Croatia
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Camp and day’s information: Saturday, 11th  June 2005

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N of Dubrovnik
Shrub Clearing Bushcamp

 N42°45.756'
 E17°53.742'

 122463

 203

 105888

Warm (20°C), but cool wind

Yoghurt. Smoked ham & potato salad. Pizza

Waking up to the magnificent mountain views was a great way to start the day.  The road wrapped around the mountains and down through the valleys to Cetinje, the ancient capital.  Many princes lived in Cetinje and ruled from here, but we found the town a little disappointing.  Perhaps it was because it was still early and the place had yet to come alive, but it wasn't a very striking or vibrant.  There was a beautiful old church and a fairly large 18th century monastery at the foot of the hill, but the museums wasn't open, so we just wandered about the place.  One of the interesting things we saw was paper obituaries pinned to the trees in the town.  It is not something we have noticed previously.

     

We continued up the through the mountains and the road twisted and turned through the most spectacular scenery.  We started descending down to the coast through a series of tight switchbacks, of which there were about 30!  The road was incredibly narrow and when we passed traffic, most of the time one of us would stop entirely to allow the other to pass safely.  The same could not be said of a tour coach and Mercedes at one of the hairpin bends (luckily, nobody was hurt).  We stopped about half way down at a look out area which gave terrific views of the town of Kotor.  The Adriatic Sea channels in among the mountains to create what looks like pristine Nordic lakes.

We bought some delicious Njegosevan smoked ham from a small stall and we sat on Nyathi's roof eating it along with potato salad and olives.  We definitely had the best position.  We met Luka and Jake who work for the Montenegro brewery Pivara Trebjesa which brews Niksicko beer.  Jake bought us two cans of it to taste from the roadside stall and Luka gave us a set of 12 lager glasses and two caps - it was remarkably generous of them - thank you!

  

Many tour buses stopped at the lookout point and we chatted to quite a few of the tourists.  We made our way down the mountain negotiating the last of the tight hairpin bends.  We drove  through the picturesque town of Kotor and followed the winding shores of the Adriatic Sea.  The water was crystal clear, fed every now and again from the gorges by turquoise waters fizzing down the rocky hillside and into the calm sea water.  We stopped to take photos an a regular basis of the beautiful scenery and the many old ruins littering the coast some of which are ruined from age, others (once we entered Croatia) from war.  When we exited from Montenegro they did a more extensive search then when we entered.  The customs official even opened up our first aid kit and had a very good poke around.  Entering Croatia was easy!  Everyone was very friendly and the officials walked up to us to help instead of us having to ingratiate ourselves.  They glimpsed through our passports, asked us if we had anything to declare and sent us on our merry way.  The first of the many bullet-ridden buildings we saw was in a lovely little resort on the sea, just south of Dubrovnik.

  

Dubrovnik is a tourism gem.  It is situated at the base of stark, rock mountains and surrounded by azure blue seas.  The sea was host to all sorts of sae-going vessels from fishing boats, to glass bottomed ones.  We saw an enormous cruise liner out in the bay (it was too big to fit in any of the ports or marinas) and then later in the day we saw a beautiful old wooden boat, nicely restored and carrying a a bunch of very merry passengers who were singing loudly enough for us to hear them from the top of the hill!

  

We decided to check out the nearby campsite, which had very good facilities, but at €18 a night, we decided to rather bush camp later on in the evening.  We wandered down to Copacabana beach, which was pretty (in a resort kind of way).  We drove back into the old town and parked Nyathi in a narrow parking bay just above the walled city.

The walled city is stunning.  It was badly damaged by the Yugoslav army in 1991 and has been well refurbished.  The walkways are paved with marble and the buildings glow in the warmth of the sun.  We walked down the main promenade toward a beautiful clock tower and it is a real tourist trap with shops selling all sorts of clothing and souvenirs to willing tourists!  The marina is flanked by the imposing city wall on the one side and the rocky hillside on the other.  Pleasure boats sway gently  on the calm waters which lap gently up against the dock.  It really is idyllic.

As you wander through the streets and narrow alleyways evidence of the war in the form of shell damage and the odd bullet-splattered wall remind you that this place wasn't always so peaceful.  It was wonderful to see the local folk sitting in the shade in front of a cathedral, chatting and watching the world going by.  The children were playing football in the confines of squares and alleys kicking the ball up against the old buildings with a loud thud.  We have discovered the Croatians are very friendly and we often get the thumbs up, or waves as we drive past in Nyathi.  The officials have also been very pleasant to deal with.

We shared a delicious pizza for dinner, which was just what the doctor ordered!  Further north we found a great little campsite in some dense shrubs just off a small village road near Majkovi.  We were very fortunate as it wasn't looking too promising and our light was fading fast.  There were thousands of minute midges flying about - they looked like drizzle in the air.  As a result, we didn't spend too much time outside!