Monday, October 24, 2016

Croatia’s Griffon Vulture Rescue Centre

Croatia Online - Griffon Vulture Centar - Bird
It was with some surprise, as I worked my way south along the coast road from Senj, that I saw a sign for the Griffon Vulture Centar, more officially known as the Birds Of Prey Conservation Centar. I’d got to know it a little, seven years ago, when  I was living in Croatia and wrote a feature on birds in Croatia for Time Out.  Follow the link below to go back to earlier postings on this:
Croatia Online - Birding In Croatia

At that time the centre was located on the island of Cres, an island that had become synonymous with the birds it protected. However, it seems that the somewhat unregulated tourist attention that ensued from the ecological success of the project, the introduction of wild boars for hunting, which disrupted the already fragile eco-system, and a number of other factors, forced the centre’s  founder, Goran Sušić, to relocate to the mainland.
Croatia Online - Griffon Vulture Centar - Sign
Unfortunately the Griffon Vultures have a number of other challenges, not least being the fact that there are not so many dead carcasses around any more and certain drugs, used by farmers on their livestock, are toxic to the birds. Goran and his team have helped the numbers in Croatia go from 80 to 140 but they are now going back down again.
Nonetheless, and despite being somewhat dispirited by the ups and downs of their pioneering work and particularly the politics that surround it, this small group of conservationists continues to do its best to rescue and care for injured or orphaned birds and return them to the wild.
The centre itself is a fascinating place and I was lucky enough to get a one on one guided tour from Milan, the founder’s son.  One of the most interesting things he told me (and there were too many for my overloaded memory to handle!) was that the  Griffon Vultures from Cres are the second heaviest in the world, only beaten by those from the Himalayas. The reason is obvious once you think about it: at the high altitude of the Himalayas, a bird needs plenty of weight to cope with the fierce winds and weather. In this region of Croatia, the fierce Bora wind, from the north-east, blows more strongly and more frequently than anywhere else in Croatia, and needs a bird with plenty of muscle and power to manoeuvre in its mighty gusts.
Croatia Online - Griffon Vulture Centar - Marin
Apart from the rescue, care and release of the birds, the centre is also involved in the science of trying to protect this highly endangered species. One vulture has GPS “onboard”, many are ringed and from this conservationists learn much about their struggles. They tracked one pair taking it in turns to make a round trip to Italy every day, in order to feed their young, because there was no food in Croatia and, apparently, the centre is not allowed to set up a feeding station. 
The centre also helps in the education of children and adults alike and the rooms are peppered with innovative quizzes, visual displays and information areas. Of course the centrepiece is the convalescing birds themselves, kept in an enormous netted area with a hut and viewing area at one end. The vultures are happily oblivious to all the interest they arouse as they are viewed through one way glass – you can see them but they can’t see you!
Croatia Online - Groffon Vulture Centar - Centar
For more information go to Griffon Vulture Centar At the time of writing the website was not available which we trust is just a temporary hitch, perhaps caused by a big Bora wind!
Facebook pages are mostly in Croatian Facebook - Grifoncentar
GPS co-ordinates are 44°53.06’ N 14°54.72’E and opening times are 11 to 6 from 1st May to 30th September. However, certainnly outside the main summer period, it’s probably best to ring ahead to the mobile to double check someone is going to be there when you want to visit + 385 ( 0 ) 91 3357 123.
The tour costs 30 Kn but all donations are most welcome and you may be lucky enough to be given a small souvenir.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Žrnovnica, Near Senj

Croatia Online - Zrnovnica

After the various unsolved mysteries of Sv Juraj, or St George, as it translates into English, we did manage to solve most of the mysteries of the next place we stumbled upon as we continued our drive south along the coast road from Senj.

From high up on the hill we spied a narrow bay with a breakwater on either side leaving just a narrow gap in the middle. Our interest was piqued as we thought that it must provide good and rare shelter for yachts, from the Bora wind that blows from the north-east very fiercely in this part of Croatia. Indeed there was a yacht moored well inside the breakwater.

We decided to inspect further and parked the car in a few different lay-bys to get a better view. It looked like a huge private residence for someone with plenty of money but, as we got a wider view, we saw other buildings also looking as if they were quite newly built. It didn’t have the look of a small village and we deduced that the owner must be very rich and that the other houses were for staff!

Croatia Online - Zrnovnica Outbuildings

We didn’t really fancy the steep descent to investigate more closely and suspected that, anyway, we’d probably be given short shrift so we left any further research for our return home.

It turns out that this is “Veladrion” – according to the website “a private haven where your intimacy is protected froom prying eyes…” aimed at the corporate market as a venue for meetings and events.

It does look like a lot has been invested in it and I would imagine it has all the latest mod cons. Landscaping, and what looks like a pitch and put, are well on the way and I’m sure the owners have thought about providing a pier or beach so that, after a hard day’s work, conference participators can relax and have a swim. Visit the website - Veladrion -and you’ll find an array of exclusive facilities for work and play!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sveti Juraj, Near Senj

Croatia Online - Sv Juraj Ruins

I’m sorry to say that, despite my best endeavours, Sv Juraj still remains something of a mystery to me. If I’d seen the statue of St George, at the time I was having my coffee,  then I would have asked the waitress a lot more questions!

However part of the fun of blogging my trip when I get back home is that I get to delve into what is now quite an extensive library on all things Croatian and find out some obscure fact relating to an unsolved mystery arising from my travels. This time I have drawn two blanks: not only do I not know what the connection is between Sveti Juraj and its namesake saint, St George (see Croatia Online - St George Slays Dragons All Over Croatia), but nor have I been able to establish the exact history of its two sets of ruins.

The ruins in the main picture above are on the mainland and the other, smaller, mound of stone is on the tiny nearby islet of  Lisac – see picture below.

Croatia Online - Sv Juraj - Lisac Islet Ruins

The best I can offer is the paragraph below from thee Senj Tourist Board site

On the old graveyard by the sea you can see the St Juraj church and abbey, and nearby there are the remains of St Filip and Jakov church. People have been living here continuously since Roman times.

So, if anyone reading this can help me solve the mystery of St George and the ruins, please add a comment.

History aside, Sv Juraj is a typical example of “The Mediterranean As It Once Was”, the slogan now dumped by the national tourist board.  Everything flows around the small harbour and there’s a pizzeria, café, shop and harbour master’s office. It’s a lovely little place that I would imagine retains its soul and character throughout the year  and doesn’t see too much of a tourist invasion in the summer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Epic Croatia Road Trip – Day 8

Croatia Online - Island Shots

I’m hoping this photo gives you just an idea of why I spent most of my six weeks in Croatia gawping at the stunning views and worrying about the sheer drops in equal measure! On Day 8 of our very memorable road trip we covered just 43 miles but a vast array of locations.

