Monday, 30 July 2007

Happy Birthday Kathryn!

Catkin’s last post saw us back in Austria. Our main reason for going to Vienna was to collect our all important Insurance Green Card for Romania, which luckily had duly arrived via Post Restante (thanks to Bob and Sue). We also used the opportunity to stock up on guidebooks for Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and buy a map of Northern Africa, so hopefully we are now fully prepared for the months ahead. We spent a great evening in the city eating and drinking (as you do in European cities), ending up on the Danube in a cheap student bar where you had to pay a deposit for a glass (I felt old, especially when I noticed everyone there was just drinking straight from the bottle…why didn't I think of that?). We even managed to find our way back to the campsite on the U-Bahn.

Catkin with a precious glass

The following day we headed south-west for Slovenia, crossing the border via the Seeberg Sattel pass on Friday evening. Descending into the Slovenian countryside, our main aim was to find a campsite, and after at one point mistakenly ending up in a farmer’s driveway, we finally found ourselves in the largest camping ground in the country, near Bled. Bled is situated on a lake and the scenery is amazing. We hired a row-boat for an hour and went over to the church on the small island in the lake, as well as going for a quick swim , as it was HOT! The lake was just like a huge swimming pool. Later in the day we spent a couple of hours in Ljubljiana, and were treated to an impromptu performance by a German/Scottish pipes and drums band in the main square.

Bled Castle in the background

Further south-west we visited Skocjan Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (thanks for the tip Marcus). This is a massive series of underground caverns formed by the river Reka, and the network of stairs and bridges made it feel like being in the Mines of Moria in a scene from The Lord of the Rings. The caves and the town museums were excellent.

Entrance to Skocjan Caves

Slovenia has been a big surprise for us. It’s small, but is clean, friendly and absolutely stunning.

Now we’re in Croatia, and I’m sitting in a pleasant campsite looking out at the full moon shining over the warm and salty Adriatic Sea. We have just finished a delicious dinner of corn-on-the-cob followed by stuffed peppers, lovingly prepared in Catkin’s camp kitchen, and polished off a very nice bottle of white wine from Austria. It’s just gone 11pm and it’s still 26ºC up in the tent!

And finally, Big Happy Birthday wishes from both of us today to Kathryn (my sister)!