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Croatia and Lake Bled


Mariakerk op eiland meer van Bled
Lake Bled

We have been on holiday in Croatia a few times before, but now we only use the country for transit to Slovenia. If possible, we drive 'inside' or not on the highway. But that also means that we don't make a lot of kilometres in a day. That's why Croatia is a nice stopover, on our way to Lake Bled. That is a well-known area in Slovenia. Rudolf really wants to see it and normally we drive past it alone. Now we are going to visit camping Bled, have reserved because that is certainly necessary there.


Bosnia out

On Sunday we drive out of Bosnia and cross the border to Croatia. It is the first border where we are controlled a little more extensively. Maybe it's because I said we had nothing to say but only had a dog with us. On the other hand, we saw more cars being checked in front of us. Rather be open than suddenly see it and then continue looking.


controle bij de grens hond
Misty gets checked with her chip at the border

So Misty's chip was checked. Tailgate car open, suddenly two men in uniform stood there who tried to examine her with a device. They are completely shaking, what a fusss is that. She did a great job, no barking, no growling, she made it happen. Then I gave a cookie to the customs man so he could give it to her. After that it was totally fine. Customs also wanted to take a look in the caravan. I open the door, I specially put down the stairs, I didn't have to. He just looked around the corner for a moment, saw the plants that were plastic and that was good. Not knowing that I had 'real' plants under the table. I bought them in Greece and still do well. It was totally fine, he thanked me and we were allowed to drive on. All in all a nice experience.


Croatia in

We thought there was another check to enter Croatia, but this was it. We were in Croatia. Looking for the campsite where we also went in 2014. Of course we found him. Camping Borje, just south of the Plitvice lakes. A spacious campsite that is widely used by people who want to visit the Plitvice lakes. We're not going to do that this time. For those who are going to do it sometime, the park will open at 7 a.m. Take advantage of that and make sure you get there early, because it can be very busy there. There was also a lot of fighting in this part of the Balkans during the Balkan war. Along the Bosnian border you will see several houses with bullet holes, or houses that have/are being rebuilt. At Plitvice you don't see any of it anymore, everything has been restored there, but if you go a little further away from the lakes, it is clearly visible.

Vliegtuig Douglas c-47 Dakota bij Zeljavan Airbase
Dakota at Zelyava airport

So we don't go to Plitvice, but we do go to Zeljava Air Base. If you are driving from Croatia to Bosnia, you can turn right just before the border to Zeljave. Behind the village is the largest underground airport of communism (of Yugoslavia). Built in the mountains from 1957 to 1970 and used until 1992. There are no road signs, but when you see the old Douglas C-47 Dakota you know you're close to it. I don't know the story of this plane, but the bullet holes are still clearly visible. You can climb in and the plane is full of stickers. It is special to see such a plane up close. Rudolf has walked / climbed all the way to the cockpit, because there is no longer a real floor in it. I just took a short look inside and took pictures. I didn't like the whole climb.


Dakota c-47 Douglas van binnen
Plane inside

If you continue driving you will arrive at a fantastically special abandoned place. A mega large runway, various entrances to the tunnels and corridor system and several dilapidated buildings. The largest tunnel is a spectacular place, you can even drive in by car. Whatever Rudolf does 😊. Inside you need mega strong flashlights to see something. An I-phone light is not enough. The special thing is if you make a video recording with your I-phone, it is easy to see what you have in front of you. Good shoes are also highly recommended. It can be wet and slippery, there are stones and grit on the ground. Fortunately, I was wearing my mountain boots.

Underground Zelyava Airport in Croatia

The airport accommodated 80 major MIG aircraft and was destroyed in 1992 at the start of the Balkan war. If you want to go further in you seem to be able to hire a local guide, we have read about this in the reviews on google. Perhaps a helmet is useful, in a side-tunnel the steel wires and pieces of concrete hung down well and there were large pieces of concrete on the ground. Of course, it remains an Urbex location, so it's never completely safe.


Airbase Zeljava tunnel
Tunnel at the airport

Just to be on the safe side, we turned off our 'roaming' of the mobile. The airport is located on the Bosnian border and before you know it it will switch to a Bosnian provider. That can be quite expensive. There is also a large sign of the European Union, the area is being mine-freed with money from the European Union. Especially the areas on which there is no asphalt, so the forests, the meadows may not be safe and that is now being tackled and made safe.


