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Krk Island (still)

As the title says, we’re still on Krk (pronounced Krik) Island.

This has to be one of the jewels of the Adriatic. It’s an ancient walled city ( dating back to pre BC times, but with loads of history from around 1400).

There’s obvious history of both inshore and deep sea fishing and with its mix of old & ancient buildings , cobbled streets and alleyways it makes eclectic walk – as you’ll see from Mrs Mac’s photos.

The harbour

Harbourside restaurants

Views of the castle

Park area

The town

After my previous entry, we headed off to a wine tasting in the site restaurant and a little bit of history from Boris, the site owner (who Sarah thought looked and sounded like a Benny Hill character- & that was before the wine tasting!).

So his father opened the site in 1985 and it was the first privately owned site in communist Yugoslavia ( a country where everyone is equal but others obviously more equal than others 😂). As the site increased in size and more olive groves were planted ( to provide shade) so they diversified into olive oil production. 5 years ago they commenced wine production using grapes from Istria ( the area we started the rally in). Needles to say, the wine tasting was a laugh and even though some wines were better than others, the spittoon was only a table ornament 🍷🍷🍷😂

Yesterday, we took another bimble into town where the finale was coffee and apple pie in a harbour side bar – and fabulous it was. So much so, that we raved to others about it and the remaining pie was gone within minutes.

Anyone foe apple pie?

Today is the last full day of the rally and some have headed out on a boat trip.

Mrs Mac and I headed out on Thunderbird 2 to look at the port of Malinska ( where ferries travel to the island of Cres). Then, after a quick lunch stop, we headed south to Punat along the coast road passing a water skiing training centre ( imagine a ski button lift in the water, towing the skiers along) and a huge marina and into the small village of Punat. We had intended traveling further south to Stara Baska but it was hot and we didn’t want to leave Rockydog on his own too long. Punat is a small village that although it has a mixture of bars and tourist shops is not overly invaded by the budgie smuggler in flip flop brigade and has a nice relaxed feeling about it.

The ferry

Views of Punat

So plans for the next few days. Tomorrow we will say farewell and Bon voyage to the rest of our group as they head home for Blighty. Some have tight deadlines, some will just be moseying, but we wish them all a safe and pleasant journey. We will move to another site in the town. Much larger but with a beach side location and more importantly a doggy beach ( that’s a beach where dogs are allowed not !!!!!!!!😂).

Then we might head further south on the island for a couple of days as there are a couple of sites that get a good write up and thereafter head to the island of Cres for a couple of days. Watch this space.

Finally, our purchase today- the whirly thing (not our friend) Maureen.

Omis to Kirk Island

Thursday saw a free morning for the group, followed by Strudel and coffee (or wine or beer) in the camp restaurant and a discussion regarding the route(s) to our next stop of Omis on the Adriatic riviera.

Friday’s drive took us down through the middle of Croatia to the coastal city of Split. The land through the middle is very barren and doesn’t appear to support much economy. The roads however are very decent with dramatic scenery and like a lot of the roads here, the are pleasant enough in a 25’ (8M) motorhome but they very probably need re-visiting on two wheels!!!!!

Having arrived at our site in Omis we were able to be parked in a group setting, allowing us a ‘wagon train’ formation with social space in the middle. This however didn’t seem to deter the other residents of the site who seemed to continually cut through our pitches on route to everywhere and anywhere.

Saturday saw us ready for an all day coach trip to visit the ancient fortress of Kliss, overlooking Split and the Adriatic (and also the setting for Game of Thrones) and then a visit to the island of Trogir. Both Mrs Mac and I were blown away with Trogir and feel its a hidden gem – upon entering the walled city (that’s only 500m wide) you are awe struck by the cathedral (and its ornate carved doorway from 1500), court house, old buildings and alleyways. Upon leaving the city by the South Gate you are on the main promenade with bustling bars and restaurants and many small cruise boats being replenished with supplies and passengers for 7 day cruises around the Adriatic islands.

A meal was also included in this trip with the choices being fish or meat. That should have been whale or whole pig! Needles to say, there were lots of left overs so a ‘doggy bag’ was requested and the contents shared between Rockydog and Mick (west highland terrier) the other dog in the group.

