Yesterday we were looking at our maps to decide where we would go today. Main goal of this holiday was Hungary, but we have found out that we don't have much 'feeling' with this country. That doesn't mean that is not very nice and a pleasant country, but it just doesn't attract us. We have driven through the whole country, seen the puszta and the major cities, but there was no spark between us and the country.
The trip southwards along lake Balaton is only 60 kilometers but it takes us almost an hour an a half. It is very busy on the roads in this touristic area. It takes us 3 hours to reach the border with Croatia, a distance less than 150 kilometers. At 9 o'clock the temperature was already 30 degrees in the shade, so our arms that hang out of the car window are slowly roasted.The moment we enter Croatia we see mountains lying in the distance. The landscape becomes very wide and we have nice views from the top of the mountains. Everywhere, new highways are being build and some are not even on the new map we bought just past the border. Later we hear that this is the first year since the war of 1991 - 1995 that so many new initiatives are developped in this country.
We like Croatia right away and we are very glad that we have come here. But these new highways are far from ready and the journey through the mountains to the southern coast takes a very long time. There is much heavy traffic on the narrow roads and our average stays below 50 km an hour. Well, that means more time to enjoy the views.
The road to Senj may be a very slow one, but it gives us beautiful views and we see much more than we would have from a highway.
From Senj we take the coastal route to the south: a magnificient trip and sometimes even exciting. There are many curves in the road, often a bit sharper than one would think when the curve starts, steep slopes into the sea and not many guardrails. It is impossible to drive fast but the sight is breathtaking. On one side the rocky mountains that have a stained look by the trees that grow erratically and on the other side the Adriatic Sea with its many islands and peninsulas in the distance.
Since we had no intentions to visit Croatia when we planned this trip, we don't have anything about the country, no travel guides or books. The only thing we bought at the border is a map with also some campsites noted on it. But the campsites we see are often along the road, they are very small, sometimes in the yard of a house and there is no beach, only a rocky coast.On our laptop we have software with information about many European campsites and we decide to go to Zaton, a small village north of Zadar. But the coastal road also takes a lot of time and we are getting a bit tired of the trip. When we finally arrive, this small campsite turns out to be an enormous touristic complex. This is the last thing we had expected in Croatia.
The first thing we do is to look for a bar, so we can have a refreshing drink. When it gets dark we put up the tent and since it is still very hot we start sweating immediately. We are soaked and exhausted when we are finished. Quickly we return to the bar and we look forward to have a few quiet days to rest and enjoy the sun and the sea.It is still 25 degrees at 11 at night and we enjoy being at the outside bar. The waiter is a very nice man and we feel very comfortable talking to him. Maybe he is just doing his job, but he gives us a very welcoming feeling and we are glad we found our favourite bar to be, so soon.
Tuesday 01 July 2003, Zaton, a relaxing day on the beachAt 6 we wake up because of all the noise on the campsite but fortunately it stops after some time. But at 8 it is so hot inside the tent that we have no choice but get out of bed; it is like a oven. After the long drive of yesterday and the fact that we went to bed very late, we feel exhausted. We decide to stay here for a few days to have a holiday inside our holiday: relaxing, doing nothing, sunbathing and enjoying it.
But that is not always easy with this temperature. In the shade it is over 30 degrees, maybe even closer to 40 and we seek cooler places where we can: in the sea, under parasols and even under the table as Elisabeth demonstrates. When we walk in the sun the sweat starts to drip automatically.
The water of the sea is quite warm, but still refreshing. The Adriatic sea is not very wide and very shallow along this coast and is warmed up by the sun very easily. We thought we already had some tint on our skin but we stand out very whitely against most other people. There are lots of Dutchmen, but also many people from Scandinavia and Hungary.We had expected to come to a small campsite with not too many people, but this place turns out to be a huge touristic complex with more than 1000 places for tents and caravans and furthermore there are apartments, a sporting complex, a beach for excursionists and a shopping centre. Everybody wants to be as close to the beach as possible, so we have chosen a place at the back where we stand a bit alone. We always wonder why people seem to flock together; Dutch people who don't know each other probably like to be together when they meet on a campsite and the same is true for most other people we see here: Croatians, Hungarians, Germans, etcetera. We don't get it: why would someone go away so far from ones own country, all the way from Holland to Croatia to get there together again?
We like to chat with people now and then, no matter where they come from, but this Dutch sociability is strange to us, especially when we are abroad.
After an hour at the quiet bar we take another dip into the sea. It is still very warm when we return to our tent at 8. We feel very tired and lazy. At last, a day without spending one minute in the car.At night we spend some time talking to the waiter of the bar, a very charming young man named Joško (pronounced as Joshko) who in fact is a musician. He lives in Zadar, a town nearby and works here only for the summerseason: from 2 in the afternoon until midnight, without fixed breaks, 7 days a week. We won't even talk about his salary that is extremely low. We don't envy him. But, we for one thing, are glad he works here because it is very nice to talk to a 'normal' person within this very commercial holiday center. So, if you have a better job for a Croatian musician (guitar player and singer), just contact us...