5-6 September: And so back to the UK!

Author: Mr (and Mrs) A

Location: Dieppe to Newhaven ferry, English Channel, Europe

And so after just over 4 months touring Europe (we find ourselves already distinguishing that from the UK!) and we are on our way back to the UK. A time to reflect on our experiences.

We started Europe on a high, with a few days with friends (new and old) Champagne tasting
We feasted in a farmhouse in Provence

110 of those nights were spent camping, in all sorts of places from car parks in the middle of towns, ‘fancy’ (often not) campsites charging more than a hotel, vineyards, oyster farms, beside crumbling castle ruins…and so the list goes on. What those places had in common was a respect for other campers. Even when crowded together a metre apart, not once were we were disturbed by thoughtless noise from our fellow campers or passers by. In Australia, as our camping friends know, you’re lucky to go a couple of nights without some booze ot drug fuelled hoons running your serenity. A very different culture here, both on campsites and on the roads. We’ve loved that.

A vineyard with a view in Barga, Italy
Magical sight of Assisi complete with friendly cats
Seafront views complete with oysters in Brittany
A little bit of history in Normandy

What we’ve missed is the ability to just chat to people easily because we share a language. This morning my trip to the boulangerie went particularly smoothly, even ending up with what I thought I ordered, a rarity I have to say. There was a real sense of achievement in that, given my very sad state of linguistic ability. I spent French lessons at school being mostly slapped with a ruler by a very uninspiring educator. I will though miss being challenged to learn at least the basics to show courtesy to our local country hosts. But our UK friends and family beware, we are incoming with A LOT TO SAY!

Plenty of English spoken with friends in La Marche, Italy
New friends made in Austria
Old connections reestablished in Germany…

We have loved the variety of scenery and culture that Europe offers. You drive a few miles down the road and everything you see changes so fast. The landscape, the architecture, the farming, the signs (despite the EU’s best efforts), it’s a constant assault on the senses and we have loved it. The variety in the food as well, stacked up in supermarkets groaning with options. And please explain why you travel 20km down the road and go from one “country” to another and the food is completely different. How did that come to pass? Well I’m glad it did anyway. For us, Italy was an absolute standout winner on the dining-out front, quality, price, service, ambience…all just brilliantly executed. And on dining in, well we found great fresh produce everywhere, and the very talented Mrs A turned that into awesome lunch and dinners in our little Truffy.

From Italian hilltop villages…
….to fields of poppies….
To Lake Bohinj in Slovenia….
…and Slovenia’s Lake Bled…..
Alpine lakes in northern Italy
Incredible scenic cycleways in Austria

In the driving department (there’s only me working in that one), it was a little stressful to start with getting used to the dimensions of our Fiat truck, with its the manual gear box changed with the right hand (it is left hand drive), plus everything happening on the other side of the road. But…OK…settled into it. A few hairy moments, like driving into a tunnel in Italy having roadworks performed, which clearly didn’t involve fixing the tunnel lights, and seeing massive lorries thundering towards me in the other lane, usually reserved for traffic going the same way!! But I have to say while on the subject of Italy, the drivers there were some of the most courteous we encountered, overtaking in places I wouldn’t, but understanding of my constraints in Truffy. We had one horn honked at us in 4 months, I was a little cautious after the tunnel nightmare of every dark yawning hole that I approached…a little too carefully it would seem.

Finding somewhere to park for the night, even in the middle of the high season, never presented a problem. We didn’t always like the prices or the facilities, but there was always somewhere. France the clear winner here. Their network of places to pull up, refill with water, empty your grey and black water, is just fantastic, and many of these are free. We always tried to make sure we went into the town though wherever they were and spent some money, only fair. Many of these places were no more than scruffy car parks with a bit of kit in the corner that allowed for the emptying and filling, with various degrees of success and cleanliness. Mrs A was also an absolute wiz at researching all of these stopovers, allowing me to focus on getting us there in one piece. What a team!

Diverse scenery in Austria…
Our bikes that took us for literally hundreds of kilometres
Our packrafts allowed us to get away from the crowds and see some wildlife

So what would we have done differently? I asked Catherine this yesterday and we both agreed…very little. Splashed out on an awning for Truffy to keep us cooler, that’s about it. We also knew we had a great team in our dealer’s workshop to talk to if something went wrong with Truffy, which it rarely did. We loved the layout of the van, but more of that in a separate post. Having almost constant internet thanks to our 4G signal booster on the roof and a super plan from Vodafail…connectivity and therefore information was almost always on hand…well except in Germany where they seem to be strangely lagging in the internet department given their usual level of efficiency! Even the amount of time on the road felt right, if we hadn’t have had our stopovers “drive surfing” through France and Italy we think it would have been more challenging. As it was we got to stretch ourselves out every so often and move our elbows while having a shower…luxury.

A bit of drive surfing to celebrate a big birthday in Italy
And another big birthday celebrated in Croatia, island hopping by boat and cycling

So…friends-and-family time next and we are both really excited to be doing that. One thing we have noticed about writing this blog, our friends don’t feel they need to check in and share what they’re up to (or maybe it’s the excuse they’ve been looking for all along!?).) We have so much catching up to do.

Red legged bees in Slovenia

Then at the end October its back to Australia, our fur child and Aussie based friends. That also is something to look forward to. Retirement…the holiday that never ends. Or sorry I should say “career break” for Catherine. She gets a bit touchy if I say “we’re retired”. She’s clearly too young for that, and spends a chunk of her time volunteer-working on her role as admin for the health support group she runs along with research with doctors across the world. Much to admire in my wife…

26-28 August: Across in to north western France

Author: Mrs A

Location: Coulon, Parc regional du Marais Poitevin, and Borgneuf-en-Retz, France

We farewelled the eastern Loire Valley and continued on our way west, heading towards Brittany. We visited the Loire region extensively three years ago, and the memories of the beautiful chateaus and cycleways are still fresh in our memories – we don’t feel the need to renew them quite yet with so many places we have not seen.

