We have now spent a few days in Croatia crossing the border from Slovenia and heading into the Istrian Peninsula.
The first town you are likely to hit is Umag which I’m guessing is as sleepy as it gets on the Croatian Coast. As we passed a restaurant a waiter asked us where we were from to which we replied “NZ”. He looked at us in surprise, everyone does this and then replied, ” But nobody knows about Umag”.
At first it appears that Umag is very unwelcoming to motorhomers with signs everywhere saying “No Motorhomes”. We already know that it is illegal to free camp in Croatia and have planned to stay in Motorcamps so initially these signs don’t bother us. The problem is all the campgrounds are closed. As of the 30th of September it’s the end of the tourist season for 6 months so we are a little stuck and feel a little unwelcome.
Our decision was to head to the Marina where we have lucked it before but on the way we chanced upon a Restaurant that had closed for winter with an empty seaside carpark next to it. After enquiring with the owner we found ourselves with a waterfront view to the most amazing sunset of our trip so far.
This is us breakfasting seaside before finding the “No Camping” sign on our front window from the police. Back to feeling unwelcome.
Knowing we were safe to park for the day without risking a fine, we decided upon a waterfront ride to town which was lovely along the cycleway to a lounge chair and a coffee waiting for us at the edge of the sea. I could have dipped my toes in the water from my seat if I’d wanted to.
The town is deserted because all the holiday makers have left and the season is over and yet it’s 32° outside. It’s crazy having this little Medieval town all to ourselves.
It’s become the theme of the last couple of days, we head into these gorgeous old towns, rocky cobblestones, old stone walls, colourful shuttered housing, waterfront restaurants all begging for customers and us wandering the empty streets alone.
After Umag we headed for the hinterlands to the arty town of Groznjan. It’s a beautiful heritage town full of artists set in the hills of the Istrian Countryside. There are backyard wine and olive producers everywhere and it feels stuck in a timewarp. My kind of place.
The other thing is that they open their arms to Motorhomers and we stayed in the free carpark atop of the town overlooking the valley’s below and enjoyed our second spectacular sunset.
We could of wandered through a few more of the hinterland towns but having been away from the coast for such a long time we felt it calling.
Porec was our next stop and the same thing happened. “No Motorhome” signs everywhere and all the campgrounds closed. We toughened up a little here and blazenly parked right outside a closed campground before heading off to wander the Old Town.
For the afternoon we headed to the town of Cerva where we followed the road out to a beautiful seaside peninsula and there we stayed until morning in a closed Naturist Park undisturbed by any “No Camping” signs being plastered on our window.
Today we headed for Porec’s smaller neighbour Vrsar which we loved right from the very first doorknob.
I just love these little old villages, I am in love with their whitewashed stone walls and brightly painted shutters and the grapevines that hang over the pergolas. Vrsar is a little bit bipolar however with these wonderful old hillside houses leading down to a thoroughly modern holidaymakers haven on the shoreline with flashy resorts and a Marina facility to match. I also love the rocky paved seaside with the steps that fall into the clearest of water but give me the old town anyday.
For the evening we are heading out to Flengi which is a village specializing in Spit Roasts. I have already seen the piggy roasting away on the roadside.
I have thought about the whole ” no motorhomes welcome – only in campground thing”, a bit since we have been here. Doug gets quite put off a place if he sees signs everywhere saying “no motorhomes”. I’m a bit more half glass full – always look for the silver lining kind of person. I’ve loved Croatia so far but these are my thoughts. There are too many prime coastal areas occupied by huge “bullshit” camping grounds and resorts that are only open 6 months of the year. Granted they need to make as much money during that time to survive the off season so the local government must direct the customers to the paid areas. However in the off season – free up the unoccupied carparks and coastal land for the motorhomers who are surely adding to the off season economy. There needs to be more balance in the rule book.
Breaking the rules and free camping for a 4th night.