We have passed the halfway point, it’s a strange feeling, like we are running out of time, but we have seen and done so much in the first half that if we continue in the same way then another half of this will be brilliant, but it still feels like the end is nigh, best get adventuring then and fill the second half as much as the first!
My last post was from Ljubjana, posted in haste as we were leaving to head to lake Bled and the Soca Valley, I was already in love with Slovenia, even in the capital city, and I don’t really like cities, Budapest has been an exception. Arriving at Lake Bled we had a wander and stopped for lunch whilst we worked out somewhere to stay for the night, the camperstop book had a place listed incorrectly as being here when it was on the opposite side of the country, ah well! Over lunch we discovered a place nearby with TREEHOUSES with one available at a nice off-season discount so we did the only rational thing and blew 2 days budget and booked that treehouse for the night, you only live once! The weather was being all moody on our walk around the lake and after a soggy hike we saw a great view of the lake and timed it perfectly for a rainbow, not bad at all. Taking a wrong turn out of the lookout point we ended up in the woods and spotted a couple of Ibex (Ibexes?) and I managed to get a couple of rubbish photos to commemorate a lovely and well timed evening walk.
Waking in the treehouse was a nice change from the van, en-suite facilities are something of a luxury in our lives now, after breakfast we maximised our treehouse time chilling out and writing postcards until kicking out time. Northwards to the Vintgar Gorge, not officially open but the info guy had said to just duck under the barrier as it is just off-season. The Gorge is stunning, the most beautiful clear but blue water, cascading falls, so many shades of green that I have never seen before and all viewed from a wooden walkway around the edge of the gorge, simply beautiful. Getting to the opposite end of the walk we met a group of three ladies who told us they had been warned not to go down the route we had just come from, but we had to go back as the van was there, so we did, and just before the end met a very angry man in a red jacket with a redder face yelling “NO, NO, NOOOOOO!”, we hastily explained the predicament and he grudgingly let us pass to get to the van, though for a moment he was adamant that we were not passing, despite the car being 50 metres away and having just completed the route he deemed too dangerous, twice. Oops.
The following day we continued towards the Soca Valley and the van did a great job of climbing the steep switchbacks up high into the Julian Alps, we took a number of pit-stops for photos, fresh air and simply to enjoy the amazing views.
Our first port of call was the source of the river Soca at the point where it emerges from the mountains, we walked right up but the end part was very steep, requiring mountain goat-like skills to navigate a narrow foot-hold and metal rope hand rail, I reached the end of my (thus far much improved) bravery and had to cling, limpet-like to a bit of rock whilst Julie was brave (mental) and made it to the end and filled her water bottle right from the start of the source. After gathering myself I made it back to terra-firma and we filled all our bottles and the big jerry cans in the van with fresh, lovely spring water right from the source of the Soca, lovely! Whilst in the region we also visited the Soca Gorge and had a walk, admiring the turquoise waters, rope bridges and amazing landscape, I even got a photo of cherry blossoms with snowy peaks behind, a shot I thought I was going to miss out as the blossoms were starting to drop.
Stayed a few days at Kamp Koren in the town of Kobarid, a lovely little place right on the water, it seems popular with kayakers and rafters, had a few chilled out days of not going very far and just enjoying some lovely weather in a beautiful place. Just up from the camp is Slap Kozjak (Slap is waterfall), we had a walk up to it and it was a really fun little trip, almost Goonies-like with gorges, bridges and the stunning water, the waterfall is in a cave which just added to the drama.
Further south to a town called Idrija and had a walk around the old town, a nice meal in what appeared to be the only place open and attempted to go for a bike ride but the predicted showers just got heavier and heavier until it was practically a monsoon so we had to give up, soaked to the bone and a bit fed up, it is bloomin tricky to dry 2 bodies of wet bike gear in a van! From Idrija we carried on to Postojna, I was hoping to stop in at Javornik Bike Park but it was closed due to the bad weather. Visited Predjama castle, built into a cliff face and onwards to the Skocjan Caves which are a bit touristy and you can only visit on a guided group walk but it is so worth it, massive caves and lots of interesting info, no photos allowed inside which has the added advantage of no elbows in faces and, hurrah, no selfie sticks! Yay!
Croatia, yet another new country to add to my list, first stop the capital Zagreb and some tourist fun. We took a ride in a funicular, went to the top of a tower lookout point, visited the museum of broken relationships and had some awful food, Julie had pancakes but they were tough and chewy, I ordered a ‘full English’ and got 2 hotdog sausages, some soggy bacon fat, rocket leaves and stone cold baked beans, very odd, back to not expecting bacon til we are back in the UK! Was a bizarre freezing cold night in the van, from no heating on for weeks we had it on full blast and all the blankets we could find, was warm again in the morning though and a nice day too. From Zageb we carried on south to Plitvice National Park, it is beautiful, cascading waterfalls, blue-green water, wooden walkways and boats to get around.
The next day I managed to get some biking in and rode one of the local marked mountain bike routes, I picked a 20km route with a 4/5 score for adventure, what I got was 16km of sandy, loose, soggy fire road and tractor paths, all uphill, followed by 2km of muddy ruts, but at least they were downhill, then a kilometer or two of some insane, steep rocky fun stuff that came very close to making all the climbing worthwhile, if my legs had not been ruined by the sandy climbing (and we were going back to the park for more walking later) I would have been tempted to find a way back to the start of the rocky bit.
Our second visit to the park was not so great, I had made us late by getting lost 3 times on my bike ride, the weather was turning dark and moody and Julie was getting over a cold. We got to the park and just missed the last internal bus that we had planned to take to the top of the park so we could walk back down, having no time to do the round trip we settled on just walking uphill and seeing where we got to. Then it started to rain (we were prepared in full waterproofs though so no big deal), then it got darker, then the rain turned to hail, this I had not expected, back to the van and we missed the closing by 8 mins and we were locked in the car park! Good job we have a cupboard full of food, so we cooked up a feast of packet food and whacked the heating on as the hail turned to big fat flakes of snow, yep, snow in April in Croatia. Rising with the sun in the morning so we could explain our predicament to the morning gate staff it transpired that they put the keys in the barriers when they leave at 8pm so idiots like us can escape, oops, ah well, we were freed by an amused guy and at least they have a good story to tell their colleagues!
Drove even further south to the Krka National Park and on the drive we went through a 5km tunnel, no big deal, this part of the world has a lot of tunnels, only this one was magic, no, really, on the other side of the tunnel it was 10 degrees Celsius warmer and looked like summer, crazy! Krka Park is nice, though I think the Plitvice one takes some beating, had a lovely day wandering about and I got a bit carried away taking wildlife photos, I think I now have 456million photos of dragonflies.
So today you find us in Split, on day 2 of constant rain, we had a nice visit to the town today but our hopes of some island hopping are being dashed by the weather, instead tomorrow we will start to head north along the coast and hope we can get some nicer weather to visit some islands further up. As Slovenia was so amazing we have changed our plans and instead of taking the ferry from Split to Italy we are driving back up and crossing into Italy via Slovenia, we just can’t get enough.
Bye for now!