891-892: Plitvice Lakes – Slap & Bog

 891-892 – Friday 10th & Saturday 11th November 2017:  Plitvice Lakes – WOW!

We arrived at the Plitvice National park at 1100 hrs and talked to the info office – not terribly helpful… best she could do was sell us a map with suggestions for Kuna 20!  90 Kuna (Euro9) each for a 2 day pass is good value.  Armed with our map, we set off – not sure what to expect – good as it happened.  Really good.  Well, around each corner – we had a slap. No! It wasn’t a boxing match – “Slap” is Croatian for waterfall.  Now then – if you say to a Croatian lady – “Bog – how’s your slap?” – you won’t get a handbag in your face – you’ve just said “Good morning – how’s your waterfall?”  We had the most ‘slapping’ day for years – the waterfalls are amazing – just incredible – the photos are a selection of 150+ taken over 2 days – small wonder it’s one of the very top attractions in the country!  5 hours walking on Day 1- with loads of photo stops and a picnic lunch – small wonder we averaged 3km per hour. 

We are staying overnight in the car park – motorhomes have stayed here – but only out of season….very quiet and dark – which meant excellent stars.  Another amazing walk to look forward to – tomorrow – with more slaps!!!  A slaphappy time, indeed.

After Oscar’s Diary blog yesterday, he’s been invited to join the Iceland cricket team – they have ambitions – to join the K-Nations championship. He is thinking about it – but we reckon he will continue to play “silly mid wicket” and “slip” for Wales. He’s also quite adroit at ’sledging’ – those non-Wisdeners, ask Stephen Jater…..  

 

Day 2 in the big ‘slapper’ house…..let’s forget the Big Brother connection – is it still on tv?  With Kavina McDoll?  Shall I avoid any more ‘slap’ puns?  maybe…. Anyway, more of the same as we started our walk at 10:00 this time – we walked some of the same paths and new ones too – the earlier light was different.  But – what more can we say about this Park? Phenomenal…  

Walk finished – and back to Jez – motored to that lovely free aire at Otoacac…. Van cleaning from head to toe – relaxing – and Ireland beat South Africa by a record score – 38-3 – wow!  Last pun, I promise – what did Thomas Crapper invent?  The ’slappercrappercracker’, of course…with firecrappers or crackers.  

Oscar’s tail is down – Australia beat Wales – sorry, Bronwen and Kay.     

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Our initial views of the lakes and we already thought the entry fee good value.

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As well as a road train between, there are small electric boats.  Cleverly, they do not duplicate routes, but you still need to be able to walk a bit to get around.

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Oscar camouflaged with his prize stick amongst the Beech leaves.

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Lots of ancient trees.

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Some in the water.

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And some with most unusual mushrooms growing out of them.

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Adoring and waiting on my every command …. NOT.  Just looking for food!

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The water just pours over and through … everywhere.

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For a dog that does not like water, Oscar was most uncomfortable on the open parts of the boardwalk … water both side and sometimes gushing underneath.  He stayed very close to my heels.

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Some of the pools were so still and calm compared the the falls.

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The Karst limestone rock has been eroded to form caves.

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Our overnight illegal parking spot – in the Lakes carpark … no chance in the season as paying and with staff on duty.

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The Big Slap!

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Receiving a big slap!

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My suggested route took us up lots of nearly impassable broken steps by the Big Waterfall, and I commented to J about how old they must be.  This hand hewn out tunnel was at the top.

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We came from across there.

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With the sun shinning, the water colour had more WOW factor.

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More water streaming over, out and through. 

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Poor Oscar; thought he’d done with boardwalks and water gushing under.

889-890: The Bear Necessities

889 – Tuesday 7th November 2017:  Our Istrian Lunch Booking!

