlooking the sea, called Camp Serena and parked up for the rest of the day and night.

Saturday 29th May

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Spent the day at the campsite relaxing by the sea and taking the kayaks out around the coast.

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Sunday 30th May

Carried on further down the coast, the more south we seem to get from Split the nicer the Croatian coast is becoming. We stopped near Gradac at a large but basic campsite, right on the coast and it was also a good price. After a chat about Spurs (football team!) with the owner, they love Spurs in Croatia as we have a lot of Croatian players, we settled ourselves away from the other campers and practically had a small pebble beach to ourselves.

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Posted by marklorna 03:32 Archived in Croatia Tagged automotive Comments (0)

Venice to Slovenia’s Triglavski National Park, then down

Our first steps into a green and fresh, Eastern Europe

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Monday 17th May

Spent last night again at our beach location, but today we were ready for a journey into a new country and our first steps into Eastern Europe.

We set off en route to the border with Slovenia, stopping at a few supermarkets on the way. Italians love their food and their supermarkets are a marvel, they are packed with so much tasty looking fresh food, that it is hard to come away not spending a fortune! We crossed into Slovenia through the old disused border posts and headed into the hills and countryside of Eastern Europe. Straight away the roads were slightly smaller and the countryside around us was green and lush and beautiful to see. We headed along tree-lined roads, with Austrian type houses dotting the landscape towards the town of Bovec.

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The town is on the edge of the Triglavski National Park that contains the mountain ranges of the Julian Alps. By the time we arrived the tourist office was shut, but we found a motorhome aire at the ski station on the edge of town. Bovec is set against a beautiful backdrop of the snow-capped Julian Alps, so far this country seemed catching to the eye.

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Tuesday 18th May

After a stop off at the tourist office and a quick friendly Slovenian language lesson from the baker! We headed off to find a campsite, as wild camping here is not allowed. We entered the national park following the Soca river up the valley between the mountains.

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At this point it is safe to say, Lorna and myself were falling in love with the country. Everywhere we turned to look the views were simply stunning, from snow capped mountain peaks and mountains covered in tree’s, to the clear blue fast flowing Soca river carving it’s way through the valley.

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This place is a natural paradise, the countryside is so green and unspoilt that it’s truly inspiring and breathtaking. Found a campsite near the river, with mountain views all around.

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We set off on a small bike ride to investigate this beauty. All the way along the river there are small old wooden suspension bridges and gorges.

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Also at one point after jumping off our bikes to take a photo, we realised we were right next to our first wild snake! It was massive probably due to the fact it had just eaten something.

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Wednesday 19th May

Woke late in the morning after a peaceful nights sleep, to stunning views. Then headed off to lake Bled, on the other side of the national park. The road carried on following the river up into the mountains, it was a lovely drive climbing slowly to a height of 1,680 metres before heading back down.

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Again everywhere we looked the views were stunning, this country is truly a natural gem, we would both recommend it to anyone.

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This was though the national park, so we would have to see what the rest of the country offered us. On the way to Bled we did pass through a couple of dull concrete towns, but I suppose that is the legacy of a communist past. We arrived though at the beautiful lake Bled, with its fairy tale church on a small island in the middle of the lake and it’s stunning backdrop of the Julian Alps.

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We settled ourselves at the campsite and took a walk around the lake. We really hope the rest of this country is as green and striking as what we have seen so far.

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Thursday 20th May

As it was cheaper at this campsite to stay 3 nights instead of 2, we opted for the longer stop and some time to relax. Plus we were able to pick up wifi in the motorhome, so had a chance to get up to date with things. The weather wasn’t terrible but also wasn’t great so apart from a little filming lakeside for a family video, we sat in on the net. Later in the day we headed off on the bikes round the lake and to the village, before heading up a hill into the woods.

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Friday 21st May

Had a lazy morning, then after lunch got the kayaks off and took them down to the lake.

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Had great fun kayaking around trying to keep in a straight line! After going a few times around the island, we moored up there to take a look.

