First Day in France
Moving South
Vienne and Vinsorbes
Dutch Campground
First Days in Italy
Montelcino Antonio
First Days-South Italy
First Days-Giovinazzo
Living in Giovinazzo
Picking Olives
Outings and School
Rosa's show
Hols & New Yr
Back to School
Croatia-Plitvika, Krk, Cres
St. Pierre
Camping on the Med
Eli's Diary
Rosa's Diary


Croatia - Arrival, Stlon, Kortula



Thursday 17th March

We get a knock to wake us at 5am and get everyone up and go upstairs for the free breakfast. The coast line of Croatia is just coming into view and the day looks promising. It has been a calm night and there is a haze on the mountainous coast but the sky is clear and lightening. As we get closer we the sun rises and we start to see details. There are outlying islands covered with trees and a few terracotta roofed houses. It looks lovely. Houses on the mainland close to the sea all have docks and little docks and it is very picturesc. We finish breakfast and are in quickly and off the boat before too long. It is about 6.45 and we decide that although we have been told Dubrovnik is a lovely city that we would rather head on and get somewhere to stay. We have surprised people rather often with our answer that we haven't seen the city sites, Rome, Naples, Pisa, Florence etc but we find cities are a burden with children the ages of ours and we rarely relax. We will just have to come back when they are older or on our own and they can go themselves some day. We set off up the coast and are completely blown away by the views over the flat calm blue sea and hilly wood covered islands. We are up high on a moutainy road and can see a ferry crusing in the route we have come this morning. It is stunning. We are headed for the pccc peninsula and possibly Korcula but we stop half way for the kids and vans sake. We have been driving really easily on the new engine slowing down to 15mph on the steeper gradients, we are honked at a bit here too for this. We stop in Stlon.. a little town on the coast. We find a lovely picnic spot down a small road, under pines and palms and by a shale beach with a little pier and clear water. The sun is really warm and the kids and dog pile out and run around happily. The kids find shells while I get out a picnic breakfast and Eli fishes out a sea urchin too. We spend an hour or two just relaxing and Mike and I both nap before heading on. We give the kids some presents we'd saved from their uncle and they get back in the van and play delighted with them all.  We push on for son... at the beining of the Pennisula but when we call into their tourist office they say the campsites are all shut at this time of year but we could try Korcula reachable by ferry at the end of the pennisula from orch... We press on as Finn and Sammy are napping and take in more and more views of moutains, bays, islands, and quiet villages. The roads are quiet too, and we take our time again. We stop at a petrol station outside orch... and chat to the attendant who speaks great English he tells us the ferrys are hourly and suggests we go to Lumbarda next to Korcula town when we get to the Island. We chat for a bit and he tells us that most Croatians speak English as they learn it at school. He also tells us the population is about 4million. We comment this is like Ireland and he says yes with the same mentality. Mike says they mustn't see many Irish driving down this far and he says no but they are coming by plane and buying property because it is so cheap. We have only been here a morning but we can see why. We go down and wait in another picturesc yacht filled harbour for the ferry. Mike finds a post office and is able to change money into Kn the kids love the fact that a Kuna coin has a tuna on it.  The ferry costs about 10euro and is a little drive on and off type.  It seems pretty fast and the view of the end of the penninsula with a vast moutain dominating Orchi.. is impressive. As we come off the ferry we are subject to a routine police check with a friendly police man who takes pastport details. He tells us he thinks all the campsites are shut but tells us to try a tourist office and that if we can not find one we should register ourselves. Our rough guide told us that in Croatia you must register with the police but that usually the accomodation takes care of that. We drive into Korcula town another pretty town and harbour with a great playground and old fortified town, but the tourist office is shut. Inquirey in a shop say that campsites are shut but we could try. We let the kids play for a bit and then drive to Lumbarda a smaller place with a lovely waterfront. We spot a small campground and drive in and spot some goats and baby kids as well as chickens running around. An older woman come out and using a mixture of German, Russian, and Italian we figure out we can stay. Her daughter arrives and speaks English they are happy to let us stay but are sorry the hot water isn't on as they are waiting for a man to do something. We will have to use the solar shower which will be ok if the weather holds.  We pick a spot and the kids explore and stroke the kids while we set up camp. We have an early diner and all get to bed exhausted in Newbie.

