21.07.2016 - 21.07.2016
Welcome everybody, to another episode of “Maddie & Scott’s Disasters in Europe”. This episode we’ll call “Frankie Strikes Again”. Yes, you guessed it, we’ve had more Frankie drama. At least we can say there’s never a dull moment when she’s around. That being said I’d rather be enjoying the Croatia coastline than trying to understand another mechanic in a foreign language.
That story, however, comes in at the end of this instalment so you’ll have to read the whole way to get the good bits. As I mentioned last time, after our mini break in Greece we headed off to Croatia. What I didn’t mention was that in Croatia we were welcoming our first house guest into Frankie. So we aimed ourselves toward Dubrovnik for her arrival. The journey there was just a bit too long to do in one go, and we had a day or 2 spare, so we made a couple of stops on the way, staying at little auto-camps situated right on the edge of the water, so close that we could stumble every morning into the crystal clear Croatia waters.
The one big stop that we did do on the way down was to go to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Now here is where I must amend a comment that I previously made. I earlier told you that Lake Bled (Slovenia) held the bluest, most clear water I have ever seen in my life. While that was true at the time it only took a matter of 2 weeks for that to be trumped by Plitvice Lakes. While Bled remains in my eyes and incredible place, The Plitvice Lakes were absolutely out of this world. The park is made up of a series of tiered lakes that cascade into each other via endless waterfalls. It took us about 4 hrs to walk around the park and we were blown away with every step.
Once we had arrived in Dubrovnik we made our way to the airport to welcome Caitlin into our mobile home. As you might remember we met up with Caitlin in London when we were there and as it so happened she was able to swindle a couple of days off work at the time we were planning on being in Croatia. So why not have a long weekend away? Having picked up our guest we checked into our campsite and headed into the Old Town of Dubrovnik. Now in all our travels so far this would have to be up there with the best preserved old towns we’ve seen. And the bonus, the city walls are continuous the whole ways so when you walk them you get a full 360 degree view of the centre. I would say, if you’re ever in Dubrovnik, walking the walls is an absolute must do, and of course that is where we started our tour. Next stop was, of course, a walking tour. Unfortunately, due to Croatia’s tax law, “free” tours are illegal, thus we had to pay for this one. Very worth the money though as you get a much better feel for the city when you know a bit of the history behind it. By this time we were ready to take the gondola ride up the mountain. So that we did, and had the most amazing view of the city with the sun setting over the ocean in the distance. It really was incredible. As you can imagine, after all that touring, we had built up quite the appetite. So our last stop for the day was dinner. We’d gotten a couple of restaurant suggestions from our tour guide earlier so we new exactly where we were going. And, boy was dinner mighty fine! I had the most amazing seafood risotto (if you like seafood that is), and Maddie’s lamb could have been cut with a spoon it was so tender. Incredible food right on the Dubrovnik Harbour. How better to end the day?
For our second day in Dubrovnik we had a boat tour booked, which would take us to visit 3 islands around an hour from the city. We had such a relaxing day doing this, cruising the blue waters, sun shining, swimming in endlessly clear waters, working on our tans. Pretty much the perfect way to relax for the day.
After our relaxing day onto water it was time to cover some ground. We packed up camp in the morning and aimed ourselves for split. Now although she had already given us glimpses of her talent, this is where Caitlin really shone! Over a total of 3.5hrs driving I think she accrued around 3.25hrs sleep. That may be over exaggerating a little, but not much. In her defense she was still recovering from zero sleep before flying to Croatia, and I'm sure the English climate hadn't prepared her for Croatia's sun, so she was perhaps a little sun stroked. Nevertheless we arrived in Split, set up camp, then spend the evening lounging by the beach.
The next day we took another drive to Krka National Park. No this one probably wasn't quite as impressive a Plitvice; but it did have one big advantage. We could swim there! The water was so clear and fresh that it felt amazing to just sit there all day. We took a quick and all around the waterfalls and then headed back to the bottom for more swimming. Naturally we were exhausted after that big day, so we spent another quiet night at the camp site.
Unfortunately, Tuesday was Caitlin's last day with us. So we headed into the centre of Split for a walking tour. I think we were pleasantly surprised by how much History and ancient architecture the old town of Split has. They've even got a 3000 year old Sphinx there! So after an ice-cream, a climb up the bell tower, and a bite to eat, it was time to get Caitlin to the airport and say farewell.
Now here's where the "fun" starts. We got Caitlin to the airport with no dramas and decided to try to cover some ground in the evening as we were aiming to get to Austria the next day. So we're driving along, around 150kms from our destination in Slovenia, when our battery life warning light starts flashing. Now if you remember this was the start of our problems in Budapest. We had everything running at the time so we decided to switch the fridge off and see if the battery's would be able to soak up a bit of charge without the fridge sucking the life out of them. So on we continued, and soon the warning light had turned off. Winner! Then, around 100kms from our destination, our indicators decided to stop working. Yay! Now this time we thought we should probably pull over and see what's up. So we pulled over and checked our battery lights, which both said full. I switched the engine off and went to have a look at the battery. All the connections appeared to be secure so we decided to continue on our way. I got back in, put the key in the ignition, turned it, and... Nothing! The battery was absolutely lifeless. "Great" we thought, "we're having the same problem all over again." We figured that if you could get a jump start we could drive to the closest town and find a mechanic. Mind you this is at 8pm. So Maddie walks to the side of the road with the jumper cables and starts waving them at any cars passing by. We're not sure if they were confused, scared, or just plain rude because none seemed to be stopping. Eventually though a nice Austrian man in a camper van stopped and tried to jump start us. Unfortunately, the positioning of his battery, and the spot we were parked in didn't match and we couldn't make the jumper cables reach. So we thanked him and he went on his way. Strike 1. The second car to stop was a Polish family. We got the cables all connected (with a bit of difficulty), turned the key, and nothing! So we thanked them and they went on their way. Strike 2. By this stage we decided it was time to call for assistance. Now I must say, third times a charm. After making the call we only waited about 10mins until 2 men in a tow truck arrived. They gave the battery a minute or so to charge up then got Frankie roaring back to life. We then followed them into the next town where their mechanic shop was. We sat there and watch Frankie again get jacked up and have a wheel removed. They removed the alternator then told us that they would be able to fix it until the morning. Sad times. Luckily the lady upstairs has apartments for rent and immediately offered us a room for the night. Since we were dying for a bed and hot shower we quickly accepted.
The next morning we started pretty slowly, unsure of what would be waiting for us downstairs. When we got to the bottom we found Frankie reassembled and the keys waiting for us. The mechanic then told us (if you trust my non-existent Croatia) that the alternator should be good but the battery itself was pretty stuffed. Then came time for the bill. Now this time I was all prepared, ready for the total in Euro, and then he wrote 950 on the page. Oh dear. Luckily I had been wrong again as he then converted this Croatian currency to €127. Not too bad at all really.
With that we were on the road again, and a full day of driving (around 8hrs) took us to Innsbruck. Back in one of our favourite places so far. Austria!