Our motorhome’s parked up in Autocamp Draga (N45.23937 E14.25011), Mošćenička Draga, Croatia. I’ve no idea what all those accents mean, or how to get them on this keyboard, I just copied and pasted the name of the town.
I’ll admit it, I’m tight these days. Our pot of savings is the only thing which stands between us and real life (getting a job), and it’s being eaten/drunk away (see below).
Croatia seems to be a mixed bag in terms of budget travel. Diesel is cheap, we accidentally bought the ‘performance diesel’ today for Dave, but it still cost only 9.61 kuna (less than £1) a litre. The restaurant around the corner wood-fires good-sized pizza for less than a fiver. However, we’re struggling to free camp, or even to stay in paid car parks, as we can’t suss out what the rules-on-the-ground are – we don’t know if the police will shift us on. At the moment, the campsite we’re on, which is in a ‘do these places really still exist in Europe’ spot is costing us about €25 a night. For a man of my level of tightness, that takes some taking. We are sat in the most enjoyable of spots though; we’ve stayed in few nicer during our time on the road. If it were any cheaper we may end up living here.
Once we’d finally arisen this morning, Charlie’s walk took me past the Bond villain yacht, complete with at least 12 white-suit clad, black boot sporting baddy henchman hosing it down. Rumours have it a single family live on this floating palace. We can’t guess what it costs to run, but we doubt the owner enjoys the freedoms we do at the moment. Past discussions with fellow year-or-two out motorhomers lead us to the same conclusion: if we had a million, we can’t think how we’d change our current lives.
Our Croatia and Bosnia map is now heavily annotated with arrows and dots, the product of an hour or two playing eyeball tennis between the Lonely Planet Guide and the mystical town names on the map. We don’t have an itinerary as such (we’re the Scud Missile of the planning world), but do at least have a vague idea of where Guide Book Man thinks we should go. Today’s target town: Opatija. We didn’t get there. This is the reason why not:
As we rounded a corner on our chosen bumbling B road, this is the sight that greeted us. An enterprising hotel had sprung up, with a penthouse cafe offering a 360 degree view over the island of Cres sat coolly within touching distance in the Adriatic. A honey sweetened tea (for me) and cold milk (for Ju) bought us a half hour of staring time, for the measly sum of 14 kuna (£1.40 ish).
From this point on, ‘Riviera’ is the fitting term for the place. The road swung in and out over the wooded toes of land, falling toward the calling ocean. As soon as a inexplicably empty shore-side car park was located, fins, mask and snorkel were on, and I was in. I can’t get enough ocean. The aquarium-clean water revealed huge star fish, each leg about 25cm. A 3m dive brought my mask close enough to see their tiny ‘walking legs’ feeling their way across the sea bed. The fish were plentiful, varied and colourful, I’ve seen them all before but don’t know any of their names. A few supermarket-sized crabs had me swinging my fin around for a ‘get off ya swine’ nip. ‘Free food’ crossed my mind, but I didn’t have the cahooners to try and catch the big fella without the use of a torpedo.
Playtime over, we jaunted up and down the coast until we found this camp. It sits a short distance from the harbour road, running down to a working, if small-scale, fishing port. Scaly grub’s secondary in earning terms to us punters these days, you can’t get near the town without going through a pay-and-dismay barrier.
Once you’re in, cafes and restaurants abound, but have a relaxed feel; hardly a single tout in town. The locals here default to German with foreigners, but can often, with ease and little indication of discomfort, switch to English too. Their linguistic abilities are jaw-dropping, reflecting their historic position as a gateway between the East and West; they’ve always been speaking languages-a-plenty.
Happy days, time for pivo number 2. Cheers, Jay
P.S. For those following the ‘door hinge’ saga, a quick update: the Hymer dealer we detoured to visit in Austria didn’t call or email as he promised. We feel used. :) The door hinge repair job has since failed, so the door’s now on 3 hinges and needs a carefully-placed knee action to close it. We found some ‘needs mixing together’ liquid metal stuff today and repair number five is currently setting in the bathroom. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll have a fully swinging door again.