The good news, I am writing this sitting in the RV on the way to a campground from where we will visit Plitvice Lakes National Park. The bad news, it is late Tuesday afternoon. We had originally thought that we would arrive last Friday.
We started with problems I referenced in the last article, the car had a completely flat tire and the heat is awful. Actually if you live in western US or Canada you might consider this cool at the moment but I find 32°C (?°F) very uncomfortable. When we didn’t leave on Friday due to flat tires and time zone change laziness, we received permission to stay in Nautička Centar’s parking area for the weekend. I didn’t want to arrive in a major tourist area on a weekend and, as I mentioned previously, I was interested in seeing some of the larger cities in Croatia on a July weekend. On Saturday morning we tried to wash the dishes and couldn’t find any dishwashing items. There was no soap, no brushes, nothing. We finally figured out that we had put out some ant poison before we left and had put the dishwashing stuff away under the sink in a clean garbage bag. We think that in the dusk without electricity, I walked around the RV picking up the paper with the ant poison on it and dumped it all in the garbage without looking and then threw out the garbage. Awkward, but at least the items we were missing were all easily replaceable.
We toured a few towns on Saturday and Sunday. It was nice sitting having lunch in the waterfront cafés. The places right on the waters edge had a reasonable number of people but they were by no means as busy as you would expect on a July weekend in Croatia. Downtown Rijeka, Croatia’s third largest city, was almost deserted on Sunday which was very unexpected. Sunday evening was the European Cup that a lot of Europe would have been watching but I don’t think that it was the reason for the empty streets and cafés. I feel so sorry for all the tourist dependent businesses, which are the majority of the companies in Croatia. On a purely personal note, since I very much dislike crowds, touring in the summer might not be all bad if I can handle the heat.
Monday morning we packed everything up, attached the car and Mike walked around the RV with a hammer. He was testing the inflation of the RV tires by giving each one a whack with the hammer. One inside, rear tire failed his hammer test. Mike tried to inflate it himself but couldn’t get any air in at all. He then went to the office for the storage yard we were still in to get some help finding a local company to come and patch the tire. Luckily, although we were almost three hours from the major city in Croatia, we were within 30 minutes of a large city by Croatian standards. As you can imagine, there were quite a few problems with Mike speaking in English, an office worker trying to translate and a Croatian representative of the tire service company on the phone. At one point they wanted to know the size of the tires. Mike came back to the RV and not only wrote down the tire size but fortunately thought to take a picture of the tires. The man on the other end of the phone refused to believe the dimensions that Mike gave him, campers don’t get this large in Europe. He then asked Mike for a photo which Mike was able to instantly send him. He was already engaged on another job Monday but agreed to come Tuesday morning.
This left Monday afternoon free for touring the Island and enjoying a late lunch in the town of Krk. While we were eating Mike looked out at the tour boats called semi-submersibles, and decided that he wanted to try that. Again, you have to feel really bad for the operators. For $36 Cdn ($28 USD) total, we had a private 30 minute ride on the boat, including fuel, captain etc. There were no other tourists with us.
I discovered that working with inside tires on a motorhome is much more awkward that working with tires on a car. After removing the outside tire to get at the inside one, they then informed Mike that we had probably driven on the flat tire. After fixing the hole in the tire they inflated it to 2 Bar (30 psi) but noticed that the sidewall had “lumps”. It was clearly not safe to inflate the tire to 7 Bar (100 psi) so fixing the existing tire wasn’t a good long term solution. I was checking the internet while their head office called Michelin to try and find an equivalent tire that could be sent to Croatia quickly. This wasn’t working very well. In the end, they found some Russian made tires (Tyrex) that were a slightly different size but had the advantage of being nearby. The decision was made to take one of the front tires, move it to the back where it would match all the other rear tires and then buy two new tires that matched each other for the front. This went well until Mike decided that we should store the extra good front tire that we had removed and found out that it was two inches too wide to be able to get it through the RV locker doors. By this time the tire company personnel had left. Mike decided to try and strap the tire underneath the bottom of the RV. My 70 year old husband was lying under the RV trying to maneuver a huge, heavy tire over his head when someone from the marine storage yard came and offered some assistance. Nautička Centar has been excellent. They didn’t charge us anything for staying an extra 5 nights, using their electricity for air conditioning 24 hours a day, and using their water. Some of the time they had to do some fancy maneuvering with their boats on fork lift trucks because our vehicles were in the way. We gave the women who worked at the front very large chocolate bars and the gentleman who helped us today wouldn’t take money so he got a new Canadian baseball cap that we had just brought from home. Mike tells me that it is now time to change the oil on the RV which he has to do himself as no-one in Europe likes working on this vehicle.
As I am writing this, Mike has pulled over to the side of the highway because the GPS is telling him to go a way that he doesn’t think is right. I knew earlier that we weren’t going the shortest route, but sometimes our motorhome knowledgeable GPS changes the route because of our height or width. This time, it turns out that there are multiple places called Zelena Dolina and we have been heading towards the wrong one. This is life in an RV. Technology is great but it isn’t infallible.
Right now we are heading to a campground about an hour from Plitvice Lakes which I wanted to see again. Last time (spring 2018) when we were there the park was still largely closed. After the Lakes we are now debating on whether we head towards Germany or first go north to Czechia which we had to skip last year due to Covid. It is a good thing that we think forward planning is overrated.