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While looking around and outside the church, we noticed a sign stating the prices for entrance onto the island. As we didn’t have any money on us, we made a sharp exit back down to the lake to continue kayaking.

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Saturday 22nd May

Left the campsite to head to another lake in the national park, called Bohinj. This was larger than Bled and with more natural surroundings, as Bled is touristy with a fair few hotels and shops around it.

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We settled at a campsite right on the shore of the lake and headed off for a walk up the mountain, to a waterfall. Up near the top the rain started to come, so we turned back and retreated to the motorhome.

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Sunday 23rd May

Woke up to a beautiful view across the lake, but decided to head further south and investigate more of the country. Before leaving I had a good chat with the guy on reception, who wanted to move to England. He was also saying how Slovenia is becoming more westernised, but that work and housing are hard to come by. He continued by telling me the older generation say it was better under Socialism, as they felt more secure and had jobs as well as housing.

We set off down the winding roads, through the hills, with forest and green fields everywhere we looked. We continued through a valley following another river to Idrija. As there were no campsites, we continued on towards the famous Skocjan caves. The journey was continuously green, from the forest covered mountains and valleys, down to the rolling hills and fields. We arrived at a campsite near the caves, but no one was in and we couldn’t work out where we were supposed to set up. After waiting around a while with no one still showing up, we decided to continue on to the town of Kozina.

According to our Slovenian tourist map, there was a campsite here. We drove around a few times and even ended up by the Italian border post, but we couldn’t find any campsite. With no other campsite near we decided to head back to the original one, in the hope someone would now be in and it was in fact actually open. When we arrived there was a large Slovenian family gathered around. We met with the lovely owners of their small campsite, who had been out with their family all day. We were informed that the new shower blocks down by the field didn’t have hot water as yet, but we could stay up here and use the showers in the guest rooms. We opted to stay in the field by a river and an old mill, so drove down the lane. As the field at present had horses in it, the husband followed us down so he could erect a quick fence and keep the horses in the one half. We drove into the field and as the husband went back up to the house to get some posts, were immediately surrounded by four very inquisitive horses!

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After a short while the fence was up and we were settled in the one corner of the field, the river around us and the forest covered hills in the distance. We had a chat with the owner, who told us that we should go and see a hill covered in blooming flowers not far from here. As it was late in the day we stayed put in the field.

Posted by marklorna 03:02 Archived in Slovenia Tagged automotive Comments (0)

From Cheroscan, Italy to Venice, via Lake Garda and Verona.

Our Northern Italian stroll

Saturday 8th May

Had a quick look around the town and saw some lovely old rustic Italian buildings, I can see why people like Italy.

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We then set off east for a couple of days drive, towards the city of Verona. After another rather dull drive across flat and industrial northern Italy, we stopped in a car park in a large town called Chieri. So far the Italian roads seem bumpy, with strange junctions and constant slow speed limits. No wonder when the Italians get a chance they are all overtaking. The car park happened to be by some nightlife and so all night it was pretty busy and noisy, maybe we should have joined them!

Sunday 9th May

Continued on towards Verona, but headed off to Garda to have a look around the lake.

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The lake is massive but quite built up all around and we struggled to find any free parking. We eventually found a spot where a few other motorhomes were parked that wasn’t paying. We then headed off for a bike ride around part of the lake and a stroll around the old town on the edge of the lake, where we indulged in our first slice of Italian pizza mmmmm.

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Arriving back at the motorhome, I found one of the straps holding the kayaks on had snapped. Looks like 6 months of sun and rain was enough for it. For the time being, till we could find some new straps, I secured it with rope before the rain began again.

Monday 10th May

Continued our journey to Verona and on the way picked up some new straps for the kayaks. We decided to head past Verona and instead go to the small town of Soave, as the aire there was free. On arriving in Soave we were pleasantly surprised to find a castle on top of a hill overlooking the walled town.

