Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kiss The Rain

I'm writing this from Rijeka, a dodgy industrial town in Croatia. It's likely that today will bring us out of this country, through Slovenia and into Italy.

Short on Moldova (the rest of it):
Not really my kind of country, this. The differences between rich and poor are extreme, and apparently the country has a trafficking problem unlike no other nation in the world. The roads were actually surprisingly ok, and the monastery was scenically beautiful, but otherwise I'd not recommend one goes out of one's way to get there. We rented an apartment in Chisinau instead of finding a hotel, and this I must say was a very pleasant surprise. We used the rental agency suggested in the Lonely Planet guide - easy to find at the bottom of the hill where Beer House is situated.

Short on Romania:
For me, Romania was pretty much the purpose of this roadtrip. I've been fascinated with this country since I don't know when, and have been talking about making it the destination of a roadtrip for years. I am very happy to say it lived up to expectations. The trouble is, I'll have to go back! We stayed in Brasov four nights, with one night of camping on either side. Monasteries, castles, good food, mountains, crap roads, ice-cold rivers, sheep, rattle-snakes imitating birds, mist, Swiss vampire wannabe's, milk-carrying and -distributing monks, in general a beautiful country with lovely people.

Short on Serbia:
The Balkans were not really plan of my initial itinerary idea, but as I had no real preference after Romania it was as good a suggestion as any. I had little relationship with these countries up front, so it brought a couple of surprises. First of all, crossing over into Serbia from Romania was a piece of cake. The countryside in the east was a bit boring after the mountaneous regions of the previous country, but Belgrade was quite nice and I think it grew on Florentin. We spent one night there, and the following night in a national park close to the Bosnian border. Spine tingling views, and a bit scary roads at night. People follow the traffic rules in this country!

Short on Bosnia:
The border crossing from Serbia was almost like being in the EU again. Ok, they did stamp the passports, but otherwise there was very little ado about the whole thing. Bosnia was gorgeous. I never realized how montaneous it was, and Sarajevo certainly left me wanting more. We only had a couple of hours there, well spent in a small restaurant called Club To Be Or Not To Be where a one-man chef/waiter/cashier impressed me no end with his ability to juggle his guests, make dinner for all and still look like he was just having a totally normal day at work. Drivers here are almost en par with the Latvians. The majority drive reasonably well, but there's a lot of dodgy passings and it's quite exhausting to navigate the narrow roads circling around the mountains.

Short on Croatia (so far):
Border crossing? What? The lady laughed and looked like she was pretty amused by the antics of tourists when we kindly asked her to stamp our passports. Croatian roads are pretty much like the Bosnian ones - meaning very few potholes but very winding and lacking of straight stretches. The ocean is _beautiful_. Most of you will know I have an affinity for the ocean along Norway's coast line, but I could be willing to throw Croatia into the competition. Waters are sparkling clear, and the water is cold enough to really cool you down even though the temperature ranges in the higher thirties still. There are, however, tourists _everywhere_! Having been spoilt with the solitude it gives to drop off the beaten track, this was not a welcome return to the Western world of money spending sun worshipers. They also create havoc on the roads, as the mix of different driving styles is nothing short of a health hazard.

Temperatues have been between 30 and 40 pretty much for three weeks straight now. Norwegians like me are not built for this kind of heat, so it was very nice to finally cool down a bit in the ocean. I'll probably blog a little bit again from Switzerland. Catch you on the flipside!

"Kiss the rain and wait for the dawn."
Billie Myers - Kiss The Rain (Growing, Pains, 1997)


Tiia said...

sounds great, thanks for the travel update! :) Slovenia is on my must-visit-again-list.. really liked it there! Have the funnies! / Tiia

ida said...

Kroatia var nydelig, men fjordene i Montenegro var fantastiske! Vet ikke hvor du er på vei, men anbefaler virkelig en dagstur i fjellet rundt Kotor:

ida said...


Nå ser jeg jo hvor du er på vei :p

C said...

We only spent a very short while in Slovenia, it was just kind of in the way between Croatia and Italy. Maybe I should go back and do it properly the next time :)