Week 2-3 – Austria to Slovenia to Croatia

For trip index look HERE, and for all pics look HERE

So week two started with our 2nd night at the Austria camping, but then we left heading via the top corner of Italy to Tarvisio, a little ski resort town which entertained us for about 5 minutes, but then we went about 20 min south to a beautiful Lago del Predil – a quiet lake with virtually no one around and a stunning vista – a perfect place for wildcamping.  And a full 4G signal!  Handy as we had stuff to do. 

Sadly overnight the moon was too bright to stargaze, but otherwise – perfect.  We met a Czech couple who had just come from Slovenia and had just been fined €100 for wildcamping – so does look like that law is being enforced…..  

So in the morning when we left towards Slovenia, we headed to the Lake Bled campsite.  Interestingly, it was an ACSI site @ €22/n – but then €3.30 per person per night tourist tax, plus €1 registration per person – so does seem tourists are being charged whatever is possible, a thought continuing where every parking area is €5 or €10.  Not a friendly start for a country to explore randomly  That said, beer and diesel is reasonable.

At Bled, we cycled to the Vintgar gorge and hoped to explore some on the bike, but the gorge is walking only and one-way – so no way Mel would make it round.  At €10pp anyway that meant more beer money.  After cycling around Bled a storm came and washed the van.  Less effort than doing it by hand!  Second day, I did a run around (about 6km) and then we hired a rowboat to visit the chapel island.  Sadly too many steps for the boss so we missed out dinging the bell and some recommended ice creams, but just rowed around which was really rather pretty.

From Bled, we headed towards the capital – Ljubljana – and parked in a paid campervan parking area and scooted into the city.  Nice enough but didn’t blow our socks off – quite touristy and the odd characterful street, and plenty of bars and eateries – so we tried quite a few and just about made it back.  The castle/park was too up hill to try so we just looked from afar.

For something different, the next night we stopped at a local farm who allow campervans if you eat with them in their fairly priced restaurant.  A beautiful and quiet spot and nicely different and very much local Slovenian cuisine. 

Then farewell to Slovenia and over into Croatia which required a customs check and more passport stamps in/out.  Our route was via the hilltop town of Motovun which looks spectacular. 

Though the roads we took to get there were so bad and narrow we decided not to drive up (where parking would’ve been a mare) – and sadly we weren’t in a position to walk up, something we would love to have done for a nosy explore but hey ho.  Onward to the Adriatic coast and a campsite just north of Porec.  Like Slovenia, overnighting outside of campsites is prohibited and frequently enforced with large fines. So a fair few days of campsite stays and chilling as well as a few outings

We managed a 20 mile ride into Porec which is a lovely old town, very characterful, but very full of tourists and tourist shops and restaurants with waiters/owners being a little harassing to take you in.  Something we hate – we always go to the place who gives us no grief.  Almost like being back in parts of Asia!  Would be loads better without *other* tourists!   But the quiet lanes and countryside and the non touristy parts are really characterful and interesting and much more to our taste.  From the camp pitch the sea is close and we have even had some dolphins in the bay.

Second day we cycled to Novigrad which in itself was a bit touristy but pretty, but the ride there was through dirt tracks, olive groves and very picturesque countryside – worth it just for that.  But in itself, Novigrad didn’t win any awards.

Moving further south we stayed at site just north of Rovinj so cycled there for a day.  Has to be said, some parts were really touristy, but some parts were quiet.  Its an old hill town with lots of windy narrow “lanes” which are just about walkable, but we did manage to find some off-the-beaten-track ones that managed to take us to the top.  Bit of a burner, but worth it for the views.  Very much a place worth visiting and exploring or, like us, cycling around annoying the walkers.  Lovely bit of coast though.

Furthers south still, on this bit of a bump, we then stayed near Puna – which is a must see city, not the prettiest in places as it’s a working dock, but the old town is very pretty and inviting and there are some old Roman remains including a large amphitheatre.  We were able to cycle round and grab a beer at the top (its on a slight hill) but didn’t go in with the bikes – but nevertheless an impressive sight.  After exploring more we headed back to the site which just so happened to have a wakeboard park next to it.  Mel unable to at the moment, and fortunately I had a list of excuses (water was choppy, cable went clockwise (we used to do anti-clockwise), and I had consumed a few beers) – but even so I was just about able to get up and do a few laps but only just and not very impressive and definitely out of practice.  No doubt pay with a few days of aches.

We did try and do an evening ride to some old ruins, but the tracks were too rough (even popped my wheel from frame so I ended up stuck in the bushes) and the route seemed to be fenced off by some soldiers.  Still, a pretty place to be!

We were tempted to stay another day, but decided to head off inland – some really tight n twisty hilly roads so was quite a chore, so ended up in a seaside village for lunch.  Lesson learned  – a “caution workmen” sign actually can mean road closed…..  So we did get shouted at by some workmen (sorry!) and had to squeeze the van through an impossibly tight gap – but fortunately just came through unscathed.  How is another question, but we did.  Eventually we ended up inland at a tiny village called Kuterevo which has nothing to note except a bear sanctuary!  And they let you park overnight with a suitable donation, and they even have a bar…  We saw a few of the big bears, the smaller ones asleep – but we’ll say our hellos to them at morning feeding time.

Beautiful countryside and a very “rustic” bar, and with the heat and the wildlife as well as the rugged views, it was almost like being back in Asia…..   And thus ends out third week.

To week 4….

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