Week 14: Croatia to…. And a surprise for someone!

Nortia at Lake Bled, Slovenia

We awoke at our campsite in Ičići  and got ready to meet up with my (Sarah’s) mum in Opatija. It has been exactly three months since we said our goodbyes over breakfast in Chichester Marina. We walked along the promenade (as much as we could) up to the hotel and there she was, sitting on the terrace waiting for us.

We popped along the road to a lovely cafe/bistro/taverna (I don’t know what they would be called in Croatia) and were shown to a table. The food was amazing and cooked so well. If you’re in Opatija I can’t recommend it enough http://www.roko-opatija.com/

After a long lunch, and a lot of catching up and story telling, we walked back to the Campsite still talking and reminiscing. We said our goodbyes and planned our journey onwards.

The next morning we set off to Pula, along the coast road and up over the hills. The campsite was fairly big but not overcrowded – We chose an ACSI camping pitch for 20 euros – you don’t get to be on the water’s edge or the beach but with so few people you can see them without paying double. The site also has a restaurant and you can sit down and eat or take away – we chose the latter. As you can probably tell, we’ve made up for the lack of going out this week! We then needed to choose whether to stay another night or move on. Looking at the weather that night (and again in the morning) we chose to move on; the forecast was for heavy rain and thunderstorms.

We set off for Slovenia and crossed the border near on the coast before heading through Koper to Ancarano. Koper is a massive freight port where (I read) that a lot of the cargo is taken to the southern Mediterranean ports. There were so many cars all waiting to be shipped. The campsite at Ancarano, is part of a hotel complex and on the beach – again you pay more if you want a sea view. However, as it was raining and we’d already had one mishap in the rain on a grass pitch we chose a hard-standing.

We left Ancarano and headed north to Bled. We followed the lovely Ditsy Daisy sat nav, until I found a road which bypassed Ljubljana and went up over the hills / mountains. All the signage indicated that it was suitable for vehicles under 7.5 tonnes, and we were following an artic – who we are sure was over 7.5 tonnes. Still there were no mishaps and the scenery was lovely.

Before we reached Bled, we stopped at the vets in Lesce, Albi needed some more medicine for an ailment he has, they were so helpful (we had been there before when we first came to Bled, for his worming treatment back to the UK – those were the days were planning was key and we knew exactly where we would be and how far we needed to travel each day)!

On arrival at Bled, everything was familiar. This was the first overseas place we had come with our Bilbo’s VW. That time we planned to the letter – two stops on the way 12 nights in Bled and 2 nights to get home. This didn’t work though, as we got bored sitting in the same place and left after 11 nights and headed to Venice! This time Bled was calling us back.

We arrived at the campsite and checked in for two nights – again using the ACSI card. We dusted off the bikes and took a little tour around the town. To our surprise the short spurt around we’d clocked 6 miles – not a massive amount but we hadn’t been on a bike for a while! We headed to the onsite Restaurant for a meal.

The next morning we wanted to do a longer cycle – we borrowed the cycle folder from Reception and found a circuit – the Reception staff copied the route for us and with the aid of Gloria Google Maps we were able to continue our little trip – taking in the villages of Bled – Breg – Zironica – Smokuc – Rodine – Hrase and Lesce before returning to Bled. This time we’d clocked up 19 miles, and it felt like it! The villages were great to see and the roads weren’t bad to cycle on – we even came across a bridge we’d driven over in the VW and were astonished how small it looked with the two bikes let alone a Transporter – we are not going to attempt to get a photo with the lovely Nortia though. The trail does have some steep hills and switchbacks. On our return to the campsite we had a well earned sit down before a lovely warm shower. Then we remembered there was a chinese in town, so back on the bikes and we picked up a takeaway. A quick cycle home – another 5 miles clocked (24 in total for the day!).

We decided to stay another day! We went off on a trail, we’d done the last time we were here and then we met possibly one or two other people, this time it was packed at the top. We’d gone to Ojstrica at only 611 metres it wasn’t the biggest we’d ever done but we haven’t climbed anything for a while. The start of the climb is incredibly steep and on loose rock. When we got to the top the view is great but the number of people, just annoying! We ate our lunch and headed back down to the campsite.

After a lovely takeaway meal from the restaurant – there was a 60th Birthday Party in full swing in the restaurant, we decided to move on the following day. We were heading to Italy.

We set Ditsy Daisy to non-motorways or tolls and set off on our travels towards Lake Garda (we knew we weren’t going there straight away, but needed to head in a direction!). We passed through Kranjska Gora and over the border to the mountains of Italy, where we travelled over the Mauria Pass – with a maximum elevation of 1300 metres above sea level and four switchbacks up and five down.

We chose a Stellplatz at a restaurant in a little town of Belluno, in the Dolomites. Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed as it was Sunday. We had a quick wonder around as there were a number of fishing lakes – full of fish in various sizes. The view wasn’t great when we arrived but was worth it the following morning….

As always, thank you for reading and apologies this week for the lateness of the post – we have been in the mountains and the mobile data and WiFi connections have been slow at best and non-existent at worst. There’ll be next week’s post soon (a bit like a London Bus!)

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