After checking out Nehaj Castle in Senj, having reluctantly dragged myself away from one of my all time top ten campsites, we had a coffee in Sveti Juraj, a peek at Autocamp Raca, investigated a very private looking and secluded estate, stumbled upon the Griffon Vulture centre, not realising it had moved from its former base on the island of Cres, took a ferry to Pag island, drove to Novalja and finally parked up for the night at Camp Straško in Novalja.

Our constant backdrop was the stunning and ever changing view of the Kvarner islands – Krk, Rab, Cres, Lošinj, Goli Otok, Prvić and Pag to name but a few. So, apart from all the stops to check out bays, campsites and villages, it was impossible to resist stopping in almost every layby to drink in the views. That’s something we never got tired of and though it made the days a lot longer, trying to fit everything in, it made them very full. No wonder it took most of the evening to download the day’s photos and transcribe my notes, and no wonder it’s taking me so long to report properly on the trip! Still, working through the images and events of the day is the next best thing to being there!

The next few postings here, on Croatia Online, feature Sveti Juraj, Goli Otok, a very exclusive resort in Žrnovica and the Griffon Vulture centre, where we were lucky enough to get a one on one tour from the founder’s son, Marin Sušić.  Meanwhile on Croatia Camping Guide we’ll be looking at the campsites in more detail and on Croatia Cruising Companion, the ports and navigational considerations.

In the meantime, we’ll leave you with some more of those jaw dropping views.

Croatia Online - Prvic

Croatia Online - Rab, Goli Otok & Sv Grgur

And finally, does anyone else think that Pag looks like a lobster?! Twitter Pic - Pag

Friday, October 07, 2016

Croatia’s First Resort Development

Croatia Online - Brizenica Bay5

Yesterday afternoon I became completely distracted trying to pin down the location of Croatia’s first new resort development – Brizenica Bay, on Hvar island. Extensive searches saw it mentioned a few times on tourist pages in relation to beaches accessible by boat, and in connection with the proposed development, but it was not named on any one of my maps – nautical or otherwise. Nor did the developers think to include the exact location on a map on their website. Even my detailed maps of Hvar island, which name almost every coastal indentation, were silent on Brizenica Bay.  I guessed it would not be far from Stari Grad and I also deduced it must be part of the Kabal peninsula that stretches north west from Stari Grad and so, eventually I found that some obliging member of the public had pinpointed  it on a google map. And then, lo and behold, I zoomed in, in a slightly different place, on my electronic navigational sailing charts, and there it was, spelt slightly differently.

In order to avoid readers having the same challenges, and to share the benefit of all those hours spent solving the mystery, I thought I would reproduce the results of my research and have pinpointed the location in the main picture above. I have used the tourist board map of Hvar for this, which I trust is within the terms of use – please note that copyright in it is with Kartograf. The lable and boxes, and extraction of the boxed out area on the map, are my work. Please do not reproduce the photo without permission from the copyright owners,  just in case.

Having pinpointed the location, and after checking the latitude and longitude with the notes I made on photos taken on a recent boat trip in the area, below is a photo of what I am pretty sure is the right bay.

Croatia Online - Brizenica Bay Boat trip

You can see the spine of the Kabal peninsula, rising behind it, and, as you’ll see from the map, the peninsula is a narrow y-shaped and heavily indented piece of land with a “b” road running along the top, with steep narrow tracks down to some of the bays.

Of course the locals would have known where it was instantly. Brizenica Bay, along with others on the Kabal peninsula  such as  Žukova, Zavala, Tiha and Digidaga, are favourite “secret” retreats from the summer hoardes. Barely accessible by car, easier to get to by boat, these bays and beaches, hidden amongst pine forests and olive groves, make for a pleasant peaceful contrast to the busier beaches nearer Stari Grad itself, but perhaps not for much longer?

Four Seasons Resort Hvar, covering 17 hectares around Brizenica Bay,  is expected to open in 2019. Arqaam Capital, a  specialist emerging markets investment bank, head quartered in Dubai, has entered into a partnership with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts to manage and operate the luxury mixed use resort.  

The development will feature a 120-room Four Seasons hotel and a luxury residential community including 60 Four Seasons private residences ranging in size from a one bedroom residence to a five bedroom villa.  The resort will also feature  several swimming pools,  a spa and fitness centre, top end restaurants, cafes, bars and boutiques, as well as conference and banqueting facilities. The sales blurb also suggests private docking, though I would imagine that might not be all year round, since the bay is not particularly well protected, especially from winds from the north-west. It is, however, quite a deep bay and I would imagine it will need plenty of imported gravel if the designers want to incorporate a gradually sloping area of beach. The media pack also mentions multiple daily seaplane flights from Split to nearby Jelsa  - hopefully the developers and other interested parties can bring some pressure to bear to resolve the current impasse between ECA, who run the flights, and the authorities, who have suspended flights after, allegedly, reports from a disgruntled employee criticising maintenance and other matters. There is a link to an article about the suspension below, reporting on a statement made by ECA on 3rd October 2016, but, at the time of writing, the ECA website itself has no news update since August 2016.

I suppose, as far as the march of progress goes, this new resort project is a really positive development for Hvar, and Croatia as a whole. If it’s going to get developed then better to “go” 5-star than anything else and there aren’t much better brands than Four Seasons. However there’s just a part of me that is a little sad that this will be another part of “the Mediterranean as it once was” that won’t be again. And I fear that this resort development, classy and pioneering as it is, may just be the start of the taming of the whole of the wild, rugged and dramatic Kabal peninsula. Thankfully, however, there are still plenty of wild, rugged and dramatic parts of Croatia left,  and Stari Grad deserves the best, so let’s celebrate progress and trust in the developers and the authorities to make sure this enormous project does full justice to its location!

For more information, try the following links:

Brizenica Bay.Com

Stari Grad Tourist Board

Slobodna Dalmacija - Aerial Shot Of Bay

Arquaam Capital

ECA Suspend Seaplane Flights In Croatia

European Coastal Airlines

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Senj, Kvarner, Northern Croatia

Croatia Online - Senj

Nestled close to the Velebit mountains, and the largest town between Rijeka, to the north, and Zadar, to the south, Senj has long enjoyed huge strategic importance and has a chequered history.

The settlement started on the hill more than 3,000 years ago and was an important trading stop. Gradually, as elsewhere in Croatia, development gradually focused closer to the shore.