Kliss fortress – used in Game of Thrones

And again

View down from the fortress

Ahhhhh!

Photographs of Trogir

Bridge to Trogir

Trogir cathedral door – with ornate carvings

The Roman courthouse

The castle at Trogir

Views of the square

The South Gate

Sunday was a free day so we unleashed Thunderbird 2 and headed south along the Adriatic highway for about 15 miles exploring the roads and a number of the bays and stopping for a nice seafood lunch in a small village overlooking the harbour. This was another day where due to the temperature we were again riding in shorts and T shirts and although it goes completely against the grain, all I can say is, even in that clothing, its like riding in a massive hairdryer on full heat!

View from the Adriatic highway

And the beach below

Thunderbird 2 with Adriatic coast in background

Time for lunch

And the lunchtime view

Put Porta (bay) in The village of Pisak where lunch was partaken ( with restaurant in background)

Monday saw a group boat ride along the Celina river (main river that runs into the sea at Omis) with lunch at an old mill (now a restaurant) about 5 miles up stream. This gave us fabulous views of the mad folk free climbing on the vertical rock faces and watched in awe as people ‘zipped’ along the 7 zip wires traversing the gorge (the longest being 750m long and 150m off the ground) – another must when we return!

Views along the river

So far, Omis has been Rockydog’s best site because he’s been able to swim everyday and I even swam with him on a couple of occasions, however I don’t think he was impressed at my doggy paddle.

Rockydog with his big stick – he’s brought it with him.

Monday evening saw us meeting up with friends (Mary & Tony) who we met in Benicassim, Spain in 2016. We had drink in a lovely rooftop bar overlooking the marina before heading into back streets (that reminded me of a middle eastern medina/bazaar (previous influence in this country maybe?) for a nice meal and the most fantastic ice cream rolls for desert. (Thin strip of freshly made ice cream and rolled into a tube, similar size to a large brandy snap).

Making ice cream

And the serving

Tuesday was an early start and the 400 km drive to our present location, Kirk Island. This was achieved using a mixture of the Adriatic motorway and the Adriatic highway (coast road). The first part of the drive, the motorway, Mrs Mac undertook and allowed me to stare at the mountain ranges in the distance and the coast in parts where it was really high.

I undertook the second part of the journey on the Adriatic highway and whilst the scenery is dramatic, progress can be painfully slow and impatient drivers (local and tourist) mean that you constantly have to have your whits about you.

The majority of the traffic was south bound (nearest to the water) and I would suggest that 80% of that traffic was motorcycles (of all sizes and riders in all manner of attire – including one girl perched on the back of a large sports bike in what appeared to be shiny spandex/pvc trousers, flip flops and not much else!

Our lunch stop on route

We arrived at Kirk island and got settled prior to todays activities. They started with a group brunch – instigated by yours truly as we had been carrying 3 haggis (or is that Haggie?) around in our freezer without opportunity to eat them. It was a great success with different people cooking different ingredients and getting it on the serving table for 1100hrs – scrambled egg, fried tomatoes, beans, sausages, fried potatoes, bacon and haggis. And pretty damn good it was too. Great preparations for this afternoons wine tasting (with cheese) in the sites restaurant.

Big breakfast, ready for serving

Plitvice National Park

As stated in my post on Tuesday, we had headed south to the area of the Plitvice National Park for a organised trip and walk around the park area.

Wednesday saw the group ( except Sarah and another lady) stood waiting for our bus to take us the 10km to the entrance to the park area. It’s an area of 29.63 hectares ( I believe that’s quite big) with 16 major lakes and numerous smaller lakes stretches from a height of 1278m down to 386m at the base of the canyon of the Korana river. It is also home to Veliki Slap, the highest waterfall in Croatia at 78m – slap means waterfall in Croatian.

There are various walking trails leading from the entrance to the top of the park and these vary in times and distances. Our group had chosen. 5 mile (8km) route + a boat ride and road train return from the summit.

So we arrived shortly after 9am but unfortunately our guide didn’t arrive until 10am (communication mix up) by which time the park was busy busy busy. Apparently the biggest single nation to visit Croatia are the South Koreans – this is because a TV program shown there is filmed in Croatia. Well yesterday must have been National let’s go to Croatia day in Korea!

