So it's the new year and we spent the last two weeks of our time in Montenegro doing fairly mundane things on the whole. I did a fair bit of running and together, Rachel and I, picked and produced five photo books from our huge collection of pictures from the first year of our travels. It was a mammoth task and after we have achieved the same thing for the successive 5 years or so we will have our whole adventure in some kind of hard, coffee table friendly format. Although it will have to be a sodding great big coffee table by the look of it. The task was made more onerous due to the Printerpix website crashing or having server problems or something which caused the loss of pictures already uploaded going missing. I don't mean one or two pictures either. I am talking about 100 or 150 pictures. These then had to be uploaded again, scaled again and positioned again. We burned through about 15 gb of bandwidth and nearly 4 days in time. I was furious and after one final push managed to process the order. Just waiting for them to come back with loads missing now....Post script they are perfect
We went to Dubrovnik in Croatia one day. It was only 57 km away so not far (in theory) and we were doubly interested in going because it featured in several 'Game of Thrones' episodes. Yeah it was nice. But there were no dwarfs, dragons, giant warriors or naked queens being unceremoniously marched through the streets so I was a little disappointed. Still the cobbled thoroughfares, little lanes and solid castle walls were pretty impressive. Just not sure it was worth four hours of driving and braving the cold winds.
In those last days we walked and talked and did all the stuff that seems to fill our lovely days together and then our house owner came home. And with the car fueled, oiled and stocked with food we set off towards Calais some 2109 km and 23 hours away. Or rather it would have been but due to road closures the whole way up Croatia we were forced to detour to lesser roads (that's a difficult thing to achieve when the roads ain't that good to start with but we are professionals and downgraded admirably). Consequently we had to drive a hundred kilometers more on roads that allowed 70 kph at top speed. Man did it drag. There is this strange arrangement half way up the Croatian coast where Bosnia and Herzegovina divides the country in two. It's called the Neum corridor and means that you have to do two border crossing in about 9 kilometres. After our detour however, we were brought to a crossing in the countryside which was only for goat herders and locals, so had to turn about and do a detour on the detour to get to the proper crossing. Even with all of the problems you can't take away the fact that the coastline up from Montenegro, past Dubrovnik, Split and then through the mountains is stunning. Beautiful islands dot the coast that is ragged with many small bays. And, turning inland, the landscape becomes more mountainous and wild the farther north you travel.
As we drove we began to see more and more signs of snow on the hills, then on the sides of the road. Nothing to worry about and made all the more lovely because the day was sunny and warm. Really warm in fact. Shortly after we entered Slovenia we bought bread and cake from a bakery, pulled up on a point overlooking a charming valley and sat on benches outside of the van for lunch. Little did we know that 4 hours later we would be sitting in a snowstorm stranded on a motorway in Austria.
Anyway back to Slovenia. It is a lovely looking country and each of the 4 or 5 people we had to speak to for some reason or other were friendly and open. I think it could be on our list of places to go back to because we didn't have time to stick around. The roads wound through the hills and gradually the snow about us started to increase. Interestingly, it would seem that we would enter different climatic zones after driving through a series of long tunnels. Sometimes coming out in fog, then snow, then sun. Very weird. Crossing Slovenia didn't take to long coz the roads were empty and then, once the Alps came into view, the weather started to darken and it started to spit a little rain. That then turned to sleet and that soon changed to snow.
On the way out to Slovakia a couple of months previously we stayed at Alan and Petras and after a series of texts we arranged to stay again. Not only did this mean a warm and comfortable bed for the night but turned out to be an impromptu farewell dinner party with surprise guests. Thank you A and P for the excellent hospitality and to Sonja, Marcus and Ralph for your company and parting gifts.
And that's about it. The roads were clear and manic and lead to Belgium and Calais and two mornings after with the van stuffed with cheap booze we sailed home to England. But that's another story I guess. Toodaloo.
More pics at http://www.rachris.co.uk/gallery.html