Today we will return to 'quiet' Croatia. Montenegro is a beautiful country, but there are a too many tourists along the coast. The 100 kilometers to the border cost us more than 2.5 hours, but that is also because we occasionally stop at a kiosk to buy some contraband for Elisabeth.And yes, what Elisabeth was afraid of, happens at the border: did you buy cigarettes, asks a grumpy Croatian customs officer. Of course, we say, 2 cartons. And then I have to open the trunk and the man starts looking through our luggage. Fortunately I have some experience with 'smuggling' and unless we have to clear the whole car they really will not find anything, so I'm not worried. It remains a kind of challenge, doing something illegal that you yourself do not find illegal at all. Elisabeth finds it quite exciting and hides behind her sunglasses. After a few minutes we can drive on and we will not tell you how much we really have taken with us...
We have a lot of delays today, due to accidents or trees that have fallen on the road. At Dubrovnik we are standing in traffic for three quarters of an hour and regularly we see damaged cars cross the road, always in a bend. This is not a real traffic safety region, a human life is apparently worth a little less here than with us.
We drove away from Montenegro this morning with 22 degrees, at Dubrovnik it is 32 degrees and an hour later we drive through the pouring rain and the temperature drops to 14 degrees. The weather gods are on our trail again! Very far away we see the edge of a big black cloud but when we search for a campsite around Trogir in the evening we see just the last rays of the sun and it is a pleasant 20 degrees. We have the tent ready in 10 minutes, just before it gets dark, on one of the last places at campsite Belvedere.
It is a nice campsite, but on the terraces along the sea it is really crowded with tents and campers and there are all kinds of people who interfere in setting up the tent like a Polish man who tells us long stories, everything in Polish, while we just want to hurry up. When we are settled, it appears that we do not have chosen the best place: just under a bright lamp (we did not pay attention) and next to noisy neighbors.It took us over 10 hours to cover 425 kilometers and it was a strenuous ride on mostly winding two-lane roads. We are tired and decide that we have done, seen and driven so much in the last few days that we now are in for a couple of days on the beach. But in a quieter place where there is a real beach, so tomorrow we will continue towards Zadar. We can meet with our friend Josko or a few days to the campsite in Zaton which, although not cheap, is pleasant and relaxed in our experience.
Wednesday 12 September 2007, to Trogir and then to ZatonWe are awake early on this noisy campsite and also tonight it has not been really quiet. So far we have not really been lucky with campsites, but being under a bright lamp is really our own fault. Quite earlywe have packed the car and all our neighbors are surprised that we are already leaving.
It is a bright day and the mercury quickly rises to 25 degrees. We drive first to the center of Trogir where it is pretty crowded. It is a small city with a walled city center (car-free) and we can park the car within a few minutes walking distance. We first walk through the lively market to the medieval city center and see the 15th century Kamerlengofort where once the Venetian ruler lived. We are increasingly finding out that Venice at its peak really reigned over most of the Adriatic coast, so it was quite an empire with large territories.
As if we were in Monaco, posing for our yacht ... Along the boulevard there are a few expensive ships, including a Frisian, but we prefer to spend our money on traveling than on a boat. From the boulevard we have a nice view of the St. Laurentius cathedral that dominates the town.
Strolling through the old center is a pleasure, as in so many old towns in Croatia: narrow alleys and many medieval houses that give you the feeling of walking through the past. It was pretty crowded on the market, but not here and we bump into more residents than tourists. The city often seems to be used as a background in Croatian, Italian and German films.
