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21 days, 3500kms and a bit of damage

 
 
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Nightbar
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Joined: 30 Sep 2003
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Location: In a state of anticipation...


1999 Land Rover Defender

PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 10:16 pm    Post subject: 21 days, 3500kms and a bit of damage Reply with quote

Back home after romping through 5 countries (Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro).

First the damage list:

1 x rear crossmember
the paintwork down one side of my trailer (bodywork on trailer looks warped as well but I haven't dared check yet)
2 x digital cameras gave up the ghost (resorted to mobile phone pics for the last week)
1 x lost child's toy pony (disastrous to sanity and good morale)
radiator needed roadside flush after overheating at altitude (and err rather high speed whilst towing)
but only 1/4 lt oil used all in!

First target was the jousting in Ascoli Piceno. After leaving 3 hours late (women!) it became necessary to go back to get to kids toys they had forgotten to pack. Hence the need to push on and after only 350kms of motorway running the old girl got a bit hot and almost redlined the temp at 1800m on the way to L'Aquila where we had planned to have lunch and view the earthquake damage. Still we got to Ascoli Piceno in time for the last 30 mins of the jousting and blagged our way in for free!

Worth catching it if you can.

Never trust GPS. It was now dark and we had now idea beyond a dodgy map and a grid ref where the campsite was. GPS? Should have realised that when the track became a 1 in 1 greenlane through a thick wood on a 40deg side slope that this wasn't a good idea. The trailer behaved beautifully behind the 90 and even got round the first 90 deg bend onto the humpbacked bridge (a cigarette paper papers clearance either side) but I knew we were now committed and there was no turning back.

Got stuck when we hit the village. Damp cobbles, 45 deg slope and the trailer wedged on the corner of the surrounding stone buildings. Perhaps it was when I gunned the 90 to shear the trailer round that I pulled the chunks out of the crossmember. Anyway, a little bit of chat with all the locals we had just woken up and the blokes piled out of the pub and bounced the trailer round for me. And then at the next corner (with more bits of crossmember being left like a trail...) when I gave up and just drove up the slightly inclined wall on one front wheel then let the truck
just slide down and hey presto back on a main road. Local lass (had been an au pair in Manchester) then hopped into her car and showed us the right way to the campsite.

What a first day! At least I had beer.

Long haul the to Verona. Arrived at night again!

But the view was worth it.

Took the day off driving and took the train to Bolzano to see Otzi - the 3000 yr old iceman. Had an exhibition about mummies as well which terrified youngest - although she rather liked the maze we found back in Verona


The real reason for stopping in Verona was for the Opera: Verdi's Aida in the Roman amphitheatre at night:

Would love to show a phot of the actual production - as the whole backstage area was lit by Egyptian soldiers holding flaming torches - but this was day one of camera failure...

...so sorry!

Anyway - we did the first half (2100-2300) then packed in it as the kids were flaked out and the Germans all around us were getting stuck into their beer and sauerkraut.

Mooched around Verona for a bit more before heading off to Slovenia (via Trieste). It rained.

Main reason was to have a wander around Ljubljana (where we stayed on a campsite just off the ring road) but more importantly to visit Lipica - the place where the Lipizanners are trained. A friend of ours spent a year there learning about Lipizanners and he still trains Lipizanners in Wales to this day. Some Lipis - coz I love their power and grace.



Mind you eldest was torn between the Lipizanners and the dragons in Ljubljana.


Slovenia was wonderful but it was time to head down to Croatia and Zagreb first off. I worked there as while back and wanted to show the family where I had been.

Top tip - by this point I had worked out that it was a bad idea to drink Lasko or Karlovasko(?) beer. It was like special brew but with added chemicals to make you really hurt. Just what you need in 35-40 degs the morning after!

After Zagreb it was down to Zadar to travel down the Dalmatian coast. Starting at island of Pag (at the far side of this bridge to nowhere really)

were some wonderful beaches. Pag lamb is glorious as the sheep feed on the wild growing rosemary and the salt in the water just does something to the meat. We stopped at roadside grill and ate half a lamb - just because we could.

