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Author: Maria Zehentner / Translation: Elke Weninger
Beitrag vom: 05.01.2017

Croatia, December 201r 

At the beginning of December 2016 the time had come that we left Austria via Villach, passed through Slovenija, crossed the boarder and arrived in Croatia.
On the motorway Akela was rolling the distance as far as Zadar, in central Dalmatia, without making any problems until we reached the harbour at 4:00 a.m.. Our destination was a place called Dugi Otok, a small island in the Croatian Adriatic Sea on which we arrived tired but very happy after 1,5 hours using the car ferry.

Finally, the day has come and we are off!

Dugi Otok conquered and won our hearts with its picturesque villages and hidden beaches, which have majestic cliffs and luscious vegetation. Life on the island appears simple and at remote places time seems to have stopped. During the summer many local people earn their bread and butter in tourism as many tourists spend relaxing and refreshing days there. The winter, however, appears to be meager and dreary. Some time spent on fishing, a few occasional and dead-end jobs, washed down with alcohol. Therefore, many members of the young population move to the mainland to earn a living there during that time.

We spent wonderful five days on Dugi Otok, our pitch where we stayed for that time was not to be grumbled or complained about either. We were falling asleep hearing wuthering surf, were daily woken up by heartwarming sunrise. Most of our time was spent outdoors, playing on the bach, going shopping and exploring the area. It was the first opportunity after the long preparation time to set our spirits free and relax a bit. Leander was ailing a bit, but luckily after three days had reached back his health again. 

On our last day on this great island we left Dugi Otok by car ferry and went back to Zadar. From there the road took us further into the direction of Makarska, a city located in the historic region of Dalmatia. It was pitch dark at night when we reached Brela, a suburb of Makarska and found a nice resting place to spend the night. The upcoming day we spent in the “city“. We were strolling along the almost endless esplanade, where there was a lot to be seen. Freshly caught fishes were offered directly from the boats, numerous cafés and restaurants were lined up in a row, in some of them nicely dresses ladies were enjoying and sipping a cup of cappuchino. There was the usual hustle and bustle in the pedestrian area. That Christmas was around the corner didn't seem to be of much importance or interest there. Some shops were decorated unobtrusively, at times fairy lights could be seen.

 

After our tour around the city we kept driving along the coastal road and when dusk was falling, turned off the road towards the village of Podgora, a place we had chosen randomly and on the spot to be a destination on our journey. It did not take long until we believed to have found a proper pitch to stay for the next few days. It was located directly by the sea, in the inner courtyard of a four star hotel being seasonally closed. Perfect! At least for a short moment as the lorry did not stand level, was leaning and therefore Leander decided to change its position. I had left the lorry to give him directions where to go when we suddenly heard a vague bang. The right rear tyre was just moving over a manhole cover which couldn't bear the weight and instantly gave in and dropped to the ground of the hole. The hole, about 1 meter by meter in size opened up. Leander dashed out of the lorry and we took a closer look at the mishap. Luckily we had more luck than understood. The whole area around the hole was curved and looked as if it might collapse and break. We had been incredibly fortunate that the entire lorry hadn't dropped with us inside!

After the initial shock, Leander was steering Akela onto a safe and steady road as if handling raw eggs. The next day we contacted the owner of the hotel to speak about making up for the damage and when handing €100 over to him the matter could be called forgotten. Our personal conclusion was never to look for pitches in the dark again but during daylight to save both nerves and money. Due to our stupidity we had to leave the magnificent pitch in the inner courtyard of the hotel behind. Christmas by the sea – no longer possible! Yet the Christmas angels were on our side and directed us to a village called Gradiac just a few kilometers further on, where we found an even nicer pitch near a beach and, more importantly, one with a solid ground. 

 

And then the 24th December had arrived. Lennox dearly hoped that the Christ-child would find him in Akela due to our GPS coordinates. No matter where he was located. 

The day ran rather unspectacularly and calmly. In the morning we walked into the center of the village Granac, treated ourselves to some coffee and “Pikles”, a sweet dish which in our area is known as “Gebackene Mäuse”, a deep fried sweet dish. The remaining day we spent on the beach or in the hammock in bright sunshine. 

When dawn was setting in, Leander and Lennox were decorating a branch of a pine tree with Christmas decorations we had brought along with us. We didn't want to do without any tradition. The branch looked lovely and conjured up a hint of Christmas in our living space, our living cabin.

We dined Mexican Salsa sauce and chicken with potatoe wedges as a side dish since we wanted an alteration from the usual roast pork which I was already fed up with...and in no time and though hard to imagine, even on 12m² there were moments in which the Christ-child could slip in without anybody noticing it.

 

On the 25th we packed our gear and made Akela ready to drive. We were off to Dubrovnik. This city, due to its cultural importance, is also named the Pearl of the Adriatic and in 1979 its entire Old Town was added by the UNESCO to the List of European Cultural Heritage. 

Though the city appeared beautiful to us as well we had expected more of this metropolitan city - somehow to be more impressive and stunning. The Old Town was sinfully overpriced and behind the fronts the walls were crumbling and we could see broken buildings everywhere. A bit like “all show and no substance”. For the photographer among us, Dubrovnik presented itself from its best side. Pictures were taken from any possible angle, yes, this work had to be done.

