2018-12-28 Day 108 Fri

A nice warm morning so did a few jobs outside. Also there was a wall we could stand on and do a few roof jobs. Re-stuck the rubber seal on the back right hand corner of roof. Sprayed the section where the rubber seals with silicon to stop it freezing onto the rubber.
We then continued on to Predjama castle which is a cave castle and was really quite fascinating. Still in habitable condition. But would be terribly cold
 It was hard to distinguish between the natural walls and the man made. Except the man natural had moss  growing on it. The natural rock had drains channeled in to bring water from the cave down to the lower levels.


When we left we detoured down a dirt road to a well. There was a guy there who, with waves, indicated we could not go one. I just said we are here for water so he opened the gate and told us to get drinking water from inside not outside. John told him about our trip, a happy farmer. We were able to fill EC some by hose and some by container. A great spot.

Then a long drive to the Adriatic sea and Pirano - which is an old town and fort. We parked to the south and had a 2km walk along the foreshore to the old town. Had a look at the church which again was quite mind boggling and walked around the point. By this time it was 15:30 and we were going to be camping in the dark so we had a quick bite to eat and walked back to the car. 
We were 20km from the Italian border and 7km from the Croatian border crossing. John drove to the Croatia crossing and I did the paperwork. It was now after 16:00 on a Friday night but we had the fastest crossing ever - no cars in front.

Our first cat hostel. We did not realize till we looked at the photo that there was a kitty inside.

As we drove up the hill it got foggy so now we were looking for a camp in the dark and fog. Found one off to the side of a side road. Just got level and there was a call. John went to chat to the guy who lived in the house just up hill from us. All OK.
However, not long after we’d got to sleep a car stopped shined their lights on us then left …. back to sleep. Then another car stopped and called out. John got up and dressed and went out. Police. 
A local had called us in. One of teh police had good English and ended up joking with John so all good. Checked our passports and wanted to know why we are camped within 1km of border.Johns reply: "Lovely view".


2018-12-27 Day 107 Thu

An earlyish start as the web site says that if there is a tour of the mine it is at 10am and 3pm. So shortly after 08:00 we were on our way. 
Interesting terrain with lots of “sink” holes everywhere. We understand it is the type of terrain Karst which is limestone and has lots of caves. This is the area that the name Karst came from.
A white road then a skinny white road (dirt) but a good road. Made good time and were descending the 10 switch backs into Idrija just after 9am. We find a park and bought tickets for the tour, just two men with two kids and us. A short movie as introduction then into the mine. The second oldest usable shaft in Europe. 

The mine closed in 1995 and in the preceding 500 years 12,800,000 tons of ore were extracted yielding 145,700 tons of Mercury. In that time they supplied 13% of the worlds usage of ore. Over 700km of mine shafts were dug. Once a pocket of ore was mined in levels from the bottom it was back filled so the town situated above would not have subsidence issues.
A quick lunch in a nice restaurant better food here with Italian influence. Next to the smelter area across town. Another information packed tour. One thing of note, It was common for miners to die before 30 years old so lots of widows. When a new person took the place of a deceased miner he also lodged with the widow and was responsible for her and her children And often led to more children. It was not unusual for a female to have 3 husbands. An interesting idea.

A yellow road then onto a white road shortcut to hope fully find a camp. Stopping by an old Church in a lovely cleared area for the night. A few people walked passed us on their returns from day walks.

It is common here that logs are dragged out of the bush onto the road side. These were only small but we got an idea of how they do it. 


2018-12-26 Day 106 Wed

We drove some great white roads both sealed and unsealed; great mountains with occasional snow covering the road. Drove past two separate ski slopes with skiers. The first had 3 bus loads of little kids out for a ski.

At the Partisan hospital we had a walk along the track to the locked gate and gorge. Would certainly be difficult carrying a stretcher with no path to follow and at night….
Had a coffee at the little cafe and headed towards Tolmin then south along the Green Soca river to Solkan and the longest span brick rail bridge. By now we had 2 hours of daylight so headed East to a gorge that looked interesting on the map. No river at it’s base but was covered in sink holes of various sizes. Very interesting terrain.
We are kinda of heading towards Idrija and the worlds second largest Mercury mine of 500 years. 
We were going via small white roads and found a side track to camp. Another car was here probably a hunter.

The hunter came by on dusk and with no language indicated that we should not stay here because of police. I guess we’ll move on if they come out here and move us on.


