Okay, so kind of left the blog open ended without the last country. That was mostly due to that travel weirdness where the abnormal becomes somewhat normal.
Well, better late than never, here is Crazy Croatia.
So at the border, past the border, all smooth sailing. We actually even had time to recap our Journey by reviewing the rear of our car with the extensive collection of country codes and our even larger pile of (absolutely worthless) money we had gathered from around the trip!
Crossing from Bosnia into Croatia was stunning, but the nightmare of how you actually park a car in Dubrovnik cannot be underestimated. You arrive on a main road high above the town with no real sign on a parking spot. We had a room in an apartment booked and after driving past Dubrovnik at least 4 times we gave in and called. Turns out, the main road is about as good as it gets. Also turns out Dubrovnik is like a thousand steps down below. Hmm.
This all meant one thing, we had blown away another day. Long enough remained for us to head to the beach we had been told about for months. A bit surreal after Kotor then Kosovo, we kinda missed those crazy places.
But it was here that we would realise the town is much more than a tourist trap or Game of Thrones film location. It began dawning on us the day after we arrived speaking with our amazing host, Ivo and his lovely wife Maria.
The stories of that very recent conflict and the neighbours torn apart due to religion and tension, the bombardment, the brutality of it all. Somehow, this tourist trap just became more real, more raw, than Kosovo had been. That sounds mad. But it was. Perhaps it was the juxtaposition of gleaming EU flags and pretty film sets against the backdrop of a bombardment and siege the likes of which hadn’t been seen since world war 2, but it was real.
A walk to clear the head at night can be quite a sight in itself in the cobbled streets. Here, at this time of night, you actually don’t notice the prices for everything which are so eye watering it’s scary!
We both loved the architecture and grandeur. It really felt medieval and rustic whilst at each turn you felt you could suddenly be expecting a band playing or a tour group clicking.
To see a city, I feel you need to walk it’s walls and climb it’s stairs. Now, in Dubrovnik that means a Game of Thrones experience for £20 to climb up and see the views up top. For us, it also meant going to the very quirky and quiet streets and finding where things lead. This is a city of homes, after all, complete with stories and songs and satellite dishes for sport.
The strange sights are often the smallest differences but here there was a constant! Oh yes, Christmas. As if we didn’t already know, that big wallet buster of baubles, Brussels sprouts and bad songs was near. Ish. Like 113 days away. Right?
As with everything, our time was near the end. We packed up our things, bidding farewell to the single best place to stay in Croatia (Apartment Baltazar, ask for Ivo!). We made our way for one last drink with our hosts before embarking on a drive back to the airport. Counting all the memories would take us weeks to complete.
As all things must do, this trip now ends. The funniest memory for me in particular was from handing back this car. This fine automobile. It had served as our home for 2 weeks, 9 countries, a minefield, off road vehicle twice, a hill racer, and the best camouflage. With all that dirt, the hand written tracker of our journey still clear, the Europcar guy gave absolutely zero Fs on our return. He didn’t even want to look at it, assuming it was probably okay. And at this stage, we thought best to let them think that … away we went.