Written by am on 13.06.2018 at 18:33.
The winding, narrow and especially busy coastal road “Jadranska Magistrale” brought us from the peninsula Istria in the north to Dalmatia in the south of Croatia.
That our route would lead along the Croatian coast, we had already set at a very early planning stage of our trip. The so called "Jadranska Magistrala" winds along the Adriatic Sea and is known for the beautiful views of the sea, but is also a little infamous because of the increased risk of accidents. However, that did not scare us off, always keeping in mind that we will probably come across much worse roads on our trip and a European coastal road is a piece of cake for our G. We should be right.
On the ferry, get set, go
After our first night in Croatia, which we spent on a beautiful beach near Rovinj, we decided to shorten the way. Instead of driving the Kvarner bay on four wheels, we intended to cross it with two ferry rides.
From the mainland we went with a ferry first to the island of Cres. The mountainous island, dotted with stone walls and wind-swept olive trees, was of surprisingly melancholy beauty. The gloomy weather contributed to this mood, but we enjoyed driving on this lonely and original island. Over a nondescript bridge we reached the neighboring island of Losinj and the actual destination: the harbor, from where a carferry should take us to Zadar.
When we enqueued for boarding, the ferry was just entering the harbor. How happy we were that we had managed to drive the serpentines of the island in time to catch the ferry. Especially when considering that the ferry departs only twice a week. Praising our good timing, we unpacked our Börek and peacefully watched the action at the port while eating. The waiting line started moving and soon we would be on the ship, wouldn’t we?
Since we had used another ferry only a few hours ago, where the ticket could be bought at boarding, we assumed that it would work like this here as well. But the harbor employee, who assigned the cars in front of us to the ship, didn’t sell tickets. He just pointed in the direction in which the ticket office was located. "In Town," he then said indifferently. "In town!?", I shouted in panic, because after all, we had only 12 minutes to the departure of the ferry.
"Run Forrest, run"
Aha, according to the tight-lipped harbour employee the red house in about 500 meters is the ticketshop. Clearly, driving the G there would take too long. So I just ran, as I could see the red house from the harbor. But it was just A red house. THE red house was of course much further away.
"Run Forrest, run" came to my mind. I was desperately looking for the right house. Finally found, the woman at the counter wanted to know the EXACT height, length and width of the G (certainly, I didn't have the car papers with me). After a guessing game and some discussions, I ran back without looking at the clock. During my sprint, I was convinced that the ferry would run out at any moment. From a distance, I saw only Christian in miniature size next to the G, but could not read his face. Was it too late already?
With my legs almost failing, I thought that it was Monday and the next ferry would leave on Friday. What could we do on that island? But then a second person appeared next to Christian - a port employee - both were suddenly wildly waving their hands. Ultimately, I made it on time. Breathless. The ship's flap closed directly behind us.
My “reward” for this run was a violent thunderstorm when arriving in Zadar. Instead of looking for a camp spot we fled to a cheap apartment hotel.
"Crime" without remorse
Fortunately, the ferry ride was the only moment during our trip through Croatia, which made my pulse soar. All other days in Croatia were consistently relaxed.
Even the fact that staying overnight in a car or tent outside official campsites is not allowed and allegedly strictly controlled by the police, did not cause us a headache. We found nice places on the beach or in olive groves and slept well despite the ban.
On the trail of Game of Thrones
In recent years, tourism in Croatia has experienced an additional boost due to the "Game of Thrones" factor. The popular (and probably the best series of all time) was filmed at various locations in Croatia.
We strolled through Sibenik, Split and Dubrovnik and almost felt like in "King’s Landing" - as long as we managed to blank out the tourists around. This was easier in Sibenik and the Arboretum in Trsteno than in Split or Dubrovnik. Especially the latter is overrun by visitors and is in our opinion not very charming. To be frank, in the old town of Dubrovnik we almost felt like in a sterile open-air museum.
Lost Place Kupari
As a contrast to Dubrovnik, we recommend to visit Kupari. Since the 1960s, the seaside resort near Dubrovnik, with its immaculate beach and crystal blue sea has been a magnet for the elite of Yugoslavia. The posh hotels were destroyed in the wars of the 90s.
Today, the run-down ruins are still there, offering themselves as gruesomely spectacular photo opportunities. However, locals seemed not to be deterred by their sight, as the use the beach in front of the hotel skeletons for recreation.
Nevertheless, the place caused me too much goose bumps, and I convinced Christian to look for another place to stay for the night. We soon found one near the border to the next country on our itinerary: Montenegro.