That campsite outside Split was truly lovely. Everything (except perhaps the shower heads if I’m being picky) was spot on. We spent the first day there lounging around, catching up on chores and generally relaxing, but also had a swim in the sea and breakfast at the campsite restaurant.
Cycled into Split. First time on the bike since my fall in Zadar and I’ll admit I had lost some confidence. It was about 8km from the campsite to Split town centre, along a country road with some hills to start with (and we got chased by a dog which didn’t help!) and then the route was along a beach front road before entering the city.
We locked up the bikes and went around the old parts of the city on foot as usual. Split’s interesting in that the old Roman retirement palace built by Emporer Diocletian is still in use – filled with shops, restaurants and businesses, obviously parts of the buildings are more modern but all use parts of the original Roman walls etc. Fascinating place to wander around.
Cycled back to the campsite at Strobec via a slightly different route which avoided the dog. And then straight in the sea to cool off – it was a really hot day. Temperatures have been creeping up and up and are now around 30 during the day. We ate the evening meal at the campsite restaurant.
Another day of lazing around the campsite. I have some writing edits to get on with so I do need the time! But of course we did go in the sea again.
Time to move on. After calling at a shopping mall for some food we drove via the coast road then through the mountains, into Bosnia-Hercegovina. At the border we had to show passports then were asked for our ‘green card’ – something to prove we had insurance. Hmm. We don’t have one. We showed our insurance certificate. Lots of discussion amongst the border officials (who were holding our passports) then one said perhaps we give him something ‘for coffee’. Ignatius realised the lay of the land, said well we don’t have to go into Bosnia, perhaps we’ll just go back to Croatia, and at that the official decided we could progress after all.
We drove on to Mostar. Huge difference between coastal Croatia (very busy, touristy, a little bit ‘fake’) and Hercegovina (the southern part of Bosnia-Hercegovina). Here you can tell it’s much poorer, less tourist money coming in, still scarred by the 1990s wars. It reminded me in parts of Sicily, whereas the rich Croatian coast is more like the south of France only full of Germans.
At Mostar we paid an arm and a leg to park near the Stari Most (Old Bridge – the one that was built in the 16th century, blown up by the Croats in 1991 then reconstructed in 2004). Wandered through the old town on slippery cobbles, over the bridge, had a look in a museum which screened a video about the rebuilding of the bridge, and generally sweltered under the unforgiving sun.
Headed out of town southwards where we found a lovely little campsite by the river. The woman (Sandra) who runs it is very friendly, offered us beers on the house. We chatted to her for a long time. She has an Irish friend and on hearing Ignatius is Irish came out with ‘céad míle fáilte’ which was not a phrase we expected to hear in Bosnia-Hercegovina. She used to work at Medugorje – a Catholic pilgrimage site where the Virgin Mary appeared to a bunch of children back in 1981 – and on hearing Ignatius’s mum has been there insisted on giving us a little gift to pass on when we come home. I’ve rarely known a welcome as friendly as this at any campsite. This is likely to be our only night in this country but it’s not one I’ll forget.