In Roman times it was one of the most significant ports and cultural centres in the region but was largely destroyed, by the Barbarians, in the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries.

In 1537 the Turkish government made a treaty of non agression with Venice  on condition that the Uskoks left Klis. Many Uskoks (literally “fugitives”) came to Senj and helped the Austrian governor with the fight against the Turks. The well preserved Nehaj Castle, overlooking the town, was built in the fifteen fifties and located so as to have a good vantage point for sighting approaching ships.

Croatia Online - Nehaj Castle Senj

However when relations improved between the Austrians, the Uskoks took up piracy, threatened the new peace and so were moved inland.

Peace and economic prosperity returned to Senj as it became an important trading post again, particularly for the import of salt, grain and wood. It also became a significant cultural centre again, with many of the country’s great poets coming from Senj and now commemorated by having with their busts placed in Senj’s Poet’s Park.

However, in 1873, the building of the railway line between Rijeka and Karlovac cut Senj off from the progress it brought, and Trieste and Rijeka, with better connections, started to flourish as ports at Senj’s expense. Inhabitants started to leave in the late 19th century, a process which accelerated after the Second World War when the town suffered heavy bombing.

One of Senj’s other claims to fame is that it is the windiest place in Croatia. The Senj Bora (north-east wind) is a weather phenomenon both feared and feted by its inhabitants. The wind builds high up on the Velebit mountains and then blows directly down the Vratnik pass to Senj. The part of the island of Krk directly opposite Senj is bare – nothing can grow there against the onslaught of the Bora.

Croatia Online - Bora Senj, Krk

Apart from generating hurricane force winds every now and then though, the Bora brings some advantages producing exceptionally “clean” air once it has blown through and generally heralding clear skies and sunshine.

Senj is a more traditional kind of town as far as tourism is concerned. Following its isolation resulting from the new railway line, the building of the motorway has also cut it off the main road transit route. However it’s a great place to visit with a good museum in the castle, another one in the town and plenty of shops, banks, restaurants and bars.

Croatia Online - Senj, view from castle

And it has one of the best located and best value for money campsites we stayed at in our seven week trip, very close to town and with its own great little beach – for more details go to  Croatia Camping Guide - Kamp Škver, Senj

For more information on the town itself, link to Senj Tourist Office

Monday, October 03, 2016

Croatia Ranks Second For World’s Best Beaches

Croatia Online - Vinisce

There’s never a shortage of interesting Croatian news stories on Croatia Week and today is no exception. Sister site, Croatia Camping Guide, will shortly be reporting on Croatia’s campsites in the news, but, for this posting, we’ll be featuring Croatia’s beaches as one of them has made number two in Skyscanner’s list of 10 of the World’s Best Beaches.

Lovrečina beach is between Postira and Pučišća on the north coast of Brač island. It’s one of Croatia’s fairly rare sandy beaches and it stays shallow until the very end of the bay. It’s well protected and a similar shape to the bay pictures above – Vinišće – which is one of my favourites. You can read the full story and see Lovrečina bay in its full glory on this link - Croatia Week - Croatian Beach Named 2nd Nicest In The World. And you can find out a little more about Lovrečina beach on this link Croatia Gems – Lovrečina

If you want to go back to the original skyscanner top ten, follow this link - Skyscanner - 10 Of The World's Best Beaches. It was written in 2013 so maybe there’s a new one coming along with a few more Croatian beaches in it?!

We’ve found so many great beaches, on our various travels around Croatia, that it’s very difficult to rank them. However we’re trying to do just that as we go through the photos of our epic, early summer, road trip. Vinišće, above, makes it because it’s such a peaceful settlement and a great place to get away from the masses in summer. Zlatni rat beach, near Bol, on Brač island, pictuted below, probably has to feature too as the most photographed beach and one of the best for water sports.

Croatia Online - Zlatni rat, near Bol

Wherever you go on the Croatian coast , though, you’re never very far away from a great beach, or even a seclection of beaches with something for everyone.

For some of our earlier postings on beaches check out the following links:

Croatian Beaches & The Art Of Picigin

Beaches in Croatia (2008)

Beaches In Croatia (2006)

Sadly, the website we featured in the 2006 posting is no longer around. It was brilliant, way ahead of its time and there’s been nothing to match it since. However there are plenty of  other  websites with sections on beaches around and below are just a few.

Croatia National Tourist Board – Beaches

Visit Croatia - Famous Beaches

Telegraph's Top Five Croatian Beach Resorts

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Driving To Croatia – German Motorway Tolls?

Croatia Online - German Motorway

As I pound the keyboard preparing my Croatia Camping Guide, currently focusing on the road trip there and back, I am reminded that the costs I estimated, based on my latest trip, were high enough without the threatened introduction of road tolls on German motorways for foreigners.

So I thought I’d better check the current position, and the latest reliable information I have found is in a Wall Street Journal article dated June 18th 2015. According to that, the EU is still blocking the introduction of the tolls on the grounds that they are discriminatory to foreigners, and long may that last!

I’ll try and use this posting to collect updates on the matter in the comments section so if anyone knows any different please let me know.

For the Wall Street Journal article, link to WSJ - Germany Postpones Highway Toll For Foreign Cars though be warned, you may be asked to subscribe.

For our detailed posting on the costs of the trip, go to Croatia Online - Driving To Croatia: How Much Does It Cost?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Croatia Road Trip–Day 7 Part 1 – Klenovica

Croatia Online - Klenovica

Today we went from Novo Vinodolski to Senj, ending up at one of our very favourite campsites of the trip, right by the beach and next to the centre of Senj.  First stop was to take some photos of the second new marina just outside the centre of Novi Vinodolski – see sister site Croatia Cruising Companion – and the next stop was Klenovica, a lovely small and compact settlement around a large harbour.

The statue in the picture gives a big clue as to the main occupation of Klenovica’s residents – fishing. Now, of course that’s supplemented with tourism and Klenovica has plenty of apartments to let, a campsite, bakery, post office, small supermarket (with limited stock though that might be because the summer season had hardly started), free WiFi and a handful each of restaurants and bars. It also has its own little islet, St Antony, with a causeway built so you don’t need a boat to get to it. Our kind of place for quietly watching the world go by.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Croatia Road Trip Day 6 - Novi Vinodolski

Croatia Online - Novi Vinodolski

Novi Vinodolski was the last stop of a very interesting day. It appears there are no less than two new marinas under construction here, of which more on our Croatia Cruising Companion Blog in due course.

