A short hop and a skip from Hungary and we were in country no.27, Croatia. We'd booked a cheap apartment in Zagreb and it was heaven to have two nights with good Wi-Fi, air-con, a private bathroom, a fridge and freezer! And most luxurious of all a washing machine. Clean clothes on tap!
We washed everything we had, it was such a luxury. Some things even got washed twice during the short stay after the lakeside submerging (details to follow). Again though, temperatures were soaring into the mid thirties so instead of touring the city on the bikes we opted for cycling followed by swims in the city lake.
A slight incident at the end of day two when Jess failed to stop at the side of the path, braking is still a work in progress. Unfortunately, the other side of the path was a steep, grassy bank that led straight into the rowing lake. I was ahead of her and Mikes when it happened so I missed the careering uncontrolled off-road downhill escapade. And also missed Mikey's heroic chase, flip-flops flying as he failed to catch her before she entered with a scream and a splash into the lake. Mikey dived straight in after her. Luckily she’s good in the water now, so it didn't freak her out too much. Unluckily, Mikey’s new phone is not. Two phones down in less than two months. The first, smashed all over the Autobahn and now number two sunk at the bottom of lake Jarun. Oops.
The new bike survived as well and was fished out by a concerned passerby who'd stopped to assist. Jess had a little cry, apologised profusely for not braking hard enough at the bottom of the hill to stop herself going in and then got back on the bike to continue the ride home. Slightly shaken but pretty proud of her bravery, we were suitably impressed by her balance which kept her on the bike all the way down the hill, and extremely impressed by her willingness to get straight back on.
Drama over and more washing done, we left with a cool box full of frozen water, milk, ice packs and feeling suitably ready for tent life again.
Time to head for the coast.
We drove to Split and caught the ferry to the beautiful island of Brač. On first traverse, we didn't appreciate the stark beauty of the island; after the lush, green rolling hills and forests of Central Europe the dry, stony, grey olive groves of the Dalmatian Coast looked barren and somewhat lifeless. However, we grew to appreciate the wildness of the rocks and the crystalline turquoise waters they forged.
We were staying at our most expensive campsite yet, Croatia is beautiful but not cheap! It was up a killer k-long steep hill (murderous or morning runs) from the famous Zlatni Rat beach at Bol on the south coast of the island. The camping was amid the olive trees which was great for providing shade but proved dangerous for our by now ridiculously overlarge tent.
When we began camping in Belgium and Germany, our tent was usually middle sized on site: some were bigger and a few smaller. We felt ours to be the perfect size. A good tent to live in for three months through rain and shine. But by the time we reached the coast of Croatia, we had somehow increased to become twice as big, if not three or four times the size of the largest of the other tents on site. The problem then being, if sites aren't used to massive tents, their pitches are also not built to accommodate us. So there we were squished underneath some olive trees, the branches gently lowering on to the top of us. We further realised how badly equipped we were for Southern Camping when we attempted to hammer pegs into the stony ground. Half a bagful of bent pegs later and still none in the ground, we gave up and tied the tent into place on the trees.
All well and good for the first four days and then the Mistral blew in. We knew the island was famed for wind and kitesurfing but it hadn't occurred to us what this may mean to our makeshift tent tied to a tree setup.
By the time we left we'd had two nights of no sleep at all whilst the tent bent and blew with the trees from side to side so vigorously I swear we could have taken off into the sea, just another kite surf making the most of the westerly. The tent didn't fare well and we left with two large rips and many small extra airholes. It's perhaps a good job that rain was and is not forecast anywhere on this coast for the foreseeable.
We enjoyed Bol. The town is all built from blindingly white Brač stone. There is a long promenade perfect for cycling or running which skirts the coast all the way from the port past Zlatni Rat and the beaches all along, although stony, are irresistible. The white pebbles conjure up a deep turquoise sea reminiscent of the seas around Thailand or the Whitsundays.
We also loved Lovrečina on the northern coast. Partly for its shade and sand. Yes actual sand not the small pebbles that normally constitutes a Sandy beach on this coast. And also for its shallow waters perfect for ball games and splashing good fun.
More fun was to be had at Supetar beach where the kids talked their way onto an inflatable total wipeout style inflatable obstacle course. Mikey bouncing Jessica for the giant pillow is a video worth watching.
In the end, the wind and the expense saw us off still travelling south we set off through the first of our forest fires from Spit, through Bosnia and into Montenegro.
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Kelly and Mikey (but mostly Kelly). We sold up in the UK to travel with our two littluns for a year or so. If you want to know more click the about us!