After a brief overnight stop to tackle our washing, on Tuesday we arrived in the small town of Coulon, in the Marais Poitevin regional park. The regional park has quite a unique look and feel to it.

An intricate web of streams link up to more major arteries and canals

Looking at Google Maps you can see a web of waterways criss-crossing the countryside. The regional park stretches across 112,000 hectares all the way down to the coast, but we were here to explore the section around Coulon which comprises of two main areas – the dry marsh (which is used for agriculture) and the wet marsh (known as the ‘Green Venice’) which floods during winter. The park is important for migratory birds and rare wildlife such as the European otter and is France’s second largest wetland.

Five hundred years’ of work has gone into creating and managing this area, with the efforts of monks from five abbeys across the region responsible for the initial creating of the waterways in order to create viable land for farming and agriculture.

After setting up in the municipal campground, we jumped on our bikes for an explore. Coulon clearly does see itself as a Green Venice, with barques (a style of punting) and rowboats lining the waterways, but the tourist numbers on this Tuesday afternoon were not quite filling the capacity.

Plenty of boats for hire in Coulon and only a few rented out…this is the last week of the French summer school holidays so things are getting quieter

There is a good network of cycleways around the area, with well marked trails on boardwalks over the marshes and cycle paths off road and along quiet lanes into local villages. We did a short 20km circuit before returning for the night.

View of the canal from the village of La Garette

The following morning we decided it would be the ideal opportunity to inflate our pack rafts and head out for an explore by water. We launched from just in front of our campsite onto La Sevre Niortaise, the main waterway going through Coulon. But instead of heading into the throng of rowboats and tourists we turned right, and went into the quieter waters upstream, hoping to find some unsuspecting wildlife.

And we’re off….excited to be back on the water after a break
Heading off down one of the smaller streams

We found an opening in the river bank and set off down it, hoping we would find our way out of the maze at some point, but excited to see what was beyond.

Paddling quietly, hoping to see some furry otter action
Turn another corner and another watery pathway leads through the trees
Perfectly still reflections

And what a scene awaited us. The waterways are lined with poplars and ash trees, the still waters creating incredible reflections. Moreover, it was only about ten minutes into our paddle that we saw our first otter, swimming along the water’s edge and climbing out to retreat to safety. Our strategy had paid off!

After this magical experience of seeing a rare otter in the wild, we chalked it up as luck, until Mr A cried out again ‘look, is that a cat running along through that field?’. The answer was ‘no’! It was actually another otter bounding along through the grass. Are these things rare or what?

Ash and poplar trees line the waterways, cut back to short stumps to prevent them toppling over during winter storms
Back to the village of La Garotte where we explore back gardens leading to the waterways
There are more waterways than roads in these parts
Back in Coulon before heading off for a late lunch

We saw our third and final otter not long after, swimming across the channel in front of us, head held high. It seems we were very fortunate. We excitedly told a local boat guide what we had seen, and he said he very rarely has seen one, let alone three. I guess otters are not used to the stealth like approach of us on a pack raft compared to the chattering of tourists on rowboats or barques.

Over a late lunch we debated whether to stay another night or move on, and settled on the latter. More adventures await us! We hit the road and continued on our journey west, aiming for Brittany, the region of France closest to the south west of England. After our 8km paddle we had worked up a thirst, and thought a wine tasting and stay on a vineyard as part of our France Passion membership might be in order.

It was around 5pm that we pulled up at Martine and Gérard Padiou’s western Loire Valley vineyard ‘Domaine des Priés’. We entered the cellar, as is typical in France, situated below the main house.

Martine welcomed us and offered a degustation from the wide range of wines grown and produced on their property, including the grape typical of the Loire Valley region, grolleau. The name grolleau is derived from the French word for crow, and is said to describe the deep black hue of the grapes.

A wide selection of wines available for tasting
We bought a bottle of the Grolleau Gris which was dry and fruity, not acidic…it will be nice with a seafood entree one evening!

We purchased a couple of bottles of wine, both very reasonable (the Grolleau Gris at €3.80 and the Abouriou Grolleau at €3.40) and headed off to the vineyard for the night.

Catherine and Martine, working our way through the French language!

There we found ourselves a level parking spot between the rows of grapes and settled down for the night to listen to owls hooting and hunting among the vines.

Cosy in the vines for the night
Grapes are looking plump and almost ready for harvest
A fine conclusion to a fabulous day

29- 30 June: Back at Camping Stobreč near Split

Author: Mr A

Location: Stobreč, Split, Croatia

Saturday: It was time to disembark our cruise and head back our campsite just south of Split. Another load of passengers would be joining the boat in two hours, so no break for this hardworking crew. Youth unemployment in Croatia has run at an average of 33% in the last few years, although thankfully at least dropped this year to 20%. We see a determination to work hard and put in really long hours though to feel secure. We wished them well and also our friends, who would be going seperate directions from here.

Stobreč Harbour

We headed back to our campsite down the coast from Split that had been storing our motorhome. Thankfully all was well. Camping Stobreč have been super helpful to us, keeping an eye on it for us while we were away. Another set of mostly young staff who put in incredibly long, hard hours. I hope Croatia finds industries other than tourism to diversify its economy and provide a year round income for the locals, who have to put up with their infrastructure of roads, ports and airports groaning under the weight of visitors in the high season. I can see why there is a touch of resentment from some that they don’t get to enjoy their own beaches, restaurants or scenic town centres in the good weather.