2018-12-25 Day 105 Tue

Christmas Day, pancakes for breakfast with a glass or two of sparkling….then we needed to move on and find a nice place to stay for the day and night.

We filled with fuel and gave EC a wash. Nice too have her clean. A car pulled up and the lady asked if we and the car were from Victoria, and if she could take a photo as her cousin lives in Wangaratta Victoria …... small world.

Across the valley floor and up the hill on the southern side. Found a magnificent place where they’d been harvesting pines. A nice flat area with a view down over the valley.


The camp oven got a scrub and put on the stove with a pork loin in it. For a late lunch. Had some nibbles and awaited lunch. Roast pork parsnip, spuds with green beans and apple-sauce.

Oh and a Moldovian Red wine of 31 years to top it off.

Yogurt with berries for dinner/dessert.

A very nice lunch and relaxing day.


2018-12-24 Day 104 Mon

Spoke to the family for Christmas Eve. John Yeo joined in for a short time from Canada.
We moved on trying to get to Bled lake for the night. A beautiful drive in the mountains up near the Austrian border. Lots of tourist signs (in english) and viewing points, but no tourists.

Came across a friendly dragon so had to walk up the neat steps and say hello.

Stopped for lunch at this peaceful church.Just warm enough to sit out side and enjoy the wine given by the Webasto guys.
Arrived at Bled lake on dusk and got some photos of island and castle but was a very touristy place. Decided to head for the next lake, wrongly thinking it would be less inhabited.
No, all the car parks (paid) and signs of no motorhomes….as well as having security camera’s and lights. Surely in off-season it’d be OK? But we decided not to risk it, so drove around in the dark for a while. At least at Bled you could pay to stay in the car park over night.

In our confusion escaping the village in the dark, we took a wrong turn up a narrow street, and got a teeny bit stuck under someones wooden balcony for only an un-witnessed moment.

Finally scurried up out of the town and found a spot, wedged into a hairpin on a steep narrow little road. More traffic than expected went past in the night.


2018-12-23 Day 103 Sun

John is feeling a little better today but broke the shovel handle for the second time. First time in Chile…. It is getting to be spade length.
I navigated while John drove. We headed north to Maribor and the oldest fruit bearing grape vine said to be about 400 years old. An easy drive and found a park close by. Had a look at the vine and a wander around the museum. Next a coffee at one place and food next door. Had a burger kinda beef patty with cheese in flat bread. I ordered half John a whole. Far too big. It is a shame that often times we eat out we leave feeling disappointed in the food.
I drove and John navigated us north and West just south of Austria’s border. 

Through the mountains following a narrow valley and a much damned Drava river with hydro electricity on it. John took me on a very narrow road which was even dirt for a section. I was just glad no one was coming the other way as there were very few passing places. Was only for about 10km.
In time, John realized we needed internet first thing in the morning to call family on Christmas eve so we stopped on the outskirts of a small hamlet called Krna na Koroskem.


2018-12-22 Day 102 Sat

John walked off around the lake to get a good camp shot. I stayed at my computer trying to get some more blogs ready for John to post.  On his return he showed me a photo of ice that has collected in the corner of the lake. The lake tried to freeze and then the wind picked up and the ripple broke the ice and it was stacked up in the corner. Looks just like a wave frozen in time.
John was still feeling under the weather so I drove. Up a red road 130km/h limit not quite for us. It is a pay road so we collected the entry ticket and when we exited 25km on it cost us 2.20. John navigated us through some small villages on yellow and orange roads.
The border crossing at Dobovoc pri Rogatcu was easy and fast. John got out and handled it all. However there was 1.2km of cars lined up trying to get into Croatia. Glad we were not going the other way.
In Slovenia at last. The northern most we will be for a while. Heading south now. But first a drive to Ptuj to see a castle. 
We noticed the farms and houses very neat and orderly. A difference from Croatia. Back in Shengan territory so our days are counting down again. 
The museum was partly in the castle and partly in the stables. A display of local customs and masks and one of ancient jewellery was housed in the stables.

The castle which was lived in by a count and his wife and a few staff until the1950’s had some original furniture and some old tapestries (17th century) . The fire places were very elaborate looking and fed from the verandah, so no mess inside and the inhabitants were not disturbed. Great idea.