Our very wet and windy cycle ride took us through the photos (like Harry Potter, again) to the ‘booked’ lunch venue.  November is Istria’s Agrotourism month when the farms/ restaurants throw open their doors to display/present/sell their local wares.  The lovely campsite lady had booked us in with one that her friends used and raved amount   We suspected we were in for a gastro treat.  It looked very quiet – but we welcomed the stop – looking forward to getting changed and some wine – we were completely drenched through and quite cold, now. The owner appeared and said “chiuso”!  Our Italian is sufficient to know – “closed”!  We reckoned the owner had accepted our reservation of 2 days ago, hoping to get more and when that didn’t happen – decided to ‘close’.  His establishment has received the appropriate Tripadvisor negative review…  

Pedalling furiously – wet doesn’t even describe it – we arrived back at Jez – dried off – and launched a targetted attack on the Gluwein – it warmed our bones through. The afternoon and evening sort of blended together in a soft mist of….amber nectar…..   (K:  I imbibed most of the Gluwein, must have been wetter!, ate and promptly passed out.  I awoke early evening slightly shame faced and time discomfobulated!)

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Fazana – our first stop.  The Os-car Convoy stopped to admire the Church of SS Cosmas and Damian – we couldn’t see the Italian frescos as the interior was being repaired.  The car in front was the works van.  Professionals?

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Vodnjan:  arrived at through vinyards and olive groves, according to the guide books.  We didn’t notice as our heads were down as we powered up hill against the wind and rain.  On arrival I said to J that I’d had to invoke Sport (mid power assist) to get there … he gave me a wry grin … think he was in full Pleasure mode (full assist!).

Sadly !!! the church was shut or we could have viewed the 6 mummies of saints – miraculously not decomposed and on display!  Tallest Campanile in Istria … J referred to it as a Trampoline … not one I want to jump off.

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An hour before our lunch booking, so what were we supposed to do as the heavens opened again? Answer … a lovely bar in the main square.  When the owner brought out our glasses of wine, he also provided cushions for us to sit on.  The wind had got up and was spinning one of the roof fans … we really didn’t need more of a draught!

 

 890 – Wednesday 8th November:  A Pottering Journey and our First Illegal Action

Morning time, we put our stormy misadventure lunch booking behind us and left the deserted (almost) Brioni campsite behind us….good value at Euro16 per night including lecky…  

A destination with stops on the way .. Svetincenat for coffee.  amazingly everyone was smoking in the bar.  EU regs?!  Pazin was shabby and most of the building exteriors looked crumbling, but may have been super smart inside.

The nearby fortified hill towns journey was aborted – dodgy roads – 

Nightfall – and Optijla – small car park but perfectly adequate – our first ‘illegal’ wild camping in Croatia – but it was in one of the Apps.  It was fine and quiet – rain beat down during the night but not too heavy.  K walked with O and discovered the seaside pleasures (and found an ice-cream – so predictable) ….. I rested my brain. 

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Stop No. 1:  Svetvincenat.  A walled village with a fort.  The main square is considered one of the most beautiful in Istria.  

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Stop no. 2”  Pazin.  A fort stands on the edge of a cliff.  We wanted to see the cliff … 130m high and falling away to an abyss called Pazinska Jama.  The river disappears under the town.  It inspired Dante’s Inferno … sure you’ve read it … it is the bit where he describes the the Gateway to Hell.  Jules Verne also used it to describe a character who disappeared down the waterway … not that anyone has managed this in real life!

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Sadly the zipwire … 2 of them!  were not operating.  We would both have been first in the queue!  Don’t fancy buying a house perched on the edge either!

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Resting Stop:  Opatija: guide book described as faded, but I loved it.  An upmarket Eastbourne.  Tourism began around 1847 when the Austrian empress Maria Anna stayed here and set a trend.  Luxury hotels, houses and courts sprung up.  Emperor Franz Joseph escaped to the milder climate until he was assassinated.  Now it is still got life once the season is over with a reputation for good restaurants.  An older clientele, but smart … we fit in an all counts … NOT!  

