And so with more than a little sadness, we bid goodbye to Slovenia, as we aim to cross through central Croatia, on our way to a brief Bosnian stopover. That’s the plan, anyway. It’s going to come with a few challenges. We need to find a Bosnian crossing that offers a green card insurance purchase option, and because our insurer won’t cover us for Bosnia, we have to be in and out – a lightning visit. It’s imperative therefore that we cross the Croatian/Bosnian border near Banja Luka to limit our time there. It’s this which causes us to cross through Croatia’s centre, leaving the more frequently visited coast for our return trip.
Our last views of Slovenia are water birds in the marshes: beautiful tall grey and white heron wade about in pairs.
Unexpectedly, we have a small problem at the Croatian border crossing – they only take EU residents through this minor crossing. Non EU passport holders have to go through the larger highway crossing. I’m hoping the 200 metres we traverse the highway to it, doesn’t result in a fine. You can’t pay for tolls as you go in Slovenia, you need a prepaid weekly pass or a fitted electronic device. We have neither.
Eventually, we’re allowed through, on the main highway. It’s not terribly exciting, so we veer off, to a hopefully more interesting secondary road – it’s our usual practice. We’re immediately deep in farmland.
There are orchards, endless fields of (now dried) corn plantings and many farm cats slinking about their catty business. A favourite trick appears to be sitting perfectly still in the centre of a field, prepared to pounce at any sign of movement. Cheeky minxes.
Religious monuments are frequent. Whilst religious beliefs fell away under Communist rule, a resurgence in has been seen since the war of the 1990s. Roadside chapels dot our way.
This area does not see any tourism, and sadly, it’s the worse for wear. Many houses and building projects lay abandoned, and whilst there is the very rare multi level ponderosa, many houses are in urgent need of repair.
Oddly, most houses seem to have been built without their external render giving them an incomplete finish.
We do see lovely older wooden houses. Most of these have been shored up with brick bases, leaving their history only to the top level.
We pass so many cemeteries. Sadly most are larger than the villages they service. No doubt this is a result of the recent war – many of the gravestones look very new. It’s quite upsetting, tears come frequently throughout the day.
Our biggest challenge is the road. It’s truly awful, full of deep potholes which require focussed dexterity to dodge in the motorhome. For once I fear, our “no highways” rule should have been ignored. We would have been much better off on it.
This area is known for its stork’s nests: we see half a dozen at least, perched atop electricity poles. Superstition here dictates that storks are lucky and fortell the arrival of a baby.
Also challenging is that there’s no place to stop. There’s no tourism here, and consequently, it’s just not set up for it. It takes most of the late afternoon to find a place we can pull off for the night. It’s by the river we’ve tracked for most of this drive.
It’s been a trying day, but right at the end there’s a little creature highlight: as Chris turns the vehicle to his satisfaction, me outside guiding him, I can see something leaping out of his way. My brain has some trouble processing. A snake? No. A lizard? No. It’s not until I catch its back legs on a final leap into bushes that I identify it correctly. It’s a little frog, well up on the river bank, not best pleased at having his spot disturbed.