Friday 18th March

Sunny am again we feel very lucky about the weather they told us yesterday that it wa -2 last week. I am a  bit tired and stiff but its very pleasant just  to hang out.  Mike and Eli bike and explore where beach is. I am back to hand-washing, but the sun and being outside make spashing cold water more fun. Our camp woman arrives with oranges and we dub her our Croatian Francesca. We walk across to the supermarket across street together where they are very friendly and speak English. We go out of the camp for a walk/cycle noticing that although the namny goat is out there is no sign of the kids. We go to the harbour with lots of yachts and a stoney beach and Eli try to catch our supper with his rod. Mike cycles off to see if he can get gas. The view of the mountain on the other side of the channel is wonderful. Mike gets back and we both do a spot of fishing but haven't much luck with the big spinner. We really need some bait but it is getting late so we wander back along the harbour and the boys find a tiny bit of sandy beach they want to play on.  I go on to start diner and enjoy the quiet feel back to campsite.  Our camp woman comes with lemons and through gesture and and a mix of a word of Italian, German and Croatian. Tells us that they though the baby kid goats were gone caught up in a tractor or something. The mother goat had been calling for them to no avail. They looked all over and finally found them in one of the used caravans fast asleep.  We ask about eggs and she says we can get some tomorrow and then comes back with fresh goats cheese. We have a pasta diner with feta and olives in our salad.  The kids are hungry and tire early after a game of hide and seek in the dark while I catch up with the journal.

Saturday 19th March.

Weater still good we pack up a picnic and go to look for a beach. Eli and Mike say the one they found it a bit rubbishy. We have noted that the countryside is very tidy and clean but in the off season beaches obviously aren't cleaned up although it looks like clean ups are begining. As it Italy it is awful to see how much rubbish washes up out of the sea onto the beaches. We take the bikes down the small road and Mike has Rosa on his carrier and Eli has Sammy. I push the buggy. We pass lots of people out rotovating their small vineyards and clearing out sprouted broccoli plants from smaller vegetable plots. The kids look very cute on the back of the bikes. We find the second sandy beach and the rubbish is confined to one end and some young men are sweeping up at a beach bar that is still closed. We plonk for the day and the kids play while Mike and I doze. We picnic and paddle the sea warms up through the day in the shallows but none of us are keen on actually swiming. Some kids come down after school and are amused by Finn splashing about happily in the sea. We go back and I pick up bits for tea and we have a similar relaxed evening to yesterday, but this time we watch our shabbat movie a day late. Mike has a surprise The Incredibles finally came out on DVD and he has it. The kids have been watching ads for it on every movie throughout the winter and have talked about it lots as well and Sammy and Finn playing the replition of the ad where Mr Incrediable tries to get his belt on over and over much to our amusement especially when Finn replies to Rosa (Mrs Incrediable) s call to diner with his "A salad I'm trying to get my belt on." (sic) They aren't dissappointed despite the build up I think they will be playing the Incrediables for days.

Sunday 20th March

Weather a little dull but it clears throughout the day. We have a typically relaxed sunday. Mike does the pancakes and we just stay in the campsite. I read Mike sorts his tools and does computer stuff. He's finishing the website for Dominico see links page, and getting photos back on ours. The kids play and draw and are pretty relaxed too. I go the supermarket with Finn (he's dressed as spiderman and gets friendly attention.) The lady at the till give us an olive branch with a little paper dove in it. I'd seen everyone carrying them back from mass she says its for Easter. We have a late lunch. Mike and Eli go for an evening cycle and I go back down by the harbour and listen to a brass band playing at the church across the bay. We inspect the yacht Croatia does look like an ideal sailing location. Maybe we'll come back when the kids are older to do that. We wonder back up to the site just as  all the people leave church. Everybody here seems to drive a VW golf!. We have a light supper and everyone is tired from the fresh air and doing nothing :).

Monday 21st March

Sun again this morning and we have the same quiet morning but are thinking we need to move on to a site with better facilities so we can all have a decent wash.  I have one I found one the internet that opened 20th March and looks good so we start to get organized for a run to the end of the Island where we should be able to get a ferry to Split at 6am tomorrow. Then we can drive up the coast past Zadar. We hope to stop off first at the internet cafe to upload this so folk know how we are doing.

As usual it takes all day to pack up but we don't rush as the weather is still nice and the kids play in the site. We stop for a late lunch at 4ish and pack the last few things and pay and say goodbye to the friendly camp woman and her daughter and all the friendly ladies in the supermarket.  They liked spiderman Finn as everyone does. We drive slowly down the Island taking in more dramatic views and interesting little villages before dusk. The houses all seem to have some bit of garden cultivated and there are small vineyards everywhere. The Island is very moutainous and the the countryside mostly scraggy trees and no habitation. The views down to the coast and occasional Islands are breathtaking. At our slow pace its dark before we get to Vela Luka where the ferry leaves for Spit tomorrow but we find a nice pizza place where we have the biggest pizza any of us have ever seen. We drive around but decide that its not worth looking to see if the campground out of town is open. We park on the ferry pier and set up a sort of bed arrangement and get to sleep.

