Post 6 Heading North… Korcula, Split and Trogir.

So now we start heading north again, continuing to explore Croatia as we go. (In Chris’ case…test the craft beers!) Another car ferry takes us to Korcula island, and we visit the little beach at Lumbarda, where we get out the chairs (a rarity for us), and read, and paddle!

Then to the delightful town of Korcula, a classic mediaeval hill town. Limestone walls, tiny narrow streets and red tiled roofs by a lovely harbour. We look into any open churches, as they all have their own beauty. Sadly, many have firmly locked doors!

Then a night in an olive grove, before the early ferry to Split, watching the sun rise, as we, and Boris, cruise the Adriatic!!

Split is a complete contrast. A bustling city and seaport, with a fascinating centre. The Romans came here, and in 305AD, Emporer Diocletian ordered a vast palace to be built, with an octagonal mausoleum at it’s heart.

Gorgeous 14th century carved doors.

In 605, freed Christian roman slaves came and revitalised the city as a Christian town. The Venetians and Byzantines added to it, but all keeping the structure of the Roman palace. So we can walk through vaults, see buildings and artefacts that are 1700 years old, bound up with baroque architecture, or a modern museum.

The Cathedral is inside the octagonal mausoleum.

Suddenly an art nouveau building will pop up, another reminder of the centuries of new life breathed into this city.

Next onto Trogir, a Venetian town, used as Qarth in the Game of Thrones filming recently. A stunning town.

14th century marble pulpit.

14th century wood carving.

Golden limestone walls, a fortress and numerous beautiful churches and Palazzos. Here we saw several Weddings. Immediately after the church services, everyone poured into the square. Traditional music was played. Everyone sang , Croatian flags were waved and fireworks let off!

There were tiny churches everywhere, and the town square had a beautiful Loggia, which would have been the town meeting place.

Camping Rozak is lovely. We are right by the beach, and the evening sunset was breathtaking.

However, thunderstorms overnight, and a rainy morning presented the perfect opportunity for housekeeping! Laundry, and changing the bedlinen must be done. We even caught up with admin, and played some games! Back into Trogir, for a super dinner, tucked in a quaint courtyard. The fish is excellent, especially the Carpacccio of Swordfish!

Chris had a local meat dish, braised in red wine with mountain herbs. Yum!

Post 5 A tale of two countries. Bosnia and Hertzgovina, and Montenegro.

Our motor insurance would not cover us to drive in either Bosnia and Herzegovina, or Montenegro. So we used 2 excellent tour companies based in Dubrovnik, Select Dubrovnik and Amico, to do day tours to each one. We were so glad that we did this.

However it meant we stayed on Camping Kate for 4 nights, and were there in an all night thunderstorm of epic proportions. The rain sounded as if teams of people were chucking buckets of pebbles at the van roof. The thunder was incessant. This is a map of the lightening strikes!

Chris slept through it all! Apparently it is the most rain Dubrovnik has ever had in 24 hours. There were flash floods and we saw small landslips!

We headed for our pick up above the campsite in pouring rain, togged in full waterproofs for our trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Within an hour the sun came out! The day started with a visit to the beautiful Kravice waterfalls.

Then onto Mostar, which of course featured heavily in the 1990’s war here. Poor Mostar. Our excellent guide explained that the Bosnian population is the most ethnically divided, with a 3 way split between Serbs, Bosnian Croats and Muslims. Mostar had been a centre for the production of military equipment in former Yugoslavia, so all 3 sides wanted it. So it was shelled from all sides. 80% of its buildings were damaged.

It’s famous bridge, built in 1557, when the area was firmly under Ottoman rule, and became a main connection between the christian and muslim parts of the city. It survived 2 world wars, but was destroyed in 1993. It has been rebuilt by Unesco, who would only provide funds if they used traditional methods, cementing the original, retrieved stones, with egg white, goats hair.

