Wednesday, 26 September 2012

ADRIATIC HIGHWAY....

21st.- 24th.September

Left the lakes and headed south through scenic countryside towards ZADAR, turning up the coast slightly to STARIGRAD PAKLENCA and found a terrific campsite on the coast where we were lucky enough to get pitches right on the beach. Only downside is that Paul missed the step getting out of the van (no, he was sober) and has done serious damage to his shoulder and gear changing is agony let alone lifting beer & wine glasses and opening bottles has had to be delegated to Marianne. Actually its quite serious and we are now reorganising things so that he only drives on motorways and rests the shoulder  by stopping longer on sites......

Love STARIGRAD. Close to ZADAR where we took the bus to on Sunday. Nice town. Alfred Hitchcock said that Zadar had the best sunsets in the world and from Starigrad, about 20 miles as the crow flies, I feel he might be right. The bus trip was hilarious. Outward leg charged at 41 kune each, no ticket issued; return leg 5pm on a packed bus taking mostly students back up Rijecka and as we didn't have reservations it nearly caused a riot as we sat tight looking bemused and people with reservations had to stand and the conductor calmed everyone down ( I thinK ) pointing out that we would be getting off in half an hour into a 4 hour journey. In the end I had a long conversation with a nice Croation lad from Zadar whose parents owned a restaurant and who
was returning to uni after the weekend at home to study archeology. Saw no future in Croatia and was planning to emigrate to Canada or Australia and said he was typical of his generation. Scathing about the EU and saw joining the Euro as a disaster. Parents were suffering as tourism, on which this country seems to exist, was slowing and takings were less than 4 years ago. We have seen practically no agriculture and little livestock and he confirmed that most farms are little more than smallholdings feeding one extended family with no surplus for market even though there are fertile regions.....apparently potatoes all come from Moldova.

We feel that Croatians are a very happy bunch of people who are always smiling  and for whom service is a pleasure. Everybody speaks some english, even in country stores and most speak very good english. Campsites are very good and the facilities mainly modern, clean and always an abundance of hot water. We have never felt threatened and everyone we have encountered has been cheerful whilst relieving us of money - the country not being cheap and probably on a par with France (except in attitude). Food is plain, grilled mainly and lots of fish along the cost as you would expect but service is quite exceptional and a pleasure.

Paul's shoulder made the group decision not to go further south an easy one and as a long term decision to spend a few days in Venice had already been made we spent longer in Starigrad than we planned. This was no problem to me as I have fallen in love with the place and will return, I hope, many more times. The national park, Paklenica, is famouse for westerns being made there and I would like to explore more.

We left there with regret, heading north to OPatija and Lovran which we had passed through on the way to Krk and which looked like nice places.

Paul went the long way round on the motorway, we took the pretty route up the Adriatic Highway coast road which was the most spectacular 100 miles or so I have ever driven.
Dramatic coastline, sheer drops, mountains and views across to the islands of Pag,Rab and Krk.Not sure about driving down it, as that would be on the side of the road where the drops are (and the road was unguarded in some Places) but we had a great drive.

Fairly scrubby campsite at MEDVEJA but we all turned up, Paul in pain but a few beers revived him........beers are now bought in 2 litre bottles for about £2 which seems very civilised but which don't seem to last long.

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