With the camper to Croatia
In spring, the longing for warmth, sun and vitamin D is always particularly great after the dark season. Above all, from mid-May to mid-June, the holiday density is particularly holiday-friendly. So with enough overtime in our luggage, we climb into our camper and leave the dreariness of cold wet spring weather. Sea breeze and climbing paradise Paklenica? Let's go to Croatia with the camper!
For the sake of completeness, our Aus.Zweit was a while ago. In the recent global travel restriction situation, freedom of movement is sometimes restricted and must be considered when planning a trip. As the various measures change dynamically and also vary from country of transit, no further information is presented here, as we cannot guarantee that they are correct and up to date.
Road Trip through South-East Europe
On our 5-week trip we explore Italy, Austria and the unknown Slovenia in the first weeks. The spring, however, is characterised by a windless weather situation with high temperatures, which results in partly massive overdevelopments every day. This means that strong thermals develop with the first rays of the morning sun, causing the cumuli to shoot up like mushrooms. By noon, these large puffy clouds become thicker, heavier and darker. Until, usually unpredictably, a cold flow outflow manifests itself in a gale-force wind and the clouds break shortly afterwards. This weather is not really fun as a paraglider. Riding your mountain bikes in a thunderstorm on an exposed single trail is also not really advisable. The solution to the problem: follow the sun! And this is in Croatia.
Camping in Croatia
Croatia is very popular with seaside holidaymakers, and campers are also aplenty. Not surprisingly, the drive along the coastal road alone, with its far-reaching fjord landscape and views to the horizon, is worth the trip. The attraction is to stop at one of the many bays and camp there for the night. But beware - this is not such a good idea in Croatia. Unfortunately, as in many other European countries, "wild camping" or "free standing" is prohibited in Croatia. Goodwill tends to be low, especially on the Croatian coast and in tourist areas. The further you move away from the hotspots, the higher the chance that the official will turn a blind eye. Camping on private property is also generally prohibited. All in all, it is therefore advisable to find a camping or parking site. So we roll up to our destination Starigrad-Paklenica and find a hidden car stop where we have to pay around 12 euros per night. With a warm shower and a view of the sea, this is more than fair!
Our neighbours are all German and Swiss repeat offenders who have been fleeing the cold of spring to this campsite in Croatia for years. We receive an almost family-like welcome and are directly introduced to the customs of the site. Our vehicle is also under constant supervision, especially when we are on the road, as the daily routine of our elderly friends follows a strict routine. 1. get up and take a shower 2. have a hearty breakfast with soft-boiled eggs 3. listen to the local radio 4. put out the sun loungers 5. lie in the sun 6. have a beer 7. have lunch 8. lie in the sun 9. jump into the sea 10. lie in the sun 11. have a beer 12. have a barbecue 13. have more beer...My guess is that some of them don't move more than 50 metres away from their camper during the day.
Climbing in Paklenica
We, on the other hand, don't want to merge with the sun loungers we don't have, but are urged to go to the Paklenica National Park, located in the Velebit mountain massif northeast of Zadar on the Croatian Adriatic. From the Croatian, "Pakle" translates to hell. Paklenica could be a kind of nickname for "little hell". This does not come from nowhere, because the Paklenica gorge is surrounded by rough and several hundred metres high steep karst rocks, which are riddled with caves and could possibly be a gateway to hell. What is a horror for one is a blessing for another. For in this gorge a beautiful and, above all, huge climbing area has been created with more than 400 routes in various degrees of difficulty. Fortunately, we have our equipment with us and accordingly buy our park entrance fees for three days and mingle with the numerous families, hikers and climbing cracks.
Trail run through the National Park
However, the park offers not only the sometimes crowded climbing area, but also over 150 km of marked hiking trails. Therefore, we decide to go for a trail run on foot or at a run and are curious whether we might even meet brown bears, lynxes or wolves on our exploration tour! I'll say it in advance, we were lucky or unlucky, but apart from a fearsome adder and an eagle circling far above us, there was no fauna to be seen. Surprisingly, there was very little or nothing going on away from the park entrance and we had the paths to ourselves. Away from the big tourism, Croatia showed us a hitherto unknown face. A dense mixed forest, which grew unusually high for the region and hid unknown flowers here and there. In Velebit there are also some mountain huts that offer accommodation for longer tours. You will also come across water sources again and again, so that you don't have to carry buckets of water with you in the monkey heat, but can indulge in the lightness of being.
Biking through the Velebit
After three days in the park, our fingers and/or feet hurt and we decide to explore more of Velebit on our bikes. No park entrance fee is required here and we follow an asphalt road uphill towards Veliko Rujno. The higher we get, the more pleasant the temperature becomes thanks to the sea breeze. The natural landscape around us also becomes increasingly greener and loses its ruggedness to a livelier flora. The view over Velebit is fantastic and also the island of Pag shows a new face of Croatia from the height. When we reach Rujno, however, the sky above us gets darker and darker and we don't foresee anything good. So we turn around and roll back into the warmth, where the bathers continue to sunbathe.
We do not start our journey home directly, but allow ourselves a diversion via the island of Pag to spend another day lazing on the beach near Lun. Then we take the ferry back to the mainland and all we can do is look back. We are already dreaming of a next trip where we will travel even further to explore the wild Balkans.
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