For centuries, men of Mostar would free jump from the bridge to prove their manhood to the ladies of the town. They still do so today for the tourists!

We had an amazing lunch in Restaurant Tima-Irma.

Wages here are very low, so prices are relatively cheap for tourists. We bought some local beers!

We also visited a lovely turkish house, one of the few remaining.

Many buildings bear the marks of bullets and shells. The saddest part of the day was when our young guide said that the people see no point in rebuilding because their country is a cauldron of conflict, and they will surely be fighting again.

It was important to see, and hear a different perspective on the conflict, and life today.

The next day was sunny, as we caught our early minibus heading south to Montenegro. Strict border controls meant hold ups both ways, but WOW!, was it worth it?!

What a stunningly beautiful place. Kotor bay is ringed by high mountains, and a very sheltered inlet, with a narrow entrance, guarded by an island church. More of that later.

First we visited Kotor. Built while under Venetian rule, with formidable defensive walls, this delightful town contains palazzos and churches dating back 800 years. It is charming, and squeezed in between the mountains and the water.

The maritime museum was interesting, and the Cathedral is 852 years old, with fragments of original wall paintings.

There is also a tiny chapel, which combines both an eastern orthodox, and christian altars.

Many of the church decorations are silver, because for many years it was the most valuable of the commodities being traded.

Then a visit to pretty Perast, and a ferry to the tiny island. Legend says that 2 sailors found a picture of Mary on a rock. One was very ill, and against all odds, he recovered. They decided to build a church, but there was no island, so over a period of many years, locals sunk ships around the rocks, until they had footings. They built the church in the 15th century, Our Lady of the Rocks, which is the patron of sailors. The interior was painted by venetian artists, and is breathtaking.

Ships stop to ask for a blessing on their voyage. If their ship is involved in an accident, and they survive, they bring a Thank you to the church. Most common are silver plaques. Over 2000 adorn the walls. Gorgeous!

The small museum also contains a tapestry, created by a local wife waiting for her sailor husband to return. She worked on it for 25 years, using minute stitches-700 per square cm! The most remarkable part is that she used her own hair for the heads, and as the years go on, her hair colour changes, until it ends up white!

We loved Montenegro. Really worth a visit!

Post 4 … Dubrovnik – a phoenix risen from the ashes.

We left Ljubljana in the afternoon, and drove nearly 200 miles south. The roads through Slovenia were small, and bordered by verdant scenery, and pretty villages at every turn.

Then, after a few slightly worrying moments with a rather stern border guard, we crossed into Croatia. Within 20 minutes we were on a smooth motorway, but the scenery was much more rugged. Predominantly limestone karst with rugged boulders strewn about, and mountains all around.

As we neared the coast we saw a brilliant sunset, and a strong wind buffeted Boris all the way to a nice camper stop at Skradin.

Off on our way early, we drove 2 hours south to Ploce.

Croatia has 1,770 kms of coastline. Due to a centuries old agreement, Bosnia owns a 9km stretch of coastline in the middle of it! Dubrovnik is the other side, and many car insurance companies, ours included, won’t issue a green card to drive there. So we have to catch a ferry to the adjacent peninsula, and drive south to Dubrovnic that way. Ferry cost £36 for us and Boris, lasted an hour, and we could pretend we were cruising the Adriatic!


The drive down the peninsula was spectacular, including past the village of Ston, which boasts the 2nd longest wall in the world. It was built in 1358, then over 7km long, to protect the salt basins, a prized commodity.


We arrived at Camping Kate in Mlini, south of Dubrovnic, high above the Adriatic, and very nice for 17 euros per night with our Acsi card! We took the walk down to the lovely waterfront, had a good supper at Konoba asatrea , and then staggered up the very high, very steep hill to Boris.


Next morning, a ferryboat took us to Dubrovnik. So exciting. I have wanted to visit here for years, and to approach from the water was extra special.

