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Croatia: A Note from the Walshaws PDF Printable Version E-mail

 

A WARNING FOR MOTORHOMERS TAKING FERRIES IN CROATIA

The following notes were supplied by Alf and Rose Walshaw, travelling in their A class Hymer motorhome.

During our travels in Croatia we stayed on the campsite just outside Rovinj. A beautiful little town, full of small back streets and alleys, but the campsite facilities were totally inadequate. To use the sanitary facilities it was usual to have to queue, they were cleaned in a very superficial way.

The next stop was on the island of Cres, easy to cross onto the island (three ferries doing a shuttle service) but very difficult to find the ferry port, roads closed and no sign posts! We ended up on a vary large campsite just outside the town of Cres. We found a nice shady are inside the nudist part of the site. What a difference, although the site was very large, the facilities were excellent, lots of toilet blocks constantly being cleaned.

We decided to leave Cres by the southern end to save a lot of driving down the coast road so we booked a ferry from Mali Lošinj to Zadar. There was barely room on the ferry for the three campervans that were waiting, it took a great deal of manoeuvring, especially when given different advice by the two 'helpers'. When we came to get out of the van we found they had parked another so close to us we couldn't open the door. On opening the back window and indicating this, the Officer in charge simply shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Luckily the man behind us watched us reverse so we could leave the van.

When the voyage was over we went back to the van. Before we could move forwards again, to be clear of the van behind us, I had to move lots of boxes piled in front of the van. When the ramp was lowered the first van set off, there was a great bang, the ramp had not been positioned properly for his wheels, he came off and there was diesel everywhere – he'd cracked his tank and couldn't move. Frantic running about by the crew, still smoking, ramp awash with diesel. They had no idea what to do, they tried lifting the ramp of to slide the van backwards, all is did was stand on its tow bar.

In the end the DRIVER of the van had to get extra ramps from the ship and position them so he could be towed off. Some sawdust appeared and the diesel was cleaned up. The second van reversed off safely.

When it came to our turn my wife turned the van around, with a great deal of shouting and abuse by the man supposedly directing her. I went on the ramp to see her off – as she moved forwards I could see the wheels would miss the ramp, I shouted to her to stop, the crew told her to keep coming. She stopped. I then had to move one of the ramps to fit the wheels. She drove off but it was a close thing! We parked on the dock, my wife was still shaking.

We spoke to the Czech couple in the broken van – they had been offered no help or assistance by the crew of the vessel, in fact had been shouted at for causing the blockage.

Luckily all the car passengers were patient, even the one who we asked to put his cigarette out, standing by a pool of diesel, under a no smoking sign.

Understandably we will not be sailing of the Marina again, which sails from Koper in Slovenia, calling at Mali Lošinj on Cres, the island of Siba and ending in Zadar.

The moral of the story? Don't rush to be first on a ferry.

We then moved on to Slovenia- small but beautiful. The best bits were the lovely old towns and beautiful mountain scenery. Ptuj (pronounced Ptooee) was a lovely old town and the area around Lake Bled was also gorgeous. We got lost in Ljubljana (twice) and then moved on to Croatia. Stayed first in a very pretty town called Rovinj. (Awful campsite where I actually filled in a complaints book) and then moved on to an island called Cres. Here we had our summer holiday.

The roads were getting very very busy, it being the middle of August so I decided it was better to be off them for a little while. We stayed 2 weeks in an enormous campsite near the town of Cres (lovely old town with tiny streets). Normally we wouldn't dream of staying on something so large but in the end we had a lovely time. We stayed in the nudist area and found that nudists are much more considerate and quiet than your normal camper. The sea was wonderfully green and clean and we got lovely all-over tans and went to 3 amazing traditional concerts. Then we took the ferry-ride –from-hell back to the mainland at Zadar. It was an ancient old boat run by a crew who couldn't care less.

We arrived in Zadar at 2AM where they rushed us off the boat before checking that the 2 little chocks of wood were in the right places for the wheels of the disembarking vehicles. The poor Czechoslovakian camper in front of us smashed his petrol tank as he slipped off the ramp. The crew was totally hopeless- the Czek driver had to sort out how to haul the van off with no help. They then desultorily put down some sawdust and swept up the diesel – fags in mouths still of course- then told me to go. LUCKILY, Alf insisted on watching, as he had to ball at me to stop- they STILL hadn't got the bits of wood in the right place. We then slept on the port side –after a few strong revivers- before moving on to a lovely sea lake at a place called Novigrad.

August 31st we drove down to Split (calling at a lovely old town called Trogir on the way) to catch a wonderful ferry to Italy. We sailed from Split at 7AM all down the Croatian coast, calling at the islands of Hvar, Korkula, and Mljet in glorious sunshine, watching dolphins playing around the boat. It was far better than driving many miles of wiggly busy main roads. Then we arrived in Dubrovnik at 5PM with a 6 hour stop. Long enough for us to get a bus into the old town, look around the most beautiful city I have ever ever seen, walk round the walls in the setting sun, have a good farewell Croatia meal and bus back to the boat. We sailed for Italy from Dubrovnik at 11PM sitting on the deck drinking a bottle of wine by moonlight. Idyllic! And this ferry was no more expensive than had we only taken it from Dubrovnik!?

So since September 2nd we have been in Italy. Southern Italy was much more beautiful than I expected, the driving was as aggressive as I expected, and the Italians more noisy and pushy than you can imagine. The two most beautiful places we visited in S. Italy were Matera, and Tropea.

Then a short hop over the Strait of Messina took us to Sicily. Mount Etna was stunning. We stayed a night by the cable car station looking out onto miles and miles of black lava and craters. It was so much bigger than we had imagined, and so many more craters than you expect. We went up to the top via the cable car and also a long walk, but really it was just as spectacular from the bottom of the cable car.

Alf and Rose Walshaw