Only snag was that the whole area is a annex of Germany. The campsite was in German, the security guards were in German, the fines for disobeying rather concentrating camp rules were in Euros and not Kuna; even when we caught the bus to Zadar itself all the adverts and instructions on the bus were in German. But at least it was all very efficient and the private beach surprisingly free from towels...

Zadar itself like most of the area is beautiful and the sunsets over the islands glorious (like this one)

which was taken in Nin (and no I didn't once say 'the Knights that say Ni'). Only snag was that I had to drive into Nin to get that phot and couldn't find my way out. It was the Feast of the Assumption - a major Catholic feast day with processions and all sorts and the roads were all shut by the time I worked out how to get out of town. Ah well - Italian plates on the 90 so I just drove over the pedestrian precinct in front of the cathedral, scattering the tourists and devout alike in the vain hope of finding the way home. I did - but turned the wrong way and then had to drive rather sheepishly past them all again a couple of minutes later...


...to be continued

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The ex-Difflock Ambassador to Naples, Sir Nightbar DCJC DFS and 2 bars.

Plant a tree for the Difflock 3


Last edited by Nightbar on Wed Aug 26, 2009 10:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Nightbar
Difflock Royalty


Joined: 30 Sep 2003
Odometer: 20611
Location: In a state of anticipation...


1999 Land Rover Defender

PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Random photo alert. This is Split - our next port of call down the coast after digging our way to freedom from the German Camp in Zadar. Emperor Diocletian's palace and all that a World Heritage Site. Basically most of his palace is still intact but is now all shops and restaurants.


Whilst in Split it was time to set up base camp and then push up into Bosnia. Don't believe any map that proclaims a motorway in this neck of the woods though. 150km took 4 hours but it was worth it. It was shocking, humbling to think that the streets we walked down, the Bridge we stood on and the restaurant we ate in looking like this vibrant place now that is Mostar:



Looked like this 15 years ago (this phot was taken just before the bridge was destroyed)

Man's inhumanity to man brought home in our own lifetime and backyard.

A day out on the beach before hitting the Croatian motorway again toward Dubrovnik. Hey ho but the view was worth it - even after I got a 500 Kuna (60Eu) fine for doing 75 in a 50 zone - but hang on - there was no speed limit sign where I was pulled over, the national limit was 90 and the 50kph zone started another 150m up the road. Rule one - never argue with police with guns esp if you don't speak the language too well and rule 2 - get a receipt!


Stopped for lunch in Ston. It has its own little wall of China. Off the beaten track - we were told about this place by a Slovenian racehorse owner we met in Split. No pics of the walls as digi camera No 2 gave up the ghost at this point but have another glorious alleyway (singing in the avenues and the alleyways)!


They say the best way to enter Dubrovnik for the first time is by boat. I agree:

A wonderful old town surrounded by huge walls. Dubrovnik came under an intense Serb/Montenegrin assault in the Balkans campaign and you can see that again this heritage site has been put back together amazingly - the telltale sign is the new roofs on almost every building:

Even though like Mostar there are still some rather large impact holes still left when you look around.

We will be going back to Dubrovnik (probably without the children as they were getting a little travel weary by this time) so it was time to head to the ferry from Kotor in Montenegro. Now it is worth mentioning that this was the weakest part of our plan (the trip had only been planned up to Ljubljana - opera tickets and camping in Verona needed prebooking as did the only campsite in Ljubljana as U2 were playing the town the time we were there). Our ferry had been booked from Dubrovnik but a telephone call from our agent halfway through the trip informed us that the ferry we were booked on didn't actually exist but there was one available from Montenegro - could we get there?

No stress then at all.

So Montenegro here we come/went - you know what I mean.

It reminded me of driving in the Caribbean but the ferry was only a few hours away only to find that on arrival in Kotor that there was no ferry but there might be one the next evening. Hmmm.

Time to find accommodation - snag! It was the local festival (with multimillion motor launches from all over the world in the harbour) and there was no room anywhere. Stuff that - drive out of town and stop at the first BnB equivalent. Success 15kms later. Kids in the pool, 50Eu a night for 4 of us. We asked the owner how we registered with the police (as you do almost everywhere now) and he laughed - explaining he was the chief of police: so we didn't ask for a tax receipt either!