This is an exquisite city. Visually and historically fascinating.We took a walking tour and learned so much. Dubrovnik was always under threat from the 2 great powers in the Middle Ages – Venice to the north, and the Ottoman Empire all around. After they built their amazing defensive walls, no-one ever attacked them again… until the Yugoslav army in 1991.

Map showing the sites of all the bombs which hit the city.
Dubrovnik became fully self governing in 1358, and thrived. It was way ahead of it’s time. A medical service was introduced in 1301, with the first pharmacy, still operating to this day, being opened in 1317. An almshouse opened in 1347, and the first quarantine hospital in the world (Lazarete) was established in 1377. Slave trading was abolished in 1418, and an orphanage opened in 1432. A 20 km (12 mi) water supply system, in stone pipes, was constructed in 1438 by the Neapolitan architect and engineer Onofrio della Cava. He completed the aqueduct with two public fountains.

Still drinkable today !

We took the cable car for stunning views, and walked the entire walls.

The Game of Thrones references were lost on us, but many scenes were filmed here, including Cersei’s walk of shame down the steps.

Apparently, there is a daily market held below the staircase. During filming, it couldn’t take place. The stallholders refused to move because of loss of earnings, so the film company bought the entire stock on every stall!! Also, there are many shuttered windows in the wall to the right of the staircase. The owners were told they must be kept closed for hours and hours each day for filming. They refused, and negotiated a deal of 100 euros per window, per day to leave them shut!!

This is an amazing city, but it was most moving to hear what they went through in the recent war, and see images of that time.


Now, it is a city of hope, repaired and thriving!

Post 3 Slovenia is gorgeous… it’s official!

A peaceful night at Camping Bled, and the luxury of excellent showers in very modern, heated washrooms! Then we set off to find the Vintgar Gorge walk. We recommend the circular walk, along the deep cut gorge, climb up through the forst to Katerina, and return along the side of Hom Hill with magnificent alpine views and cows with bells! Gorgeous.

Next we drove for 45 minutes, past local farms which have special racks, used for drying hay.

We went to the neighbouring, but more isolated, Lake Bohinj. Wow. This was stunning too. At the far end of the lake is the cable car to the Vogel ski area. We ascended to find Alpine scenery, and some gorgeous walks. A highlight was watching crossbills feeding in trees right next to us.

Back down in the cable car, we visited a tiny church of St Christopher, and marvelled at the clarity of the lake water, and the relections.

Then to our campsite, with a super pitch by the river, and a walk to town where Chris continued his healthy eating campaign with a very traditional supper of local sausage, sauerkraut and a delicious mashed potato with onion. This was accompanied by 2 very tasty (and strong) local ales! Slovenia likes craft beers!

Next day was an early start to walk the length of the lake, watching the mist rise as the sun burned it off. 4 miles at a brisk pace so that we could catch the ferry back. What a super morning.

The tiny village church was filled with astonishing paintings, some 600 years old!

A picnic lunch surrounded by glorious scenery, before driving to Ljubljana, the capital.

However I had spotted a comment that a village enroute, Radovljica, was worth a look! It was gorgeous, and the highlight was the museum of Apiculture. Beekeeping is a great tradition here, and the old wooden hives are still used. For 200 years, paintings were done on the ends of the hives, depicting religious, historical or comical scenes. They were gorgeous.

Next onto our camperstop near Ljubljana, where our neighbours were some cute piggies, goats and a kitten! A short bus ride into town, and we strolled through the charming streets of this delightful, miniature capital city, and visited the beautiful cathedral. Slovenia gained it’s independence in 1999, and is fiercely proud of it’s heritage. Slightly worried about the baker though!!! We enjoyed a super meal at Atelje before returning to Boris for another peaceful night.

We caught the first bus back into the city on Saturday morning for an excellent walking tour. The city chose a poet as the name of it’s main square, rather than a military leader or politician, as they value their language, and love over military actions. Nice!