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We parked up and plugged in to our free electric supply from the aire, which looked up to the castle. I also found that during today’s journey the other strap had also snapped, so the kayaks had been hanging on with the rope I had fixed yesterday! So with the new straps I secured the kayaks back to the roof. We then had a wonder around the small but lovely town, but had no luck in finding any internet or wifi. We were finding it very hard to find internet in Italy, even for McDonalds we had to register with an Italian SIM card and any wifi cafes seemed very scarce.

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Tuesday 11th May

Woke up to rain, so the trip to Verona was put on hold and most of the day was spent sat inside. When it finally cleared we took a walk up to the castle, then found a trail through the hills and vineyards. It turned out a pleasant walk and the thought keeps coming back to my mind how nice it would be to have our own vineyard!

Wednesday 12th May

Headed off on the bus to Verona, famous for Romeo and Juliet and also known as little Rome. We didn’t really know where we were supposed to get off the bus, so jumped off at where we hoped was a central stop. We started walking to try and find the tourist office for the trusty town map and save us walking around endlessly when almost straight away we stumble on one of the main sights we wanted to see, Juliet’s famous Balcony. We saw a lot of people standing around an archway and turned to find an amazing sight. The passageway was full of pieces of paper pinned or stuck to the sides, all of them love notes.

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This passageway then came out into a small courtyard holding the famous balcony.

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As it was packed with people we didn’t stay long, but before leaving added our names to the passageway! We then continued walking, in search of the tourist office. The city was stunning. Everywhere we looked there were spectacular old Italian buildings.

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I found the architecture capitulating, grand and dignified yet elegantly worn. I seem to have a fascination with old buildings, the look of a grand but rustic place is mysterious and evoking of so many tales that must have passed through its walls. By the time we eventually found the tourist office (near the large Amphitheatre, in case any one needs to know), as there are no signs, we had seen most of the sights anyway. The amphitheatre was very large and still hosts Opera’s, at that present moment they had masses of scenery outside waiting to be taken in and set up.

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Before we left though we indulged again in another big slice of Italian pizza, I could eat these everyday! Getting the bus back proved to be a slight problem, as we couldn’t find a stop that related to our bus number, not even the one we got off at! To make matters slightly worse none of the buses passing actually had bus numbers. After a fair bit of walking around, we found a bus stop with the correct corresponding bus number and flagged a bus down. Turned out it wasn’t the right bus, but the driver was really kind and helpful by informing us we needed to get it at the main bus station. Well this is what we worked out he must of said, as our Italian isn’t good. He then, free of charge, took us to the bus station and pointed out exactly where we needed to pick up out bus, then waved us goodbye.

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Thursday 13th May

Even though Soave was getting ready for it’s Medieval wine festival, we had used up our time allowed at the aire and so headed off towards Venice. On the way we visited many motorhome shops trying unsuccessfully to find an indicator unit for Hymer. We ended up in a town called Treviso and stopped in their aire.

Friday 14th May

I really love the fact of being in different countries, the simple mundane tasks have a different air about them. As we had nothing for breakfast, I popped out to find some bread. I enjoyed the morning walk down Italian streets in search of a bakery. Bakeries abroad are wonderful, they are always full of mouth watering little cakes and snacks eager to be eaten. With a bakery found. I mustered up the words to ask for a baguette and left with bread in hand and happy.

After breakfast we headed around the town with the laptop, again in search of internet. The town was a lovely old place surrounded by a river, but we had no luck with internet. We decided as the weather was good to head off to Venice, well Punta Sabbioni, a peninsula jutting out around the island of Venice. We had been informed there was some free parking close to the water ferry that goes to the city. On arrival though we found that the area was awash with campsites and very expensive parking near the ferries. We had no look finding the elusive free parking spot, that I believe no longer exists, so headed away from the ferry terminals and campsites to find somewhere to stay. After a drive around we managed to find a spot down a small road that took us to a little parking area by a beach and beach café. As the day was coming to a close we settled down for the night with another motorhome parked there. The weather had been good today, so hopefully tomorrow we could venture around Venice, a city I had longed to experience.

