After several days of heavy rain, where we had succumbed to having porridge for breakfast and put the heating on, we made a hasty retreat from Slovenia into Croatia, after all it was still only early September and we just weren’t ready for the onset of winter just yet.
A mammoth drive of 450km’s saw us on the South Dalmation coast of Croatia at Zaostro, As we met the coast road after leaving the toll we both let out an involuntary gasp. The Croatian coast is simply breathtaking. Crystal blue clear waters with a mountains back drop encapsulates it all for us and suddenly we realised how much we’d missed the sea.The campsite is in the heart of the small Croatian village of Zaostrog just across from a shingle beach which is backed by mountains, there are a handful of restaurants and a couple of supermarkets for supplies. Due to the miles we wanted to put behind us we’d taken the toll road down here. Unlike other Eastern European countries the tolls are pay as you go, so there’s no need to purchase a vignette. Our 450km journey cost just short of 50€.
Our stopover: Camping Viter Zaostro South Dalmatia – GPS 43.140361 17.280214 Cost 19€ a night plus taxes with ACSI card). Facilities new and modern shower and toilet block with lots of hot water and private cubicles. Showers and toilets are in separate blocks. The camping in tiered and there’s lots of shade. Front line spots cannot be booked at the ACSI rate.
The coast in front of Camping Viter
The plan was to go as far south as Dubrovnik then work our way back up the coast road. Although we mostly try and avoid using tolls occasionally they make a journey more bearable if its a lengthy one. A pit stop of 2 nights saw our wheels back in motion to Dubrovnik. There came our complication, Dubrovnik is split from the rest of Croatia by a small stretch of land which belongs to Bosnia. Unfortunately our insurers Safeguard don’t cover us for driving through there. Instead we opted to take a ferry from Ploce to the Trpanj on the Peljesac Penisular. The ferry takes and hour and cost 57€ for 2 passengers and the motorhome, you can just trun up at the port and buy your tickets at the office across the road once you’ve parked your vehicle in the queue. Our destination was a campsite about 16km north of the city We were able to reach the city in around 20 minutes and the bus back returns from opposite where you’re dropped off (cost is 15 Kunas around 2€).
Our Stopover Camping Pod Maslinom GPS 42.699781 18.006234 – Cost 15€ a night with ACSI card. The campsite is laid out in terraces some of which have sea views. There’s a small beach down a steep hill and a Pizza restaurant with terrace perfect for watching the sunset. The staff on the site were amazing, sharing information on buses to the city (which stop right outside) and on site facilities. The showers and toilet block were separate. Showers were hot every time we used them. We also used the washing machine which was 25 Kuna (about 3.50€) for a load. There weren’t any dryers so wait for a sunny day. Buses to the city were 15 K only 2€ from just outside the camping.
Regardless of whether you are visiting Dubrovnik for the first time or the hundredth, the sense of awe never fails to descend when you set eyes on the beauty of the old town. Indeed it’s hard to imagine anyone becoming jaded by the city’s white limestone streets, baroque buildings and the endless shimmer of the Adriatic, or failing to be inspired by a walk along the ancient city walls that protected a civilised, sophisticated republic for centuries.
The shelling of Dubrovnik in 1991 horrified the world, over 2000 missiles were fired on the city devastating its cultural centre, but the city has bounced back with vigour and has been reinstated to its former glory.
The Old town Dubrovnik
- Go early if you wish to walk the walls, not only do the city walls hold in the heat, the crowds once the cruise ships land make walking them an uncomfortable experience.
- To really feel a sense of history of this beautiful land visit the War Photo Museum Antuninska 6, (old town) Dubrovnik HR20000. The museum displays some very powerful images from the Balkan wars as well as a guest exhibition (this was on the Yemen War when we visited). The saying “A picture paints a thousand words” has never been truer. An experience that I will never forget. Entrance fee is just 50 Kunas around 6€.
- Get lost in the narrow streets of the old town. Everything is close in Dubrovnik and so do-able on foot. Exploring the narrow back streets of the old town really takes you on a trip back in time, although its easy to get lost, its just as easy to find your way again.