We unpacked into Truffy our petite motorhome, filling every available nook and cranny, had a cuppa and oh no…the power has gone off from the mains supply. We soon established with from the camp’s ever helpful staff that it wasnt on their side the problem lay. Running out of ideas of what to check after the usual cut out switch check, we sought help from multiple sources; our dealer (but it was a Saturday lunchtime in the UK), the Hymer Owners Group Facebook site and then in desperation I called the local Croatia Camper rental company to see who they might use for repair. Well all three were gold.

Within minutes we were getting suggestions of what to check from the owners group (this site has been our guide and saviour!), then I got though to the camper rental owner, who sent his brother round who was at the local beach and arrived a few minutes later! As he arrived and started eliminating issues the phone rang and it was our dealer’s workshop. Between Dave from Fuller Leisure and Robert from Croatia Campers the problem was tracked to an unplugged wire that I had managed to dislodge when cramming our gear into a wardrobe containing our cut out switch! A big thanks to all. This blog helps us a little bit to be able to return a little value to all those suppliers who have made our travel so relatively easy compared with the challenges we faced in Australia. I wonder why its so different? Is the “Lucky Country” a bit too lucky, with little competition in many areas breeding a “relaxed” customer response?

So powered up once again we lost no time in throwing ourselves in the refreshing waters of the Adriatic 100 metres from our pitch. Ah, its good to be “home”…because thats what we call it, no matter where we park up.

Down to the local beach
A very young cat living wild in the campground has had three adorable kittens…

Sunday: The next day we bussed into Split to explore the Diocletian Palace, one of the best preserved Roman ruins in the world and built as a retirement home for the Roman Emperor of the same name in the 4th century AD.

The emperor himself

It also housed his garrison, so picture more of a large fortified castle. The basement area had gradually filled in with rubble over the centuries, but in the 1950’s was gradually cleared. Now this UNESCO listed site sees throngs of tourists, like us, tramping round.

Roman sewerage pipes

I wonder what they are thinking about when they do? For me, its a reminder that just because our century has seen many technological advancements, very very clever people have always been innovating on this earth and we can/should always learn something from what they did and why they did it. Just touching the stones we tried to imagine what our lives would have been like working in that place.

Incredible scale and pillars
Old pillar bases, showcasing the skilled carving

This was a simply breathtaking site, with soaring roofs and massive rooms, copying exactly the layout of the palace above, most of which has now been built over, but still functions as a thriving hub of the city.

Artists impression of the palace

We knew there was a 3,500 year old Spinx that had been looted from Egypt, so it was quite funny reading the description when we found it of it being “imported”!

Sphinx…’imported’ from Egypt (ah-hem!)…

All ruined out, but feeling satisfied we had added another enriching experience to our visit to Croatia, we wandered around the old town above, had a light lunch (we really need to lighten up the calorie intake over the last few months!) and then headed back to our camp for an early night.

We discovered ‘cat corner’ where locals had provided sleeping quarters, food and water for stray cats
They were all well fed, and we donated a few kuna to their cause
A concerned mum checks out her playful escapee kitten
One happy, full, sleepy cat

Catherine is off in the morning to London for another op on her throat. I’m staying here “guarding” the truck and trying to shake my cough and cold with fresh air, exercise and salads…my only friends the multitude of cats who also call the campsite home and come looking for food pretty regularly.

One of the locals comes to dinner at Truffy – we always carry cat food nowadays in case of hungry visitors

We will miss each other I know, but living 24×7 in about 2 square metres of internal space, its good for both of us (but especially Mrs A poor thing!) to have some “own time”.

16-20 June: Arrivederci Italy, Zdravo Croatia!

Author: Mr A

Location: Ancona, Italy & Split and Stobreč, Croatia

Monday: It was time to board our second ferry of the trip from Ancona, on the east coast of Italy, and head over to Split in Croatia. We had absolutely loved Italy. The people, their ready smiles, their amazing food and wine. What would Croatia be like? A first visit for both of us. What adventures awaited us?

Getting our motorhome onto the ferry was the first one. I followed the somewhat ambiguous gesticulations of a rather excitable young man as he guided me on. Not really sure what was happening, he then had me doing a 5 point turn and then reversing down the length of the pitch black hold of the ferry! Thankfully I’m finding that the more of these little challenges I have to tackle, the less stressed I get about them…Catherine likes that as well 🙂

Boarding the ferry…no idea what awaited us at this point…

Reversing all over, Truffy in place for the journey

As it was a 11 hour overnight trip we had booked a cabin. I had read the web site last night and was looking forward to “the luxurious cruise liner” experience they had promised.

Our cell…I mean cabin…

Well the toilet seat wasn’t even attached and promptly fell off. The curtain rail and curtains followed. The mould and peeling paint didn’t exactly call out 5 star. Like so many situations where there is limited competition, with a duoply running on on this route, it was appalling.

Up on deck as we pull away from the Italian coast

The sun sets on Italy

The best sunset this trip (so far)

Anyway, with a beautiful sunset wishing us arrivederci to Italy we went for dinner, and had our first poor meal since out last ferry across from the UK to France. Self-catering has to be the way to go on ferries we have concluded.