Time to take advantage of the festival. TV and allsorts with armadas of little boats and fancy dress stuff on the water - it was awesome and nice round off to a highly potentially disastrous day.


The enforced day of rest gave us the chance to wander around Kotor - another incredible town with history crossing Muslim/Christian/Habsburg/Tito boundaries over 1000s of years. It also had an amazing city wall that at the back of the town went straight up the mountain behind and down again. Best phot I could get was as we left Kotor that night on the ferry to Bari and then home to Naples (the mobile phone camera was doing sterling service by this time).



Only nobody had told me that it wasn't a RoRo and I ended up having to reverse the trailer combo up the ramp onto the ferry and 150m between the lanes of parked cars being given directions in god knows what language. Made it and cracked a cold one as I watched BMW and Fiat drivers having to be pushed into place as the couldn't reverse their cars.

One heck of a 21 day trip and we have now got over the food poisoning we picked up from the service station where we got breakfast outside of Bari (arrggghhh!).

Hope you enjoyed reading Cool

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The ex-Difflock Ambassador to Naples, Sir Nightbar DCJC DFS and 2 bars.

Plant a tree for the Difflock 3
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sonds like a hoot Laughing
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Doc
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great write up, sounds a lot of fun. How did you manage to total so many cameras?
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

3500km in 21 days? pah! lightweight! We did 3,700 in 7 days!

France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France, home

I'll pull out the photos when I get a chance to sort through them.

Great to see your kids are up to travelling that distance, luckily our kids love it to.
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Nightbar
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Joined: 30 Sep 2003
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Location: In a state of anticipation...


1999 Land Rover Defender

PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

3700 in 7 days - I bet most of your phots will be blurred as you sped past!!!

We staged the whole thing in in two halves - leaving the Dalmatian coast to the end as we could do a big loop up Italy and then down the Adriatic beaches by spending 3/4 days in Zadar/Split/Dubrovnik to keep the kids onside before ferrying it back home!

As to cameras - it must just be a talent I have! The 'cheap(ish)' one I bought for Iraq last year just stopped working on day 6 telling me it had a lens error and then shut down for good. Wifey's (5 years old now) seemed to start going the same way and the image capture device bit thingy started producing pink grainy phots. If you bashed it a few times it would take a proper photo then sulk for another day or two.

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Damian
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cracking trip, great pics! We visited Verona early on this year when we stayed at Riva Del Garda. I have to admit that when KL said she wanted to visit Giardino Giusti I wasn't happy... but once inside I had to admit that they were worthwhile.
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johnmcc
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great photos and account, Jon. I'm going to show them to Linda in the hope it'll soften her up for next year's Grand Road Trip (Proposed) . . . . .
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That would put me in the notion for a road trip too
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Bert the Defender 110 XS - because it's Cool (work it out yourself!)
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Nightbar
Difflock Royalty


Joined: 30 Sep 2003
Odometer: 20611
Location: In a state of anticipation...


1999 Land Rover Defender

PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He He - we're already planning next years - ferry to Patras and then through Greece and beyond!

Haven't quite worked how we are going to get back yet though... Confused

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The ex-Difflock Ambassador to Naples, Sir Nightbar DCJC DFS and 2 bars.

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Nightbar
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Joined: 30 Sep 2003
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Location: In a state of anticipation...


1999 Land Rover Defender

PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Detailed country reports as requested.

http://forum.difflock.com/viewtopic.php?p=438116#438116

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The ex-Difflock Ambassador to Naples, Sir Nightbar DCJC DFS and 2 bars.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

herc?


Wink
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spannerman69
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

once again an excellent wright up, and thanks again.
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Nightbar
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Joined: 30 Sep 2003
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1999 Land Rover Defender

PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An old thread thread but it was buried in the Gallery from a couple of Difflock upgrades ago...

...I asked it to be popped into the Trips and Reports Section.

The background and updated trip planning (from bitter experience!) info remains HERE on Differs.

Cool

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CarpeDiem
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great blog, pics etc, I love both Croatia and Solvenia, stunning places both of them, especially the coastline. You did well to see so much.

Thx for sharing, Mark

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"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move." -- Robert Louis Stevenson
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