This chap was the first fisherman to reinvent himself as a tour guide in the original small harbour.

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Lovely statues along the front.  And you can walk for several km along pedestrianised walkways.  

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One of the original palaces. Near an open air theatre.  A poster advertised daily/nightly music events.  Definitely a good place to over winter.

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Just along from our parking – water jutted from various holes in the rocks and has been used since the area was inhabited for clothes washing.  I’d not have found this unless dog walking … Oscar, you have your uses!

 

890 – Thursday 9th November:  All Beared!

The scenery along that coast was improving as we headed to bear country – puns on ‘bears’ and ‘bare’ abound – after all, we have just come from ‘bare’ territory – naturist land!  For those of you nudists amongst our readers – what is a ’textile’?  Come on, now – you must know… Ok, none of you wants to admit to ‘bearing’ all in Almondsbury, or Ash Vale (!).  It’s a person wearing (bearing) clothes whom you meet whilst nude in Killiney or Magsshagsville…..  Now, we’ll put our clothes back on to write further nonsense.  The bears were – cuddly – Paddington-esque and very playful – but the fence separated K from them – otherwise she would have been in like a shot – ‘does my bear b**m look big in this’?  No comment…  

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As we turned the head of the water between Istria and Dalmatia, the scenery got altogether more interesting.  Failing to understand why coastal Istria is so popular.

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Our still sopping shoes drying on the dashboard – we had puddles in them after our last wet bike ride.

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In search of the Brown Bear.  The sanctuary is in the village … the sign in front of a communal well.

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One chap started the sanctuary in 2001.  5 volunteers now, but 50 odd in the summer! We had the place to ourselves.  we were told we were really lucky to have seen all of them and even more so, to have seen some playing.

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I think the film Paddington 2 is out.  He must have been modelled on this variety … cute or what.

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Oscar’s Diary

Ok, I don’t know much Croatian – except ‘Dobredan’ and ‘Hvala’ – work it out out, readers….. Use Vooglekranslate if you must.. K found an App (unusual?) where you point your thingy at a text and it translates for you… Personally, I point my thingy at young ladyK9s, when I can… not much success lately, though..  Kinsey, wakeup please.

Now, my owners have implemented a new regime for me – with no prior notice! According to my NATO (North Adriatic Trust Oscar) affiliation, I am required to be served with at least 30 days notice, in biting/writing…. Ok – it started with K saying “Oscar – boundary” – she laid my blanket on the floor with this saying. I looked at her and thought (I know that word – I’ve played cricket for Wales – at the WorldKup in StrangKlevania – we lost to Iceland – like England in football) – and ran for the line, turned to see my 4 runs posted on the scoreboard. But no it wasn’t cricket – she wanted me to sit on that silly rug and wait… Ok, let’s humour the young lady – I got some treats – and then she hollered ‘break’ – so I wondered – am I out LBW? (I bet she knows a bit about ‘leg over wicket’) – keep it clean, Oscar.   It goes on and on – they say it’s about establishing boundaries and limits!  I don’t impose any limits on them, dammit all.  And my rations have been cut in half –  ok, I get the rest over the day….  This is not demoKracy – it’s plain bearassed har-ass-ment.

Yours in puzzlement, but basikally – very happy….

Oscar 


884-888: A Smattering of Rain in Coatia!

884 -Thursday 2nd November 2017:  Oscar’s Birthday and Porec Bike Ride

Young Oscar’s 4th birthday dawned – at the usual time -‘Oscartime”.  We e-biked along a trail – quite rough in places but manageable – to ‘Oscarplazza’. ’It’s all about our boyo today…. Celebratory glass of wine at lunchtime, de rigeur.  A nice story – K messaged a birthday photo to Elaine (his previous owner). She responded that we had made her day – she’s in hospital awaiting cancer surgery – we wish her a complete recovery, as does Oscar.

