DAY 7 – SLOVENIA AND CROATIA

We woke up very excited this morning, Croatia was only an hour away and was one of the Countries we were looking forward too, the coastal road down to Split was supposed to be magnificent.

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It was a beautiful sunny morning, we rode along shade dappled roads with English road signs towards Porec on the Croatian coast. The campsite we stayed at last night was almost full, there were only two pitches left, we spoke to the other campers, all from Balkan Countries, I kinda thought it was a little weird that no one seams to look you in the eye when they speakto you, perhaps it’s a Balkan thing, anyway with our newly acquired “Real” map we were confident.

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We had a small mishap, a small trench had been dug across the road, I did not notice it in time to brake much and we hit it a little hard, which dislodged the tool box, the toolbox jammed itself between the bike, the front tyre, and the front mudguard. Fortunately we were on a straight piece of road at the time and I was able to pull over quickly and re-strap the toolbox, onwards for a quick look around the town of Koper.

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We decided to keep off the motorways and explore Croatia on the minor roads and meet real Croatian people, this proved to be a bad choice later on. Our LPS (Linda Positioning System) was working excellently and we were soon at the Slovenia/Croatia border, they looked casually at our passports and nothing else, we were now in Croatia.

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The roads were all brand new in Croatia with English road signs, the European Development money could be clearly seen at work here, we stopped shortly down the road after posing by the “Welcome to Croatia” sign for a ciggie break.

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The road to Porec varied in terrain constantly, one moment your by the sea, the next your 15 miles inland, then climbing hills, then back by the sea again, very beautiful and nice to ride. On one of the hill climbs I spotted, in the valley below, some old stone structures, we left the tarmac and proceeded along dirt roads until we found them.

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A few of the small stone houses were reconstructed in 2007 but on further exploration there was a small stone walled village here, overgrown by woodland, riding the overweight Transalp on dirt roads was no problem but the tracks leading further in to the village were made of stone shale, very slippery, Linda had to get off and walk after a short distance.

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I soon gave up on the slippery shale and headed back to the dirt road whilst Linda wandered around alone.

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We rejoined the road and carried on towards Porec, our main mission in Porec was to find an ATM machine, in Slovenia they use the Euro, but not in Croatia, so I needed some local currency, I much prefer cash machines to money changers.

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Porec looked very inviting from a distance.

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We dropped down in to Porec and found a cash machine easily, there were hundreds of campsites and tourist information offices, the town was very clean and manicured.

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The exchange rate was around 10 to the Pound, so the cash machine gave me wads of Croatian  Kuna.

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After a couple of hours we stopped for lunch at a local roadside cafe near Pula, we ordered chips and kebab, it should of cost 60 Croatian Kuna but the bill came to 150 Kuna, we of course questioned this and the reply was,

“You used the Ketchup.”

We were shocked at this, but in my travels in Asia years ago I had come across these rip off merchants before, and it was never any use calling the police because they were in veritably as bent as the local cafe owners, chalk it up to experience, we will just have to be more careful in Croatia.

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Pula is a magnificent old Roman town.

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Again, the main tourist towns are well kept and a pleasure to be in.

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Late afternoon we decided to call it quits for the day, I pulled into a petrol station to fill the bike up for the next day so we could get going straight away in the morning, the surly guy short changed me, only 5 Kuna, which is about half a Euro, but that’s twice in one day now that we have been ripped off in Croatia.

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We found a campsite in the woods, the owners were  grumpy and unwelcoming, with the appearance of starving prisoners from a Russian Gulag, we asked if the showers and toilets worked, they told us they did, but of course they didn’t and were very dirty. From a hygiene point of view it was much cleaner to pee and  crap in the woods,  so we did that !! We put up the tent and then headed off to the local town to find food and an Internet cafe.

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We found an Internet cafe, but it was way too expensive, the guy wanted 7 Euro’s an hour, plain robbery. No matter how many grumpy local people we asked, we could not find a supermarket, and all the cafes only served alcohol, it was as though we were in Russia.

After an hour or so wandering around the small town we found a cake shop, the woman was very freindly and polite, which made a nice change, so it was a cake feast for us when we got back to the tent. Croatia is a very beautiful country, but the local people outside of the tourist areas are very Third World.

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~ by travelswithmymotorbike on May 14, 2009.

10 Responses to “DAY 7 – SLOVENIA AND CROATIA”

  1. Get around, get around, you get around… apologies to the Beach Boys.

    You should have read Dervla Murphy about her (push)bike trip through the Balkans. I would have stayed in Italy.

    Glad to see you’re still alive though.

    • Hi John,

      Yes….at least she would not have been cheated on a push bike at petrol stations, its a real beautiful country…shame about the people!!

  2. dave&Linda: “shame about the People”

    you haven’t said anything but . . . are they all out to cheat you ? You two are very adventurous. and I really like your LPS system, is it expensive to maintain ? enjoy your trip

    • Hi Bob,

      LOL….Yes the LPS system is quite expensive to run, about 70Km per 1 litre of coffee…lol.. Yes Bob after a couple of days there (I will get to it in the posts) it very much felt they were out to cheat everyone, it was very sad really because we and the Americans saved these people from the Serbian invasoin 12 or so years ago, the tourist areas were fine and well regulated, but God help your wallet when you strayed outside !! I came back thinking our troops went there for nothing…..very disapointing !

  3. Our LPS (Linda Positioning System) was working excellently
    Hah! Though, a Linda Positioning System sounds a bit kinky to me. Maybe it’s just me…
    Now that you mention it, I had a couple of short-change artists in Croatia. I had forgotten about this till I read your blog. I put my foot down and got my money (I do a reasonable impression of a thug – fortunately my bluff was not called). But had I been with the missus, I would probably have let it go rather than risk violence.
    You know what I’m thinking now? You wouldn’t have got this hassle in Albania. I don’t think I’ve ever met kinder, friendlier people. But maybe we were unlucky in Croatia, and I was lucky in Albania. We’ll never know.
    I got (slightly) ripped off in a hotel in Turkey. Still, it’s all part of the travel experience!

    • Hi Andy,

      Everyone should have an LPS in Italy, takes the strain of the pilot, one less thing to watch out for which leaves more mental processer space for keeping safe lol…its always sad when your ripped off, tends to colour your view of the whole country, generally I dont let that happen but Croatia was just too much….The trouble with the Balkans is its nearly always mixed reports from a variety of travellers, and thats the trouble, guess its just one of those parts of the World you cant take for granted.

      Ian and bev are comming to live in Turkey next year, Ian and I have already hatched loose plans about riding together through the Balkans next year, we figure that two bikers would be less of a target than one, messing with one biker the odds are in the favour of the ripper offer, but messing with two bikers the odds come back in our favour !!

  4. LPS…I love it !!

  5. When the wife and I drove through Croatia/ Serbia/ Bulgaria and back via Romania we got stung in Croatia and Serbia, there is a thief waiting around every corner in the Balkans it felt like when we were there.

    Croatia floats on our tax money, but they do not behave like Europeans, they are more like poor third World people in their culture of banditry, I dont think its correct for any of the Balkan countries to join Europe, they are too different to us, too poor, too backward, why should we line their pockets with our tax money !!

    • Hi James,

      Three people on this site have been to Croatia and been cheated in some way, you,me and Andy. A lot of people never check their bills or change, its a thieves paradice.

      I dont think they are ready to join Europe either, the Balkans has a long way to go before they give up their banditry ways.

      Cheers

      Dave..

  6. Its a terrible shame they steal from tourists because its such a beautiful country.

    J

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