Croatia by Van

When heading for the Slovenia-Croatia border, i’d heard my friend Chris, who I met in Australia working on a farm together with his friend Mikkel, was going to be in Croatia with his girlfriend at about the same time as us.

It seemed fate, so we just had to meet up. Chris’ girlfriend Line was pregnant and they wanted to go on a trip before it was born. We spent some time in Opatija, swimming and hanging out. It was great to catch up with Chris again, we get along so well.

Line had a lot of trouble with the extreme heat and humidity there. They were thinking of going to Zadar eventually, and we had a different way of travelling, so we split up after a day. Later we heard they ended up going home a bit earlier since the weather was just a bit too much.

Jolien and me headed off to Krk island. The toll fee for the bridge (which we try to avoid) seemed worth it as we wanted to visit an abandoned location there. We don’t do as much urbex as we used to (we’re not so obsessed to visit places no matter the risk; a lot of spots are getting harder to enter these days), but Hotel Haludovo seemed interesting enough.

The place was very trashed and run down, not much was preserved but the architecture and story behind it were very interesting, as well as it being extremely easy to get in: just walk along with the rest of the beach goers!

It was built in the 60’s by the founder of Penthouse magazine as a kind of hedonist palace, at an interesting time when communist Yugoslavia was opening up a bit to the west. There are some interesting articles about it online, with pictures from back in the days.

What I found most interesting is how the landscaped beachfront, with walking paths, little alcoves for sunbathing, and nicely shaped rocky swimming spots, are still very much in use, along with some extra buildings by the coast, while the hotel itself is crumbling. We couldn’t help but think it can’t be that much longer until the land is repurposed, judging by how Croatia is developing and the amount of money that must be made off tourism these days.

Camping in Croatia was in general a bit more of a stressfull/expensive affair for us. Stories abound about police handing out high fines (150 euro) for wild camping in the summer season, so although we much prefer to be on our own out in the wild, we would often pick the safe option and just pay for a camping. On Krk island we risked it once and parked next to a family with a big camper on a rocky beach. We didn’t get a fine that night!

We continued East along the very busy coastal road, with views being very different from green Slovenia in the past week. At Jablanica, a picturesque cove, we hiked down and swam around a World War II era wreck.

Again we camped out wild, bolstered by the other camper that is conveniently hidden behind our car in this picture. It’s here that we started appreciating the rooftop solar shower for the first time. I’ve had it since we went to Spain over a year ago, but the temperatures have never made us use it much. Here however, it was nice to rinse off after swimming in the ocean.

We took the ferry over to the Island Pag, just the crossing provided some interesting people-watching. It turned out Pag is a favored party-destination for Italian teenagers, a sort of cheaper alternative for Ibiza as they can just get there by bus. We stayed away from the disco’s and went for the more secluded beaches.

Sometimes we’d end up on the perfect sort of camping, the kind we don’t mind paying for. It’s usually the perfect combination of size, amount of places and visitors, as well as the location. Camp Kosljun was just that: a tiny little village with what seemed mostly just local Croatians. It was quite the welcome change, this would be one of the only places where I felt we were getting “the real Croatia”.

We went for a short sunset kayak tour, with almost nobody on or in the water anymore.

We got some more good photo’s when leaving Pag that really captured the place. It’s so different as it’s very dry and rocky, making the contrast with our previous weeks even bigger.

We made another visit to the historic town Nin, and the went on to Zadar to resupply. Nin was interesting, but I’m not sure if it was really worth going there: Nin is very small and a lot of the surrounding infrastructure in the lagoon (bridges, banks) was still destroyed by floods from a year ago.

We started our drive towards Bosnia that evening, heading for the area around Plitvice. I really wanted to see Bosnia, but we still had quite a few pins on our map near the border crossing at Bihac. We had another very unglamorous night at a dirty truck parking near Korenica.

There’s so much to show from those next days, I’ll dedicate another blog post to it soon. Below you can see the route we followed in white.

1 reply
  1. Bakz Fofana
    Bakz Fofana says:

    Wow, amazing! Hope to travel with you from Mauritania to West Africa, Gambia. Will join to travel more through Senegal, Bissau, Conakry or beyond


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