Readers may recall that, in an earlier posting on Selce, our first stop of the day, we alluded to the rather fascinating wartime history of the area. Our research on a Novi Vinodolski war hero,  Slaviša Vajner, known popularly as Čiča Romanijski and depicted in a statue (sorry about the crooked image!),  took us to the same website  -

Croatia Onlina Slavisa Vajner, Novi Vinodolski

The website lists a number of partisans from Novi Vinodolski, including Slaviša Vajner, killed during the second World War, and quite a few more citizens who were victims of fascist terror. Here’s what the website says about the town and its hero:

NOVI VINODOLSKI. A town on the Croatian Littoral, its representatives had been one of the signatories to the Vinodolski zakon (Vinodol Law), one of the oldest legal texts in the Croatian language dating from 1288. It remained the leading town of the Vinodol Valley for centuries.

The town is the birthplace of Slaviša Vajner, known popularly as Čiča Romanijski, one of the first People's Heroes. He was killed in battle on the Romanija Mountains in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1942.

Croatia Online - Novi Hotels & Resorts

Just out of town is the new, five star, Novi Spa Hotels and Resort with its own kilometre of coastline, 70 hotel rooms, over 300 apartments and, allegedly the largest spa centre in Europe. It’s website -  Novi – lists the main highlights as follows:-

To mention just some of the endless NOVI SPA HOTELS & RESORT amenities: NOVISPA – the biggest SPA Centre in Europe, SeaPony Club for children: 4000 m2 Kids’ Town and Pirates' Island playground, programs and activities throughout the day for our youngest guests, ten different Restaurants and Lounges, pools with cabanas, a Spa beach, a pebble beach, an abundance of sports and outdoor activities, a Shopping gallery, a congress hall and meeting rooms, night entertainment ….

Novi Vinodlski has plenty of churches but the one in the main picture, St Martin, has its own little island so you’ll need a boat to get there.

And make sure you make the climb up into the old town to see the 13th century Frankopan Castle, the city museum and some more lovely churches.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Croatia – An Engineering Nation

Croatia Online - Ciovo Bridge

Yes it probably does get a bit of help from its international neighbours but it never ceases to amaze me how clever and resourceful Croatia can be when it comes to meeting the engineering challenges of its dramatic and scenic topography! Nothing is too big a hurdle it seems when it comes to roads, viaducts, bridges and buildings.

I took the picture above, of the new Čiovo bridge being built, half way through my road trip, in late May this year. Latest reports suggest that it’s going to be finished, on schedule, in a couple of months. That doesn’t altogether surprise me as, after a slow start, it seems there have been three shifts working pretty well around the clock for the last few months. It appears that additional motivation to finish was provided by the EU infrastructural fund holders who suggested the funds would not be available for ever!

Not only will the bridge take the pressure of the narrow road bridges linking Čiovo to Trogir and then the mainland, but it will also allow the inhabitants of Čiovo to get to Split in a much more direct way rather than having to drive all the way to Trogir and then all the way back to Split which is just about opposite the east tip of Čiovo island.

And it appears that the bridge even has its own Facebook site -

The next, even bigger project, will be the bridge to the Pelješac Peninsula which has been on the drawing board for years and will allow Croatians to drive all the way along the coast, to and from Dubrovnik, without having to go through Bosnia and Herzegovina which has a stretch of coast around Neum.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Croatia Road Trip Day 6 - Crikvenica

Croatia Online - Crikvenica

As regular readers will have noticed, I’ve been somewhat distracted, in a good way, from the chronicles of our Croatia trip and got slightly ahead of myself in the last posting which was triggered by a photo from Day 8!

On Day 6 we went from Kraljevica to Novi Vinodolski and our first stop was Crikvenica where I saw some brave souls having a dip in the chilly, early May, Adriatic.

There are quite a few elements to Crikvenica and it covers a large area with plenty of, mostly sandy,  beaches, including a Dog Beach. Primarily though, it’s a resort town full of cafés, bars restaurants, ice cream parlours and souvenir shops, but it’s also got bags of character. Parking for the campervan wasn’t that easy and there were plenty of signs saying “No Motorhomes”  so I wondered where the bigger ones might go. On the plus side, the drive down from the main road was nice and easy – not too steep or bendy!

Croatia Online - Crikvenica Statues

The large main square hosts the tourist office, the post office and several banks, and there are plenty of moorings for boats of most sizes. Crikvenica also seems to have rather a lot of statues and it always seems to be the statues that lead into the real history of a place. There are some busts of famous Crikvenica residents dotted about all of whom played a part in the Partisan resistance during the occupation of Italy, and later Germany.  The history is fascinating, if complex, and the following  link will take you to a great account of it, as well as detailing the relevance of the various statues (scroll down to Crikvenica) Croatian - Chapter One

Croatia Online - Crikvenica Statues 2

The Croatian Tourist Board describes Crikvenica as “one of the most beautiful tourist destinations on the Kvarner coast” and I can see why it must be popular –plenty of space , sandy beaches….. All the same, in places it did look in need of a little TLC. Most of the hotels are two and three star and I suspect it’s just one of those places where the tourism infrastucture is of an earlier era and waiting for some new investment.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

St George Slays Dragons All Over Croatia!

Croatia Online - Sveti Juraj Statue
I learnt quite a lot this morning as I was cataloguing photos of day 8 of our epic trip around Croatia. The day took us from one of our favourite campsites in Senj, to Novalja on Pag, but it was a stop in Sveti Juraj that piqued my curiosity, specifically the statue in the picture. What was it and what was its relevance?

The light slowly dawned……..

First of all, I finally twigged that Sveti Juraj is, of course, Croatian for St George and therefore the statue must depict the man himself slaying a dragon. Given that St George is our patron saint I wondered what he was doing near Senj and discovered that he featured quite a lot in Croatia, particularly in the capital Zagreb. There it appears that, not only are there no less than three statues honouring St George, but also a secret society – The Brethren of the Croatian Dragon – which took St George as their patron and continues to have influence today.

The second connection I made, that had not previously dawned on me, was that it was our old friend, the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who is mostly responsible for the charm and character of Split city centre, who was also responsible for poor old George’s demise as a Christian martyr.

Read the full article that illuminates St George’s place in the Croatian world here - St George The Dragon Slayer In Croatia

Unfortunately I am not much clearer on why the place, Sveti Juraj, in Croatia, is named after our patron saint or why indeed, with his international, rather than national, significance, George is our patron saint instead of the man he “displaced”, St Edmund!!

Time to consult the #Croatia Twittersphere!

Monday, September 05, 2016

Zablaće, Near Šibenik – A Celebrity Make Over?!

