Berlin to Georgia – Day 3: Italian Alps, Slovenia, Croatia

Gnu, our lovely Defender here, has a story of its own if I may say so. When we got him from the British RAF he was rather tattered and you could see outside in places where you really shouldn't be able to - which is to say that rust and other, possibly more sinister causes, had left their mark.

I will gladly tell you more about it in the coming posts, but what I wanted to write about now was the last-minute repair done to it: The transfer box had to be swapped for a lower ratio one because the military one wasn't geared to drive on highways. We decided to get this done in a car shop since time was running short. Sadly they used none of the seals provided with it, which resulted in the continuous loss of oil (when hot). Noticing this I bought some silicon and brake cleaner to go all bush mechanic on it.

So on this quite beautiful morning in the Alps this is exactly what I did: armed with toilet paper and brake cleaner I cleaned the box up real good and then covered the seams in a thick layer of universal silicon. I have to admit I was rather impressed with how well that actually turned out - except for the occasional drip of oil after a long day of driving.

Our Defender Called Wildebeest
Our Defender Called Wildebeest

The night had been chilly but fortunately for me, that was the only cold night in the coming weeks. We started the day with a walk up into the mountains, shortly after leaving the campsite we got acquainted with a herd of horses. They were very friendly and eager to come to us and let us pet them, their skin felt so silky – probably as a consequence of their diet of juicy green Alpine grass.

horses near Laghi di Fusine

The rest of the way up the hill (one of several trails) was OK but there were no views similar to the one you have of the mountains themselves standing at the lakes shore and one didn't have the benefit of being alone either.

Lake Predil – our next stop - lies some 30 min away from Fusine in the Italian Alps and it is actually the more 'hidden away' out of the two. It looked as though you may camp there as well – given that there aren't 30 people who come up with the same idea at the same time. The place is incredibly serene, there is even a restaurant on the northern shore which serves what can only be described as the worst ice-cream in all of Italy - don´t go spoil your memories of this awesome place :).

lake predil
Lake Predil

After Predil we crossed the border with Slovenia and drove through the Julian Alps this time taking a small country road. The surroundings encouraged us to go slower, although we didn´t stop at every of the many beautiful locations, we spontaneously stopped at the Boka waterfall.

The huge stones in the basin of the Boka river form a kind of small private bathing place, I could easily imagine spending the entire day there.
boka river
The Boka River
boka river
The Boka Waterfall

But not when you have to go to Georgia within 3 weeks! So out of the river we stepped, certainly refreshed and maybe shivering a little, but onwards we drove towards the south, to Croatia, passing numerous raft-laden vans. Some Land Rover Defenders we met on the road greeted us – yes this is a thing between Defender drivers - you may grow to like your quirky ride and somehow, before long, you feel sympathy for your fellow tractor drivers. The scenery became less overwhelming while we were heading south. Hungry, at the end of the day we were searching for a nice place to have supper but everything seemed just second best after the Julian Alps.

Strangely, there is a border crossing to Croatia at Rupa, fortunately, it didn´t take us long to get through. It was getting dark when we got to Opatje – the closest small town on the coast. In order to get set up for the night before the darkness and because we were curious

we checked out a campsite by the sea: ha, it was something like 30 EUR per night. A free parking lot by the camp's entrance offered itself as a way more appealing alternative.

That was our first acquaintance with, what we shall call, 'the caravan camping issue' of Croatia: Close to the noisy main road, trapped between oodles of caravans with their loud occupants, you are expected to pay a hefty sum for the dubious pleasure of parking there - instead of getting paid for this obvious kind of suffering :).

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