We really enjoyed our first night in Croatia. We decided to follow the coastal road, the E65, like almost every campervan or mobile home in Croatia. And in September there are many, especially, you’ll never guess, Germans!
E65 may sound fast in Belgian terms, it is not. An ordinary 2-lane road that winds along the rocky coast. Beautiful route, that’s it. The road surface is also in good condition, since the Croats like to see tourists, they probably made an extra effort for this road.
We stopped at Zavratnica. We drove a narrow road towards the coast and the last stretch unpaved to a spacious parking lot on the stones. Great place to stop, we thought. The old VW LT50 mobile home that we saw parked just before, thought the same thing and we had a short chat with these sympathetic, yes, Germans.
This place is known for its ‘fjord’ which is often visited by boats and tourists on foot. Apparently, the wealthy from Prague and Vienna used to come here on vacation. There is also a sunken ship of the Axis powers from WWII. Quite a bit of history here, so we walked down. A sign said somewhere that you had to pay 30 Kuna (about 4 €) per person… Luckily nobody was there cause we didn’t have any Kuna anyway .
After half an hour of descending we reached the water and walked around the fjord. We crossed some more Germans and found there was another entrance from the neighboring village. Someone was present at the entrance here. So we stayed out of sight for fear of paying 60 non existent kunas and walked back to the beginning of the bay.
After a climb of half an hour we were back at Nigel and we could start the aperitif. Unfortunately, this was disturbed a little later by a man who (maybe/probably/pretended) was a park ranger. In broken German he made it clear to us that we were not allowed to sleep here. We doubted very much that the police would come here, but decided not to risk it anyway.
It was starting to get dark when we left to look for a spot. After about 15 km we passed a parking lot where five campers were parked. Officially you were not allowed to spend the night there. On the other side you could take a small road towards the beach and that is where we spent the night, alone and in peace.
Motorhomes and campsites
In Croatia they love nothing more than to try to get you to spend the night at a campsite. Next to the coastal road, the campsites mostly consist of a piece of wasteland with some grass and trees next to the busy road, cost 25-35 € per night and offer relatively little value if you are self-sufficient. That is why we prefer to ignore them. In the high season, action is taken against wild camping, especially in the vicinity of campsites. It is likely that campsite operators and the local police are in cahoots…
Meanwhile, our friend Amber (see previous post) was in a town before Split. We then decided to drive there with a trip to the supermarket in Zadar, and to the Decathlon in the hope of scoring a second seat; One of our chairs broke during our trip to Italy so we need a new one. Unfortunately, all sold out…
We arrived in Kastel Novi in the late afternoon. We parked on a vacant lot close to the waterline just outside the village. Here Amber and her cycling colleagues slept in the forest behind.
We walked along the pleasantly landscaped promenade along the beaches towards the village where we met Amber & co at a beach bar. We had a drink and then went back to the parking lot so they could settle in the woods. There we had a super fun evening with the international mix of bicycle travelers.
The next day, after a refreshing dip in the sea, it was time for this gang to move on. Some went further south, others towards Mostar in Bosnia. We decided that we could stay another day at this place.
We visited Kastel Novi, a very nice suburb of Split. We strolled through the streets and had lunch in two different restaurants. The reason was that in the first restaurant we ordered two main dishes which turned out to be without any side dish an hour later. We hoped to order a portion of fries soon, but they didn’t come at all. In the second restaurant we quickly ate a tasty pizza and the service there was top notch, despite the fact that it had received poorer comments on Google Maps… So you see.
We gingen terug een rustige nacht tegemoet ondanks het occasionele vliegtuig dat wat verderop opsteeg vanop de luchthaven van Split. De locals stoorden zich ook helemaal niet aan het feit dat we onze Nigel in ‘t midden van dit bos hadden neergepoot.
The next stop on our list was Dubrovnik. This beautiful city only really became known when it served as the backdrop for ‘King’s Landing’ in the famous series ‘Game of Thrones’. But more on that later.
To drive to the southern part of Croatia you have to drive through a piece of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The town of Neum is the country’s only access to the sea. This is quite annoying as you have to cross a border twice within a distance of 9 km. To avoid this, the Peljesac Bridge has been opened since the summer. It connects the north of Croatia with the southern peninsula. As a result, you no longer have to cross a border.
At the parking lot just before the bridge we saw two cyclists who were accompanied by a work van with two angry Croats on board. The two cyclists turned out to be Americans, they were quite impressed by the angry Croats following them and were not aware of any harm. With the help of a friendly Croatian woman who translated, the bridge turned out to be forbidden for cyclists and the two workmen had to escort the cyclists until they could safely leave the motorway.
It was good that we had seen this, so we could warn our friends that they could not cross the bridge by bicycle and therefore had to drive through Bosnia. We could just move on and on the peninsula we quickly found a beach to take a dip.
Once off the peninsula, after some searching and messing around on small roads, we found a nice spot on a beach next to the main road. Here I pulled out my snorkel gear and discovered a sea centipede and a truck trailer. Unfortunately, the battery of the action cam is broken and I don’t have any pictures of it…
You can read how we fared in Dubrovnik in the next post!
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