Tuesday, 16 April 2024
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik Mark Thomas

Exploring the Camper Nomad Life: A Journey Through Slovenia's Enchanting Landscapes

Written by  Nov 15, 2023

We’re on the road again! Is there anything so enjoyable, so fulfilling and so indeed so educational as travelling? As we bumped through a rain swept forest in the northwest corner of Slovenia in the Alps with its brilliant autumn colours I couldn’t think of a better place to be.

So my wife and I have tried hiking, covering around 1,500 KM on foot in England last year, this year it was time to cover the same distance but in a camper. This time it didn’t take us 63 days but 6! It was our pioneering trip in a camper, very much a test road trip to see if we (and I am including our dogs in that we) would enjoy being camper nomads.

We picked up our rental in Split and headed north. Having not driven such a large vehicle we took it slowly and spent the first night in the middle of the wilds of the Lika region in a campsite named Big Bear (the name says it all). Yes, we were the only ones in the site.

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We had a sharp learning curve. There is much more to camping in a van than I had imagined. This meant that the first night, in minus temperatures, we spent without heating! We awoke with ice all over the van and two dogs under the blankets with us, our two furry hot water bottles. “So how are you enjoying camping?” I asked my wife with a grin as our eyes peered over the blankets and our warm breath was like steam from a boiling kettle. She laughed. In fact, we did a lot of laughing, even when things went wrong.

So onto Slovenia, a country that I have driven through many times but never really stopped for a longer period of time. First impressions, well organised, very European and had the feeling of an Austrian colony. First problem, language. It sounded like someone from the Alps and the Balkans had fallen into a blender and come up with this strangely melodic language.

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“When does your tourist season end?” I asked a tourism worker in Lake Bled. “It doesn’t really ever stop,” he smiled. “And we don’t have to deal with the problem of cruise ships like you guys in Dubrovnik,” he added.

Yes, the major advantage of being located so close to millions of potential tourists who can hop in their car and drive for the weekend to the ski slopes, the forests and even the coast of Slovenia was apparent at every turn. Not having to rely on international airlines to fuel your tourism industry was clearly a massive boost. The lakes of Bled and Bohinj were both spectacular in their own ways.

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“Everything seems to be in its place, things work and I haven’t seen a building without a façade,” said my wife as we drove through a tiny village in the mountains. She was right. Comparing the outskirts of Split were we had started our journey and Slovenia was like comparing oil and water. It has a western European feel in more ways than one. On the flip side the vast majority of our contact with locals was, well let’s just say not over friendly. I’m not saying cold but just slightly reserved.

The National Park of Triglav is a gem and with the autumn colours looked like New England in the Alps. The clear advantage of being in a camper is freedom, that was by far our biggest conclusion. We stopped in six different places in six days. I am not sure if we were lucky but all of them were stunning in their own way. Having a toilet, shower, cooker, fridge and electricity and of course a bed on board means that you are completely independent. We didn’t really have a plan on where to go, but we were rather like a golden leaf in the autumn floating around wherever the wind took us.

Are we now hooked on camping? Well we would certainly go again. And having discovered Slovenia in detail we would absolutely visit our northern neighbours again. Remember that happiness is a way of travel — not a destination. And this way of travel clearly suits our nomadic souls.

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Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to

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About the author
Mark Thomas (aka Englez u Dubrovniku) is the editor of The Dubrovnik Times. He was born and educated in the UK and moved to live in Dubrovnik in 1998. He works across a whole range of media, from a daily radio show to TV and in print. Thomas is fluent in Croatian and this column is available in Croatia on the website – Dubrovnik Vjesnik

 

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