When we left on August 5th we drove in to Germany, to Sauerland. It proves that you don’t have to drive far to find a beautiful, completely different area. With small green hills, forests and streams.
It is a relaxed area to walk or ride your bike. We then drove the main part of the “Romantische Strasse” (Romantic Road). Following the road you drive through beautiful small towns and along castles. Especially Rothenberg ob der Tauber was beautiful: a medieval town with small ancient streets, a city wall and a lot of nice small shops.
Along the route we found a dirt road with a small lake right beside it where we spent 2 days relaxing and swimming as the August heatwave had just begun.
The Romantische Strasse starts in Wurzburg and ends at Schloss Neuschwanstein, a fairytale castle near the Austrian border.
We drove on to Liechtenstein. This small country was surprisingly beautiful, friendly and has lots to offer, especially for hikers and bikers :). It wasn’t difficult to find a nice place to camp either. It is a relaxing country and worth a visit. As you may have seen on the photo’s, we put a sticker of the countries flag on the van of the countries which we have visited. But our rule is we can only put a new flag on the van if we slept at least two successive nights in that country. Well that was easy in Liechtenstein so we were able to add a new flag to the van.
Through Austria we drove in to Switzerland, Graubunden, where Kilian rode the mountain bike route over the Fimberpass, you can read all about it here. I spend 2 days (another flag for the van) relaxing on the campsite, which had a nice pool. Caught up with laundry too.
We decided to drive through the Dolomites and Friuli in Italy, and into Slovenia. Friuli (Italy) is beautiful and has little tourism. The temperature rose up to 36ºC so we spend another afternoon by a river, which had just enough water left in it for some paddling.
We had wanted to drive in to Slovenia on the 21st but due the heat we stayed near the water in Italy until the 22nd.
A day too late as it turned out, because on Friday the 21st, Slovenia decided that Dutch citizens were no longer welcome due to the rise of corona numbers in the Netherlands…. As we were very close to the border we decided to go ahead anyway. We had a very poor internet connection, making it difficult to get the right info. We took our chances and headed for the border, we could at least get some more info at the border. When we arrived at the border however, it was open and completely deserted! No warning signs -nothing- so we just drove on. We decided not to push our luck and four hours later we arrived in Croatia without any problems.
Croatia is beautiful. We spend a few days in and around the national park Risnjak, a large green forest. There are a few lakes and also water sources so it was easy to fill up our water tanks. Then we went to the isle Krk (pronounced Kurk). The North half is pretty green although most “trees” don’t grow any higher than 2 meters. the South half mainly consists of grey rocky mountains. We did the touristy thing: walked through the town that is also called Krk, ate ice cream and had a nice lunch on the boulevard. We camped near the giant Hackberry tree which, as the story goes was planted in the 11th century.
The next day we went to the beach at Uvala Potovosce, were we parked the van in the shade directly at the beach. This meant that Binkie could stay in the van, relaxing and snoozing and we got to lie on the beach, checking on Binkie every 30 minutes making sure he was still happy and healthy.
When we left Krk we drove down the coast, following the D8. It was still very hot but until roughly 100km’s above Split there were enough trees to provide shade. But then the landscape suddenly changed and there was almost no shade for the next 250kms or so. It really was very hot. We don’t have air-conditioning, so we spend quite some time looking for a place with at least some shade. Binkie wasn’t enjoying the high temperatures either and we worried that he might become overheated. It took everything we had to stop that from happening. While driving, he was warm but OK, but obviously we have to stop sometime. So we had 2 stressful days until we were well past Split and there were more trees etc. again. We drove to Ploce where we crossed the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina. This country has a strip of land of ~10kms wide, straight through Croatia. With the town Neun in the middle. This is the only sea-access Bosnia has and we had expected a big harbour. But Neun only has a small harbour and a beach. We didn’t stop but drove on, back in to Croatia again, still following the D8.
Despite the soaring heat near Split we were glad we drove this road. Because below the Bosnian border, the landscape changes, still beautiful with lots of coves, green mountains and pretty sea views. There are also vineyards. We spend two nights near Zabreze where we could relax in the shade, surrounded by pine trees and crickets overlooking the sea. We decided to visit Zuljana during the day, a nice beach town, if we could find a parking space in the shade and then to drive on to Dubrovnik to visit it in the evening.
We found a good place and spent a nice day there. But we liked the area so much that we stayed another night, had dinner at a nice restaurant and drove on to Dubrovnik a day later on September 1st. Since we’ll be writing a monthly blog well let you know how we liked Dubrovnik next month 😉
We are now on the road for almost 4 weeks and it still feels like a holiday. We are slowly on our way to Turkey, where we plan to spend the winter. When we think about that, we realise that this is not just a holiday. And that puts a huge smile on our faces. It is also very relaxing, travelling without any hurry, no need to be somewhere at a certain time. So far corona hasn’t really been a problem. Despite all the warnings it is pretty relaxed everywhere, even at the borders. Nobody checked our temperature or asked any questions about our health, or where we have been. Sometimes it feels a bit uncertain, not knowing if perhaps tomorrow we might not be allowed into the next country. We are hoping that by next spring, things will be back to (almost) normal.