2064 miles from Edinburgh
Zack and AJ have made it to Croatia, where the women are gorgeous, the flies are evil and the motorway system is designed to confuse Scottish people.
Firstly a big thank you to the Harshbarger’s for sheltering us for an evening. A bed was a nice relief from the oven that is our tent plus it was lovely to see our old pal Minna. Being the old men that we are, plans of a wild night out on the town in Zurich faded away after a few beers with dinner and the evening was instead spent relaxing in front of the TV, telling stories and trying to hold our breath whenever the dog farted. Lovely.
Woke early the next day, packed the car, thanked Minna’s parents with some whisky, hugged Minna and headed off. Before we left Minna wrote a little message on the car (the meaning of which we’ve already forgotten) and started a new tradition of writing the name of each country on the bonnet as we pass through it.
The spirit of the trip being to head into the unknown, we headed east for Liechtenstein, a country that takes longer to spell correctly than it does to drive through it. Zack decided he would like to spin the car around for a video, promptly curbed it, blocked off someone’s driveway and then let AJ drive again.
Liechtenstein's glorious hills and valleys gave way to Austria's magical valleys and hills. We were briefly distracted by a sign that promised "Bungee Jumping" from a bridge but unfortunately/ luckily the place was shut, we paused for some moving photos of men and mountains and then pushed on to Italy.
Our target that day was Lake Garda in Northern Italy, just south of Trento on the suggestion of the Harshbarger’s. This turned out to quite spectacular and prompted some moving photos of AJ staring into the lake. Perfect cover photo material.
Headed into town for some proper Italian food and a large carafe of wine, then grabbed another bottle, passed the disturbing scene of a man interfering with his dog…seriously, and headed back to the lake. Watched the sun set and chatted shit about life until late. All in, a pretty decent way to spend a Wednesday evening.
Woke early Thursday to watch the sun come up behind the hills, quickly face timed a few loved ones and headed south again. This days driving proved to be rather gruelling in the heat of the riviera. Italian motorways are not only expensive, they are also populated with nutters. After almost being rammed off the road for the tenth time, AJ swore at a van full of Germans and regretted it immediately when they turned into the same service station he was heading for.
Things improved slightly once we reached Slovenia as the sun went behind clouds and the temperature dropped. Stopped briefly for a coffee and some petrol and got chatting to a local. He asked where we heading and took some convincing when we said Mongolia. He suggested we head south of Rijeka if we wanted to find somewhere to camp that night and go swimming. He wished us well and we headed in Croatia.
At this point we were both tired, hungry and far too hot. This was compounded by the fact that we initially got lost in Rijeka, which turned out to be horrible and then managed to get onto the Croatian motorway without taking a ticket. Mistake. After realising that we were once again heading in the wrong direction, we attempted to pull off, only to be told that we would have to drive all the way back to Rijeka, get a ticket and then drive back again. After being assured by the guard that he was boss by pointing at his badge importantly, Zack was forced to 3 point turn on the motorway and back we went. After about another hour of driving in despondent silence, we came to a little town which had an information centre. They sent us to a nearby campsite, and after trying to set up the tent in an ants nest, we collapsed onto our sleeping mats exhausted.
Today has been a much better day. In The light of day our camp site was a lot less grim than the night before, found a decent place for breakfast and then finally discovered the costal route we’d been aiming for. AJ stepped it up as DJ for a change and we were in much better mood. This turned out to be some of the best driving of the trip, beautiful coastline that stretches for miles. After pausing for some photos by a castle, we blasted our way to Split, got lost looking for Lidl, ran over a pigeon, whistled at some locals around the marina and found a campsite. Took a dip in the Adriatic before cooking a proper meal for the first time.
Dubrovnik (Kings Landing) tomorrow for our last night in this country. Croatia is winning us over.