Croatia-Plitvika, Krk, Cres
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 - Trogir, Plitvika National Park, Krk, Cres, Istria

On the ferry to Split

Trogir market

Trogir old town

Spiders on a web

Trogir promenade

On the way to Zaton

Anna of Peros campsite (Zaton)

Zaton campsite with unfilled pool!

On way to Plitvika

Shelled house

We've been climbing for a while - SNOW!

The "Splat Velika" - big waterfall at Pliltvika

Our bat

At the foot of big Splat

Through the bear cave

...and out the top

Fairy flowers

Croatian snowman



A Finn snowman

Leaving the park

Vultures in cage waiting to be freed (3.3 meg movie)

Feeding lamb at Vulture santuary (3.2 meg movie)



Thursday 24th March

Its still a bit dull. We pack up and say our goodbyes to Ana and start on route to Plitvicka National Park. The kids are happy and play well in the car with their soft toys and listen to tapes. Ana told us that the road wasn't too hilly and that there was a tunnel but it wasn't too long. Our terms of reference must be different because there are huge mountains in from the coast that the highway had to traverse and the climb took Newbie quite a while considering we are attempting to take it real easy on the new engine. We are both concerned about it as its not really the right way to run it in. Still what can we do other than travel at 15 miles an hour or less up hills. Once over the moutain we reach a long high valley and the going gets easier.  Mike is reminded of parts of New England.

The landscape turns more alpine and the kids are thrilled to see snow. The sky has cleared too.  We pick up supplies in the last town and get to the car park at Plitvicka and picnic before going in. The tickets in are cheap and a short way along the path we can see the big waterfall. It is huge and very impressive as are the lakes above and below it. We descend the path. I am pretty nervous as it is on a cliff and has no fence or barrier so we both guard the small boys all the way. At the lake there is a board walk bridge across and Sammy loves it. More board bridges takes us over the edge of a small waterfall around to the huge one. The views down are fabulous. We don packamacs as the spray is like fine rain and get right up close to the falls. The kids are high on the noise and rush of water. We go back along another shore of the lake past ice and find a route up  through a huge cave shaft. This means we don't have to go up the winding cliff path that probably would have taken us ages. We emerge in the pretty snow covered woods and have a snack and walk on. We start a snowball fight along the path and then make a snow man before leaving. The park is only half open and certainly would warrent two days if the other lakes boat and train were open. The staff tell us that the road we intend to take to Senj is old and will be slow going so we set off quickly. Sure enough the first bit is a high climb out of the valley, but we think we are home clear when we get into another long valley and make good progress. Unfortunately after dark there is another climb and then a terrible winding  road down the otherside. It is all hairpin bends and goes on forever. I pry my hands off the wheel when we arrive in Senj and we go into a resturant. I phone the camp ground that Ana got of the tourist office for me. The woman speaks no English but tells me in Italian that they are closed, I plead and she says come ahead. We go along the coast and on a bend see the camp sign it is down a tiny lane and has another bend that takes us two goes to get round. The "camp" is a small field and no one is about. We set up beds with a bit of hassle as no one wants to get out, but we get to sleep easily after our day in the fresh air.

Friday 25th March 

It is misty and still but we see we are on a small pebble bay and walk down to the jetty. The still bay has suddenly a ripple of tiny waves as hundreds of litter fish shoot away. They return to popping up and we can see their silversides flashing.  Finn delights in throwing stones in and watching the effect. The others aren't keen to come out and I am happy as the field is very muddy near the van.  The mist is turning to missely rain so we start setting up chairs again and pass the kids in breakfast. The owner drops in and tells us in German that he is sorry none of the facilities are working. We set off getting out of the field okay but the turn is hard work. There is no charge for the stay.

We make a slow run along the winding coast. The weather worsens to a rainy day. We take the big bridge onto Krk and feel like we have arrived in the west of Ireland with lush growth, stone walls and misty rain. We get to the tourist office in Krk town and are relieved that the campground is open. We have a walk through the old town first and drop off laundry to a launderette. Then we find the site. It is big well equiped and full of Germans. Its the first time we've seen other campers except for the couple in the car yesterday. We set up in the still misty rain and the kids explore a bit. We actually feel quite cosy once the tent is up and we have diner by candle light, and a movie.