Croatia Online - Zablace Sign

Zablaće, and the rest of the area around Šibenik, was one of the places I enjoyed exploring most on our recent road trip around Croatia. It’s completely unspoilt, a little off the beaten track and some of the very minor roads, for example around the Kanal Sveti Ante, leading to Šibenik, have been opened up.

Unspoilt, perhaps, not for much longer though hopefully in a good way!! Croatia Week reports the arrival of Brad Pitt and entourage in Croatia last week to inspect the proposed site of a substantial investment destined to provide a luxury resort including villas, shop, marina, hotel and golf course.

Reassuringly the project team includes local but internationally renowned architect,  Nikola Bašić, probably most well known in Croatia for his two Zadar installations Greeting To The Sun and the Sea Organ.

Croatia Online - Greeting To The Sun

I interviewed  Nikola Bašić for the 2009 edition of Time Out’s Visitors’ Guide To Croatia and this is what he told me about  the Zadar installations and, prophetically, about future plans!

When commissioned to regenerate the western part of Zadar’s peninsula, Bašić took his inspiration from Hitchcock’s immortalisation of Zadar’s sunsets, and the sound of waves breaking on the shore. Resisting a conventional approach, he wanted the public space to be a “kaleidoscope of metaphors” to enhance the visitor’s appreciation of the true spirit of Zadar. Though there’s plenty of technology involved in the Greeting To The Sun, The Sea Organ could have been engineered centuries ago, and Bašić maintains that the result of both is more of a man enhanced natural phenomenon than a man made installation…….Bašić has more challenges to pursue before he retires to his idyllic islet of Ganagarola to “catch cuttlefish and dry figs”. His “1246 project” involves a commemorative stone for each of Croatia’s 1,246 islets and islands, and his innovative enthusiasm is currently directed towards the concept of a new breed of tourism developments designed to blend with their surroundings.

Croatia Online - Sea Organ


The project has apparently been in the pipeline for several years and early reports suggests that eco friendliness will be a priority. Reports also suggest that the project is generally welcomed by locals for the additional infrastructure and facilities, such as schools and clinics, it will provide, and for the additional money it will inject into the local economy.

Hopefully it will make the most of  Zablaće’s place in history as well as its natural assets – the settlement dates back to the 18th century and inhabitants were engaged in fishing and salt extraction. As well as the salt lakes, the mud is reputed to have medicinal qualities.

It’s not far from the large Solaris resort and has a campsite and beaches of its own as well as a small local marina. However, partly due to its remoteness by road, and also because all but 500 inhabitants remain after many have gone abroad, it does have the air of a rather sleepy settlement which may well get a rude awakening once development starts.

For more information on the proposed development go to:

Croatia Week - Brad Pitt in Croatia - Brad Pitt Visits Croatia Luxury Real Estate (though I wouldn’t describe the Sea Organ as a giant sculpture, as all the working parts are concealed underwater beneath the steps, and the “Dogusvom Hotel” is actually a hotel of the Dogus Group called D-Resort Šibenik.)

Independent Balkan News Agency - Swiss Investor Building Town In Croatia

For more about Nikola Bašić and his work, including a recording of the sounds of the sea organ, go to:

Croatia.Org - Nikola Bašić

Domus Web - Nikola Bašić And The Adriatic Landscape

Friday, September 02, 2016

How Did I Get To Here?!

Jane yacht portrait

This month I had the honour of being interviewed by the Croatian Language School for their regular newsletter. Alexander, my interviewer, certainly got me thinking – just how does one go from being a Chartered Accountant in London to a freelance journalist on Croatia? – and I am afraid it took me quite a few words to work that out,  not really having thought about it much before.

It’s not the most obvious of career paths but it’s certainly been an interesting and varied one and I wouldn’t have swapped any of it. To find out how I did it you can read the full interview here. Croatian Language School Interview

Alexander’s questions also helped me to work out a few other things, not least that I’m going to have to work pretty hard over these next few months to do justice to all the research material from my 4,000 mile, seven week, road trip around Croatia, and you’ll be able to read more about that here, soon.

Many thanks to Alexander, for his patience, and to Linda, the founder of the school, for her continued interest in one of her ex pupils!

I hope readers may learn something from my experience with the Croatian language, as recounted to Alexander – if you’re thinking of moving to Croatia or spending a lot of time there, it will make a HUGE difference if you can speak the language a little. Sure, most Croatians speak perfect English, but if you want to get into the culture, rather than keep yourself at a distance as a foreign tourist, then understanding and speaking the language is a must. It’s quite hard to learn to start with as it’s not that similar to the languages we normally learn like French or German. However, once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s very consistent and you can start making rapid progress. And what better way of doing it than on one of the Croatian Language School courses, best of all perhaps their summer trip to Croatia, during which you can absorb the language whilst having fun visiting the country with expert guides.

The insightful and amusing article reached using  the link below, was written by one of the students on the 2016 trip. It will give you a real feel for what to expect, as well as helping you differentiate between a toad and a cucumber!

Croatian Language School - Summer School In Croatia

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Croatia Day 5:Karlovac To Kraljevica Via Rijeka

Croatia Online Rijeka
Today I felt a bit like the lady in this Rijekan statue might feel with a seagull perched on her head! 

If you are following sister site Croatia Camping Guide you will see that our first whole day in Croatia started with the dog nearly getting swept away by river rapids and me wading waist deep in water to rescue him. A little miffed with the lack of any sympathy, let alone interest, from anyone at Camp Slapić we quietly dripped away and took the coast road to Rijeka. Deciding to stop in Rijeka for a while we eventually found a suitable car park and had a wander around only to find that our exit ticket wouldn’t work when the time came to leave. This time plenty of people tried to help, but to no avail, and two other motorists had a similar problem. Finally, after about twenty minutes, a very apologetic car park attendant appeared and let us out. It was not too much of a hardship though as we weren’t in a rush and we had a great view of the local harbour, the Inter Continental Hotel, this imperious statue and, of course, the seagulls.

Croatia Online - Rijeka Car Park

Off we finally went, along the bendy coastal road, admiring yet another magnificent feat of Croatian motorway engineering……..

Croatia Online - Motorway Engineering

……until we arrived in Kraljevica, a fascinating place full of contrasts, and found Camp Ostro which will be the next subject of  The Croatian Camping Guide

In the meantime we have a little work to do on the main reason for our trip - The Croatia Cruising Companion
Don't tell anyone smile

Finally, just to round off day five, we did make our hat trick of disasters  eventually. The near doggie drowning and car park confinement was followed, just before midnight, by the discovery of a tick behind the poor doggie’s ear. Fortunately, I had the full tick kit to hand and managed to remove the offending insect without too much distress to either dog or human.