Festivities continued with Sally and Mark, GB-ers, on our Porec car park camping … good to chat to like minded folk.  They were staying on another night in the camperstop, but not sure how much sleep they would get as a major car rally was being run from here from Fri and our part of the car park was being used for the odd practice run.

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The coastal path was along rocky beaches with pines growing almost to the shore.

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A lunchtime glass of wine to raise a glass to Our Boy.

885 -Friday 3rd November:  Campsite and Washing

Vsrar campsite is good and we found a quiet corner – but, it’s not busy at all. Sunshine weather for – van laundry! K tested the Kerstin sun lounger – successfully, of course.  Walk to nearby beach and headland – and very quiet evening – it got cold later and K was very chilly after laudrification – so the Gluwein came to the rescue!!! 

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Kerstin gifted me a sun lounger and I got to test it out … my first action on arriving at the campsite.

886 -Saturday 4th November:  Lim Fjord (or was it?) Bike Ride

Accuweather promised fine weather up to lunch and then – 19% chance of rain! Now, what boffin calculates a 19% prepissitation – blame the predictive text on that one, maybe?  But Clunegapteeth.dentist can exclusively reveal how it’s done – scientifically…  The boffin (or boffiness) sits in a chair in a field of 100 cows at 9:00 am. If 19 cows look as if they might  lie down later – that represents a 19% chance of wetness – at 1:00 pm!!!   You saw it here first – tomorrow, it will be in the Daily Prophet (Harry Potter, again). 

Anticipating rain, the laundry was brought onboard – as you can see – the knickers chandeliers are out of picture, modestly – saving our blushes.  We sallied forth in wet weather gear and had only spits and spots up to halfway and lunch at a nice waterfront restaurant – ‘The Viking’.  Then back up a steep hill on the main road – and the 100 cows flopped on the ground – drenching the boffin and his calculations!   Accuweather is now ”Satuweatheration”.  It poured – but we had the bit between our legs (?) and the grindstone up our noses…

Rounding a bend near the campsite – I was in the lead – and I heard a loud ‘crash’ – K had skidded on the wet surface and went down heavily! The Os-car and the rear wheel wanted to carry on in a straight line, but K was trying to turn!  Motorists stopped and one kind lady got out to help – K was bruised but essentially ok – thanks to wet weather clothing, gloves – and helmet – otherwise a lot of skin may have been left on the tarmac.  Please all you motor homing cyclists – always wear your headgear… Much Arnica lotion applied – hot tea – and now Marsala – but not for rubbing in…

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Yesterday’s laundry hung up to dry – despite the dry forecast, showers started just before we set off.

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The end of the Fjord.


887 -Sunday 5th November:  Rovinj

We managed to free park just outside Rovinj to avoid Euro3.25 per hour for motorhomes!  Do they want us to stay and spend money or not?!? Same rate if you stay overnight.   Short walk to town – toured the nice Old Town and then – coffee and custard cake – no ill effects this time, thankfully…  Quite a few shops open and very keen to entice the limited supply of customers inside. 

Our chosen campsite (not a lot of choice, i.e. the only one on the point of Isria) was Brioni – very large – hundreds of pitches – only 3 vans, including a full-time englich couple in a large American RV! A virtually empty site – we pitched with a sea view. A walk to the headland Punta Christo – no chance we would attempt the “Indiana Jones” rope bridge. 

Right then, readers – nightfall and the early morning brought rain that would have deterred Guy Fawkes from his endeavours – he wouldn’t have been able to even light the fuse!!!

The forecast for the next few days is a bit ‘dire straits’……. we’ll be dry and snug with the bugs in our rugs….

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Rovinj from one side …

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… and then from the other.

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The campsite is on the coast and we can see the sea from our mid-priced pitch … there are a lot of islands and nature reserves off the coast here.

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This dog’s for turning at Punta Christo!  Normally Oscar will valiantly and reluctantly cross open metal grating, but this was a bridge too far!