The time had flown and it was now camp time. We followed a track and ended camping in a paddock beside the raised levee bank of the Drave river/dam. Although we found one gate to the top of the levee open and went up there, we chickened out. Didn’t want to be moved on on our first night in a new country.
Full moon and plane


2018-12-21 Day 101 Fri

We were up at 5:30; at least john was up making my tea. He was not well, and EVEN didn’t eat….. He lay on the bed while I packed up. We were supposed to be at Mercedes at 7am but were a few minutes late. Glad we only had a ten minute drive even by the tourist route. Johns navigation was a bit addled with his cold.
Handed our keys over and sat in the waiting area till 1300hrs when I then went and made some lunch which we ate upstairs in the lunch room. Here we could plug our computers in. 
It was interesting to see the guy re-groove the tires with a hot wire; a physically demanding job. With discount the re-grooving of 4 tires cost us A$500 They will see us to Turkey and maybe through Iran depending on when our new set arrive from Australia.

The handbrake shoe parts turned out to be incompatible; so ours were sent off to be shod, which held us up a few more hours. However at 16:00 the PR guy came and got some photos of us beside EC by the Fuso bay. EC then went back on the hoist for final adjustments.
Just on dusk she was handed over with another big bill. But at least we now had 4 new shock absorbers, tires with tread, and a handbrake. We had asked the guys about camping at a lake and they said not a problem so we headed there for the night, just 10kms north, Not exactly quiet, as the city’s hum could be heard, but a pretty spot for a city camp.


2018-12-20 Day 100 Thu

Drove down the hill and then across the hill to Webasto. I did instruct John to take the direct route and it was a very narrow road with at one point a very sharp narrow corner, we did make it with out leaving any other marks on the houses wall!
The wall to the main Zagreb Cemetery.

The Webasto service guys were friendly but did not have the parts to enable reassembly. We took it out and they put acid in it to de-scale a little until we can get somewhere that has quick access to parts. Christmas period does not help.
Drove back in the direction we came from this morning albeit on a wider road to  a hospital for our second Tic encephalitis jab. Walked in; Dr asked what we wanted; handed a bill; showed us the cashier we paid went back to his room; where he was poised with needle. John then I were jabbed and we left. Less than ten minutes.
Took a slow road through the middle of Zagreb to find a camp near the Sava River just north of Mercedes. We camped on this river on the 16th, near the fort.


2018-12-19 Day 99 Wed

John changed the back right tyre as it has a spit in the side wall and doesn’t look very safe. Checked out of hotel and we drove around to the other side of mount Sljeme.

We passed this church atop a huge graveyard...

Then up on top, this is the local ski hill and will be holding  a slalom race next week. we stopped at a lookout which was a nice camp overlooking Zagreb. Once again could not use our slippery leveling blocks. Two different cars stopped for a chat. It was not such a quiet camp a a lot of city gazers came and stopped beside us during the night.


2018-12-18 Day 98 Tue

We had been told the vehicle would be ready by 7pm so John booked another night in the hotel. That suited me well as I have been feeling a bit down with a cold.

Sajed came and picked us up about 2:45, I paid for the service, a big and expensive one. Sajed took us up to the PR Guy who asked some questions about us and our travels. We had a relaxed talk as we were not hurrying off to find a camp.

Drove EC back to the hotel around dusk and parked out front. A slow drink and dinner in the restaurant then another early night.


2018-12-17 Day 97 Mon

As John was driving us the 60km to Zagreb I rang Webasto to say we’d drop in this afternoon as we did not know what was happening with the Fuso service. I then rang Mercedes and after 4 forwardings I spoke to the service manager Sajed who said still didn’t know abount parts but come on in. We got on the red road which was a two lane divided road with 3 cars on it. John cleaned out the injectors as he hurtled up the freeway.
Spent the first few hours sorting parts. John showed ours and they found corresponding parts. The problem being we have a Japanese built vehicle (not European)  and part numbers are different. All of the parts were found except for the park-brake shoes. Sajed told us it would not be finished till tomorrow 11am so he booked us into a nearby hotel and one of the guys drove us there.
I sent Webasto an apology and said tomorrow….
We took a taxi into town as they have a great December festival - supposedly the best in Europe. We wandered the streets with all manner of specialist "stalls"  from bow ties to Christmas decoration, food and drink, lots of different sausage in bun combinations and hot wine and or non alchohlic punch.  The trees were all decorated in fairy light and with the cold it all seemed wonderful. The 3 parks were the main areas with the last being turned into a skating rink! We wondered up to the Zagred Cathedral which was pretty amazing.