26th Saturday March

Still dull with bouts of mizzly rain. The kids play in their bunks except Finn who has too much energy. I take him out for a while while Mike computes and then we swap. I am trying to get emails out to French wwoof hosts now that I've been through the list.  Mike goes to the internet cafe later and I do home schooling and diaries with the kids. When he gets back the weather has lifted a bit and Rosa and I have a walk. It rains again later and we have to hole up in the tent and van some more so we watch the incrediables movie again after an early tea.

27th Easter Sunday.

The Easter bunnyhas left some eggs in the tent and the kids are on chocolate highs for a bit. I get ready with the big kids and we go to see what Easter mass is like in the Catherdal in the old town of Krk.  We ride down the hill on the bike and the church is packed when we get there with people spilling out onto the street. We manage to peep in a bit and see all the priests and the bishop on his throne looking a bit like the pope in white. We listen to the service and music for a while and then go to meet Mike and the boys stopping off to peep in a gallery. Then we all go to a playground further round the bay. The kids are a bit stroppy so we head back to camp for lunch after a short playtime and it is a good thing we did. Rain starts again this time really heavily. After lunch I take my turn going to the internet cafe and walk across rivers of water in the street.  I get a reply from a french host and am excited to have the possiblity of fixed destination. I head back after a nice chat with the proprietor. The camp has turned into a quagmire of mud and the rain isn't letting up. We get in our beds early again tonight.

28th Monday March

Bit more rain but then brightens and sun comes out.  We have to do a major clean up. We have showers, do laundry.  Showers sortin move tent ove to gravel and later go to punat for trip to Franscesian Monestary 

29th Tuesday March

Meet Croatian man and wife pack all morning leave late for ferry. Bit late for 4ish ferry next one at 6.15 but nice little harbour waiting for it. Crossing takes 30 mins to Cres lovely sunset up on deck. Hill out of harbour long and slow only 12km to Cres (Pronounced Tsres we learn) but takes 40 mins. Find a nice big open campsite outside Cres town. Diner in the van. Good facilities including dog bathing and tiny childrens loo, shower and hand basin.

Wednesday 30th March 

We get away early because we were told that 10am is the best time to visit the Vulture centre on Cres at Beli and we make good time despite the hills and the really narrow cliff road for the last bit. Beli is stunning a village perched on a hill and hanging on a high cliff over the sea. There is a even narrower road to a beach but we head up another narrow lane to the Eco centre. There we are enthusically greeted by two lovely young women (Luca Croatian and Neila Spanish) who had apparently been watching the van weave along the road and were hoping it was coming to them. They both spoke great English and the children were even more thrilled by the animals: a donkey, a new lamb, and a black cat later they discovered tortises which Sammy carried about the place. We went to visit some of the Griffon Vultures they have recuperating at the centre and we're very impressed with them. They are huge birds and when the open their wings even bigger. Large Griffons can have a wing span of 9ft. We watched them for a while as they occasionally flew across their enclosure or opened their wing to sun bath. Then the children got to help feed the donkey and most fun give a bottle to the lamb. We picniced in the front of the centre in the warm sun and chatted and then checked out their exhibits of local geography, the history and culture and of the Island and course the vultures. We learnt how the locals had to be stopped from killing them and a wild life preserve established and sheep farmers taught to leave carrion for them when animals die. The main work of the conservation team apart from trails and the centre is to rescue young vultures that land in the sea when learning to fly from their cliff nests. We could have sat there all day but decide it is time to go on so drive to the last ferry of our Croatian Island hopping trip only to discover that there is something wrong with it. Other cars in the queue turn around planning to leave via Krk and the bridge. That would take us hours so we decide to wait even though the ticket man says it could be tomorrow. Luckily it is only 45mins before they take us across the 20min crossing. Then it is back on slow winding roads in the direction of Pula gettting just hilly before we get there. We pass lovely rural scenes and the old people working in the vinyard look like they are from another era the women in shawls and head scarfs. We get to Pula in time to see the Ampitheatre there. It is very large one of the biggest in ancient Rome. Finn and Mike give us a gladiator show before we leave. Mike as the Lion and he's helped be finished off by a few others before we leave. We only have to drive a short while out of Pula along the coast to a site near Bale called San Pol. It is a simple site with almost no facilities but right on a beautiful pebble bay with a woods behind. We park right by the beach and have our diner to a gorgeus sunset. There is a fire circle nearby so I light a fire before bed-time and we sit and watch the stars come out and a little boat out fishing by night light.

