Saturday, 25.05.19, Zengg – Postojna Caves – Haag

Day 33 for the records. The new plan was to drive to Postojna in Slovenia, visit the caves which I had missed in Paklenica and then carry on to Grado in Italy and the next day to the “3 Zinnen” before returning to Haag.

Coastal road Croatia

Phase I was rather comfortable to drive up to Slovenia, pay the minimum road tax of 15 Euros and visit the Postojna Caves. Only the parking cost of 10 Euro was a bit disappointing. Paid then 25,80 Euro for the caves with German speaking guide. They take you on a small train about 10 minutes into the cave and then walk you for about one hour and back with the train. Needless to say the site enjoys UNESCO world heritage status and they deserve it to the full extent. Infinite numbers of shapes and forms and still similar in so many ways. As usual in sits like this, e.g. the Antelope Canyon in the US, there is not much time to take great photos. You have to be quick and creative to find the best angle… Then the next group is catching up with yours.

Entrance to Postojna Caves

Back outside was a thunderstorm which reduced my desire to go back to the coast to Italy. I checked distance and arrival time to return to Haag today. All acceptable. Off we go. Went via Ljubljana, Villach and the Tauernautobahn via Salzburg to the Westautobahn direction east. All top highways and smooth sailing when you manage to stay concentrated all the time an top every two hours.

I reached Haag at about 20:30 and realized only at arrival that I drove more than 600 km that day. I surprised Ingrid and we had a good laugh.

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