It was good to leave the Chiemsee campsite, still wet and cold and have the certainty of hitting better weather as each day we headed south, firstly through Austria, into Slovenia where the new roads are excellent and dropping into the northern end of Croatia. Again, I had pre-booked a campsite at Selce for 2 nights as it’s good to have a break from driving. Arriving at the campsite I noticed a ‘rumbling’ noise from the radiator area of the van, which I assumed was something to do with the air-con, since when switched off the noise stopped. I was to find out on Saturday morning that it had far reaching consequences!
A great rest day, time to catch up with some walking for Bengy and some paddling in the sea. He doesn’t do chasing sticks, but prefers just wading in the shallows and floating around, being very hairy. He then shackles himself near to someone, it’s all a part of getting wet for him.
Not quite an early start on Saturday morning, we left at 10 and joined the slow-moving holiday traffic heading towards Split on the coast road. At Senji you can keep on the coast road which out of the holiday season is good, but slow. So it was an easterly heading up the mountain road that joined with the main Highway.
Just before the Highway I lost power in the van, the engine ran but no power. So, conveniently I pulled in at an intersection where there was a cafe / restaurant and called the AA breakdown call centre number. Eventually after half an hour of listening to their recorded messages, I got through to an English speaking advisor. By this time a low-loader rescue vehicle had pulled up and asked if he could help. This detail I explained to the AA advisor and she recommended I take up his offer of a low-loader drive to Zadar, which as it happens was on our route. It transpired that these breakdown trucks trawl the motorway areas looking for custom, they are not a part of the Croatian road rescue organisation alas and can basically charge whatever they like for the service.
By late afternoon he took us to a back street garage out of town. For this 2 hour ride on the back of his truck came a price tag of 8500 HKU. They are not in the EU and this £1150 had to be paid then in that local currency, the Kuna. It wiped me out of my spare Eu notes and with a visit to a card machine withdrew the rest from 3 cards in Kune. The driver must have thought it was Christmas come early!
The defective electric fan was ordered but could not be fitted until Monday morning. This part and the labour amounted to another 9000.00 Kuna, but at least it was all done by late afternoon and we were back on the main highway heading for a stopover at Dubrovnik: what a lovely drive and getting hot.
So out of Croatia and into Montenegro. You think the Dover Border is a pain, but it’s not a patch on the leaving Croatia and entering Montenegro, just over 3 hours plus a Green Card insurance of 75 EU just to be in Montenegro for 3 hours. However, their short ferry crossing to avoid a tricky 30 mile drive was great, followed by driving up into the mountains to reach the Albanian border, spectacular views although a bit hazy.
By late afternoon we were again in heavy traffic waiting at the border to cross into Albania. These 2 counties are destined to join the EU very shortly, I think next year. They are going to have a shock, or is the EU going to scratch its head and wonder what have they let themselves in for? Out of the main towns they are really poor towns and villages.
Our last evening was spent at a truck stop in Albania. With an early kick-off we soon crossed into northern Greece and made our way through the University City of Ioannina and heading south to Lefkada, where we arrived at last on Wednesday evening after a journey of 9 days. It was well worth it since Clara was now in the boat yard ready for her chartering during September and October.