Sunrise over Croatia as we pull into port

Tuesday: We arrived at our campsite after a short drive through the uninspiring suburbs of Split, with graffiti covering every wall, and rubbish strewn everywhere. This is a city that swells to a million tourists in the summer season. Where is that revenue going? Certainly not back into cleaning and infrastructure. A little bit jaded after our poor night and disappointing first impression of the city, we walked down through the campsite and got our first glimpse of the setting we were in. Wow!

The beach was stony but the view just spectacular with the barren mountains providing a stark backdrop to the bright blue shimmering of the water. In we dived….well to be honest it was a rather a slower process of adjusting to the “fresh” temperature of the ocean after the 30 degree pool we had been using all last week!

We dug out our inflatable kayaks from the depths of our motorhome, as this would be the first time they had seen the light of day since making the trip over with us from Australia.

Exploring the little harbour on the other side of the bay

Admiring the incredible backdrop which looks all the more grand from the water

Mrs A heads off to disturb a flock of juvenile gulls

With plenty of sea life in these waters, fishing is a popular pastime

We headed off and its hard to describe the exhilaration you feel to be out on the water under your own steam, free to potter about where you want. We headed south round the foreshore, with a flock of sea-birds rather annoyed at our intrusion through their watery paradise. We spent a few hours exploring the coast, and it was a fabulous introduction to Croatia.

Wednesday: The next day was a bit of a repeat button with a swim and a paddle, this time north back towards the city. It’s certainly a very busy part of the world at this time of the year, but out on the water in your own little bubble, it was serene.

Perfect azure waters as we paddle up the coast

Kids spending time snorkelling and jumping off rocks

Mrs A cannot resist a swim in the 25 degree waters

Busy beaches, despite it not yet being the school holidays

We spent the afternoon packing to ready for an early departure tomorrow down on another ferry to Dubrovnik, but then rewarded ourselves with dinner at the restaurant on the campsite.

Waterside table for dinner

Look at this view…and the food was pretty amazing as well. I opted for the local speciality of black cuttlefish risotto, served with bread fired in a pizza oven. Catherine tucked into freshly made gnocchi with fava (broad) beans…a new favourite of hers.

Fine dining

Alas no wine – we are trying to clock up a few AFD’s (Alcohol Free Days) before the next onslaught starting in Dubrovnik!

Thursday: The morning dawned once again with clear blue skies, and a 28 degrees by 7am…another warm one. Our taxi arrived and we were off back to the port…and realised we had forgotten our precious mifi device with our generous data SIM in it. I left Catherine at the ferry and thanks to our super great taxi driver managed a dash back to collect it and made the ferry just as it was boarding.

Dubrovnik here we come!

16-20 June: Arrivederci Italy, Zdravo Croatia!

Author: Mr A

Location: Ancona, Italy & Split and Stobreč, Croatia

Monday: It was time to board our second ferry of the trip from Ancona, on the east coast of Italy, and head over to Split in Croatia. We had absolutely loved Italy. The people, their ready smiles, their amazing food and wine. What would Croatia be like? A first visit for both of us. What adventures awaited us?

Getting our motorhome onto the ferry was the first one. I followed the somewhat ambiguous gesticulations of a rather excitable young man as he guided me on. Not really sure what was happening, he then had me doing a 5 point turn and then reversing down the length of the pitch black hold of the ferry! Thankfully I’m finding that the more of these little challenges I have to tackle, the less stressed I get about them…Catherine likes that as well 🙂

Boarding the ferry…no idea what awaited us at this point…

Reversing all over, Truffy in place for the journey

As it was a 11 hour overnight trip we had booked a cabin. I had read the web site last night and was looking forward to “the luxurious cruise liner” experience they had promised.

Our cell…I mean cabin…

Well the toilet seat wasn’t even attached and promptly fell off. The curtain rail and curtains followed. The mould and peeling paint didn’t exactly call out 5 star. Like so many situations where there is limited competition, with a duoply running on on this route, it was appalling.

Up on deck as we pull away from the Italian coast

The sun sets on Italy

The best sunset this trip (so far)

Anyway, with a beautiful sunset wishing us arrivederci to Italy we went for dinner, and had our first poor meal since out last ferry across from the UK to France. Self-catering has to be the way to go on ferries we have concluded.

Sunrise over Croatia as we pull into port

Tuesday: We arrived at our campsite after a short drive through the uninspiring suburbs of Split, with graffiti covering every wall, and rubbish strewn everywhere. This is a city that swells to a million tourists in the summer season. Where is that revenue going? Certainly not back into cleaning and infrastructure. A little bit jaded after our poor night and disappointing first impression of the city, we walked down through the campsite and got our first glimpse of the setting we were in. Wow!

The beach was stony but the view just spectacular with the barren mountains providing a stark backdrop to the bright blue shimmering of the water. In we dived….well to be honest it was a rather a slower process of adjusting to the “fresh” temperature of the ocean after the 30 degree pool we had been using all last week!

We dug out our inflatable kayaks from the depths of our motorhome, as this would be the first time they had seen the light of day since making the trip over with us from Australia.

Exploring the little harbour on the other side of the bay

Admiring the incredible backdrop which looks all the more grand from the water

Mrs A heads off to disturb a flock of juvenile gulls

With plenty of sea life in these waters, fishing is a popular pastime

We headed off and its hard to describe the exhilaration you feel to be out on the water under your own steam, free to potter about where you want. We headed south round the foreshore, with a flock of sea-birds rather annoyed at our intrusion through their watery paradise. We spent a few hours exploring the coast, and it was a fabulous introduction to Croatia.

Wednesday: The next day was a bit of a repeat button with a swim and a paddle, this time north back towards the city. It’s certainly a very busy part of the world at this time of the year, but out on the water in your own little bubble, it was serene.