Saturday 15th May

Woke up to heavy rain and a sky full of clouds! Putting a hold on our Venice adventure. Decided if we were going to wait around we would find some internet, as we had stuff to check and research for Eastern Europe to do. After driving around wasting petrol and time, not to mention me getting soaked through in the process of walking around cafes, we failed miserably to find any internet or wifi cafes. We then headed back to our beach location to watch the rain and sea.

Sunday 16th May

Woke up to clear skies, so drove to a car park in the next town and biked 3km down to the ferry terminals. We then found the cheapest ferry crossing, although this was still far too much for the short journey it was! Still, it was a great and a fitting way to arrive into the water city of Venice.

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The city gradually got closer and closer till we arrived at the busy port, with all shapes and sizes of boats cramming for space. The city itself is everything you expect it to be, grand, captivating and amazing on the canals edges.

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We spent the day walking around taking it all in, over many bridges alongside many canals. It is very easy but fun to get lost in the squares and streets of Venice, also strange having in a city the only mode of transport is foot or boat.

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Everywhere you turn you can’t help but being fascinated and enthralled by the buildings, grand or unloved, sitting against the canals. The gondoliers were everywhere taking people down the narrow canals, narrowly avoiding small boats.

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The main part of course is full of tourists and as such, full tourist shops but a few turns here and there and your away from it all down a quiet street or beside a quiet canal.

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It truly is a wonderful city and one I would like to spend more time wondering around and seeing what nightfall brings. Now though, after 6 hours walking around, we were ready to head back on the ferry and for the time being at least away from Venice.

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Posted by marklorna 02:37 Archived in Italy Tagged automotive Comments (0)

From Provence, South France to Cheroscan, West Italy

Waiting for post and getting away from this coast

rain

Saturday 1st May

As the coast wasn’t very motorhome friendly, we decided to head inland up into the hills and have a look at the real Provence. We aimed for a village called Plan-de-Tour, as our motorhome book told us of some free parking, also this was allegedly the town in France where Johnny Depp lived. The countryside seemed typical Provence, with their lovely rustic houses. Also, there seemed to be a lot of money in the area, as we passed a private small runway containing a few private small jets. All the way to the village there were drives leading to large homes. You could look over the rolling landscape and just see the yellow rustic colour of homes dotted around. We parked up at the village and took a look around. It was a lovely little place and they seemed to be having a big boules tournament, Mr Depp wasn’t in sight though! We decided on driving out of the village and managed to find a little spot by a track off the road to park up for the rest of the day and night.

Sunday 2nd May

The rain put a stop to our plans of a bike ride! Instead we headed back to the coast and to St Tropez in search of a fast food chain, not for the food but for some free Internet. After this we had a drive around in search of somewhere to park for the night. Problem was, it was the same old story. All car parks had height barriers or signs saying no motorhomes! We eventually found a small free aire right next to a busy road, so didn’t get the best nights sleep.

Monday 3rd May

Headed up to Gassin, where I had organised for some mail to be sent. I had picked the town from the map as it was in the area we were heading. The town however, turned out to be a small village, but not just any village, apparently the prettiest in France! It was a lovely village sitting on top of the hill with views over the bay in the distance. The mail though hadn’t yet arrived and as it was raining we headed back down to get use the internet before going to take a look at the famous St Tropez! Parking was very expensive, but after a quick look around I’m sure for the clientele of the town it was nothing. The town was sickeningly rich, with millionaire yachts in the harbour and very expensive shops everywhere. Everyone walked around with an air of nonchalance and straight away we hated the place! How the other half live, what I need to survive on for the rest of the trip they would see as small change! Lorna also tried to pay our ADAC bill at HSBC bank, as she has a HSBC account, but this was unsuccessful. This self advertised global bank didn’t allow Lorna to pay her bill, as she didn’t have a French account! Mmmmm really global there HSBC! Then again it could just be a French thing as they are very anal about things! We’d had enough of the area at this point and didn’t really have anywhere nice to stay. As we needed to hopefully collect the post tomorrow from Gassin, we would stay up in a car park in the village for the night and then hopefully leave the area tomorrow.