 

We spent one night in Dubrovnik and then carried on along the coastal road again towards the south, convinced to find a nice pitch near or next to the sea once more. However, when we had left  Dubrovnik just a few kilometers behind us, the landscape changed dramatically. Abundantly covered rolling hills, on which lemon and orange trees were growing, flowed over into arid, wild shrubland. Everywhere abandoned houses and dilapitated ruins could be seen. Dirt and refuse was piled up alongside the roadsides. The civil war among various peoples of this area in the 1990s has severly left its traces and it could be sensed as well. This desolated landscape had a bit of an impact on our mood as well. We kept driving and driving, yet weren't able to find a suitable pitch for the night. Right at dusk, we arrived in Prevlaka, a peninsula on the furthest southern part of Croatia, at the boarder to Montenegro. Before the civil war Prevlaka had been a military base of the Yugoslavian People's Army. This peninsula has always been of great importance due to its strategically perfect location in the Bay of Kotor and this is also why in 1996 a UN basement was erected here, though the basement could be abandoned again when the situation had calmed down. There was more than enough space for us to stay at that place, however, we still didn't really feel comfortable there. 

After the night there we examined the former UN basement in more detail. We went past halls and various buildings, climbed up an observation tower, and were almost certain to identify a command center. Everything was destroyed, windows smashed and broken, the wind sweeping through the buildings. A cold shiver ran down our spine and we were relieved and happy when we could leave this location behind us.

Prevlaka was only a few kilometers off the boarder to Montenegro. Meter for meter, Akela slowly moved up the steep road towards the control point. The officials on duty took their time to check our papers and documents. After about half an hour we were allowed to pass without any problems.

Good bye Croatia, welcome Montenegro!!

Comments (8)

  1. Barbara
    Barbara at 06.01.2017
    Hallo Ihr Drei,
    wir haben schon sehnsüchtig auf Eure ersten Einträge gewartet und was sollen wir sagen........ ohne Worte :-).
    Einfach super geschrieben, so mit Leben gefüllt.

    Wir freuen uns schon auf den weiteren Reiseverlauf und Eure Abenteuer.

    Viele Grüße aus der Oberpfalz.
    1. Maria
      Maria at 18.01.2017
      Hallo liebe Barbara,
      vielen Dank für dein liebes Mail.
      ja, jetzt sind sie da die ersten Eindrücke ;-) Es geht uns soweit ganz gut. Ist alles noch neu und ungewohnt, aber es wird ;-) Weihnachten haben wir sehr nett gefeiert, ganz ruhig und einfach. selbst das christkind hat uns im kleinen Ort Gradac/Kroatien gefunden.
      jetzt sind wir in Griechenland. Griechenland we like ;-) die Leute extrem freundlich...
      Bussi an deine lieben
      liebe Grüße und ich drück dich, für Pauline ein Küsschen
      ML2
  2. Tom
    Tom at 12.01.2017
    Eine sehr gemütliche mobile Wohnung hab Ihr da!
    Da hätte ich auch gerne Weihnachten gefeiert....
    Super coole Fotos....wir wollen mehr sehen.
    Viel Spaß beim Entdecken u Grüße aus dem Winter ;o)
    1. Maria
      Maria at 18.01.2017
      Hallo Tom,
      vielen Dank für dein nettes Mail.
      Ja, Akela ist wirklich sehr gemütlich, wobei er schon seine Macken hat ;-)
      Das Kompliment für die Fotos gebührt Leander.. ;-)
      Wir schicken dir ebenfalls Grüße aus dem verschneiten Griechenland, viel Spaß noch beim Weiterverfolgen...
      lg ML2
  3. Maria Briedl
    Maria Briedl at 17.01.2017
    Hallo Mary!
    Hoffe, es geht euch 3en gut. Fotos sind super - einige Abenteuer habt ihr auch schon hinter euch. Ist es in Griechenland immer noch so winterlich?
    Wünsche euch weiterhin eine gute Reise und viele nette Erlebnisse.
    lg Maria
    1. Maria
      Maria at 18.01.2017
      Hallo Mary,
      danke für dein Mail. Es geht uns 3 sehr gut, Lennox war zwischendurch krank, aber jetzt passts wieder. Griechenland war bis Meteora extrem verschneit. wir sind zu den Klöstern gefahren bei 50 cm neuschnee. aber es war herrlich, keine touristen, so mysthisch... im sommer hätten wir nie direkt bei den klöstern übernachten können. jetzt im winter hat es niemanden interessiert...;-)
      in griechenland findest halt an jeder ecke etwas geschichtliches, es ist schon ein tolles land, sehr sauber, und die menschen sind super nett...
      nach 3 tagen athen gehts morgen mit der abendfähre rüber auf kreta für 1 woche
      liebe grüße an alle
      maria
  4. Judith
    Judith at 29.01.2017
    Hi Maria, Leander and Lennox
    It was great to meet you this week at Lentas. What an adventure, and what a vehicle! Michael loved the van and is doing lots of research on similar ones...
    We are looking forward to following your travels. Great blog, with fantastic photos.
    We wish you a safe and enjoyable journey.
    Regards, Judith and Michael
    1. Maria Zehentner
      Maria Zehentner at 01.02.2017
      Dear Judith,
      thank you for your mail. It was also a pleasure for us meeting you in Lentas.
      If Michael does lots of research for similar vehicles, maybe we will see us again, far - far away! would be great.
      We are still on Crete. Today we arrived at Balos Beach, the roads were ok, and the truck did it well! This place is really amazing. Lennox was in the sea, i think, tomorrow we will still stay here. The weather says no wind.
      Thank you for following our blog, we hope you will enjoy it further on.
      Judith and Michael, we wish you all the best, and luck for all your journeys
      greetings ML2

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