Perfect azure waters as we paddle up the coast

Kids spending time snorkelling and jumping off rocks

Mrs A cannot resist a swim in the 25 degree waters

Busy beaches, despite it not yet being the school holidays

We spent the afternoon packing to ready for an early departure tomorrow down on another ferry to Dubrovnik, but then rewarded ourselves with dinner at the restaurant on the campsite.

Waterside table for dinner

Look at this view…and the food was pretty amazing as well. I opted for the local speciality of black cuttlefish risotto, served with bread fired in a pizza oven. Catherine tucked into freshly made gnocchi with fava (broad) beans…a new favourite of hers.

Fine dining

Alas no wine – we are trying to clock up a few AFD’s (Alcohol Free Days) before the next onslaught starting in Dubrovnik!

Thursday: The morning dawned once again with clear blue skies, and a 28 degrees by 7am…another warm one. Our taxi arrived and we were off back to the port…and realised we had forgotten our precious mifi device with our generous data SIM in it. I left Catherine at the ferry and thanks to our super great taxi driver managed a dash back to collect it and made the ferry just as it was boarding.

Dubrovnik here we come!

16-20 June: Arrivederci Italy, Zdravo Croatia!

Author: Mr A

Location: Ancona, Italy & Split and Stobreč, Croatia

Monday: It was time to board our second ferry of the trip from Ancona, on the east coast of Italy, and head over to Split in Croatia. We had absolutely loved Italy. The people, their ready smiles, their amazing food and wine. What would Croatia be like? A first visit for both of us. What adventures awaited us?

Getting our motorhome onto the ferry was the first one. I followed the somewhat ambiguous gesticulations of a rather excitable young man as he guided me on. Not really sure what was happening, he then had me doing a 5 point turn and then reversing down the length of the pitch black hold of the ferry! Thankfully I’m finding that the more of these little challenges I have to tackle, the less stressed I get about them…Catherine likes that as well 🙂

Boarding the ferry…no idea what awaited us at this point…

Reversing all over, Truffy in place for the journey

As it was a 11 hour overnight trip we had booked a cabin. I had read the web site last night and was looking forward to “the luxurious cruise liner” experience they had promised.

Our cell…I mean cabin…

Well the toilet seat wasn’t even attached and promptly fell off. The curtain rail and curtains followed. The mould and peeling paint didn’t exactly call out 5 star. Like so many situations where there is limited competition, with a duoply running on on this route, it was appalling.

Up on deck as we pull away from the Italian coast

The sun sets on Italy

The best sunset this trip (so far)

Anyway, with a beautiful sunset wishing us arrivederci to Italy we went for dinner, and had our first poor meal since out last ferry across from the UK to France. Self-catering has to be the way to go on ferries we have concluded.

Sunrise over Croatia as we pull into port

Tuesday: We arrived at our campsite after a short drive through the uninspiring suburbs of Split, with graffiti covering every wall, and rubbish strewn everywhere. This is a city that swells to a million tourists in the summer season. Where is that revenue going? Certainly not back into cleaning and infrastructure. A little bit jaded after our poor night and disappointing first impression of the city, we walked down through the campsite and got our first glimpse of the setting we were in. Wow!

The beach was stony but the view just spectacular with the barren mountains providing a stark backdrop to the bright blue shimmering of the water. In we dived….well to be honest it was a rather a slower process of adjusting to the “fresh” temperature of the ocean after the 30 degree pool we had been using all last week!

We dug out our inflatable kayaks from the depths of our motorhome, as this would be the first time they had seen the light of day since making the trip over with us from Australia.

Exploring the little harbour on the other side of the bay

Admiring the incredible backdrop which looks all the more grand from the water

Mrs A heads off to disturb a flock of juvenile gulls

With plenty of sea life in these waters, fishing is a popular pastime

We headed off and its hard to describe the exhilaration you feel to be out on the water under your own steam, free to potter about where you want. We headed south round the foreshore, with a flock of sea-birds rather annoyed at our intrusion through their watery paradise. We spent a few hours exploring the coast, and it was a fabulous introduction to Croatia.

Wednesday: The next day was a bit of a repeat button with a swim and a paddle, this time north back towards the city. It’s certainly a very busy part of the world at this time of the year, but out on the water in your own little bubble, it was serene.

Perfect azure waters as we paddle up the coast

Kids spending time snorkelling and jumping off rocks

Mrs A cannot resist a swim in the 25 degree waters

Busy beaches, despite it not yet being the school holidays

We spent the afternoon packing to ready for an early departure tomorrow down on another ferry to Dubrovnik, but then rewarded ourselves with dinner at the restaurant on the campsite.

Waterside table for dinner

Look at this view…and the food was pretty amazing as well. I opted for the local speciality of black cuttlefish risotto, served with bread fired in a pizza oven. Catherine tucked into freshly made gnocchi with fava (broad) beans…a new favourite of hers.

Fine dining

Alas no wine – we are trying to clock up a few AFD’s (Alcohol Free Days) before the next onslaught starting in Dubrovnik!

Thursday: The morning dawned once again with clear blue skies, and a 28 degrees by 7am…another warm one. Our taxi arrived and we were off back to the port…and realised we had forgotten our precious mifi device with our generous data SIM in it. I left Catherine at the ferry and thanks to our super great taxi driver managed a dash back to collect it and made the ferry just as it was boarding.

Dubrovnik here we come!

16-20 June: Arrivederci Italy, Zdravo Croatia!

