Day Eleven

Trip Start Jul 12, 2010
Trip End Aug 03, 2010

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Day Eleven
Venice– Zaton (Croatia)

Spend the morning recovering from our late-night misadventures and are on the road for Croatia at about 2.30pm. By the time we reach the Slovenian border, Kit has decided that we have fallen off the edge of the known universe, informing is that now is no time to engage turbo-boost. We are therefore entirely reliant on Vicky's ability to read the tiny map torn from the back of a guide-book. Danny's confidence in said ability is quickly diminished, as three minutes after entering Slovenia we have missed our exit and are circling the surrounding countryside in an attempt to re-join the motorway in the opposite direction. Eventually end up in a sleepy little village, where Vicky goes into the nearest shop to persuade friendly local to let her use his internet connection. Google maps
saves the day, albeit with some help with the translation – neither of us have a particularly good grounding in Slovenian – she discovers that they are actually only about five minutes from nearest
exit. Vicky returns to inform Danny of this fact, who takes the news remarkably cheerfully, considering the fact that we now seem to have driven through most of Slovenia attempting to find said exit. Decide
that if we don't want to spend the night sleeping in a motorway service station, it might be an idea for Danny to navigate and we accordingly swap seats.

*Stig and Wally's Camping Tip #8: Map-reading is best left to those who have at least a passing sense of spacial awareness.

Daniel guides us faultlessly through Slovenia and we are soon at the Croatian border, where the official is unable to make head nor tail of our driving licences. However, after we have answered several questions about the nature of the trip and exactly who was doing the driving, we were entering Croatia. Driving through several different countries in such a short space of time really highlights the way in which each country has a clearly defined identity. The atmosphere and scenery changes dramatically as we speed along the empty, winding roads. The ridges of the mountains create clearly defined shadows against the orange skyline and the country seems to be pervaded with an aura of intense peace and calm. Simplicity seems to be the best adjective to describe the lifestyle of the few inhabitants that we see, the houses being mostly dilapidated little wooden chalets that squat cosily amongst the trees. The mountains create imposing vistas, which dip down into valleys where the farmland spreads out beneath us as we drive over bridges and mountain roads. We pause to pay the toll charge, a crippling 1. Daniel attempts to pay with 'Corona' instead of 'Kuna'; not entirely sure that beer can be used as a substitute for currency in this part of the world. Vicky nearly removes Danny's hand as she pulls out of the toll booth, but he survives intact and we pull into the next service station for a brief respite. We have our first taste of Croatian food and it says something for a country
when service-station food is an experience, rather than merely functional. Danny has an intriguing pork curry and Vicky consumes a mountain of fresh salad, with olives, mushroom, roast peppers and,
oddly, rocket with raspberries.

We arrive at the camp-site at 11.00pm and find ourselves in a Butlins style holiday resort, buzzing with life. The site is immensely well-equipped, with swimming pool, tennis courts and a beach right on
our doorstep. The Croatians have clearly made an art-form out of the camping genre and many have erected huge palaces, complete with flags and glowing blue lights. However, we are perfectly content with our bottle of red wine by candlelight. Danny continues to fight his on-going battle with every form of insect life in the known world and seems to have simultaneously achieved the record both for the greatest number and size of mosquito bites. Go to bed sleepy and rather impressed with ourselves, and just a little relieved that despite Vicky's efforts to the contrary we have survived without Kit and managed to end up in the right country. Go to sleep listening to the sound of the waves, the cicadas and a solitary, determined mosquito who has survived Danny's liberal spraying of 'Bug-Raid' and is now humming around his head in search of fresh blood.

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