The architecture is delightful. Baroque and Art Nouveau styles are much in evidence.

Much of the town was damaged in the 1895 earthquake, so Art nouveau was the style of the time!

Time to leave. But not before lunch in the square at the Beer and Burger Festival.

We timed our visit well!! No alcohol when driving here, but Chris buys a craft ale for later. The burgers were superb. Organic meat! We love this country.

Now a long drive southeast, into Croatia. Slovenian scenery was gorgeous all the way to the border. Croatia quickly became more rugged and wilder, especially as we crossed the mountains and headed towards the coast. We witnessed a gorgeous sunset, and then drove to a tiny campsite in Skradin, where Chris could at last drink his ale!

We are more than halfway to Dubrovnik, our next destination… and that involves a ferry ride for Boris

Post 2 if it is Wednesday it must be Austria…or is it Slovenia?

Our objective on this trip is to travel to Southern Croatia, so Germany and Austria are, on this occasion, serving as interesting stopovers! Our night in Germany was… chilly. So glad I packed the 10.5 tog duvet. It dropped to -2 degrees C in the night, but we were on a site with electric hookup AND an all night electric blanket. Best camping tip I can give anyone!

A gloriously clear day for our drive south east, past Munich towards the Austrian border . The Alps gradually appeared, and the scenery became stunning.

We arrived at Camping Nord Sam, on the outskirts of Salzburg, at 14.30. We had a quick snack, and caught the very convenient bus to the town centre. The Mirabelle gardens around the old palace are beautiful… and where the children in Sound of Music sang Do, Re, Me. (So I am told. I have managed to get this far through life without seeing it!)

We sadly opted to skip the 4 hour Sound of Music city tour (was it a sing a long tour I wonder?), and did our own walk. Crossing the river to the Aldstadt, the whole city centre is stunning 17th and 18th century architecture, with lovely narrow streets, and ornate metal shop signs. No Golden arches here!

The baroque Cathedral was impressive, but we loved the little chapel and cemetery of St Peter, and the hermitage chapels and catacombs in the cliff face.

Mozart was born and lived in Salzburg, and much is made of this. Mozart chocolates, liqueurs, Umbrellas, aprons, rubber ducks…. you get the idea. No music though!

Our final visit was to the Augustinian Brauhaus, a monastery brewery since 1621. A huge, traditional hall has expanded into 4 halls and a terrace holding over 5000 people! You collect your stein, get your beer dispensed…7.2% proof, and then find some yummy, if very meat based, street food at the indoor stalls.

It was a great experience, rounded off with the bus back to Boris and another very chilly night!

Another bright start and we crossed Austria on route 8. We had bought a vignette for 9 euros to allow us to travel on the motorways. Route 8 had tolls as well, for the 2 huge tunnels which meant we did not have to climb high over the Alps. We were in Slovenia in 2 hours, and 45 minutes later had found Camping Bled, on the shores of magical, glacial Lake Bled.

Another quick lunch, then off to walk the 4 miles around the whole lake, plus a long climb up to the impressively perched castle.

Fantastic views and some very interesting historical exhibitions. The castle has never been beseiged in it’s 900 year history. I wonder why.

The lakeshore is dotted with beautiful 19th century villas, one of which was taken over as a summer home by President Tito, the communist ruler of the then Yugoslavia.

An island in the centre has a lovely church of the assumption. Visitors can ring the church bell to ask for a wish to be granted, so our walk was regularly punctuated by slightly discordant chimes!

The only way to reach the island was to row yourselves.. maybe tomorrow…. or go in a traditional Pletna boat, propelled by a gondolier with 2 oars!

Great views at every turn on this walk. I am so glad I have a camera phone. A 12 shot reel of film would have been woefully inadequate!!

What an introduction to Slovenia. Magical, and the most photogenic place I have ever been to.