Author: Mr A

Location: Ancona, Italy & Split and Stobreč, Croatia

Monday: It was time to board our second ferry of the trip from Ancona, on the east coast of Italy, and head over to Split in Croatia. We had absolutely loved Italy. The people, their ready smiles, their amazing food and wine. What would Croatia be like? A first visit for both of us. What adventures awaited us?

Getting our motorhome onto the ferry was the first one. I followed the somewhat ambiguous gesticulations of a rather excitable young man as he guided me on. Not really sure what was happening, he then had me doing a 5 point turn and then reversing down the length of the pitch black hold of the ferry! Thankfully I’m finding that the more of these little challenges I have to tackle, the less stressed I get about them…Catherine likes that as well 🙂

Boarding the ferry…no idea what awaited us at this point…

Reversing all over, Truffy in place for the journey

As it was a 11 hour overnight trip we had booked a cabin. I had read the web site last night and was looking forward to “the luxurious cruise liner” experience they had promised.

Our cell…I mean cabin…

Well the toilet seat wasn’t even attached and promptly fell off. The curtain rail and curtains followed. The mould and peeling paint didn’t exactly call out 5 star. Like so many situations where there is limited competition, with a duoply running on on this route, it was appalling.

Up on deck as we pull away from the Italian coast

The sun sets on Italy

The best sunset this trip (so far)

Anyway, with a beautiful sunset wishing us arrivederci to Italy we went for dinner, and had our first poor meal since out last ferry across from the UK to France. Self-catering has to be the way to go on ferries we have concluded.

Sunrise over Croatia as we pull into port

Tuesday: We arrived at our campsite after a short drive through the uninspiring suburbs of Split, with graffiti covering every wall, and rubbish strewn everywhere. This is a city that swells to a million tourists in the summer season. Where is that revenue going? Certainly not back into cleaning and infrastructure. A little bit jaded after our poor night and disappointing first impression of the city, we walked down through the campsite and got our first glimpse of the setting we were in. Wow!

The beach was stony but the view just spectacular with the barren mountains providing a stark backdrop to the bright blue shimmering of the water. In we dived….well to be honest it was a rather a slower process of adjusting to the “fresh” temperature of the ocean after the 30 degree pool we had been using all last week!

We dug out our inflatable kayaks from the depths of our motorhome, as this would be the first time they had seen the light of day since making the trip over with us from Australia.

Exploring the little harbour on the other side of the bay

Admiring the incredible backdrop which looks all the more grand from the water

Mrs A heads off to disturb a flock of juvenile gulls

With plenty of sea life in these waters, fishing is a popular pastime

We headed off and its hard to describe the exhilaration you feel to be out on the water under your own steam, free to potter about where you want. We headed south round the foreshore, with a flock of sea-birds rather annoyed at our intrusion through their watery paradise. We spent a few hours exploring the coast, and it was a fabulous introduction to Croatia.

Wednesday: The next day was a bit of a repeat button with a swim and a paddle, this time north back towards the city. It’s certainly a very busy part of the world at this time of the year, but out on the water in your own little bubble, it was serene.

Perfect azure waters as we paddle up the coast

Kids spending time snorkelling and jumping off rocks

Mrs A cannot resist a swim in the 25 degree waters

Busy beaches, despite it not yet being the school holidays

We spent the afternoon packing to ready for an early departure tomorrow down on another ferry to Dubrovnik, but then rewarded ourselves with dinner at the restaurant on the campsite.

Waterside table for dinner

Look at this view…and the food was pretty amazing as well. I opted for the local speciality of black cuttlefish risotto, served with bread fired in a pizza oven. Catherine tucked into freshly made gnocchi with fava (broad) beans…a new favourite of hers.

Fine dining

Alas no wine – we are trying to clock up a few AFD’s (Alcohol Free Days) before the next onslaught starting in Dubrovnik!

Thursday: The morning dawned once again with clear blue skies, and a 28 degrees by 7am…another warm one. Our taxi arrived and we were off back to the port…and realised we had forgotten our precious mifi device with our generous data SIM in it. I left Catherine at the ferry and thanks to our super great taxi driver managed a dash back to collect it and made the ferry just as it was boarding.

Dubrovnik here we come!

16-20 June: Arrivederci Italy, Zdravo Croatia!

Author: Mr A

Location: Ancona, Italy & Split and Stobreč, Croatia

Monday: It was time to board our second ferry of the trip from Ancona, on the east coast of Italy, and head over to Split in Croatia. We had absolutely loved Italy. The people, their ready smiles, their amazing food and wine. What would Croatia be like? A first visit for both of us. What adventures awaited us?

Getting our motorhome onto the ferry was the first one. I followed the somewhat ambiguous gesticulations of a rather excitable young man as he guided me on. Not really sure what was happening, he then had me doing a 5 point turn and then reversing down the length of the pitch black hold of the ferry! Thankfully I’m finding that the more of these little challenges I have to tackle, the less stressed I get about them…Catherine likes that as well 🙂

Boarding the ferry…no idea what awaited us at this point…

Reversing all over, Truffy in place for the journey

As it was a 11 hour overnight trip we had booked a cabin. I had read the web site last night and was looking forward to “the luxurious cruise liner” experience they had promised.

Our cell…I mean cabin…

Well the toilet seat wasn’t even attached and promptly fell off. The curtain rail and curtains followed. The mould and peeling paint didn’t exactly call out 5 star. Like so many situations where there is limited competition, with a duoply running on on this route, it was appalling.

Up on deck as we pull away from the Italian coast

The sun sets on Italy

The best sunset this trip (so far)

Anyway, with a beautiful sunset wishing us arrivederci to Italy we went for dinner, and had our first poor meal since out last ferry across from the UK to France. Self-catering has to be the way to go on ferries we have concluded.