Mrs Mac chose to stay behind because Rockydog wasn’t allowed on the coach and she’d previously been made aware that a lot of the pathways around the lakes are uneven wooden duck boards measuring about 1m wide. As it happened, if she’d come, by about 1015 due to the volume of people, there would have been an international incident with a bus load of Koreans being knocked into the lakes, empaled on the selfie sticks ( they wouldn’t be smiling then) and Mrs Mac uttering in her defence as she was carted away to jail that they shouldn’t just stop dead to take piccys or walk hand in hand, twenty abreast.

Having viewed the lower lakes we continued along the paths meandering up to the sort of interm lakes where we undertook an electric boat ride across the lake before joining the path to the upper lakes and the road train station for the descent back to the entrance

View from the first viewing platform looking down to the lower lakes – where the trail leads down to.

If you expand the photo- in the centre you’ll see one of the wooden walkways

Gives you an idea,

The limestone apparently gives the water the green colour- although up close it’s really clear.

Mighty waterfalls

After our road train journey ( a Mercedes Unimog towing two large train like carriages, we made our way back to the park entrance and coach back to the site where some of the group headed for the bar and I returned to Mrs Mac and to see if Rockydog was talking to me, having been left behind.

Zagreb, a bit more

Apologies if my last blog post was picture less- this was mainly due to trying to get it published before we joined the group BBQ and needing pictures from Mrs Mac but she was busy doing other stuff and having just been stung on the hand by a wasp – more of that in my next post.

So as I said previously, Mrs Mac visited Zagreb on Saturday and here are some of her pictures:-

Band stand in one of the Squares – Zagreb has 3 main squares.

Zagreb art gallery- we didn’t go in

The Cathedral

Door to the Cathedral – Mrs Mac maybe getting ideas for a new doorway at home😂

The Croatian flag tiled into the roof.

Fountain in one of the city plazas

Gates to the city cemetery- where everyone is equal – NOT!

Zagreb and more

Firstly, apologies for the gap between this and the last post- this is mainly due to a return ( with vengeance) of the Bubonic man flu I had earlier in the trip.

On Friday morning we headed for Zagreb. There’s no real easy way to get to Zagreb except by using the autostrada or motorway or toll road or whatever you want to call it. All I can say, if anyone wants to come to Croatia, feel free to use the toll roads ( for nothing) as it would appear that we didn’t pay to use them, we bought majority shares in them (€35 for 110 miles!!!!!!) FFS😊

Prior to arriving at the site,we saw a large shopping centre with a Decathlon store so a quick stop and both mine and Mrs Mac’s wardrobes were updated.

Having arrived at our site (camping Zagreb), located on the edge of a lake the weather closed in and rain was forecast for that evening and the next few days.

That evening saw our group ‘ spice night’ – a faith supper. Basically each couple prepares a spicy dish and places it on the serving table and and everyone helps themselves . A good sociable night until about 9pm when it started raining and we split into a couple of different groups sheltering under awnings and carried on drinking.

Saturday saw an organised coach trip to Zagreb city at 9am. I volunteered Mrs Mac to go whilst I stayed back with Rockydog. Not because of the wine consumed and after effects of spice night, but due to the impending thunder & lightning forecast and the fact that Rockydog really is a wimp!

Mrs Mac tells me that the city has the most ornate cemetery and morgue as well as buildings with the Croatian flag built into their roof tops.

Upon the groups return there was an impromptu couple of beers in the bar before we all returned to our own vans, battened down the hatches and sat out the rain storm.

Sunday and Monday were free days with us just vegging during the day.

Sunday was also David & Debbie ( who a running the tour) wedding anniversary so we all headed to the local pizzeria- and very good it was too!

Monday, Mrs Mac and I headed into Zagreb on the train, just for a wander round and kill time. By this time, my bubonic man flu had returned and I was needing fresh air and just to be out and about.

Today saw us move down country to Pitvic which is a national park area with lots of walking, lakes, waterfalls etc. We have a trip booked into the park tomorrow.

On our way, we stopped in a lay-by for lunch and ended up chatting with a Dutch girl on a bike with a trailer and a dog. We provided her with a cuppa and cheese roll. Turn out she’s been traveling for 4 yrs and has been everywhere. She is ‘finding herself’ and has no ‘ties’ with Holland, anyone or anywhere. ‘Me for being cynical- got her picture- will send it to the Dutch National Police and see if she’s wanted.