Karlovac

After two nights at camping Borje we drive along the Croatian-Bosnian border we drive up to Karlovac. Camping Slapic is the next place. What a lovely campsite! Lots of space, big places, new sanitary facilities, a restaurant, a swimming pool, turning a laundry costs only €4,-. Highly recommended if you are in Croatia. Along the way we see a lot of greenery, the road winds north. Near Karlovac we see that there has also been a lot of fighting here. If you look at the geographic map, that's not surprising either. The piece of land of Croatia near Karlovac is a narrow stretch between Bosnia and Slovenia. If the Serbs could have taken the city, they could also have separated the capital Zagreb from the rest of the country from the east from this side.


Lake Bled from above

Lake Bled

Lake Bled has always wanted to see Lake Bled. When we drive to Croatia, we drive on the highway along it and now we take the time to stop there. It is located just across the border of Slovenia under Austria. 'Just' through the Karawanken tunnel and you're there, I write 'just' because often there are traffic jams at the tunnel, especially in the summer. Is the lake really that beautiful? Yes it's really so beautiful. Clear water, beautiful blue in colour and then the church in the middle of the lake on an island. On the islet is the Maria Ascension Church from the 9th century. Many people let themselves be rowed in a covered gondola to the island and are allowed to look around for 45 minutes. We look at it from above. Yes, yes, Rudolf has thought that we are going to take a short hike. Up the hill from which you have a nice view over the lake and the campsite. I have to bring my walking sticks, he says. Oops! Then I also put on my mountain boots.

View from end point walk

How glad I was that I did. Although there are also people just walking on gypmies, there are a lot of rocks and stones on the path. You don't notice it that way yet, but downhill you notice that they are big trips. The last stretch is a sizeable climb up a narrow rock path. Reward is a beautiful view over the lake and the campsite. We're not alone, but it doesn't matter. It wasn't easy for me to take this short 45-minute hike and climb, but I did succeed. It's hard that I compare myself to others, but a wise person said 'you have to compare yourself' 😊. Misty is also up. On the way there it goes very well, a little less on the way back. She's done with it. She occasionally lies down, or grabs a stick and then lies down. Fortunately, we have a lot of water for her, but despite that it may still be a bit too much climbing for a Great Dane. Back at the campsite, all three of us have a delicious siesta.

Lake Bohinj

Lake Bohinj

A day later we drive to Lake Bohinj. Actually at Lake Bled, straight ahead inland. This route is also beautiful for driving, or cycling although there are no cycle paths. Lake Bohinj is perhaps even more beautiful than that of Bled. The water is even clearer, the environment is completely green, there is a walking path around it that is much quieter than with Bled and it is less touristy than with Bled. We sit quietly on a bench enjoying the view, what a tranquillity! Misty loves to grab some sticks from the water, later we read that dogs are not allowed into the water. Oh well, what doesn't know, what doesn't matter. After a nice walk in this beautiful area we drive back. Just do some shopping and then relax at the campsite.


Lake Bled

A lot of people walk around Lake Bled. A large walking path has been laid out and there are several stops, restaurants, sunbathing areas along the way. Because Bled is so busy, a lot of people walk this lap. We are going to cycle him. It's only 8 kilometres, but due to the crowds you can't cycle so fast. Officially it is only a hiking trail, but cyclists are tolerated. It remains a beautiful lake and a beautiful environment. On the other side of the lake is the former residence of Tito (the president of Yugoslavia during communism). It is now a luxury hotel. Rudolf would like to have a cup of coffee on the terrace. You do indeed have a beautiful view and it is wonderfully quiet. We notice even more how quiet it is when we later sit on the terrace by the lake near the campsite. Loud music, terrace completely full, what a crowd what a crowd.



Camping Bled

We were at camping Bled a large campsite located directly on the lake. Although no place has a direct view of the lake. The plumbing is good and I loved the shower. For me one of the best showers this trip. We had a standard place, but that already cost €50 per night. You won't find much cheaper in the area. All campsites dare to ask for top prices. Reservation is a must otherwise you can't go there. In the meantime, we have already driven a little further into Slovenia, on our way to our next destinations. Via a detour we will drive towards the Netherlands, where we will stay for a month in August. A number of things need to be arranged regarding maintenance of the car and caravan. And we also want to see the family again. There is also an 8 months trip – 4 months home scheme from the Dutch government, so we also take that into account. For now, a few more beautiful destinations in prospect. Warm regards from Maribor Slovenia.


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