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Tuesday 4th May

Last night there was a storm and this morning the rain was still coming down heavily, hardly the weather we thought we would get for the south of France. At 9.30am I headed to the post office to be told that their post didn’t arrive till 11am. So till 11am we sat around in the motorhome, in the rain, a little bored. After 11 I went back to the post office to be told there was no post for me! As the weather was still raining and we had enough of St Tropez area, we decided to take a small drive around the coast south of Gassin. It seems at present were not really travelling, as for the last few weeks we’ve just been waiting around for post. Money keeps going out, but we are getting no closer to Eastern Europe.

After a drive we found a spot to park by the sea and headed for a walk round a coastal path in a small nature reserve on the coast. It was nice to be in an area that wasn’t privately owned. As the rain had stopped it turned out to be a lovely walk along the coast, looking out to the rough sea. Also it made us feel a little better inside. Later we headed back to a spot below Gassin we had spotted outside a small sports complex where we could park for the night.

Wednesday 5th May

Woken up very early by bin men, as we were parked right in front of the recycling bins! After 11am we headed back up to Gassin to hopefully collect the post and get on with our journey. Disappointedly my post still hadn’t arrived. We were stuck in the area for hopefully just another day, so we headed off to a café, to have a hot chocolate and some internet use. We had found yesterday, that from setting up a credit card with Pay pal, in February, they had basically ripped us off by £30! After some research we found the problem was Pay pal’s fault and wrote them a complaint, also asking them to pay the charges we had received. This ended up taking a great deal of time and afterwards we headed off to find a lay-by opposite some vineyards for the night.

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Thursday 6th May

Headed up again to the small post office with fingers crossed it would be here today. Thankfully it was and with a replacement tax disc and mobile phone sim card, thanks Mum, we headed off. We were extremely glad to see the back of the St Tropez area and to be getting back on the road. We headed along the coast in the direction of Cannes. As we drove through Cannes, they were in the process of preparing for next weeks film festival. We saw them setting up the red carpet, where all the stars next week would wonder down. Cannes was full of expensive shops and expensive hotels, so we drove through slowly having a good gawp !

We continued along the coastal road to Antibes, where I had been told there were many campsites, as I needed to continue my job searching. When we arrived it was not what we expected. It was overdeveloped and we could hardly find any campsites, let alone anywhere to park up. By this point we’d had enough of this part of the South of France and really just wanted to get out. The job hunting so far had been unsuccessful, I would have to borrow from Lorna. She had offered so we could keep on travelling. Maybe I might be able to find something in Croatia or Bulgaria in the resorts, but then the wages would be low.
For now we decided to drive into the hills and away from the coast, in the direction of Italy. Originally we had planned on seeing Monaco, but now we decided we had seen enough wealthy people wandering around. It wasn’t really helping our positive ness. After a few wrong turns in the centre of Nice, due to avoiding low bridges, we got away from the coast. We stopped in a nice car park in a town called L’escarere, in the hills.

Friday 7th May

Set off to Italy, up and along a lovely mountain road. The border crossing was through a 3km tunnel under a mountain. As we arrived we found the tunnel had a height and width restriction. Lorries and motorhomes had to wait for certain times during the day, to go through the middle. Luckily we arrived 15 minutes before one of these few times and joined a short queue of lorries, before being able to continue our journey. Arriving on the other side in Italy, not much changed, apart from the road signs! We continued north to a town called Cheroscan. On the way Italy seemed flat and industrial. Not what we were expecting, but still it’s a big country and we were only going to be travelling the north. On arriving in the town and finding the motorhome parking, we were pleased to find the parking was free and they had electric and water for free. This was a huge bonus as we thought most of the aires in Italy were paid. Just as we were setting up and thinking of going for a wonder the heavens opened and the rain fell. So we stayed indoors.

Posted by marklorna 02:28 Archived in France Tagged automotive Comments (0)

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