So were set up on the site and preparations are underway for a group bbq tonight. Within 5 minutes of arriving, I had been stung by a wasp on my hand (between thumb and first finger – in that fleshy part) and Mrs Mac has been stung on the back of her leg.

As I finish, I will leave you with my thoughts so far on Croatia.

On the positive side, Very nice with dramatic scenery and people lovely and if under about 40, all speak English.

On the negative side,

Everyone seems to smoke. It’s like going back 20 yrs. Bars, trains, shops, everywhere, everyone is smoking (hence why American Tobacco have just opened a big factory here).

Scooping. Everyone seems to be scooping. Went in for fuel this morning at 11 o’ clock. Cafe/ bar attached to petrol station and at least half a dozen people inside drinking big beers(with cars outside)!

White lines in middle of road – purely for decoration – possibly see above🍺🍺🍺🍺😊

Pictures will follow😊

Camping Porto Sol, Vrsar, Croatia

So here we are still at the first site on the Auto-Trail Owners Club.

After my last blog where we were preparing to go out for a group meal – we didn’t realise it was at the restaurant of the site next door – not normally a problem except it’s a naturist site. Now I’m no prude ( nor is Mrs Mac – so she tells me) but the idea of sitting eating my dinner with known acquaintances and my tackle out and Mrs Mac’s wombles noses on display didn’t really light my culinary fire. Oh hang on, some of the sights ‘good and bad’ might really affect my digestive system also. Luckily it turns out that the naturist site was clothed after a certain time. Phewww😊 Actually the restaurant was on a wee island and the food superb and plentiful so Rockydog was not complying as the ‘doggy bag’ we brought home was plentiful.

A good meal and a few wines saw us home and to bed at a reasonable time.

Next day was a free day so we wandered round the small local town (Vrsar) and generally chilled. That evening saw a ‘group get together’ with wine and nibbles. A really good night catching up with folk we hadn’t seen for a while and meeting folk new to the group.

Sunset view from the restaurant

A good meal and a few wines saw us home and to bed at a reasonable time.

Next day was a free day so we wandered round the small local town (Vrsar) and generally chilled. That evening saw a ‘group get together’ with wine and nibbles. A really good night catching up with folk we hadn’t seen for a while and meeting folk new to the group.

Views of Vrsar town

Tuesday saw a group guided bus tour to Pula, the main town of the region (Istria) and a visit to the amphitheatre followed by proscciutto tasting (thin ham) before returning to the site about 1530hrs. I’m sure there were a few people would have proffered to be anywhere except on an organised coach trip that day, judging by the amount of red & white wine consumed the previous night – not least aided by Mrs Mac who came up with a cunning plan to drink less, keep herself busy playing hostess and make sure everyone else is topped up!😂🍷🥂🍸🍹

Pictures from our visit to Pula

Wednesday saw a partially free day which allowed Mrs Mac and I to unleash Thunderbird 2 and explore a couple of the nearby town and villages. All these seem to cater for the holiday trade and all have numerous hotels and caravan sites. We spent most of time in Poric, a larger town with a lot more hustle and bustle. We returned to the site in time for the organised Boules + Gin & tonic event. Not that we’re bad losers but it was a very makeshift court, mostly gravel with some tufts of grass and quite a few ripples. OK, we were knocked out in the first round! We couldn’t even commiserate ourselves with copious amounts of Gin as we’d previously decided that would be our ‘no alcohol day’ so we pretended, drinking iced sparkling water with a slice of lemon😊

Pictures from Poric

Today saw us bimble off and do some shopping on the cub, returning with the top box full and my rucksack (worn on the front) including a litre and a half of the local merlot. This is in preparation for moving off tomorrow to Zagreb.

This afternoon will be finished off with a visit to the beach and a swim in the Adriatic before dinner with some of the other group members in the site pizza restaurant overlooking the bay.

Rockydog informed as that he’s looked at the map and the site detail for the next site in Zagreb and informed us he’d rather stay here as he enjoys his early evening swims.