31st March Thursday

Its another great morning when we wake and the bay is so lovely to sit and look at which we breakfast. We take a slow morning looking in rock pools, fishing (no luck), watching a fisherman collect his nets, and skimming stones before packing up. We go looking for a place for lunch but have left it too late so picnic on route and make for Trieste. We make great progress and push on as everyone is happy passing through Slovenia briefly and we are back in Italy. We get past the city before stopping for tea, pizza, and then heading for a campsite near Venice. The drive takes a while and we don't get there until after 11pm. The unfriendly camp man tells us we are too late. We noticed people pulled in on the road nearby and just go there and get the kids into their pre-prepared beds. Oh well we are saving money.

24 March - long climb to Plitvika

The steep climb inland up the mountains seems to take forever, especially at the very slow speeds we are willing to travel with our new engine.  At one stage we are in a tunnel for at least 15 minutes.  I pull into an emergency shoulder inside the tunnel to let the backlog of cars pass us, and it takes several minutes for them all to go by!

We get out the other end and there's snow everywhere!  It reminds me of New England.  More climbing still... 

Finally we get to the top of the world and have a picnic in the Plitvika car park, where it is sunny and not too cold, despite the snow all around.  Tickets are inexpensive (kids free) and part of the park (wth the big waterfalls) is open.  Cal comes too.

Plitvika National Park

We start at a height above and in front of the large waterfall, with views also to rapids and other smaller falls nearby.  There is a winding path down to an icy river with wooden paths right at the water level, in some cases with the rapids bubbling right through it! We get across and spot a small bat circling over the water continuously, coming very close to us each time. 

There is a little climb right on top of the rapids and then we are at Splat Veliko (big falls).  Raincoats on quickly and we walk through the exhilarating heavy mist. Two policemen appear and take turns walking under the falls too.

From there we double back past the bat and then head towards rapids where Sammy spots a "bear cave" above.  I joke that we should go sneak up on the bear but then it seems there are steps up and we all go in.  The cave climb goes quickly and we reach the top where there is an exit.  We climb out and look down, surprised to see how high we have just climbed back up without much effort, it seems magical, and we find magic fairy flowers at the top as if to verify this.

We are on a high path which reconnects with our starting point; we stop for a snack and drink and then found a perfect place for a snowman.  One is constructed quickly and during the photo session is accidentally collapsed! 

Walking back someone (I think Suzie) starts a snowball fight.  Leaving, the kids make snow angels at the entrance and we head back to Newbie.

Descent to Senj

The descent back to the coast takes longer than we expect.  Getting into Senj town late we see a spaghetteria / chipper sort of place and decide to eat there, as we have no gas or food and it's late.  We get steaks, chips and Suzie has shark; despite the pictures of wonderful ice creams around the room, none is available!  We ring the campsite that might be open and Suzie manages, in Italian, to get them to let us stay despite their being closed.

The entrance to the campsite is steep downhill with sharp turns at a height with no guard rails.  We get down the hill into a big field, it's dark with no sign of people and we wonder (1) is this the right place and (2) will we be able to drive back out?  Setting up is slow and not fun as it is raining and there's no tent up to store things. 

25 Mar - Krk

In the morning we're surprised to discover another car there, and it's a UK plate!  Finn eventually discovers there are people inside and spends some time jumping up at them with his spiderman costume.  They are a Welsh and Slovenian couple, English teachers, who have recently moved to Slovenia.

I take Finn to the pebble beach which is right in front of us, and we go "fishing" and watch the little silver fish in the still, clear shallow water.  We have a breakfast of sorts (no milk for the cereal!) and push everything back into the van to get to Krk island.

At Krk we drive through the rain from North (more developed) to Krk town in the South, where we drop our washing at a laundrymat, buy some food supplies and check into an almost entirely German occupied campsite, walking distance to the town.  We do a full camp setup in the rain, cook some nice food from the shops (we found gas at a petrol station) and watch a DVD before bed.

