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On Wednesday 4 August we left Lake Bled drove south east on A2/E21 towards Ljubljana and then took the A1 south west before turning south onto Route 6. Route 6 was a single lane highway and although of reasonable quality made for much slower driving than the previous motorways.
We crossed the border into Croatia at Rupa in the early afternoon. At the Croatian frontier post we had the novel experience of having our Passports checked for the first time since leaving the UK. As it was, also, a non-EU country we, also, had our Passports stamped for the first time. Interestingly they did not check Max the collie's Pet Passport.
Soon after crossing the frontier we joined the A6/E65 part of Croatia's very new toll motorway system. After running near to the coast for a few miles the motorway swung away from the coast and we drove along it westward. We then turned south onto the A1. This good quality motorway is set back from the coast behind a range of mountains and the surrounding countryside was rather dry and arid in appearance. The traffic flow on the motorway was very light.
From our reading of "Alan Rogers" we had initially planned to stay at Camping Adriatic at Sibenik, north of Split. With this is mind we left the motorway and took a minor road which joined the E65 coast road just north of Sibenik. We had phoned ahead and parked outside the campsite to check it out. We had been assured that there were several large pitches available when we had phoned whilst travelling but on investigation could not find any! In addition we found the site rather dry and dusty and though on the coast it had no obvious beach access to the sea.
Unhappy with Camping Adriatic, although it was by then late afternoon, we decided to push on to our second choice, Camp Galeb in Omis, approximately 20 miles south of Split. To reach Omis we continued to drive the last 30 miles on the coast road. The coast was rather twisty and congested as it passes through a succession of coastal towns but had views-to-die-for over the coast and adjacent islands. We, also, drove through the outskirts of Split but found this area rather ugly and utilitarian with lots of tall blocks of flats.
Camp Galeb is on the northern outskirts of the coastal town of Omis which is about 15 miles south of Split.
Camp Galeb is very pleasant as it is right on the beach. We had not pre-booked and just phoned ahead on the evening of our arrival. We arrived at dusk the first night and ended up, still hitched, in the large area of unmarked pitches. The next morning we found a pitch 2 rows back from the beach and after a few days moved again to a pitch one row back from the beach which had lovely views across the sea to the island opposite.
Camp Galeb is split up into 3 main areas. There is an unmarked area for free camping which is the cheapest. In addition there are 2 other areas with different price bands depending on their nearness to the beach. There is, also, a large area of static 'vans. Most of the pitches have water and electricity and the most expensive ones grey water drainage, too. The pitches varied in size but a number of them were large. Many were shaded by mature trees. Access to some of the pitches was made a little difficult by trees and awkwardly positioned lamp standards! The pitches were accessed by a network of surfaced roads.
The large, modern, reception area is very pleasantly air-conditioned and most of the staff there spoke fluent English. Reception offered a number of coach and boat day trips. There is, also, a computer area with internet access but prices were high, especially for short periods.
There are several toilet blocks but we cannot comment on these as we used our own facilities. There is a coin-operated laundry with washing machines and tumble driers although, rather unusually, one had to be admitted by a member of the reception staff.
Camp Galeb has a number of small shops near to reception selling bread, fruit and beach goods. There is a block of locker-type fridges which could be hired. Near the beach there is an area of trampolines for children for an additional cost. A surfing "centre" offering surfboards, windsurfers, etc for hire and, also, lessons, is situated next to the beach.
Close to the beach there is a good onsite restaurant with both indoor and outdoor dining areas. The restaurant is very reasonably priced - a 2 course steak "birthday" evening meal, with drinks, cost less than £50 for 4 of us.
It was very hot during our stay, 32+C, and we spent our time swimming and lazing about reading. The campsite has an unusually large beach, quite a rarity in Croatia, of coarse sand which I think was probably, at least in part, man-made - we wore nylon beach shoes when swimming there to protect our feet. The beach has a very gradual slope into the sea and so is very safe for children. In addition the sea off the main beach is delineated by a rope with floats. We, also, used our Zodiac inflatable boat on the sea adjacent to the campsite although there are quite strong currents further out. There is an area of sea adjacent to the campsite where boats can be anchored free of charge.
