After fantastic visits to Greece and Albania we began heading relatively quickly through the Balkans toward France, where we would attend our neighbours’ wedding in Les Eyzies and fly to a family wedding in the US.
Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina
Because we spent extra time in Albania meeting up with new worldschooling friends, we had just two days in Montenegro, including an overnight stop in Kotor. To us, the atmosphere in the old walled city was too touristy even after the cruise ship passengers and bus tours left in the evening but we enjoyed the views as we drove around the fjord. We had planned to take a route from Montenegro directly into Croatia, but while browsing Google Maps for attractions on the way we spotted the photos of the old city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina and decided to make a quick diversion.
In fact, we didn’t end up liking the touristy atmosphere in Mostar but we enjoyed visiting a new country that we didn’t have many preconceived ideas about. We stayed in a small campsite by a river which was good value (€15 per night for our motorhome with no extra charge for children, €0.75 for a glass of wine at the cafe) and very friendly – Gary watched a football game while chatting to the owners and we enjoyed meeting other campers. While we had hoped to explore the country more, the weather forecast showed several days of heavy rain so instead we decided to head to Croatia where we had made contact with another motorhoming family. We spent several days parked next to Toni and Martin while our kids had a fantastic time playing in the two motorhomes.
After a few days, it was time to leave to see our friends John & Kellie who were also in Croatia – we had connected online and through video calls after buying our motorhome from the same dealer but this would be our first in-person meet-up. The kids were inseparable so we convinced Toni and family to come along to our new campsite! We all had a great time parked up together – playing, cooking, drinking ice coffee, paddleboarding, and sharing many meals and conversations. We also took the opportunity to try a peka (food roasted under a bell on an open fire) and visit a dentist in Split which was very easy and inexpensive. In Split, we enjoyed meeting up with another Worldschooling family for the day and walking around the Palace.
Finally, we planned visits to Plitvice lakes and to Slapovi Zrmanja waterfall, which had been recommended to us by a family we met in the campsite in Bosnia. After getting a lot of advice on Plitvice from John and Kelly and Toni and Martin, we decided to visit in the late afternoon. Reduced-priced tickets are offered for entry after 4 pm and because we only planned to spend a half day in the park this was a better option for us than paying full price to enter at 7 am. Before the park closed, we managed to walk a loop of the Lower Lakes, which cannot be missed due to panoramic high altitude views across the lakes as you set off down the trail, and to also have a magical few minutes at the Upper Lakes, where at the end of the day we were the only people in sight (we did route B on the diagram except we walked a short segment of the upper lakes from P2. This includes an electric boat ride across the lake and a “panoramic train” which is actually just a bus on a non-scenic road.
We found Croatia to be expensive as a motorhoming country: wild camping is banned, most campsites seem to be pricy commercial operations rather than small family-run sites, and we paid quite a bit more for restaurant meals than we did in Greece and Albania (this may be partly because we love all the interesting mezze in Greece so we often ordered many appetizers when eating out which is less expensive than a main course). To cut camping costs in Croatia we used an ASCI card for an off-season discount.
After sadly saying goodbye to our friends, we continued our fast track back to France – speeding through Slovenia where we visited Škocjan Caves – a massive underground cavern that made us feel like characters in Lord of the Rings – and the clear blue Soča River. Then we crossed out of the Balkans into Austria.