For those who are interested, the full tick kit, pictured below except for the olive oil, consists of a pipette for sucking up olive oil, olive oil that is then dripped on the tick so it suffocates (apparently they breathe through their skin) and therefore relaxes its grip, and a variety of specialist tick removing implements that get under the beast so it can be removed in a twisting action, pincers and all, as it is when the pincers are left behind that most of the damage is done. Tweezers are less effective and should definitely be a tick weapon of last resort. And of course hopefully, if the regular doggie flea and tick treatment is doing its job properly then a tick should drop off of its own accord pretty quickly anyway.
Croatia Online - Tick Kit

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Driving To Croatia–How Much Does It Cost?

Croatia Online - Service Station

In the excitement of arriving in Croatia, in my last posting, I forgot to tell you all the costs of Day 4 so here they are:

I topped up the tank in Liezen at €1.179 per litre (Ultimate rather than the  standard Diesel I usually have, just as a little treat for the campervan!) and there was another Austrian “Tunnell Toll” @ €8.50. I’d already paid for my Austrian and Slovenian Vignettes (see the earlier posting Croatia Online - Driving To Croatia Day 3) so there were no more tolls until I crossed the Slovenian border into Croatia.

In Croatia there was a toll for the first motorway, from the Slovenian border to Trakoscan, of 72 Kunas which I paid with Euros at an exchange rate detailed on the receipt of  €1 = 7.46 kn, and another one to Karlovac of 34 kn. Incidentally, looking at the receipts, I see they include VAT (PDV in Croatian) at a whopping 25%.

I was charged as a Category 2 vehicle, being over 1.9 metres in height but less than 3.5 tons in weight. Most cars without trailers would fall into the first category which would be cheaper. For full details on categories and pricing, go to Croatian Autoroutes - Toll Rates

In total, totting up all the receipts for the journey and using  rather arbitrary and perhaps unduly punitive sterling exchange rates of 1.2 for Euros and 8 for kunas, to take into account all the fees, etc, total costs were as follows:

Diesel £194, Food & Drink £46, Campsites £41, Motorway Tolls and Vignettes £58. I calculated average miles per gallon at 28 on the way over, which is not bad for a long wheelbase van full of water and diesel most of the time,  probably averaging 60 to 70 miles an hour on mostly motorways, and also full of living and work clobber!

That makes a total of  £339 to which I need to add half  the cost of my Eurotunnel ticket. The full return price was £220 which gives me a space for high vehicles and includes the cost of the dog at €36 return. By the time my Tesco Club Card vouchers had been tripled up and deducted  (see Croatia Online - Driving To Croatia - Day 1) I actually paid £85.

I can’t think of many other additional costs as I already had most of what I needed for the campervan and  the dog had his three year rabies injection a year or so ago.

So lets call it, worst case and ignoring the “Tesco Discount”, £550 which is probably quite a lot more than a single flight, or even two single flights. If the costs back were similar then that’s a total return cost of £1,100. Flying was not an option for me because of the dog but I like to think of the cost as spread over the whole trip. I had 42 days in total in which I was able to find accomodation at an average of probably £10 a night rather than the £30 to £50 pounds it might have cost me in a hotel so that’s already a saving of £840 to £1,680. And of course I would have had to eat and drink at home….

If you were making the trip by car, rather than campervan, and assuming you booked Eurotunnel or a ferry well in advance, the crossing would probably be much cheaper. You’d also get a lot more miles per gallon and probably get to Croatia a bit quicker so you could set that saving against the extra cost of  hotels on the trip.

HOWEVER, as I’ve said before, particularly if you are taking a campervan, motorhome,  caravan, or even a tent, the journey is part of the holiday and needs a change of mindset from the one that wants you to get from a to b as fast as possible. The cost is secondary to stress free travel for your dog, the dramatic and varied scenery, the delights of the unexpected, being able to stop when and where you want and having all your little luxuries and many necessities around you. It’s one of the most liberating and enjoyable ways of travelling once you get that into your head, assuming, of course, that you have the flexibility to take a few weeks off at the right time!

In the end, I returned home more or less the same way as I went, though stopping off in different places. It will be interesting to see if the costs were about the same but I am afraid you will have to be patient to find out. We had such a jam packed few weeks in Croatia, staying in a different place nearly every night and exploring all day, that there is a lot to report before the journey home.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Driving To Croatia Day 4 – We’ve Arrived!

Croatia Online - Camp Slapic

It’s very difficult to leave a campsite like Putterersee in a hurry – see Croatia Camping Guide - Driving To Croatia Day 3 - Austria for more information. In fact, as my trip continued, I frequently had to overcome a reluctance to leave some very special places. I learnt eventually, with growing confidence, that there would be plenty more special places to come. It was not so much wanting to get my money’s worth out of our normally short stays at campsites, but the fact that I wanted to do each place justice There’s nothing worse than being somewhere for a short space of time, probably never to return, and missing the specific thing that makes the place super special. The nearest I got to that was on the way back when we stopped just off the motorway at a not especially appealing campsite by a canal. It was raining, we were tired, there was a big football match on and we had eaten and drunk well in the campsite restaurant while we watched it. If it wasn’t for the fact that the dog had had a pretty boring day cooped up in the campervan, as we covered more than our usual number of miles, I probably would not have made the effort to walk along the canal where he could run around a bit. Ten minutes later we were in the chocolate box German city of Limburg marvelling at the amazing architecture.

So, apart from the myriad of daily “campervan” jobs that need doing, as well as meal times and walking the dog, I felt we had a duty to explore our neighbourhood and make the most of it. And of course travelling with a (sometimes wet) dog in close confines means a daily spring clean can make a big difference to your air qualityand that takes time too! In the end, despite our best intentions, we rarely managed to leave a campsite within less than three hours of getting up and I learnt, eventually, not to worry too much about this. Even if we only did fifty or so miles in a day we had somewhere new to explore. And on the rare occasion we treated ourselves to a second day in the same place, it took a major effort to completely relax for a day, once we had run out of jobs to do.

In these early days of the trip, we were up with the lark and so left our idyllic Austrian campsite at 11 30 after a reasonably leisurely morning. Ten minutes later we topped up with diesel in Leizen – BP Ultimate @ €1.179 a litre though usually we just get normal diesel (and this just proves that the garage on Day 3 was a rip off) – and were off.