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Not about the be shaken or stirred!  Since neither of my boys would cross, I didn’t have to feign courage and go over!

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Fort Christo … used right up to WW2, but now looking very deserted and locked up … I spotted a lady inside chatting on a phone and assumed she was a squatter.

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The other side of the Punta Christo was the light house and a strange collection of … ‘stuff’.  Spot the sign to the Nude Beach … and undressed beach?

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Some of the ‘stuff’.


888 -Monday 6th November:  Peeing in Pula

Peeing all over with that ‘pissitation stuff – stair rods, cats and dogs – oh, and rain as well!  A doggy training phone call for us re Oscar barking, jumping, etc – with the good folk at Devon Dogs – lots to focus on.  Jez submarined and aquaplaned to a local shopping Centre – and the intention was to walk/swim through the Old Town – no suitable parking – aborted – and back to base.

Thoughts on Croatia so far:

  • Dead after Halloween; most places shut, including most of the campsites.  Yet wild camping is illegal and punishable with huge fines.
  • Seriously lots of caravan storage places … mostly German vans.
  • Restaurants all competing for the tourist trade look for a USP, be it sucking pig or USA style ranch themes.
  • Coastline is pretty with the pine trees coming down to the rocky cost, we particularly enjoyed the bike ride north from Porec.
  • A major tourist destination given the number of campsites and less so apartments.
  • A mecca for nudist camps … the largest in Europe was next door to the Vrsar campsite …. not surprising that these are all closed from end September!
But it would be HELL in high season … nothing much to rush back to here.  I’ve looked at the weather map for the whole of Croatia and the wet, wet wet is set to continue all over for the next few days …. not much point trying to outrun it.  Anyone for a hot toddy?


878-883: Its 34C in Marakesh!

878 -Friday 27th October 2017:  Wet and Windy (and that’s just the weather!)

Quite wet wether but Northern Germany and Poland have been hit hard…. we vanpottered and waited for the skies to clear – walked into Oberndorf village, posted some cards and wended out way home… a very quiet sort of day.  The highlight was watching the Police arrive with a trailer full of bikes and then teaching youngsters how to navigate the roads safely.  Part of the car park had lanes and junctions painted and the kids carefully followed instructions, sitting erect and careful on their bikes … arms out fully stretched and horizontal with the tarmac to indicate a turn.  Our motorhome neighbour told us that the kids get a badge they can fix to their bikes.  We spotted other car parks with similar road markings.  I don’t think UK Police Forces fund this any more … or do they?

879 -Saturday 28th October:  Cycling to Sulz am Neckar

Dry skies but cold….cycling through a forest along the Neckar – each wearing tights under trousers! On to Sulz am Neckar – and a complete impromptu lunch – the local Fire Service seemed to be all there lunching – good honest food – and a little vino…..

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Maultaschen:  sausage filled pasta pockets with 3 different toppings … hearty fare in Germany.

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Even our home towns of Bristol and Aldreshot are warmer!

880 -Sunday 29th October:  A Good German Tradition – Kaffee und Kuchen

What’s with this cold and damp weather? Is it Europe in October?  A friend had posted that it’s 34c in Marakesh!  Very helpful, indeed…  We decided to move to another Stelplatz with electric @ 1 Euro for 8 hours – heating on.  Haigerloch on top of the hill – posh castle/hotel. We visited the “Atom Celler” where German scientists tried to split the atom during WW2 – for various reasons – the Allies bombed the place once they worked out where it was.  The scientist were interred after the war in a Cambridgeshire country house with CCTV in every room … Big Brother-esque, but less extreme, I should think!   “Kaffee und Kuchen” – coffee and cakes, getting into German culture. The cakes had an unusual effect on our tummies – no more details required!  

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Atom Keller – apparently no risk of radiation!

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The view down to the town after the walk back up!

