Dober Dan/Bog/Ciao J
After several lush sunny days by the pool in Ravenna we drove away from the beautiful sunshine and into torrential rain in Venice! The campsite we ended up at was fab, just a 15 minute bus ride from Venice and full of backpackers from places like Australia, New Zealand, Canada and America. We had a couple of amusing nights at the bar with them, us unashamedly ignoring the skinny 40 something drunken ex-pat who kept shouting ‘I’m FROM Europe’ and starting fights with 20 year old guys from Australia.
I’ve never really come across anyone when they’re actually back packing before though several friends have gone and I’ve always been quite jealous and thought it sounded fun. I always assumed two things however; one is that they actually had backpacks and not wheely suitcases and two is that while they travel around they actually go out and see things. Neither of these seemed to apply to the backpackers we have met in France and Italy who never ventured far from the campsite/bar except to visit Lidl for cheap booze, or to have a wonder around tourist hot spots. The backpackers we met
in Venice hadn’t even been into actual Venice itself, though once Canadian guy proudly stated that he had looked at it! They just started at me an Ange when we told them they’ll never see any real culture unless they venture away from the tourist areas. Maybe we’re old.
Venice was…interesting. It’s unlike anywhere else I’ve seen though un-mistakenly Italian, defiantly worth a visit and potentially beautiful but the awful weather meant that half the pavements were just part of the waterway’s and none of the gondola’s could safely venture out. I wore wellies. Ange-like many other tourists-did not and had to take her shoes and socks off to wade through the calf high puddles of grim water much to my amusement J We had intended on spending more time in Venice and the surrounding area but the weather forecast was no better so we decided to head to Slovenia, and spent the next night amidst the breathtaking views, beautiful houses and goats (with bells on J) in Bovec. Slovenia is so very beautiful, the mountains, the people, the houses. It seems that every single property is so well taken care of and even the cities seems
spotlessly clean. Everyone is friendly and happy to chat or help but all the lush greenery comes at a price and the rain did follow us, chasing us onto Bled where we finally got a few slightly drier days.
We had a brilliant time in Bled, spending three nights there where we walked around the lakes, gorges and waterfalls, sampled the delicious local cuisine, watched traditional Slovenian dancing and partook in one of Slovenia’s many thrill seeking sports; Canyoning. We signed up for the easy route down the canyon supposedly suitable for beginners after which I got really quite scared! ‘Canyon Bob’ picked us up in his VW T4 and off we headed up a mountain with a couple of Americans and bunch of skinny New Zealanders on holiday. At the closest point the van could get to the canyon we stopped, got out and changed into wet suits, hard hats, old shoes (with ants in) and harnesses and headed towards the easy ten minute walk to the canyon. They lied. It was not easy. Half way up the practically sheer mountain climb I though that’ll do, you can have my money, I’m off. Luckily the American’s
were there because the fact they were trailing behind me lifted my spirits enough to get me up the hill! So after the exhausting climb that left us all panting and sweating we were stood looking over a jutting out piece of rock into a seemingly tiny pool of water some 20 ft below. I thought I was up for this, but as there was this bit of rock sticking out in the way to actually land in the pool and not hit the rock you had to leap, not just fall into the water. And as it wasn’t that deep you had to cannon ball yourself so it was your bum hitting the bottom and not your legs or anything else equally as breakable. Ange and I both copped out of the leap the first time round and climbed down a little way to avoid the scary rock but it didn’t make it look much better and it took a lot of will power to jump down but jump we did and it was fun, terrifying but fun. So much so that we did it again this time from the top! The adrenaline from the whole thing meant I
was shaking the entire way round. We spent the next couple of hours sliding down natural slides, zip wires and abseiling down waterfalls. I took two sets of bruised knuckles and a bruised elbow home as a souvenir, think that’s enough for me, but Ange is desperate to give the advanced canyoning a go!
From Bled we headed to LakeBohinj, which is the largest perminant lake in Slovenia. Bled has the only island in Slovenia, but Bohinj is just if not more beautiful, minus the millions of tourists. It was at this point that we realised that our spare gas cylinder had been empty since Umbria, and that we were going to need it filled up soon if we wanted to keep cooking on gas. After asking around we quickly realised that this was going to be harder than we thought-in France and Italy it was incredibly easy to get camping gaz but not so in Slovenia. From the campsites in Bohinj we travelled back to Bled, stopped and asked at every campsite we came across to no avail. We ended up in the capitol- Ljubljana- who also had no idea where we could refill our cylinders
and got the receptionist and a French couple who had wifi on the case. We cycled around the capitol to several shops that the internet suggested we might find camping gaz in, to a resounding no. Fishing, camping and sports shops and outlets were harassed by telephone by helpful Slovenian’s but there’s no camping gaz to be had in Slovenia. Nor, we quickly came to realise, is there any to be had in Croatia. We even crossed the border back into Italy for a quick look around near Trieste but came away empty handed. After much internet research, our options seem to be fingers crossed and keep asking or swap the camping gaz cylinder for a local one. The bummer with that is that when you buy a cylinder you enter into a contract; you don’t have to pay for another cylinder when you need more gas, just swap it for a full one and pay the cost of the gas inside. If we get a Croatian one, we will likely be outside Croatia when we need to re-fill it and therefore not be able to just swap it for a full one but have to buy the cylinder all
over again. So we’ve decided on the crossing our fingers and hoping option and have bought more charcoal for the BBQ instead!
So today we arrived in Croatia! Very exciting; the first time we’ve had to go through passport control or use proper foreign money (though we didn’t actually have any yet) Passport control wasn’t quite as exciting as I had hoped and there was no welcome to Croatia sign to take a pic of (small things!) In fact the presence of a border seemed just a bit pointless; after driving past two guys in booths seemingly doing nothing except waving us on to the next booth we arrived at one with five uniformed officers in it apparently having a party….after a 2 second glace at our passports-what’s the point?? he asked if we had any cigarettes or alcohol; took a long look at me and sighed. He would have to search our van for drugs so would we please pull over on the left! We were the only one’s out of a very long queue he had bothered with-think it must be the new nose ring-and his search consisted of ‘if you just tell me where
it is I’ll just confiscate it’ and rummaging around in our tin of dice. Really quite funny and absolutely pointless. Maybe it would have been more thorough if he could actually get in the van as we had it stuffed full 😊
So now were in Pula, Croatia, with no local currency, no gas, its raining and were off on a boat trip tomorrow but we have the spirit of adventure and its all bloody good fun! JJJ
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