The thing about this traveling malarkey is that often throws up real surprises, ones that are better than the planned ‘look at thats!’. Some, of course, are rubbish things like the roof leaking, but it’s the sudden ‘wow’ that makes this thing all worth it.
We did Dubrovnik. We left our utilitarian campsite and walked down to catch the water taxi. It’s interesting, but we expected so much from the ride in. Dubrovnik from the water – wow? Well it was fab, and clearly the only way to arrive, but, to be frank, our arrival at Split with its majestic flat frontage, like arriving in Venice, was better. The city was as you’d expect, but busier, and we were put off by the whopping £18 entrance fee to the city walls (each). We wandered around, had a picnic lunch with our feet dangling in the water by the city walls, got pushed about about bus loads of amoebic tours following the umbrella, walked the ‘walk of shame’ that Queen Cersei walked and then took the boat home. BTW, the best view of Dudebrovnik is free: drive past the city on the main road and stop in one of the many view points that look back on the old town. Fabulous.
And then, magic one. Our village has a lovely, v upmarket frontage with a Sheraton and a couple of infinity pools. Just around the corner is the bombed out wreckage of a large holiday complex, including a 1920s Grand Hotel and two 1950s concert jobs. You can get down to the beach, and there’s nothing stopping you wandering around the hotels, provided your careful (which I did to the top floor). In the height of the summer photos show the locals swarming to the beach, but 25 years ago it was a Yugoslavian officers’ complex until the war, when they bombed it – and it hasn’t yet been rejuvenated. Easily the most interesting thing we’ve seen so far.
Magic two. It started with us trying to get to Mostar, the closest Bosnian town famous for its arched bridge that was bombed during the war. I had seen it in a previous life when I’d visited the French sector, but I wanted C to see it – and I wanted us to go into Bosnia. What we knew, but hadn’t really clocked, is that we’d been into Bosnia on the way down to Dudebrovnik by transiting the 3 mile corridor they own, which cuts through Croatia’s tiny width of long coast. On checking hire car, excursion, bus and actually driving Doris into a campsite, we realised that we had probably crossed through Bosnia without insurance. Should we transit back again, or take the peninsula route and catch a short ferry from Croatia to Croatia? We decided to risk it and drive through without likely insurance.
And it was fine, albeit I subsequently found out, when asking of our insurers the ‘could we take Doris into Bosnia’ (to go to Mostar) that we definitely weren’t insured. Indeed, our insurance company will not insure us into Bosnia under any circumstances. Phew…
Not deterred, we drove to the closest Croatian town to Mostar (Metkovic) and parked at the bus station – a few people did try to get on, but we told them we were a camper, not a bus. Buses were about £3 each way, but took forever and where would we leave Doris? We eventually agreed on a hire car, with the rather dodgy owner agreeing to pick us up today (we’ve yet to go, I shall finish this story later), at his friend’s campsite – Rio, which is by the sea.
Well Rio is rubbish. Easily the worst campsite we’ve ever stayed on and, on first glance, whilst the beach is described as Croatia’s California, it’s better named Croatia’s Canvey Island. All mud, and not much else. We also had a minor squabble with the owner who, charming at first, wanted to to charge us £25 a night. Eh, no. We eventually agreed on £18.
But, and here’s the magic, it’s lovely here. After a thundery (in more ways than one) start, the weather cleared we both went for good runs and C spotted a little village/harbour which we then took the bikes to: just a hidden gem of a place, all rustic coves and islands, forgotten by the tourist machine that is Croatia. Fab.
So, now back from Mostar. Just perfect. Yes it was a pricey excursion (about £60 all told), but we saw everything we wanted of Mostar, popped along to the church at Medugorje (where Mary keeps appearing and now is a massive pilgrimage place along the lines of Lourdes and Fatima – which itself was interesting as its in the ‘Muslim’ sector of Bosnia where there are clearly more mosques than churches) and gawped at the waterfalls at Kravica, with a picnic lunch thrown in. We saw a bit of Mostar still bombed out, but there seems to be some sort of normality returning after 20 years.
Where next? Dunno. We have a cup of tea ready and will decide any moment now…