26 Mar

Still mizzling this morning.  Our main plan is to wait for good weather.  I cycle down to pick up our laundry and get to the Internet cafe.

Later I change the car's oil, which is overdue, and find tiny bits of metal when I clean out the oil screen.  This is normal for a new engine so I'm glad I finally got it done.

27 Mar

Suzie cycles the older guys to the Cathedral for Easter Sunday mass and I follow on foot with the little guys, but don't bring them in.

Weather is nice after all that rain and we take kids to playground and then head back, but the rain starts again, yuck!

28 Mar

Rain eases off finally and we move our tent and everything over to a gravel site where we can go in and out without going through piles of mud.

I check valves on the engine before moving Newbie and mostly fine, one intake slightly tight.

The tourist office told us about a concert on a little island nearby where there is a Franciscan Monastery, so that's where we go.  A water taxi takes us over and as soon as we are on the island I feel relaxed, like I've felt walking into a Camphill Community.  We all walk up from the jetty to the church which is packed, and manage to get standing room off at the side, but then I have to take the little guys out again because they aren't able to sit still.  We walk around the side and back of the church where it is woods with paths down to the sea.  As we reach the back of the church I hear the choir music coming out a back window, which is like listening to angels in the peaceful wood.

The boys and I look out at the sea and then walk along a bit and head back in along another path, listening and watching birds singing to each other in the trees.  As we near the church Suzie appears and offers to swap with me so I manage to wiggle my way through the crowd back to the big guys, and listen to a full choir briefly and then we are all treated to drinks and some fried donut holes and sweet fried pasta and all sorts of alcoholic drinks.  Grape brandy is my favourite. The members of the choir strike up a few more songs in the reception room while we are eating.

We leave the island by a smaller water taxi, hearing one last song by the women's choir on the dock.  The kids love the boat; our captain has a little race with the other water taxi as we near the shore.

We arrive back and it is threatening rain again so we take down the big tent and stow things away.  Luckily it doesn't end up being more than a little shower.

29 Mar

Packing day.  We take it slow and relaxed and luckily it's good weather.  Just as we are finishing up the man we had met on the water taxi yesterday shows up with his wife, gives us a present of wine and homemade fig jam, and invites us all over for tea!  He is from Krk but they have lived in Germany the past 35 years.  He is retiring back to Croatia at the end of this year. 


Ferry to Cres, campground.

30 Mar

Steep drive (up and down) along narrow strip of land to Vulture centre with donkey, lambs (which our guys get to feed), cat, dog and of course the huge vultures.  Picnic there and chat to one of the volunteers - Spanish but with perfect English.

Tear ourselves away from the relaxing warm afternoon because we know we have a long drive ahead of us.  We head to the Ferry but when we get there just in time, we learn that the Cres to Istria Ferry isn't running because of a ramp problem, and they tell us we need to go back to Krk and the mainland and drive all the way around!  Instead we hang around an hour and it is working enough to let us all on, by backing into the boat. 

We go to the San Pol (near Bale) campground recommended by our Spanish friend at the vulture centre, which turns out to be directly on the water with the beautiful white stone beach, with rock pools,  We pull Newbie right up to the beach.  Facilities are cold running water and squat toilets, no office.  The tents and caravans each have a spot which is partitioned off with poles and tape; it has the feeling of people on the edge of civilization.  We all explore the rock pools.  Eli and Suzie fish off a point, I gather periwinkles to have with my pasta.  The water is cold and clear and the evening lasts past sunset when we have a campfire on the beach.

In the morning all activity is on the beach again, more fishing, watching a fisherman pull in and then re-set his nets (he didn't catch much).  Our last camping in Croatia has been perfect.  A man at the campground tells us we should register at the office back at the cafe bar, so on the way back I call in, and when she learns we've only been 1 day she doesn't charge us anything.

Our drive back on the main but not so big road to Trieste is quieter than I expect, with little traffic.  At the border I have to dig amongst the kids stuff for our passports.  Then we're in Slovenia for a very short time and then back in Italia.

31 Mar

This site was last updated 04/26/05