Finally, this area is synonymous with pork and a lot of the villages as you drive through them have suckling pig being roasted on display outside the restaurants…………… and believe it or not, I’ve not partaken, yet!🐖🐖🐖🐖🐖🐖🍺

Adria to Vrsar, Croatia and start of the ATOC rally

Well, after my last blog post saying it was threatening to rain, I can confirm it rained and very heavily interspersed with numerous thunder claps and displays of lightening. Although there were bars and restaurants on the site, they all involved a wet walk so after a unanimous vote it was decided to break out the supply of emergency DVD’s for an evenings entertainment

Saturday was still wet and miserable but that didn’t seem to bother Rockydog when we took him to the beach and he spent 30 minutes swimming.

Having had a bimble at the local parade of shops we decided on afternoon adjournment to a local hostelry to sample the local beer. Certainly very good but according to Mrs Mac, not as good as the Berchtesgaden beers we drank.

With the weather still yuk, Saturday night was another DVD night.

Today we left Ankaran for the short (85km) journey to Vrsar in Croatia to join up with the Auto Trail owners club rally.

Upon leaving Ankaran we travelled through the sea port of Kappor. My knowledge of this area is pretty rubbish but it strikes me that the most common commodity through the port is cars! Mainly German owned brands , Mercedes, BMW, Audi, VW (and all other brands Skoda, Seat) etc etc. Not sure if they now manufacture them all in Slovenia or if this has now become the main German shipping port. Anyone with any knowledge, please feel free to update me.

After approximately 20 minutes drive we approached the border between Slovenia & Croatia and actually had to stop and show passports at both borders. So much for free flow of movement between EU countries? – Apparently Croatia is like the UK and not subject to the Schengin agreement.

Glad that we were going to Croatia and not to Slovenia as there was a 3+ mile tale back to the border from the Croatian side.

The next thing that got out attention was signs for ‘money exchange ‘ bizarre thought us. Surely Croatia has the Euro as its in the EU. Wrong!

As you can tell, we’ve not really researched this bit of the trip, probably because it’s already planned for us – we thought all we had to do was turn up and have a good time!😊

Enough of that. We’ve arrived at our site for the next few days. Met up with friends from previous rallies and walked Rockydog and let him swim again.

So as we head for showers in preparation for tonight’s welcome meal, Rockydog is tucked up in his doggybag pushing out the ZZZZ’s.

The resort

The floating doggy water gym?

Gerona del Fruili to Adria, Slovakia.

After a very pleasant evening meal in the hotel Willy, the birthday girl and I headed to bed. The only problem being it was still very hot. Being plugged in, Mrs Mac decided it would be a good idea to run the air con during the night. Great for her. awful for me. Woke up dry throated, snotty nosed & with a mouth like the bottom of a budgies cage and a head with a pneumatic drill pounding away in it!

We had a lazy morning whilst Mrs Mac did some email correspondence before setting off with a route for Grado, a peninsula on the south east coast of Italy.

On route, the weather was hot, hot, hot. Knowing that our nights stop was without electricity we stopped at an Italian version on Curry’s PC world and purchased an additional ( but bigger) usb powered fan (to the one we currently have for circulating air in the van) to keep Rockydog cool.

To get to Grado you have to drive along a 5km peninsular which is pretty spectacular. We did notice that Italy appeared closed. We thought maybe it was siesta time but siesta time seemed to last well after 5pm.

We stopped at a 24 hour petrol station to fill up with LPG (GPL). After 5 or so minutes messing about and no gas forthcoming, we interpreted the sign on the pump – 24hours means 24 hrs except between 12:30 & 14:30 hrs. Obvious 😊

Upon arrival in Grado we parked up in as much shade as possible and left Rockydog (with his twin fans spinning into oblivion – pretty fantastic 😂) and set of to explore. It was hot. It was mobbed. Dogs not allowed on the beach (unless you paid). It was hot. It was mobbed. People of all different shapes and sizes. It was mobbed and it was hot. I’m sure you’ve got my drift. We didn’t bother wandering into the town but returned with the intention of just sitting outside, reading our books. Quick change of plan when both bitten to buggery my mossies so we headed indoors to try and benefit from Rockydog’s fans.

Fantastic !

Obviously the heat was too much for Mrs Mac, either that or she had decided she had become localised and off she went for a wee siesta!