Sunrise over Croatia as we pull into port

Tuesday: We arrived at our campsite after a short drive through the uninspiring suburbs of Split, with graffiti covering every wall, and rubbish strewn everywhere. This is a city that swells to a million tourists in the summer season. Where is that revenue going? Certainly not back into cleaning and infrastructure. A little bit jaded after our poor night and disappointing first impression of the city, we walked down through the campsite and got our first glimpse of the setting we were in. Wow!

The beach was stony but the view just spectacular with the barren mountains providing a stark backdrop to the bright blue shimmering of the water. In we dived….well to be honest it was a rather a slower process of adjusting to the “fresh” temperature of the ocean after the 30 degree pool we had been using all last week!

We dug out our inflatable kayaks from the depths of our motorhome, as this would be the first time they had seen the light of day since making the trip over with us from Australia.

Exploring the little harbour on the other side of the bay

Admiring the incredible backdrop which looks all the more grand from the water

Mrs A heads off to disturb a flock of juvenile gulls

With plenty of sea life in these waters, fishing is a popular pastime

We headed off and its hard to describe the exhilaration you feel to be out on the water under your own steam, free to potter about where you want. We headed south round the foreshore, with a flock of sea-birds rather annoyed at our intrusion through their watery paradise. We spent a few hours exploring the coast, and it was a fabulous introduction to Croatia.

Wednesday: The next day was a bit of a repeat button with a swim and a paddle, this time north back towards the city. It’s certainly a very busy part of the world at this time of the year, but out on the water in your own little bubble, it was serene.

Perfect azure waters as we paddle up the coast

Kids spending time snorkelling and jumping off rocks

Mrs A cannot resist a swim in the 25 degree waters

Busy beaches, despite it not yet being the school holidays

We spent the afternoon packing to ready for an early departure tomorrow down on another ferry to Dubrovnik, but then rewarded ourselves with dinner at the restaurant on the campsite.

Waterside table for dinner

Look at this view…and the food was pretty amazing as well. I opted for the local speciality of black cuttlefish risotto, served with bread fired in a pizza oven. Catherine tucked into freshly made gnocchi with fava (broad) beans…a new favourite of hers.

Fine dining

Alas no wine – we are trying to clock up a few AFD’s (Alcohol Free Days) before the next onslaught starting in Dubrovnik!

Thursday: The morning dawned once again with clear blue skies, and a 28 degrees by 7am…another warm one. Our taxi arrived and we were off back to the port…and realised we had forgotten our precious mifi device with our generous data SIM in it. I left Catherine at the ferry and thanks to our super great taxi driver managed a dash back to collect it and made the ferry just as it was boarding.

Dubrovnik here we come!

16-20 June: Arrivederci Italy, Zdravo Croatia!

Author: Mr A

Location: Ancona, Italy & Split and Stobreč, Croatia

Monday: It was time to board our second ferry of the trip from Ancona, on the east coast of Italy, and head over to Split in Croatia. We had absolutely loved Italy. The people, their ready smiles, their amazing food and wine. What would Croatia be like? A first visit for both of us. What adventures awaited us?

Getting our motorhome onto the ferry was the first one. I followed the somewhat ambiguous gesticulations of a rather excitable young man as he guided me on. Not really sure what was happening, he then had me doing a 5 point turn and then reversing down the length of the pitch black hold of the ferry! Thankfully I’m finding that the more of these little challenges I have to tackle, the less stressed I get about them…Catherine likes that as well 🙂

Boarding the ferry…no idea what awaited us at this point…

Reversing all over, Truffy in place for the journey

As it was a 11 hour overnight trip we had booked a cabin. I had read the web site last night and was looking forward to “the luxurious cruise liner” experience they had promised.

Our cell…I mean cabin…

Well the toilet seat wasn’t even attached and promptly fell off. The curtain rail and curtains followed. The mould and peeling paint didn’t exactly call out 5 star. Like so many situations where there is limited competition, with a duoply running on on this route, it was appalling.

Up on deck as we pull away from the Italian coast

The sun sets on Italy

The best sunset this trip (so far)

Anyway, with a beautiful sunset wishing us arrivederci to Italy we went for dinner, and had our first poor meal since out last ferry across from the UK to France. Self-catering has to be the way to go on ferries we have concluded.

Sunrise over Croatia as we pull into port

Tuesday: We arrived at our campsite after a short drive through the uninspiring suburbs of Split, with graffiti covering every wall, and rubbish strewn everywhere. This is a city that swells to a million tourists in the summer season. Where is that revenue going? Certainly not back into cleaning and infrastructure. A little bit jaded after our poor night and disappointing first impression of the city, we walked down through the campsite and got our first glimpse of the setting we were in. Wow!

The beach was stony but the view just spectacular with the barren mountains providing a stark backdrop to the bright blue shimmering of the water. In we dived….well to be honest it was a rather a slower process of adjusting to the “fresh” temperature of the ocean after the 30 degree pool we had been using all last week!

We dug out our inflatable kayaks from the depths of our motorhome, as this would be the first time they had seen the light of day since making the trip over with us from Australia.

Exploring the little harbour on the other side of the bay

Admiring the incredible backdrop which looks all the more grand from the water

Mrs A heads off to disturb a flock of juvenile gulls

With plenty of sea life in these waters, fishing is a popular pastime

We headed off and its hard to describe the exhilaration you feel to be out on the water under your own steam, free to potter about where you want. We headed south round the foreshore, with a flock of sea-birds rather annoyed at our intrusion through their watery paradise. We spent a few hours exploring the coast, and it was a fabulous introduction to Croatia.

