Week 13: Slovakia to Croatia

This week we started at our lovely river (reservoir) side campsite – in the rain. It was a disappointment after the promising weather, yesterday. We set off to get a vignette for Nortia, to travel on the motorways – we weren’t hoping to use them but just in case. We stopped at the first petrol station and were told that we needed to go to Slovnaft. Well, thank heavens for Google – what or who is Slovnaft?

Slovnaft is it turns out to be a Petrol Station. We duly asked Ditsy Daisy Sat Nav for directions and off we went. The staff in the petrol station did not speak English ( and we can’t do Slovakian), I was in the process of checking Google Translate when a very nice man helped me out and all was sorted. I did feel slightly guilty as he was stopped by the Police on his way out for leaving his engine running!

We set off towards Bratislava going via a town called Martin, and the original geographical centre of Europe at a church in Kremnické Bane. We arrived just as a school group were entering the church so the actual stone was relatively quiet.

A short drive on to a campsite outside Bratislava turned into a mission as both the ones on Campercontact – which said they were open, were both padlocked shut. Another quick delve into the app and we found a Stellplatz at Čilistov . We were the only people there, alongside to stored caravans, until another couple arrived in the dark (and left at daybreak). A short walk around with the dog revealed a river and a park. The river is the border with Hungary, and the park had a monument to the local Olympians – not golden post boxes!

We spent a lovely quiet night at the Stellplatz and the following morning set off to Bratislava. Before leaving Čilistov, I had read that just up the road was the largest horse statue in the world, so we set off in search. It is called Colossus and is at the entrance to the X-bionic Sphere in Samorin.

Bratislava, is a wonderful capital city. We parked up in the free car park – you can also camp here free, and walked over the bridge right into the centre of the city. We had found on Google maps – attractions the statue of Man at Work – a brass statue of a man exiting a sewer, so headed off in the direction.

Bratislava is a river boat cruise destination, being on the Danube River and when we arrived at the statue so had a tour! We then set off for something to eat and stamps for postcards (we send the grandchildren a postcard from each country). The stamps, we could only get from the Post Office – a very ornate building, where when you enter you take a ticket – which is issued depending on the service you want and you wait to be called.

We ate our lunch in a very nice cafe – Cafe Studio, which had been the home of Opus Records and had been the recording studio. We sat outside and did our normal people watching. Bratislava, seemed very laid back as a city. We had a slow wander back to Nortia via the river and were totally amazed at the length of the River Cruise Boats. It was sad to leave the city but Austria beckoned.

We set off in the direction of the border and not wanting to use the motorways, we entered the Czech Republic! We changed some more money up (they’re not Euros, either) and found a campsite – it was lovely, but it seemed to be left over from the 1950s. We had only planned to be there one night anyway, and it was fine for that.

The next morning, we bought a vignette, just in case and headed up through vineyards to the Austrian border. Where possible we have decided that our trip should’t be on motorways, as we were missing too much.

Entering Austria, we bought another Vignette – just in case and headed off towards Vienna. We found a campsite, again on the Danube and a train journey away from Vienna. The cost of the train was quite expensive, so we’ve added it to our list to do when we return to Austria.

We were shown to a pitch at the campsite, which was quite small and out of the way, but it appeared they had a Concorde Reisemobile (Motorhome) Rally, taking place the next day and they were holding the larger pitches for them – if you’ve seen a Concorde Motorhome, you’ll know why! https://www.concorde.eu/en/ if you haven’t and you’re now curious!

We left Tulln, and headed south – we’re still in search of the sun! We found a nice looking campsite in Burgau, in the mountains at the foot of the castle. We had a wander around the town and saw there was a Pizzeria next door, so duly enquired about food, to be told they only served toast! We went back to the lovely Nortia and sorted our dinner.

Next morning we headed to Slovenia. We passed more vineyards on the edge of the very steep mountain sides and crossed into Slovenia. Have you ever returned to somewhere and thought, “why haven’t I returned sooner?” That was how we felt when we’d driven a little way into the country. We headed to Ptuj. The sun was shining and it was beautiful. After a quick sit down in the sun, we headed off to see the old town. There is a long walk up to the castle and the sun and cobbles made it hard work. There was a festival / pageant taking place in the town square and it appeared that there was a dragon and a knight – sound familiar? The town flag is also a George Cross!

After a day in Ptuj, we decided to head towards Croatia. My (Sarah)’s mum was on holiday in Opatija, a shortish drive from where we were and we hadn’t told her just in case we couldn’t get there. We stopped at Camping Menina, in Recica ob Savinji. It looks a great location for kids – with treetop walks, river rafting and bear watching! True to form, it rained. We did wander to the river, where there were lots of trout like fish – too small to fish.

We set off for the Croatian border. The scenery was again stunning and the amount of vineyards very surprising – you don’t consider Slovenia as a wine producer but it is! The border was relatively uncomplicated – you have to show your passport and then you cross the border! We headed to the campsite outside Opatija, found ourselves a nice pitch and headed off to the sea in the sunshine. Here we also thought we’d better let mum know in case she had plans for the next day. All was fine and we will meet up at her hotel the following day.

That’s where this week ends, we’re afraid! Next week’s update will let you know more. As always thanks for reading. Have a great week…

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