It was not long until we were at the Slovenian border, already prepared with our vignette, purchased in Austria from “Frau Grumpy” the previous day. Having kept my expectations very low, I was not too disappointed with the Slovenian roads. I have been making periodic trips to Croatia via Slovenia for well over ten years and throughout this time the Slovenian part of the journey has always been the most painful – expensive vignettes, poor roads and motorways interminably under construction. OK so the motorway part is a little longer than it was four years ago but the potholes on the narrow single carriageway roads by the roadworks are dreadful and we shook to our bones for several slow miles following lorries and tractors. The bottleneck at Maribor has now been largely overcome by the motorway but, overall it’s a disgrace, especially considering the cost of the vignette, and I swear the Slovenians must be building the motorway at the same pace as we poor travellers are funding it with our exorbitant vignette fees. I thought very hard about avoiding Slovenian motorways altogether, on principle, by going via Trieste but it’s not so quick and so I gave in.

And just to add insult to injury, as you leave Slovenia and enter into Croatia, the Slovenian guards seem to make a point of leaning over a car and turning their backs to you, as if they don’t want anything at all to do with you.

So it was with even more joy that I finally reached the Croatian border and got on a Croatian motorway heading for Zagreb, where the lovely Croatian toll booth attendant got out of his booth and went to get the ticket for me to avoid me reaching over to my passenger side and struggling with the ticket machine. The newish motorway was almost deserted and very smooth, so we sped across Croatia until we were attracted by a very effective piece of marketing for Camp Slapić which was advertised periodically on big signs. “Why not have an early stop” I thought, now we have made Croatia, and so we followed the signs and ended up spending the night near Karlovac in one of Croatia’s newest and highly prized campsites. We could have made the coast in another couple of hours but what’s the point of arriving exhausted when you can make an early stop by some lakes. It was quite a detour from the motorway though and I’m not convinced the distances suggested on the billboards were entirely accurate!


We covered 228 miles on day four, a total of 1,141 miles since we left home in Suffolk and, would you believe, exactly 1,000 miles from Eurotunnel! A relatively easy four days of driving, three brilliant campsites, one excellent wild camp, scenic views and really only the Slovenian roads to moan about. Yes there were a few contraflows, or stretches of roadworks, on the German motorways and just a couple of small jams. However on a  road network that vast, and a motorway that runs by so many big cities, that’s only to be expected. And lets not forget that, so far, the German motorways are toll free.

I chose my route because I thought it was the fastest and simplest to navigate. Last time I did the trip in my campervan, when I had a lot more time for the journey, I meandered off and on the motorways on the way over and took a completely different route on the way back, stopping off at Lake Garda in Italy, taking the St Bernard’s Pass into Switzerland and ambling through Champagne in France where I found one of my favourite campsites ever but that’s another story!

Just a few closing tips on the drive:

  • If you’re camping and you are new to it, you’ve got to try and get out of the mindset of wanting to travel from a to b as fast as possible. The journey really is part of the fun if you let it be. The same can apply if you’re travelling by car but there’s just a bit more pressure to find the right kind of hotel room for your budget. If you take the same route as me though, you can be pretty sure of a mid range budget room at many of the motorway stops.
  • If you’re travelling with a dog and you’re going to be travelling for a few days then the last thing you want is for the poor dog to hate going back into your vehicle because you are not stopping enough and having fun along the way. If you’re in a campervan and your dog sleeps on the floor, bear in mind that, however good his bed is, his poor head will be bumping up and down with every little imperfection in the road. In the end, on days where we drove a lot of miles,  I put extra cushions down for my dog and I think it really made a difference for him to have his head just a bit higher and more “shock absorbed”. In a car, the shock absorbers tend to have an easier time and dogs often travel on the seats. I never drove for more than two hours at a time without a break and I tried to make sure we were never on the road for more than 5 hours a day or, if we were, there were some long breaks – at least an hour- in between. The dog was fine – he has a sturdy well padded waterproof bed wedged between two of the seats, is allowed on top of one of the seats and can walk around (but not the cab area) at will. He seemed to prefer, however, his head on a cushion, lying stretched out on the floor in the narrow aisle. A much because it was cooler on the floor, I think, than because it was more comfortable.
  • Off season, unless there’s some big festival going on, or it’s a bank holiday, then you’ll rarely find a campsite that’s fully booked. So it’s fairly safe to turn up on spec and that gives you so much more flexibility. If you’re too off season, though, you might find them closed so check on opening times before you make the detour. Not one of the campsites I tried in May or June was closed but as I got towards the Croatian Coast, several of them were still undergoing maintenance work, sometimes substantial! Just one, in Sv Filip i Jakov, near Biograd, was full up (now June and very warm). It was a lovely “minicamp” – in someones’s (large) back garden but with all the essential facilities. No great problem though as her next door neighbour also had a minicamp and was delighted to absorb the overflow! If you’re in a car and relying on motels, we never had a problem finding a room in the old, pre campervan, days but we generally made sure we stopped before 6 and often by 4. If you’re camping, you can go on longer and I never had a problem arriving at 7 or sometimes 8. Of course you could book everything ahead but then you are stuck with a rigid itinerary. If one little thing goes wrong, or you don’t like somewhere and want to leave early, or you do like somewhere and want to stay longer, you are faced with teh domino effect of having to change all your bookings.
  • To give yourself the best chance of minimising traffic jams, avoid the big cities and busy roads, like the Brussels ring road, at peak hours.
  • Avoid the “big” weekends for people travelling down to the coast from Germany and Austria, normally in high summer. The Croatian website HAK is a good reference point for current and predicted future traffic problems in Croatia and many map Apps and Satnavs also indicate current traffic problems.
  • Lorries are banned at weekends on some continental motorways, particularly in summer so if you are flexible in your travel arrangements and prefer quieter roads, try the weekend.
  • Be aware that in some service stations, particularly those in more remote areas, lorries parking up overnight can fill up, not just their own parking areas, but also sometimes caravan and car parking areas too, as well as approach roads where it is relatively safe to do so. Afternoon and evening are obviously likely to be busier than in the morning so if you are looking for a rest stop on the busy motorways you may need to get there early.
  • Most of the German motorways are two lane only, with occasional crawler lanes or three lane stretches near the bigger cities. Lane discipline is very important and the Germans, especially, will quickly let you know if you are hogging the overtaking lane. I did however notice this time, now speed limits have been in force on German motorways for a while, that not so many Germans drive quite so fast as they used to. Despite that, I was still one of the fastest on non German motorways, though one of the slowest on the Autobahns so you will need a different kind of driving approach as you cross borders!
  • Have plenty of layers of clothing handy – the climate can change in an instant, for example from day to evening and after you’ve driven through a long tunnel through the mountains.
  • Stop as soon as you feel you need to and keep your tank topped up – if you wait for the next service station you might find it’s another 70 kilometres away. You will be passing through plenty of rural areas where amenities may be a lot scarcer than they are in the UK.
  • Keep plenty of change handy for paying tolls but note that the Croatian toll booths, particularly in the north, will accept Euros as well as kuna.
  • Be aware of the weather – if you are travelling in, say, March, you may still need snow tyres in some places, or chains. The wind can be a factor too – a strong Bora (north east wind) may close the Croatian motorway north of Zadar and can be very uncomfortable in various places along the route.
  • ENJOY!

