Europe is full of interesting places to see, and it is extremely hard to choose a few. As we have now chosen the route along the Adriatic coast, one stop gave itself: Dubrovnik in Croatia. In August most tourist destinations are packed with people, but hey, it’s now that we’re here, so we better make the best of it. We couldn’t even find a parking space down town, so we ended up a couple of kilometers away near the port, and found a bus going back in to the city center.
We timed our visit to a weekday as we heard there could be as many as 15 – 16 000 cruise ship tourists in town in the weekends – each day! There is even a webpage with the numbers for the following days so you can plan your visit. The Thursday we went in there should be about 1500 cruise passengers, and then all the drive- and fly in tourists of course. It was crowed enough, so we were glad we found out about the weekend mayhem…
But what a beautiful town! Extremely touristy, but well worth a day exploring. Plenty of nice cafes and restaurants, and you can even go for a swim on the cliffs just a few meters outside the city walls.
It is also possible to walk all around the old city on top of the walls. Great views!
Between Dubrovnik in the south and Zadar in the north, the coast of Croatia is full of tourists. Some kilometers north of Zadar the main highway north take off and turn more inland. We took the coast road, and found a few small, quiet towns, and it was a beautiful drive along the crystal clear Adriatic sea.
A few more hours driving north, we crossed the border to Slovenia. This is another country we would love to spend time in, but that will have to be next time. We have an appointment in Switzerland with some old friends. One of the main tourist attractions in Slovenia is the Postojna Cave, and it wasn’t too far away from our route. It was very different from the Black Chasm Cave we visited in the USA, but quite fascinating. For Norwegians: notice the language on the brochure..
And it is HUGE!
From Slovenia we crossed the border to Italy, passed Venice that we visited last year just after flying out from Arusha in Tanzania. This time we drove straight past and headed for Milan (or rather Bergamo a few kilometers outside) to do some shopping. We were invited to a wedding in Belgium so we need a present and some nice clothes. Italy is perfect for this! Not to mention filling up the fridge with goodies. This is paradise!
What was interesting to see in the supermarkets in Italy is that almost all the food you find here is produced or grown in Italy. And Italy is not really that big. This is an ENORMOUS difference when comparing with Africa where you hardly have any selection of foods.
With the fridge full, new clothes, and even a present for the wedding, we started climbing over the Alps to Switzerland.
We were on our way to Klönthaler Sea to set up camp for the weekend. One of the reasons for picking this particular spot, was that the campground allowed open fire. And this was important. We saw the campground from a distance when we were driving in along the lake. And yes, there it was, a white Toyota Landcruiser with a tall fiberglass roof. Toyotours had just arrived. Pulling off the road to check in, we parked behind an orange VW Combi from 1976. Some of the readers might remember this car from our first camps on Baja California almost three years ago. The last time we saw them was in Panama City in May 2011. We parked the cars in a circle as we used to, and left a space open. A couple of hours later this was filled by Nordsued.ch and their Land Rover Defender 110. This is the couple we shared container with around the Darian Gap on our way to South America. Toyotours doesn’t need much introduction, most of you have seen them in our pictures more or less all the way. We met them first time on Baja California, and have travelled together on and off the entire trip. They had arrived home in Germany only about two months earlier.
It was a magic weekend with good stories and lots of fun. I think all of us are already planning new adventures. The date for our next “overland meeting” is not yet set, but it will happen for sure. Leaving our friends after the weekend was in a way the moment when I realized that our trip is now coming to an end. A very sad moment. This really is the last leg home...