Nothing spectacular to write about regarding the remainder of the evening and we were up at a reasonable time and out walking Rockydog before it got too hot.

After breakfast we set course for Triest. Well having driven through most of the outskirts of the city, initial views were that it appeared to be a very uninspiring and although a commercial port, there didn’t seem to be much going on. The weather forecast for the next few days are for rain, thunder, lightening and winds so a quick look at inter web and our books and we set course for Camping Adria, Ankara on the Slovenian border with Italy where we are currently hunkered down with air con on one minute, then off, on etc because the temperature seems up and down and all over the place.

Before we left Triest we observed an Italian Police check point in operation. Not much action, BUT, they think the looked good with their tight jodhpurs type trousers, knee high shiny boots, white pistol belts and mirrored aviator sunglasses. Immediately through the check point and we all (Rockydog included) burst into song, Young man ………………….. (bet you’re singing it all night,). Honestly, they all looked like the cop out of Wild Hogs.

Before I get carried away and forget about Italy totally, I feel I need to give those of you that are fashion conscious the heads up. Sequins. Yup that’s right. I don’t mean pearly king and queens but all colourful, jackets, trousers, sneakers, shoes, bags and more. And that’s just the men! Seen more sequins that a sequin factory.

This afternoon, having arrived and settled Rockydog in his air conditioned boudoir ( it was 32*), we unleash ashes Thunderbird 2 and did something really alien to us both. We set off to ride some of the coastal roads in just shorts and tee shirts – it was just so flaming hot!

Since returning the temperature has dropped (a wee bit) but there have been a series of loud thunder claps and bangs that have resulted in Rockydog shaking, panting & cowering (woose) and as I sit here and write, heavy rain is threatening.

Parked up on site and washing done.

Fusch to Gerona del Friuli, Italy

Well today is Mrs Mac’s birthday so I thought what better than give her the ride of her life. Having arrived at tonight’s stop, I can confirm that that is apparently that’s what I’ve done😊

We left our site around 11 this morning and made our way up towards the Grossglockner and the toll booths. Paid our money and started our ascent.

I can tell you, it’s a completely different game in our motorhome which is 8m (25 foot in old money) and 4.5 ton . I appreciate that buses and trucks use the road, but mostly today we were one of the biggest vehicles on the pass.

We headed to the top ( although not the very top )- that’s the bikers cafe and only cycles, motorbikes and cars are allowed up the cobbled road, parked up and released Rockydog for some off the lead R&R. He and I walked most of the way up the walking tracks to the bikers cafe before returning and enjoying lunch prepared by the birthday girl, al- fresco, enjoying the views.

After lunch we headed off south down the Grossglockner- we didn’t do this part yesterday on the Cub as we felt it would have been unfair on the little beast + time wise it would have meant Rockydog being on his own for most of the day.

The south side is completely different scenery and actually has more hairpin bends to negotiate.

As time was getting on we decided not to visit the glacier, however we will have to return soon in order to do that as it is disappearing rapidly and they reckon it will be completely gone in under 10 yrs due to climate change.

From Lienz at the south end of the Grossglockner we continued south headed for the Italian border via Oberdrauburg, Anas ( Italian border) Mauthern & Paluzza. The reason I mention these roads. If you look on the map ( ours is 1:750000 or 12miles to an inch). The roads look as if they have a few bends but in reality they are switch backs and either very steep inclines or declines.

Mrs Mac was certainly getting her birthday ride but as the back end of the motorhome swung out a few times, I don’t think she appreciated my singing ‘Self Preservation Society ‘ and uttering the words ‘ Hang of fellas, I think I’ve got a plan! – answers on remarks please.👍

During our descent we had a couple of ‘moments’ – one with an artic truck who was coming through the gap. Another with a car that was trying to overtake on a hairpin bend and finally with a very large expensive German made ( and owned) motorhome that was thundering up hill not abiding by the central white line and then panicked when he saw us.

All in all an eventful wee drive culminating with us arriving at our camp ground in the gardens of Hotel Willy where we’re plugged in and the air con is on for Rockydog ( it’s still 30* outside – 18:30hrs) and we’re off to the bar hopefully for a pleasant meal and drinks for the birthday girl

Some pictures of our site tonight at Hotel Willy