Overall you just need to turn the journey into handleable chunks. Stop when you feel tired, perhaps drive a bit more when it’s raining and enjoy your overnight location more when the weather is good. Maybe think of the last long journey you made in the UK and compare that in distance. For example, a few days after I came home, I went to visit my niece in the Lake District for a few days. We did a little driving around locally and when I got home I’d done 720 miles. It seemed like no great distance but  it could have taken me three quarters of the way to Croatia.

Over the next few days and weeks, you’ll be able to read more about our Croatian campsites on Croatia Camping Guide, more about the new marinas and other nautical facilities we discovered on Croatia Cruising Companion and we’ll be keeping you in touch with general Croatia  news, discoveries and stories here, on Croatia Online.


Today’s photo is of the lake by Camp Slapić, with very fast flowing water from which I had to rescue my over adventurous dog!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Croatia By Bus

Croatia Online - London Bus

No, Not a London red bus but I’m afraid this was the best illustration I have!


In the process of pulling together the information on my journey by campervan to Croatia, I came across a brand new website that makes travelling by bus a lot easier. For many,  given the challenges of the terrain for railway lines, bus or coach is still often the best (and cheapest) way to travel short or long distances in Croatia. The problem has been, until now, that it’s often quite difficult to find out the information you need and it’s been late coming online.

Now there is Vollo, a young and enterprising internet start up with big ambitions and plenty of achievements already. In its own words, the simple website aims to provide a fast and easy bus search, comparison and booking system.

Rather than me explaining, why not read the following posts on Vollo’s blog:

Vollo Bus Booking System - How It Works

Vollo - Our First 100 Days

There’s no App yet but we have a feeling it won’t be long!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Driving To Croatia Day 3 – Austria

Croatia Online - Aigen im Ennstal

Day three takes us from Neumarkt in Bavaria to a stunning campsite by a lake amongst the Austrian mountains.

For those that want to recap on the detail of the first two days below are direct links to the postings:

Croatia Online - Driving To Croatia Day 1 - Suffolk to Eisenbachtal in Germany – 500 miles

Croatia Online - Driving To Croatia - Day 2 - Eisenbachtal to Neumarkt – 212 miles

As you can see, we did not push ourselves on day 2 (or day 3, come to think of it!) so we left Neumarkt quite early, rejoined the motorway and continued  south east through Germany along the E3. After refuelling (the campervan with diesel and ourselves with breakfast) in Regensberg, we carried on motoring with a stop every couple of hours or so.

At 1 30 pm we made the Austrian border and bought a vignette to allow us to use the Austrian motorways and a vignette for the Slovenian motorways. There was no opportunity for chit chat at the busy little “vignette kiosk” by the border – every question was met with a grumpy stare and a finger pointing to the price list – ie “don’t ask me; work it out for yourself”! For convenience, and a little rattled by Frau Grumpy and the queue of burly lorry drivers behind me, I purchased a two month vignette for Austria at a cost of €25.70 (about £21) when what I should have done was get one 8 day vignette for the journey there and another 8 day one for the journey back at a cost of two times €8.80 ie €17.60 (about £14). At that point I had no intention of coming back on Slovenian motorways, as I believe their vignettes have always been a rip-off, particularly given the state of their motorways, and so I bought the minimum available – a 7 day vignette – for €15. They call it a 7 day vignette but of course most people using this tiny stretch of motorway only use it as the most direct means to get to and from Croatia, so in practice it’s a 1 day vignette with the next option  being one month at €30.

What you get is a sticker with notches in it, to show the validity dates, and you need to put them on the top left of your windscreen. If you get stopped and the vignettes are not stuck on your windscreen you may be fined just as if you haven’t got one at all.

The following two websites give more information on the various categories of vignette and some other useful driving information – in Austria motorhomes under 3.5 tons pay the same as cars; in Slovenia, there’s a bizarre split into two categories for motorhomes under 3.5 tons, depending on height above the axle.

Austria By Road

Slovenia - Vignettes

And this link shows the main routes through Austria where tolls apply Austria Tolls - from the A3 in Germany the most direct route to Slovenia, and then Croatia, is via the A8 and then the A9 to Graz. From around Graz there are signs to Slovenia and Croatia.

And while we are on the subject of windscreen stickers, I had one other sticker which I did not need but might have done – one that shows I am “green enough” to enter into some of Germany’s bigger cities. It was relatively inexpensive and easy to get, and lasts for the lifetime of the windscreen it is on as long as you still “own” it – I just had to fill out a form online, load up a scan of my registration document and pay a few Euros. The sticker arrived back in a couple of weeks and it was all reasonably straightforward, even with a ten year old diesel van. Below is the link to the online application form (current cost is €6) and it works for all the cities in the scheme – I just happened to apply to Berlin because I read they had one of the more user friendly ways of obtaining it.

Germany Environmental Sticker

Now back to the drive – Austrian border negotiated, vignettes affixed, it was time to admire the magnificent Austrian scenery and experience a very sharp change of climate as we made our way south east through Austria and through a number of tunnels which cost us another €5. As well as the vignette, Austria has some additional one off tolls for “expensive” routes, for example where there are a lot of tunnels and/or where the tunnels are very long (and the A9 has at least a couple, well over 5 kilometres in length, piercing through the mountains, as well as one running several kilometres along underneath the city of Graz).

By this time it was about 3 30 pm and we were looking forward to a bit of a rest so, ACSI app consulted, we made for Aigen im Ennstall, near Liezen, and the delights of Campsite Putterersee which you’ll be able to read about on Croatia Camping Guide in a few days time. Close to a lake, mountains all around, a lovely crisp sunny evening – what more could you want?! We arrived at 4 15 pm after another 230 miles and several stops to admire the changing views. We filled up twice – once in Regensburg, Germany, where diesel cost €1.099 per litre, and once in Aistersheim, Austria, where diesel cost €1.409 per litre – gone, it seems, are the days when Austria had the cheapest fuel in Europe.

Today’s images show the lovely lake at Camping Putterersee –  the dog, who can’t resist a plunge in almost any temperature, and in whatever water is available,  found it bracing but invigorating!

Croatia Online - Barnie swimming in Aigen