Tomorrow I am determined to eat the local Bled cake… a very very very unhealthy custard and cream slice!

Post 1 Autumn in Europe

So, our first big Bimble in Boris this year saw us head across to Europe to explore some places completely new to us. After spending a good night on the carpark at the channel tunnel (we know how to live!), we caught the 6.20 shuttle and were on the road at Calais 40 minutes later. Just as well, because our goal was an 8 hour, 477 mile drive to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, on the Romantik strasse in Germany. That dealt with the worst of the driving in one hit.

The Romantik strasse runs from Wurzburg, south to Fussen, and was a concept promoted after WW2 to bring tourism back to Germany. It is so pretty, and Rothenburg is one of its northern gems. A Mediaeval town, perched high above the valley, it entranced us at every turn.

The parish church was interesting and is on one of the pilgrim routes to Compostela.

Another lovely feature was an exquisitely realised, bronze relief map of the town, captioned in braille so that visually impaired visitors could share in it’s beauty.

A big surprise was a huge Christmas museum, and some beautifully presented shop windows.

Spot the people to get an idea of scale!

Great restaurants too! Chris was happy with his beer, and decided to fully embrace the local cuisine.. wildboar sausages, red cabbage and apple and sauteed potatoes.

The walk back to our lovely campsite showed another view of the town.

What a great start to our hols!

PS They seem to have got recycling colourfully organised here!

Post 27 Deja Vu Dubai!

We arrived in Dubai at 7am (2am Japan time.) Excellent flight.. especially the incredible Japanese breakfast.

Chris stuck to croissants! In Dubai we were staying for 2 night’s in an Air BnB on the Palm belonging to Danna and Mike. Mike was our tour guide on day one, and we had booked another day with him to keep us awake! So we arrived at the apartment, did a quick change into shorts and set off, firstly to a bird watching area on the river, where there was a good variety of birds, including lots of flamingoes.

Then we headed to Abu Dhabi, another Emirate. En route we stopped at the Last exit services. Everything in Dubai must be different! This was a highway food stop with a difference. The main building, and all the food outlets were themed on Mad Max films. (Post apocalyptic fantasy which involved a lot of vehicle modification and cut throat survival!) It was eye opening!

The ladies washroom!!

Abu Dhabi is wealthier than Dubai, with more oil, and it was more elegant, with a less frenetic feel.

We first visited a heritage museum explaing how just 60 years ago this area was inhabited by fishermen and desert nomads!

A bit different now!

Then to the Emperor’s Palace Hotel.. originally built as a palace, and now one of the most beautiful deluxe hotels in the world. Real palm trees adorn the corridoors.. I’m wondering if there is room on the landing at home?!

We lived the life having “gold” coffee in the golden lounge! Sprinkled with 23 carat gold.

The skyscrapers are beautiful, and very individual. Apparently these 3 were used in a stunt in the film Fast and Furious!

The most glorious stop was the mosque. Built within the last 20 years, it was enormous, and astonishingly beautiful. Almost everything you see in the pictures is marble, including the inlays on the floor, walls and pillars, or glass. The chandeliers are huge and sparkle in the light. Breathtaking.

We ended the day with snacks at an ethiopian restaurant near the BnB!

Next day we explored alone using taxis and the metro. Uber worked well. We visited the falconry museum to discover the ancient use of falcons and the bond between man and bird. Alongside is the falcon souk, selling…. falcons! Along with every accessory you can imagine! They are highly prized and therefore well looked after.

Then back to the old town, and a snack at our favourite cafe from last time – The Arabian Tea House. Fab!

A walk through the souk,

then the metro to Ibn Batutta Mall where you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a different country, as each area is geographically themed!

Our day ended with a Middle Eastern buffet at Amaseena restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Awesome array of traditional food, with chef Rani to explain what each one contained and how it was cooked. Delicious.

Now we are at the airport, waiting for our flight home and wondering where the last 3 months has gone!!