Wild Camping in Eastern Europe Day 17:
What a brilliant night sleeping at the base of medieval castle ruins in a tiny hidden town. Again, the night was ours! So nice to be on a path of our own. We cooked up some breakfast by the lake and explored the ruins a bit more, before heading off down the coast again. We all had thoughts of Kings Landing in our heads. We had scored another perfect sunny day and the blue skies made the famed Croatian coastline come alive. Every corner offered beautiful little beach towns, that we happily explored. We found mostly vacated (summer homes), which gave us so many great spots to camp for the night. We stopped and spent a bit of the afternoon swimming (showering) and lunching, at an impressive beach along the way.
I had not really looked at a map, so I was fully unprepared when we suddenly found ourselves crossing the border into Bosnia! The idea of Bosnia thrilled us and we all very much wanted to explore it and add the country to our list of overnight stops. But, I realized that our insurance did not cover us here and the risk just wasn’t worth it this time. It was only a 15-minute corridor that dissected Croatia, but I held my breath through that whole section. For once I was glad that a new adventure did not present itself.
Shortly after surviving our brush with Bosnia, we arrived in Dubrovnik. I can’t say enough, except I don’t think I’ve ever seen a castle city to match its splendor. It has gained recent fame for being a filming location of ‘Game of Thrones’ as the city of ‘Kings Landing’. This gave it a whole new aura. I just couldn’t believe our luck with the weather! A weeklong rain forecast suddenly broke just as we arrived to a destination, which we had just spent a 3 day detour to reach. It was well worth the time and petrol and we all spent the rest of the afternoon there. The city was beautiful, the waters so inviting, and the nightlife looking top notch. I was already planning to stay here for a few nights. We had to find a place for the evening. After a few days without showers, I felt it was time to find a proper place to stay.
Day 18: Dubrovnik
Our most epic of days! Kings Landing, hidden beaches, big troubles in Bosnia, afternoon swims, stunning mountain drives, and sleeping beach-side again. We woke up in Dubrovnik. There was only one very generic industrial campsite in the area. Good fun, but not good for photographs and very expensive. The showers were nice though. As much as I wanted to stay and live in this city another day, we had to move on to more suitable photo sites. We headed to the mountains looking for a vantage point over the city of “Kings Landing” and found some great roads that offered us just that. We spent the morning in awe just lost in the sight of the city down below. Finally we forced ourselves to move on and headed back north?
We were all excited about the Bosnia experience again and some of us came up with some very creative ideas of how to spend that 20 minutes in Bosnia. Unfortunately, we got sweated by the imposing border security force and were detained for quite a while as they searched our car for the drugs they knew were there. It got pretty real when their detectors started going off. I did not want to end up in a Bosnian jail, at least not when we had to finish up this shoot. Otherwise, it would have been an interesting experience. They sweated us for quite a while, and made various threats before finally letting us go. We left Bosnia in the dust and kept heading north, always keeping an eye out for a good place to stay the night. We found a quaint beach town and stopped for tea and another swim, but there was no place to leave the van to camp and on we went.
We headed on and ended up on the other side of the coastal mountain range. We continued to wander trying to make our way back over the mountain pass and to the beach. I just wanted to sleep and wake up on one of these Croatian beaches again. It was a stunning drive through the mountain pass in the late afternoon sun. We summited to find ourselves with incredible views, despite being on a road that made me close my eyes around every turn. When sunset descended we pulled over to some of the most stunning views over the coastline that I had yet to seen. It was quiet on this road so we pulled out the speakers and the beers and threw a booming dance party right there on the mountainside making sure to avoid the occasional Ducati thundering around the corners. I think the people in the towns below must have heard Skrillex echoing down the cliffs. Tempted to sleep on the cliff, we opted to move on down the mountain to a safer location near the beach. It was pretty late when we finally reached the coastline and after wandering around a while, we found a secret little hidden spot right on the water. We parked the vans and headed down to the water to reflect on this incredible day of surprises.
What a day that was yesterday. We arrived at our secret little beach spot last night so late we really were not able to see how beautiful the coast actually was until this morning. After a night hanging on the beach, we spent the morning swimming before heading off. The stormy weather was coming at us again so our day again turned into a road day and we put in some serious K’s heading back north. We ended up in Ljubljana, Slovenia. We found this town to be a place that we wanted to check out the nightlife (and we were fed up with driving), so we parked up, hit the town, and spent the night in a shady little parking lot. Not so scenic but certainly central.
Day 20: Ljubljana, Slovenia
We woke up wondering where we were…oh right, in a Slovenian parking lot in the center of Ljubljana. Found some hip bars in town last night and crashed in the city center. It was an early morning and we were off to our destination; to see the Church on the Lake in Bled. It was a short but scenic drive and the lake was nothing short of picture perfect. It was no doubt touristy though. Photo opportunities eluded me at every bend of this iconic spot, frustrating me to no end. We slightly bent a few laws to get a few vehicle shots….and for the rest of the day there was nothing left to do but……
Day 21: Going to Austria
Sad day today as we lost two of the team. It was homeward bound for the Aussie and Canadian. Things got a little strange on our last night, but it was time to pack up and move on. We had a team brekkie, reminisced about our trip this far, and tried once again to talk them into changing their flights again. But, it was finally time to head into the Alps and see some snow! We headed into Austria in search of one of the most famous driving roads in all of Europe, the Grossglockner.
The pass takes you through 36 hairpin turns and over one of the highest points in the Alps. The drive is nothing short of spectacular. The cliffs make drivers weak in the knees, as they navigate the steep turns. We contemplated staying on the pass overnight in the sub-zero conditions to get another crack at the road in the am. Instead we headed back down into the valley, found a nice little pub and spent the night there instead, hoping for a sunny day the next morning.
We woke up to another brilliant morning! Last night we had a most incredible dinner at the local pub (spoiled ourselves a bit after a long day), and closed the restaurant down before retiring for the night. It certainly was the picture perfect morning that I had been hoping for. We spent a lazy morning having tea and taking in our surroundings.
I was so tempted to backtrack and drive the Grossglockner again, but it really wasn’t cheap and I would have stayed all day there. It was also very crowded this morning and I realized how nice it was to have the whole pass almost to ourselves on the late afternoon, overcast day yesterday. So instead, we headed west. We traversed much of Austria today. We had no real aim, but were slowly wandering back towards London and we thought we ought to check out some Switzerland. Heading out that way, I noticed a city called Innsbruck.
I had previously shot a snowboarding event in Los Angeles that had also stopped in this city, so I was curious. Plus one of the team had a friend in the city, we thought we might ring up. Again, Innsbruck turned out to be a wonderful surprise. Great architecture, a very youthful exciting vibe, and it was set surrounded by stunning mountains. We decided to call it a night here, explore the city tonight, and tackle the Swiss Alps early tomorrow.
His portfolio can be found at www.mwrightgallery.com
As photography for top tier magazines, television, and film production companies in the world, Micah has traveled extensively through 50+ countries with an eye for tourism trends.
Micah’s impact on the photography world can be seen in over numerous Lonely Planet guidebooks from the past 12 years. Micah’s work is represented by companies such as Getty Images, Lonely Planet, Corbis, Firstlight, and a variety of other libraries.
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