Wi-fi internet coverage is available but pricey at 250 Kuna (£28.26) for a week. Shorter periods were available but cost even more. The coverage was very good and reached our caravan which was about as far from the reception building as one could get. The town of Omis is an easy walk from the camp site. It is a small, picturesque port at the mouth of the River Cetina which emerges through a dramatic limestone canyon. It has a range of touristy shops, restaurants and ice cream parlours along the main coast road, which runs through the centre of the town, and in the warren of adjacent traffic-free streets. There are 2 ruined castles on the cliffs above the town but we found it too hot to bother climbing to them! The main coast road was frequently very congested in both directions as it passed through the town and this meant that we did not use our car a great deal.
Just outside the campsite gates and on the minor road leading to the campsite there is a small modern shopping centre which included a largish supermarket. Its position and large free car park meant that we could go food shopping by car without having to go onto the congested coast road. The range of food was rather more limited than would be found in France and other Continental countries but was adequate. Fruit and vegetables in particular were limited to locally grown produce with very little variety. The supermarket had an in-store bakery, butchery and fish departments. There was a wide range of beers and other alcoholic drinks but interestingly no cider - my favourite tipple. Although many of the supermarket staff spoke fluent English the Croatian language food labelling was not always easy to understand. Food prices were the cheapest we found on the Continent.
At the end of the town furthest from the campsite there is a pleasant quayside and small harbour. There are numerous large tour boats offering day trips to the adjacent islands with various packages, some including free food and drinks. When walking on the quayside we were frequently stopped by boat reps pushingly selling trip tickets - they spoke several European languages, including English, fluently. There is, also a large grassy park which stretches out from the town centre along the beach.
Our eldest son and his girlfriend arrived at Galeb on my Birthday -13 August and tent camped nearby for a few days. We had thought of visiting Dubrovnik and one or more the Croatian island but I'm afraid in the high temperatures of 32+ we spent most of time swimming and lazing about. We did drive into Split on day with view to looking the Roman centre and looking into taking a ferry to one of islands but it was very congested and we gave up when we could find nowhere to park.
We took a day's drive into the mountainous region east of Omis. We began by driving along the Cetina Gorge from Omis. The Cetina River is used by a number of local companies who offer white-water rafting trips and kayaking along the gorge - these can be booked in Omis. There is, also, a tourist train, towed by a tractor, which runs along the gorge from Omis to the riverside restaurant of "Radvanove Mlinice". There are, also, river trips along the Cetina from Omis to the same restaurant.
After passing the restaurant the road, which is quite narrow in places, turned inland away from the river and climbed, by a series of hairpin bends, to a dry mountain plateau. There are excellent views back down the gorge. We passed through the village of Zadvarje where there was an extensive market along both sides of the road but as we could not find anywhere to park we were not able to stop.
We continued to drive into the mountains until we reached the provincial town of Imotski a near the border with Bosnia Herzegovina. There was a Lidl supermarket on the outskirts of the town, and, although the goods were, obviously, not labelled in English, we were able to identify and buy a number of grocery items because the product packaging was similar to that found in English Lidls!! Near to Imotski there are 2 lakes. The Modro Jezero (Blue Lake) is at the foot of deep, steep-sided basin formed by the collapse of an underground cavern and is situated alongside a main road a few minutes' drive to the west of the town centre. The water's edge can be reached by a steep path but we did not take this as it was by then midday and very hot. We drove a little further along the same road to the Creveno Jezero (Red Lake). The lake, which is in a pit, said to be 300 metres wide and 500 metres deep, apparently gets its name from red-coloured cliffs which surround it. We returned to Omis via Makarska and the coast road. This gave stupendous views over beautiful and unspoilt coastline and out to the adjacent islands.
We stayed at Camp Galeb for a total of 16 nights. Our stay cost roughly 300 Kuna per night which was approximately £34 at current exchange rates. That was for the best pitch category.
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