Wednesday: The next day was a bit of a repeat button with a swim and a paddle, this time north back towards the city. It’s certainly a very busy part of the world at this time of the year, but out on the water in your own little bubble, it was serene.

Perfect azure waters as we paddle up the coast

Kids spending time snorkelling and jumping off rocks

Mrs A cannot resist a swim in the 25 degree waters

Busy beaches, despite it not yet being the school holidays

We spent the afternoon packing to ready for an early departure tomorrow down on another ferry to Dubrovnik, but then rewarded ourselves with dinner at the restaurant on the campsite.

Waterside table for dinner

Look at this view…and the food was pretty amazing as well. I opted for the local speciality of black cuttlefish risotto, served with bread fired in a pizza oven. Catherine tucked into freshly made gnocchi with fava (broad) beans…a new favourite of hers.

Fine dining

Alas no wine – we are trying to clock up a few AFD’s (Alcohol Free Days) before the next onslaught starting in Dubrovnik!

Thursday: The morning dawned once again with clear blue skies, and a 28 degrees by 7am…another warm one. Our taxi arrived and we were off back to the port…and realised we had forgotten our precious mifi device with our generous data SIM in it. I left Catherine at the ferry and thanks to our super great taxi driver managed a dash back to collect it and made the ferry just as it was boarding.

Dubrovnik here we come!

16-20 June: Arrivederci Italy, Zdravo Croatia!

Author: Mr A

Location: Ancona, Italy & Split and Stobreč, Croatia

Monday: It was time to board our second ferry of the trip from Ancona, on the east coast of Italy, and head over to Split in Croatia. We had absolutely loved Italy. The people, their ready smiles, their amazing food and wine. What would Croatia be like? A first visit for both of us. What adventures awaited us?

Getting our motorhome onto the ferry was the first one. I followed the somewhat ambiguous gesticulations of a rather excitable young man as he guided me on. Not really sure what was happening, he then had me doing a 5 point turn and then reversing down the length of the pitch black hold of the ferry! Thankfully I’m finding that the more of these little challenges I have to tackle, the less stressed I get about them…Catherine likes that as well 🙂

Boarding the ferry…no idea what awaited us at this point…

Reversing all over, Truffy in place for the journey

As it was a 11 hour overnight trip we had booked a cabin. I had read the web site last night and was looking forward to “the luxurious cruise liner” experience they had promised.

Our cell…I mean cabin…

Well the toilet seat wasn’t even attached and promptly fell off. The curtain rail and curtains followed. The mould and peeling paint didn’t exactly call out 5 star. Like so many situations where there is limited competition, with a duoply running on on this route, it was appalling.

Up on deck as we pull away from the Italian coast

The sun sets on Italy

The best sunset this trip (so far)

Anyway, with a beautiful sunset wishing us arrivederci to Italy we went for dinner, and had our first poor meal since out last ferry across from the UK to France. Self-catering has to be the way to go on ferries we have concluded.

Sunrise over Croatia as we pull into port

Tuesday: We arrived at our campsite after a short drive through the uninspiring suburbs of Split, with graffiti covering every wall, and rubbish strewn everywhere. This is a city that swells to a million tourists in the summer season. Where is that revenue going? Certainly not back into cleaning and infrastructure. A little bit jaded after our poor night and disappointing first impression of the city, we walked down through the campsite and got our first glimpse of the setting we were in. Wow!

The beach was stony but the view just spectacular with the barren mountains providing a stark backdrop to the bright blue shimmering of the water. In we dived….well to be honest it was a rather a slower process of adjusting to the “fresh” temperature of the ocean after the 30 degree pool we had been using all last week!

We dug out our inflatable kayaks from the depths of our motorhome, as this would be the first time they had seen the light of day since making the trip over with us from Australia.

Exploring the little harbour on the other side of the bay

Admiring the incredible backdrop which looks all the more grand from the water

Mrs A heads off to disturb a flock of juvenile gulls

With plenty of sea life in these waters, fishing is a popular pastime

We headed off and its hard to describe the exhilaration you feel to be out on the water under your own steam, free to potter about where you want. We headed south round the foreshore, with a flock of sea-birds rather annoyed at our intrusion through their watery paradise. We spent a few hours exploring the coast, and it was a fabulous introduction to Croatia.

Wednesday: The next day was a bit of a repeat button with a swim and a paddle, this time north back towards the city. It’s certainly a very busy part of the world at this time of the year, but out on the water in your own little bubble, it was serene.

Perfect azure waters as we paddle up the coast

Kids spending time snorkelling and jumping off rocks

Mrs A cannot resist a swim in the 25 degree waters

Busy beaches, despite it not yet being the school holidays

We spent the afternoon packing to ready for an early departure tomorrow down on another ferry to Dubrovnik, but then rewarded ourselves with dinner at the restaurant on the campsite.

Waterside table for dinner

Look at this view…and the food was pretty amazing as well. I opted for the local speciality of black cuttlefish risotto, served with bread fired in a pizza oven. Catherine tucked into freshly made gnocchi with fava (broad) beans…a new favourite of hers.

Fine dining

Alas no wine – we are trying to clock up a few AFD’s (Alcohol Free Days) before the next onslaught starting in Dubrovnik!

Thursday: The morning dawned once again with clear blue skies, and a 28 degrees by 7am…another warm one. Our taxi arrived and we were off back to the port…and realised we had forgotten our precious mifi device with our generous data SIM in it. I left Catherine at the ferry and thanks to our super great taxi driver managed a dash back to collect it and made the ferry just as it was boarding.

Dubrovnik here we come!