As we had to head back onto the Peljesac Penisular to get back to the mainland we opted to exlplore this coastal paradise. Blessed with craggy mountains, sweeping valleys, idyllic coves, fine wines and fresh mussels, it’s a glorious place to visit. Two historic towns, Ston and Orebic bookend the peninsula and the slow, winding drive between them is a very pleasant. Unfortunately though the weather was changing, as we drove along the coast we could see dark storm clouds looming. Although technically wild camping is prohibited in Croatia we found an empty beachside parking just waiting to be occupied, so we chanced our arm and got away with it. The police drove past twice and didn’t even glance our way although there were several campsites nearby so we only stayed one night as didn’t want to push our luck . The weather took a turn for the worse so although we’d have liked to have travelled to the tip of the peninsular we headed to the town of Orebic instead. With a mountain back drop and clear blue waters this is a place to while away the hours snorkelling in the clear waters and eating fresh fish for lunch whilst sampling the local wines. As the weather had other ideas we didn’t get to enjoy this jem at its best so after one night decided to head back across to the mainland and further up the coast.
Wild camping spot right in front of the sea on the Peljesac Penisular. The area is popular with wind and kite surfers.
Our wild camping spot ssshhhh!
We stayed on Camping Trstenica – GPS 42.977183-17.189684 which we wouldn’t recommend. The site was in need of TLC and as the owner wasn’t available when we arrived we checked the price with another motorhomer. Although they’d paid 160k the owner charged us 200k (28€) and our neighbours 240k (34€). There was no wifi and all but one shower and one loo were locked up and not usable. The site is opposite a lovely sandy beach though and near to the town which made our stay more bearable.
After a few stop offs at campsites on route that were full to bursting we ended up in the town of Omis around 30 miles south of Split. The town has a colourful, turbulent and proud history, the most famous part being the formidable Omis pirates (Oh ARRR Oh ARRR – sorry I just coouldn’t resist). During the middle ages the city was ruled by their lightweight and fast boats known as “Sigitta” (arrows). Priates led attacks on the merchant ships and galleys from Dubrovnik, Kotor & Split demanding tariffs for sale of passage. As their attacks were so successful they also led two crusader wars, the last being to their detrement after they were defeated. Its small old town overlooked by a fortress (which is still open to the public and offers amazing views of the town and coast below) and set around the Cetina River. Apart from the history the town has a lot to offer the adventurous tourist. Activities nearby include rock climbing, rafting, canioning, boat trips to nearby Brac island and sedate river cruises to the canon , there is also an amazing zip wire experience. There’s plenty of watersports on the town beaches from windsurfing to stand up paddle, sea kayaking and jet skiing.
We stayed at Camping Galeb an ACSI site GPS 43.4086 16.681306 – Cost 17€ a night plus taxes with the CC card. There’s aonly one section thats available at 17€ a night, serviced pitches are 21€ and beach front 31€. Although the site was incredibly busy we managed to squeeze in one of the last available spots. With its own beach its in a perfect location just a 15 minute stroll from the old town of Omis. There is a main toilet and shower block in the centre of the site which could get very busy. There was also a family block near reception. The showers could be a bit grubby by evening and were only luke warm. As seems the norm in Croatia showers and toilets were separate. Washing machines are located in the family block and are 35K for a wash around 5€ but they are only domestic size machines. There were no dryers. If you’re not on a serviced pitch there’s a dedicated emptying area behind the family toilet facilities.
The beach at camping Galeb
We had our 1st try at stand up paddle which turned out to be not the real thing as the guy gave us the base to a windsurf to do it on which is nowhere near as stable. It was great fun though for just €10 (especially as I got to see Paul fall in several times whilst i videoed it, the clips can be seen on our facebook page). We booked this on the beach at the campsite.
We also had a go at the 3 hour zip €56 pp, for this you get to ride 8 wires and experience amazing views over the river below. One of the best adrenaline rushes we’ve had. The office is based alongside the river in town but of you book through an agent of the campsite its the same price.
We’ve stretched out our time here as our next stop is at the UNESCO town of Trogir north of Split where we are meeting my Mum for a week. After 6 months of not seeing her, I cannot begin to say how excited I am.
More Croatian adventures coming soon.