25th May-1st June…….the Island of Krk
We looked at the map and our destination for the day was going to be Krk Island. We knew that we could pay a few Kuna, drive up the motorway, to get there quickly. The other option was to follow route 8 up the coast. We took the coast road.
Most of the way the road hugged the shoreline. Round every bay, round sharp bends, up hills and our reward for taking this slower route was 200 miles of views over the sea to the many islands that looked as though they had all merged into one. There are over 1000 islands and islets on the coast of Croatia and 40 of those are inhabited islands. On top of that there are peninsulas like the one we took the ferry to avoid driving across Bosnia.
Krk and Cres are the two largest islands. So we arrived at the toll bridge which would take us across to Krk. The weather was glorious and the forecasts were telling us that it was going to stay that way for the foreseeable future. We had had a strong recommendation to stay on Camping Bor in the town with the same name as the island. Although it is the first campsite that we were to stay on that was not right by the beach, we were told the short walk into the centre and the views from the camp easily compensated for the distance from the seas edge. We set up camp and soon learned just how friendly and helpful the staff and the management are towards their guests. There is quite a well-stocked shop and the bar and restaurant is excellent. If you like wine then you are in luck here because they make their own excellent red, white and rose and people are regularly seen leaving the shop with their 5 litre plastic bottles of the colour wine of their choice. There is so much care here keeping everything spick and span and all around there are pots of plants everywhere to keep everything looking beautiful. When you arrive at the site you will get a ride around the site on their electric open car so you can choose which pitch you would like.
Krk is a beautiful seaside town and we thoroughly enjoyed our wander along the promenade by the smallish port. There are some interesting shops in the side streets then we went into the small castle and got a nice view from the top.
While Elaine sampled a glass of the local wine under a sunshade in front of a nice looking bar I did something that I have never done before. I paid for a 40 minute ride in what they call a submarine.
When you go downstairs there are large round windows on either side and the top of the windows is about 2 foot below the surface of the water. On the way out I got a great view of the town from out at sea. They took us out to a little bay and as soon as the boat slowed down the views in the very clear water were superb. Whilst we were close to the shore two lads dived into the water and did some energetic turns under water for our entertainment. A little further on the guy driving the boat started throwing bread into the water. Fish came from everywhere. The few children watching, alongside me, whooped with joy. I wanted to join in but I forced myself to act my age.
A little later on we looked for somewhere to have lunch. We only wanted something light and walked past a small take-away café and there were people outside eating doner kebabs. I have never been tempted to try food like that thinking that it would be much too fatty for my liking. Wow! Another first! What have I been missing out on? Krk is a lovely town so we will stay here for a few days before moving on.
We got an email from our Aussie friends Brian and Wendy, and they said they were on their way to join us. When they arrived they parked on the pitch right behind us and said they would stop there until the replacement for their stolen credit card arrived from their bank in Australia so we decided to wait with them. The four of us hired a car between us for three days to make it easier to explore the whole island. The campsite booked the car for us and that evening one of the managers of the site sat down with us and marked our map with all the places to visit here and on Cres, the neighbouring island. I do not know many sites where you would get service like that.
Off we all went the next day and headed for St. Lucia which, we were told, would give us examples of the ancient lettering that was used centuries ago. We then went off to Baska which is near the most southerly point of the island. Baska is a very nice seaside resort.
As it was a Saturday and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky it was the first time in our travels this year where we were looking at packed beaches and people swimming in the sea. From there we went up the east side to Vrbnik and past the bay where we were advised was the best place to swim around the island. After lunch we carried on following the recommendations. A lot of the roads were very narrow especially when we went to some of the smaller villages and yes, we could have taken the motorhome but parking and driving up single carriageway roads was much better in the car. For the 3 days hire my share was going to be £60 with insurance and we knew that we had all had our monies worth after the first day.
The next day we headed down to the small port that would take us over to the second largest island called Cres. You do not have to book ferries to get onto the islands; you just turn up, pay for your ticket and wait for the next available ferry. Cres is virtually the same square kilometers as Krk but is long north to south but with little width east to west. Driving on Cres was a completely different driving experience. This is where hiring the car came was such an advantage. When you come off the ferry there is just the ticket office there and a couple of cafes. We then climbed and climbed past all the cars and other vehicles waiting to get on the ferry we had just vacated and then we turned right onto the main road that runs from the south to the northern most point of the island. We were heading for a little place called Beli. The narrow, endlessly windy road then took us to the village that is perched on top of a hill. It was like going into a living museum except for the locks on the many wells. The streets are so narrow that vehicles are prohibited and every house and cottage looks as though they were built hundreds of years ago. We couldn’t visit the church as there was a service going on. The only sign of life were two young boys who were hanging around the church as if they had snuck outside to escape the priest’s sermon.
Next we drove back down the ridge of the narrow northern end of the island and then across extremely narrow roads to get to Lubenice. This is again like going back through the centuries.The beach is way down but, despite the road network to get there, the tourist is catered for. There is a sheep museum and a view point at the end of the village with great views over the sea to neighbouring islands. We went and sat in the garden of a restaurant and ordered a meal when suddenly the wind started blowing strongly and the rain started with a vengeance. We ate the meal inside and sat chatting until the sudden storm had abated. The clouds still looked fairly threatening so we decided not to drive down to the south of the island and to cross the bridge to Mallosinj which is on the small island of Losinj. This is a very popular beach, holiday destination and is the reason for most people taking the crossing onto Cres.
For our third day of our car hire we decided, first, to go to the catacombs at Rudine. As we arrived a large party of school children were just getting off a coach ready for their tour of the caves. We paid to go in and we were asked to wait so the children could go in first. Then there was a small party of Germans and the four of us tagged on the end of the tour. The guide spent a long time explaining whatever it was to the school children and then had a question and answer session with them. We just waited.
Elaine said she had water dripping on her head. I said that if she stands there for much longer a stalagmite will start growing on her head. The children went back upstairs and then the guide spoke in German to the second group but their explanation was much shorter than that of the school children. By the time she got round to us her speech was even shorter. We four smiled at each other, then took a few more photos and then climbed back up to the sunshine. We continued our drive around the island and the last place we visited was an inland village/town called Dobrinj.
What a joy. This was another walk through old, historic Croatia. Stone built houses of all different shapes lined the narrow streets and near the top of the town was the church. Attached to the bell tower there was a 2nd World War Memorial naming the dead from the village and these scenes telling the story of what happened during the German occupation.
It has been an absolute joy spending time with Wendy and Brian. We have twice enjoyed meals together in the campsite restaurant and each evening we have spent the time sitting in or outside theirs or our motorhome. The 31st of May was Elaine’s birthday which turned into a good day for Brian and Wendy as well because the replacement for their stolen credit card turned up. As a birthday celebration treat, Brian took us to a cake and ice cream parlour right by the sea’s edge. On the way back we all decided that it was time to move on so we enjoyed the rest of the day and the evening together. So the Aussies went on their way with the hope of meeting up with another couple they had met on their travels and Elaine and I have today driven into Slovenia and will spend some time here before going into Austria.
We have thoroughly enjoyed the month we have had in Croatia. We will definitely come back to Croatia in the future. Everyone has been so friendly and the ones we have spoken to all seem proud of their country and are keen to talk about places we should visit. I have never seen Croatian wine on sale in the UK, but if you do, then try some. We have enjoyed the food here and the service everywhere has been lovely….. (sorry if I am sounding like a travel agent).