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Verica in the Balkans PDF Printable Version E-mail


Verica in the Balkans 2007

Verica Peacock

August 2007

Verica Peacock regularly returns to her native Croatia and other Balkan countries, accompanied by her husband, Graham. Together, they inspect campsites for the Caravan Club and introduce groups from the club to the life and culture of the region.

Verica also maintains contact with the land of her birth and her wartime tribulations. She was only 11 when the Germans invaded what was then Yugoslavia, narrowly escaping transportation to Auschwitz and the certain death which awaited most of her relatives. Her life story, which took a great turn for the better when she joined her mother in England in the postwar years, is graphically described in her book 'The Find'. Contact Verica on www.vericathefind.info for your copy of the book.

Here is a brief account of Verica and Graham's Balkan journey in the summer of 2007.

We thoroughly enjoyed our three months in Europe, though it was a little spoiled by the robbery we suffered at the campsite next to the Plitvice Motel in Zagreb (Capital of Croatia). We have been staying there for a few nights for the last five years and even take presents to all the reception staff. However, we'll never stay there again, as nowadays it's become a stopping place, apparently, for all the undesirable riff-raff from other countries, who use the autoput (motorway).

They spread themselves on the green in front of the motel in great numbers and, obviously, one or two decided to look behind the motel at the few caravans which were parked in the camping fields, choosing ours. It was 5 am, broad daylight, when I heard Graham shout "Get out!" and woke up to find him getting out of bed and running outside. He had, apparently, seen a man in the front part of the van looking through our CD's. At first he thought I was looking for something, then he saw I was in bed next to him.

Anyway, by the time Graham looked outside, there was no trace of anyone. Having telephoned the police from the motel (the night-time receptionist and the night watchman were asleep in reception), we were impressed that they were with us within ten minutes. We found the door locks on both the driver's and passenger's side broken; our laptop and Graham's new semi-professional camera, my purse and my rucksack had gone. Graham had taken nearly 1,000 wonderful photos in Berlin, Potsdam, Dresden, Bled, Omis, Kornati National Park, etc and downloaded them onto the laptop.

You can imagine, we were a little upset but, as we always say that material things are not important, health and lives are, we carried on with our assignments and holiday. The police were very good but we had to stay at the station for over five hours, before we could return for breakfast. As we read later that an Italian tourist was shot dead in Istria when he disturbed a burglar in his caravan, we felt lucky.

The group of 42 caravanners on the Grand Centenary Tour, whom we met in Omis (Croatia) after their crossing with the Jadrolinija ferry to Split, was very friendly and appreciative. They enjoyed the visit to Radmanove Mlinice and their meal there, accompanied by the trio of waiters singing Dalmatian songs.

Also the two nights at Vodice (Croatia), which included the all day trip to Kornati islands, but most of all they loved the week at Lake Bled (Slovenia) and voted it the best camp in Europe. The final dinner there was made special by the kindness of Marjeta and Nika (Director and Assistant Director), who organised a one hour Folklore Show between two courses, which everyone loved. (During the show the girls picked men from our party to join them in the dance. One of the 'lost' photographs on our laptop was of Graham dancing with a girl in Slovenian national costume!)

During a bura (the strong north wind) in Omis, whilst Graham was winding our awning in, it broke and we had to carry it inside the 'van until we reached Bled, as we could not get it repaired. As soon as we arrived, the engineer in the camp, plus some equipment from the large new Merkur shop in Lesce, together with seven of the caravanners and Graham, mended and erected the awning, which is now better and more stable than before.

The kindness of everyone we met on this trip more than made up for the robbery and several other mishaps. Dubrovnik (Croatia) was as beautiful as ever and we enjoyed our stay again at Camping Solitudo. The kindness and help we received from Mladen, one of the Directors, whom we now consider a good friend, made our holiday there. We love using the Tirena swimming pool, where Anton makes us welcome. We met some very interesting people there from many parts of the world.

We hired a car for the day to visit Medugorje (pilgrimage site in Bosnia) at last and attended a service at the main church there. We've never seen so many Irish people present - Irish accents prevailed in every restaurant and every car park.

Two particular campsites impressed us, apart from Bled: Prapratno at Ston (Croatia), for its position and proximity to sea bathing, and Terme Catez, 30 km from Zagreb, just over the border into Slovenia. Our children and grandchildren love British Centerparcs: Terme Catez is similar but ten times better.

As we had to give Aldo his computer back en route to Slovenia and we didn't want to stay in Zagreb again, we stopped at Catez (5 km south of Brevice). With eight or more lakes, half of them under cover, all naturally warm and some with water bubble massages, it had many jacuzzis, children's playgrounds, campsite, hotels, casino, wellness centre with massages, flats, bungalows, etc. We planned to stay for one night but stayed four before reluctantly leaving.

After Catez, we spent a couple of nights in Bohinj (Slovenia) but we had to leave early the next morning for our inspection visit to Camping Donau-Lech (nr Donauwörth, Germany), sadly for only one night. As usual, it was a pleasure to be there, especially as it meant a visit to Rain and the biggest garden centre in Europe, Dehnen's, where we had a delicious lunch and bought a few things - not plants!

From Donau-Lech we drove to Rudesheim (Germany), our first time there. This was a pleasure to inspect. We had met Herr Richter and Gisela at the CC Centenary Dinner in London this year and they were excellent hosts. We were impressed by the beauty of the little town, rode in the cable car from its centre, admired the views of the numerous vineyards and had a pleasant meal in a restaurant near the centre. Rudesheim itself seemed just like many of the towns on the Romantische Strasse, though it is on the River Rhein. Unfortunately, we had to leave two days before its annual Weinfest.