Tues 22nd March

We wake in plenty of time (5.30) for the ferry (6.30) as we are not very comfortable or warm. Mike takes Eli and Rosa to look for a loo while I sort the van arround the little guys who are still asleep  for once. The ferry pull in on time and is loaded very efficently and underway as fast. We get a nice table seat by a window and the crossing is lovely passing more Islands and a few yachts at close quarters.  We get into Split at 9 but again decide no to try to do a city with parking, dog and kids. The coast road is city sprall for a while but we turn of into Trogir recommended by our rough guide and find a nice little town with a market underway. The old women selling vegetables have sun wrinkled faces and scarves and clothes from another era. We walk through the old city and find an ice cream shop. The kids are pleased with the varieties. There is a lovely cafe filled prominade by a harbour channel so I sit with the kids in the sun while Mike goes interneting.  We swap so I can have a few minutes too and then we set off again. The road is slow going due to road work lights for a good bit but the views are still lovely. We are closer down nearer the coast and pass lots of little bays with boats tucked in. It is dark when we find Zaton and the Peros Camp. At first it looks closed as a workman is spreading gravel but another man comes out and tells us the're open. Relieved we pull in and I take the kids into the cafe by the closed pool. The owners are young and very friendly and helpful. The site is very new and all the facilities are immaculate and there is hot water Hooray! I set up the van and cooking gear and Mike cooks. I chat to Ana one of the owners. Her family owned a resturant in Zaton for year but the site is new and run by her and her brother and his wife. They both went to college and she worked in tourism for a few years but decide this was a better idea. We have our diner and get to bed wrecked from our early start.

Wednesday 23rd March

Wash day. Its dull so we hang out and everyone takes long luxurious showers. I have decide to put olive oil in Eli, Rosa and my own hair as conditioner to help with the tats. It does the trick.  It is great to be properly clean. We have lunch and I take a look through the French Wwoofing lists to get farms to write too soon. We all go for a long walk around the coast through Zaton. The sea is still as a pond and we watch fishermen rowing out and laying nets. We pass one house with a beetle car and notice the merc beside it has a NY licence plate. We then see the that there's a plaque on the wall from Astoria Park and their balcony has a bald eagle too. Mike is intrigued but there doesn't appear to be anyone about so we go on through the village. The church bells ring on our way back and we are right under them. I get a few things for tea and we walk back. The kids are tired so we have a quick diner and get them off to bed. Then Ana helps me with campsite on our route and Mike internets getting the Massera website finished (see links). We head to bed.

Paddy's day

5am knock, breakfast like Russia - service and food.  First signs of Croatian coast - mountains.  Down to deck but wait 20 minutes for them to open them.  Into car and drive out, we're in Croatia!  Police check and then we drive off, deciding to skip Dubrovnik and start heading north.

Beautiful coastal drive in 1st and second gears, Suzie trying to teach me how to take care of our new engine.

Petrol station attendant very good English, friendly.  Asks me what I do and asks if computer people paid very well in Ireland.  Petrol is less than Italy or Ireland -- about a euro a litre.

Tourist offices friendly but saying nothing open. 

We stop for the kids' sake (and us and the engine) at the water in a little place and we all paddle and rest and just breath a huge sign of relief:  we're here, it is beautiful weather and the place is lovely.  It's early still so we stay for a good while, getting in a little nap too.

We drive on to Obic for the ferry, not knowing if we'll be able to pay in Euros.  As it turns out there is a post office just there so I can change money and confirm we're in the right place.  Ferry costs less than a tenner.

I take the kids in turns up on deck to see the views during the crossing, which is quick.  We get pulled over for a police check at the other side, and the man apologises for taking our time and shakes our hands when we leave.  He doesn't think there are campgrounds open and reminds us to register ourselves if we don't find one.

Korcula is nice, not as big as I thought, and we stop at a nice playground in the shape of a ship while Suzie checks out tourist office and gets some bread.  Turns out they're closed so we figure we'll try Lumbarda; the rough guide tells us it has sandy beaches and not much else, sounds good to us.  We pull into the tourist office - closed - and I get some Kuna in the service till, and less than 50 metres up the road is a little campsite.  We pull in to see goats with newborn kids and hens.  An older women comes out, very friendly, and we manage to communicate enough to learn we can stay.  What a relief, and its perfect for our guys with the animals.

Getting the tent up I see it's wet and has some mould; it must have gotten wet in the bag on the way down to Italy and we never aired it out!  Anyway it gets up just as the sun sets and the weather cools down a lot.

Directly opposite us is a supermarket; I try my Russian on them and it works but I get answers in very good English. 

18 Mar

I'm up early and walk to dog down to the water in both directions, exchanging Dobro Utro with other people out at this hour.  Then back and take Eli on a short bike ride to investigate the beaches which are signposted past where I walked.  We don't find them.  We get back and the little guys are up so our day begins.

