Friday, 24.05.19, NP Paklenica – NP Una – Bihac – Zengg

Day 32 for the records. You cannot imagine what an eventful day this one would become. I was up early at the camp side and had an extended morning prayer. That is a great start into the day. Found my destination only in Google Maps, not in Garmin, it was the waterfalls of the river Una being the border between Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina. From the coast to the back country you always must conquer some mountain passes which always need attention and always are picturesque. I think I reached over 1.000 m altitude once more.

Google Maps mentioned that partly there would be terrible road conditions towards the Una river. They did not overstate. But if you know beforehand it is half as bad. Recorded a short video clip and had actually good fun. My expectations were that at the river would be quite some tourism structure and busyness. The closer I came the narrower the road became. Just to change into a sand one and later to forest pathway. The road clearance was only as wide as to allow me to turn around if necessary. When the road led downhill and had sharp bends I became a little nervous but carried on. It was now too late for any U-turn. Suddenly I saw a sign board with a display of the waterfalls. I did not think anything would come my way. A few meters later I was near the river and found a small parking area of about 100 m2. At this spot was no tourism structure or anything similar.
Remember traveling means to compare our imagination with reality.
What a day.

I parked my friend pointing towards the way back, took my camera and all important documents into the back bag an started to walk along the foot path, crossed thorough the railway tunnel and only then saw the river. From here it was a beautifully maintained garden like area very pleasant for the eye. Just nobody around. I recognized a CCTV surveillance system installed and carried on. It was now obvious that I was upstream of the waterfalls and my excitement grew slowly the closer I came to the edge.

Already at this point in time I observed a much better infrastructure on the other side of the river in Bosnia Herzegovina. They had various wooden foot bridges and paths along the river and the falls for a surely much better view. And later when I carried on to the town of Bihac it became clear it was only a matter of crossing the border and drive max. 20 km upstream. Maybe Google Maps could suggest this as an alternative route in the future. It kept me on the Croatian side.

Needless to say that words cannot describe the beauty of the falls. There are two main cascades and one coming from the side across splitting into many little streams and falls. A view for the gods producing a lot of endorphins in my body and soul.
Actually there was a small hut like house exactly at the edge of the falls. Nobody to be seen still. I climbed the path upwards to catch photos from all possible angels including to walk a short distance on the rail tracks. Soon I headed back to the motor home.

Surprise visit

I was about to start the engine when two police cars rushed down from the forest road stopping next to me. Ups, funny feeling but I remained quite calm. One of the second car first spoke to one from the first car and then came over to me. I had my passport and car and insurance papers already in my hand and got out of the car. What do you do here? Visiting the falls and taking pictures. Aha. Do you mind that I check your car? Not at all, please come in. OK. Do you know why we check you? No. Because of all the refugee movements. Ah, all clear. Did you like what you saw? Yes, VERY MUCH. Smile. Save journey. Thank you. The drive back up the forest road needed lots of attention, but less than the situation with the police.

Garmin led me to the nearby border posts and it was a smooth process again. Just on the Bosnian side I nearly fainted. Approaching the passage on the right side of the small building I hear a nasty scratching noise above my head. And I saw to customs officials looking up quite concerned. Immediately I imagined my upper side wall to be pierced or punctured or fractured and was short of a heart attack. I reversed away from the building with the two officials not looking less concerned. Then I went out to check. First I handed over my passport and looked at the gutter and found three brackets moved and the front closing plate broken with a big gap. Then looked at my car. Nothing to see. Hmm. I started apologizing and said I will have to pay for this. What followed was so funny that I lough my head off still today. The two had some conversion in their language. Then the one said: Camper OK. The other one came with a long broom stick and fiddled at the gutter which did not move. I said again, hmm, it is a big problem. The first one said, big problem? No problem and handed the passport back to me. I said again, I am very sorry. The second one answered, we are happy, that you are sorry. And all the three of us laughed heartily. What do you say? Can you imagine the worst case scenario?

Bihac was only a few kilometers away and I found a small parking lot near the main bridge over the river Una. To fit the motor home into the space was a peace of art with a little help from my friends (a student passing by). Had the coins for the meter and opted for a snack at the terrasse restaurant across the small street.

I realized soon that Bihac was only interesting in the vicinity of the bridge. Walking around lasted about 25 minutes and it was mid afternoon. Thought to look for the camping ground and relax for the rest of the day. Then I found out that relaxing I can do when I am old and decided to move back to the Croatian coast. I had not appetite yet to drive north west towards Austria.

Of course it is repetitive to write about driving back another two passes with stunning views before reaching the coast. Just at the first roundabout was the sign to the camping ground in Zengg. Moved into the passage, stopped because it seemed very narrow ahead. A couple in the distance waved that I can make it. They were from Australia and had hired a camper in Munich. They also were not excited about the many Germans in the camping ground.
I found my spot in the second row back to the wall. In the first row at the sea side was such a bright reflection from the sinking sun that it was more disturbing than romantic.

Deserved quiet night in Zengg

Thursday, 23.05.19, Trogir – National Park Paklenica

Day 31 for the records. Short fruit and yoghurt breakfast at home and off to Trogir for a morning excursion. Parking well organized again. What can I say? Another romantic and charming small old town area with the morning preparations of the shop and restaurant owners. Choose a restaurant at the church square for the second breakfast and watched the Japanese tourists photographing their wifes and friends. Sometimes this is just a pleasure (see below). Set navigation to Paklenica National Park near Zadar and Starigrad. First stretch long uphill country road then the top highway A1. I cannot describe it differently than smooth sailing with cruise control.

As the road to the park became rather narrow I asked a couple in a restaurant garden. They were from Austria from the province of Steiermark. Later I met a dozen of them. They drove a motorhome as well and gave green light for the narrow road ahead. Reached the gate, went for the ticket only to learn that my main motivation to come was closed since half an hour, the famous “water dripping” caves. A little disappointed I asked for a hike achievable in the afternoon. A very charming lady guide gave me good advice and sent me off on a trail. Had to park 2 km inside and was a little proud of myself how quick and efficient I was prepared for the adventure.

Just at the very beginning of the trail were a dozen of Steiermark boys and girls busy at the “climbing garden”. Had a short chat with some, took the pics and headed off into the gorge. Buy the way, the rock walls were nothing short of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, just not that high and wide.

I went next to a wild water river and the gorge remained very narrow only widening later. Many more people came downwards, I overtook only a few upwards. The countryside stayed impressive all the way up. As a little “proof” of it, many scenes of the Winnetou films were shot here. Needless to say that at a fork I choose the opposite side from which I should have following the lady’s recommendation. So instead of about 450 m altitude I reached 620 m. A narrow margin anyway. Up there I met Adi and Robert who were part of the party of Steiermarkers, but of my age. Great company on the way down, great conversation and good fun.

Later I found the camping ground and a stand 20 m from the shore with a sunset from the fairytales. My stand neighbour without asking helped me to roll the vehicle onto the levelling blocks at the rear axle. He measured the water temperature at 14 dgr because of cold mountain streams coming in. I tested the waters, and he was right…
Long chat to the owner of a Land Rover Defender. They can tell stunning stories.
Sunset dinner.