St. Laurentius Cathedral is one of the most beautiful in Croatia (says our travel guide), a Roman masterpiece that we can not enter for free. And we are just too late to visit the Sint Nicolaas Monastery, the place where one of the 3 preserved images of the Greek god Kairos has been preserved, a deity that appeals to us: the god of the right moment. This year we have some trouble choosing the right moments for holidays and nice weather for example. Sometimes we are too fast and too early, often too late. If an ancient deity should have been preserved, then this Kairos is! But well, we are now too late to see him because the monastery is closed from 11 to 5 in the afternoon!But Trogir is certainly a cozy town where we entertain ourselves for hours, and on the market we can find souvenirs that we have not seen elsewhere. After having another drink on a we go back and it takes some effort to get out of the city because we first explore the suburbs of the city via all kinds of roads, well, we just got lost a little bit. Then again to the main road and a piece of highway.
From Šibenik we now make a tour around Krka national park, first to Knin that turns out to be an uninteresting town. Traces of the war can still be found everywhere from the time when the Croatian Servians here proclaimed their own republic of Krajina. Knin was the capital of it as it once was (in the 11th century) the capital of Croatia. That is why we hoped there were some interesting historical things to see.
In the distance we see the mountains of Bosnia-Hercegovina but around Knin itself is a large plain It is very quiet on the main roads, actually we only meet one car: another Dutch couple, of course! Wherever we go, almost no day passes without seeing other Dutch people. Sometimes we wonder who is left in our country to do the work.
At Devrske we see a castle in the distance but no roads to go there. If we read how many countries and groups have fought for this area in the last 2,000 years, we find it rather surprising that we do not encounter many more castles. The coastal cities were of course the most important for trade, but the hinterland was probably an important outlet.
Not many castles, but destroyed and collapsed houses enough. The international community, as we hear from Croatians, complain about the limited return possibilities for Serbians, while the Croats complain about the preferential treatments that Serbians receive from the same international community. The world does not easily change. Forcing a country into political correctness against the former enemy and in the meantime giving that country the freedom to let go its own war criminals and not compensating war victims does not solve any problem, in our opinion. And this is happening in almost all Balkan countries, so much we have gathered from our talks with local people in these various countries.International policymakers undoubtedly have good intentions, but whether it works so well we have to wait and see, we ourselves have our reservations. Montenegro is a good example, the country has quietly waited, made itself independent, introduced the euro directly and seems to be a model for a new EU member with a lot of touristic potential. And yet a lot of Montegrins have fought with the Serbians against, for example, Croatia. The politics and history of this region is so complex that at least we are unable to give an opinion about it, only that too many people have fallen victim to nationalist leaders and have subsequently become criminals against their neighbors. How do all these peoples ever get over that?
We leave politics for what it is and text again to Josko who would have a nice holiday cottage for us, but he does not respond. We decide to go to Zaton where there is a large campsite complex where we have been before. It is fairly quiet, has a nice beach and plenty of space. This time we take all the time to find a good spot and pay particular attention to the fact that we are not under a lamp. After we have set up the tent we make a beach walk and eat something at one of the many restaurants on the site. If the weather cooperates, we will spend the next few days relaxing here!
Thursday to Sunday 13 to 16 September, doing nothing at the beach
For four days we do something we do not often do: lazing on the beach. A relaxed routine that lasts four days: sleeping, having breakfast, drinking coffee at one the many terraces at the campsite and then lying on the beach for hours on end with a good book. Ok, mine is not so good, but we have so many books with us (about 15 per person) that I can put the bad book aside to start a new one.
It's about 25 degrees during the day and it's great to go to the sea and go for a swim. In the course of the day it gets busy on the beach and occasionally we are pushed away in a corner. And that halfway through September! It is mainly elderly and families with small children who try to avoid the busy summer season and probably hoped for a quiet holiday, just as we.
After a refreshing shower it is time to have dinner and in the evening we make extensive walks on the terrain. These are languid days that continue and you sometimes hope that they will never stop. Even the weather gods leave us alone. But after a few days we get the jitters again and the car is getting restless from doing nothing all these days.A holiday in the holiday, delicious. I can really enjoy it, Teije usually gets restless a bit earlier than I do, but when he has a few maps and travel books he can continue to plan the next adventure and is calm again.