Tidying is the order of the day and we sort through our stuff, trying to remember where we put everything. 

I thank our hostess for the oranges she gave us yesterday and she asks if I'll have some lemons.  So we get lemons and then some fresh goats' cheese too; I give her a bottle of Domenico and Amelia's olive oil.  She says she'll give us eggs in the morning.

We walk/cycle down to the village and then I cycle off to find a petrol station to get gas.  It turns out to be all the way back at the ferry port, and they only have the small disposable canisters; just as well we brought that little stove as a backup!  Again the petrol station attendant answers my Russian in good English! 

I get back and Suzie helps Eli cast for fish but nothing big enough for his lure so we go back to the campsite for a Shabbat dinner in 2 sittings and the kids have a great chasing game outside while Suzie types up her diary.

We postpone our movie tonight because the little guys are asleep by the time we're ready for it.

19 Mar

This morning we found the larger sandy beach, Eli cycling Sammy and I brought Rosa, and Suzie pushed Finn in the buggy.  We had the beach to ourselves for most of the morning and early afternoon.  Hot and sunny, and water warm enough to paddle in.  Eli cycled back to the shop with walkie talkie to get a few things.  Got back intending to head into Korcula but all rather tired so we hung out and played until dinner, then watched a treat of The Incredibles which we had taped while in Giovinazzo and had kept it a secret from the little guys and Suzie. 

20 Mar

Cold and cloudy with a bit of brief light rain this morning, but eventually the sun broke through.  Not motivated enough to do much, a relaxed playing, reading, computing morning.  Pancakes with our hostess' fresh lemons and eggs. 

Eli and I cycle to the town where across the water a brass band is playing outside the church.   

21 Mar

This is our last day on Kortula island.  We pack up in a relaxed way and finally get on our way around 4pm - the ferry isn't until early tommorow morning so we figure we'll stay the night on the pier, though I'm not completely sure about it.  Our hostess' daughter also doesn't understand why we're going now instead of early AM, but she doesn't know how slowly we get going in the morning or our maximum speed!

Vela Luka's port area isn't nearly as nice as where we left but we find a bar that does pizza and have one that is really good and VERY big (big as the little tables!).  Pricey in comparison to Italy, but less expensive than the same in Ireland.

Afterwards we drive a bit towards the signposted campground but it's a good ways out of town so we decide to stay at the port.  Once there, we debate where to park etc but there is activity there in the boats and people around so it doesn't feel terribly isolated.  We park up near a VW Beetle so Newbie feels happy, then attempt a setup without taking out the carseats. 

22 Mar

Ok, let's not try sleeping that way again!  Suzie and I are cramped and stiff from the awkward curled positions we slept in last night.  We get up at 5am and meet the daughter of our campground hostess, who is on her way to school that morning!  We get tickets and I bring the big guys to a cafe (open at this hour!).  On the way back the ticket lady stops me and says we're not a car but a combi and the ticket is different, but then says to just try driving on anyway.  We do so and noone says anything so we're in, about 40 euros for the 3 hour crossing to Split.

Split is big, and we both agree it's better to drive on, which we do, stopping at Trogir instead.  We walk through the market, old women in rows of benches, selling vegetables, fruit, etc.  As we walk along the women call out their wares to us; we get a bit of cheese and cucumber, then go into the old town, where we get Croatian ice cream (good) and walk in the sunshine.  I do some internetting with Eli, very friendly help sorting out my LAN connection, and we have a look at the kids new website where Luke's already put up some (somewhat bloody) animations.

Suzie and I then swap and she sorts our next campground while I take the little boys for a walk in the beautiful sunshine by the water.  We exit the old town through a great wooden door with nasty spikes sticking out of it, Sammy of course tries to climb up them!  Sammy has to crawl along every inch of each bench we pass, whether their are people on them on not.  Finn copies and so the walk down the pier takes a while!  We get back to Suzie eventually and all pack up for the road.

Much later we arrive at Peros campsite which is deserted!  But no, a workman motions us to park, and someone comes over and assures us they're open.  The pool unfortunately is not filled and its all gravel, but they're very friendly and have hot showers and immaculate facilities so we decide to stay (as if we have a choice!). 

23 March

Another quiet day at Peros campsite.  Late afternoon we walk along the shore, communicating with the local fishermen about what Eli should use for bait.  We pass a house with a car that has a New York license plate, a bald eagle statue perched on their balcony and a plaque reading Astoria Park!  Noone around so we walk through the little town; Suzie stops to get some supplies in a small shop and I take the kids ahead.  The church bells ring just as we are passing a small house, where a man seemingly in response to the bells, closes up his shutters.  Back at the site we have a brief dinner and kids to bed.  I get my updated version of our Italian hosts' website up on the web and Suzie gets advice on the next stage of our journey.


This site was last updated 04/26/05