 881 -Monday 30th October:  Were Off

A tentative fart – very sorry, readers – a tentative start (the other one was probably right too post cakes!) – awaiting news from Kerstin about the post – our green cards  – no, we have not joined the Green Party.   Green cards for insurance for taking Jez into the Balkans.  Phone call from Kerstin – and joy – we’re on the way back to Kerstinland. Gorgeous neighbours helped with the postal vigilance – checking K’s post box and placing the envelope in the garage so we could pick it up, as K is away. Much ‘dankes’ and away southwards….travelled all day and got just south of Munich – overnight car park in Neuberen – Halloween party locally until 6:00 am – oh the exuberance of youth!  K walked O to the town – archway – lots of painted old buildings, hotels and restaurants.

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Neubueren – another come back to place.

882 -Tuesday 31th October:  Not that RAMP again!

Grahame Leslie’s 81st birthday – we donated whiskey from Scotland… part of the fun was doing the sampling ourselves.  

As we motored through Austria and climbed through spectacular scenery – there was snow on the roadsides. We chose motorways after hours in the hills – splashed out for vignette – our progress speeded up. Then, like flash – we’re back in Italia – bella Italia – la Dolce Vita. Can you tell how pleased we are?  Possibly our favourite country – the people, food and wine…  and, of course the chaotic driving!  We recited our limited Italian at each other … a fav being “Strade piccolo, Camper grande … Possible?’ and K’s perfect sentence asking fro stamps for postcards to England!  Given we spent 6 months in Italy our linguistic skills leave a lot to be proud of.

Now then – 2 years ago in Chardonnay, our SatNav took us around Trieste to avoid the centre and motorways. But at one point, we came to a No Entry tunnel – and the only escape was to gun the van up a steep and narrow cobbled ramp with hearts in our mouths and the wheels scrabbling to gain a purchase!  We joked today as we skirted Trieste about that little fandango….. Minutes later, we rounded a corner and came to the same feckin’ No Entry tunnel!!!   The cobbled ramp is still there and we are a tonne heavier with less traction.  It’s called “Rampitupme Crustifer”!!!  A bit like the Egyptian Queen – “Ramitupme”.  We reversed subito and retraced our steps.  We ended up paying for a Slovene motorway toll for EUR16 for all of 5 km of motorway to avoid the ramp!  It’s sitting next to the Austrian one …. and we prefer to travel toll free!  The joys of motorhoming…  

Free aire with services in Gemona, some halloween noise from groups of kids – but a peaceful night – dreaming of cobbles. 

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Picture perfect Austria. 

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No stopping for us … we have snow chains but practising fitting them is still at the top of the To Do list!

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Sunset from our Italian Sosta.

883 -Wednesday 1st November:  Another New Country

Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia in 3 days for Oscar. Croatia new for K – I had stood on Croatian soil for 5 seconds 2 years ago when we thought we had wandered into Hungary… Lovely big Lidl lots of foodie things, aubergine, mozzarella, etc. Another m’way vignette (still visions of the Trieste cobbled ramp) – 5km again… Passports to show at border – holding up other cars as we retrieved them from our ‘gasafe’ secret store – now you all know – we’ll have to shoot you!  Or – you could sign “The Oscarficial Secretz Axe” – section 4 of course – for his birthday…  Approaching Porec, our chosen campsite was closed (in spite of their website saying otherwise). But all the campsites seemed shut – out of silly season….  Nice large free parking though with a few other vans, including one GB on our second day there.  We meandered into the old town and had our first Croatian wine….

“T’is the season to be jolly…..tra la la la la…”  Hang about, James – Christmas crumble is light years away – or is it?  Are the 2018 Easter eggs on sale in Asda yet?  52 shopping days…..yikes!!!  

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A nano stop just so Oscar could tread paws on Slovene soil. 

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Would that be the first HAPPY Croatian ice cream …

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 … And the first Croatian glass of vino? 

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Porec

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There are few vitamins in ice cream, thats why you have to eat so much of it!  

So true!