Otočec; Camping & Castles on the River Krka, Slovenia

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Our pitch on the Krka River at Kamp Otočec

All we had to do was to take down the awning, but it took us a while to get on the road from Kamp Tura. Everyone seemed to stop and chat, not that we were complaining. It’s all part of the experience.

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Shady, woodland walks were most welcome in the 30°C heat

I took the pups up the hill for their morning walk through the beautiful, shady woodland. After the initial steep climb, there was a long, almost level path through the woods. There was lots of climbing around as well as a 1-hour ascent to the top of Gradiška Tura with a Via Ferrata (protected rock climbing route) at the top for the bold and properly equipped (see my blog A Life Lesson Learned on a 3000ft Cliff for more information on tackling Vie Ferrate.)

The many free climbing routes in the area vary between the internationally recognised French Grade 3 (novice) and 7c+ (approaching super-expert!)

A Dutch couple also showed us a photo of ‘The Eye’, a hole in the rock above Ajdovščina. The picture featured in their guide book about the area, to which Kamp Tura’s owner, Bojana, had made significant contributions. Like so many others in Slovenia, she is utterly passionate about her home country and so proud of where she lives.

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Some of the hillside vineyards that we passed on our drive from Vipava to Otočec

Mark had planned a scenic drive to our next destination, which was actually shorter than the route proposed by the Sat Nav. The landscape was beautiful – Mark commented that Slovenia reminds him of a golf course. It is natural but everywhere looks tended and cared for. Even the roadside verges are neat! We passed forested hills, vineyards, meadows as green as any you would find in Surrey, but studded with vibrant flowers. All the villages are pristine and tidy. It is like Theme Park Slovenia!  

We drove through a massive thunderstorm. Like yesterday, the coolness of the rain was more than welcome, misting our skin as it blew in through our open windows. The rain awakened the dusty scent of the road, along with fresh grass and wild herbs to fragrance our journey. 

We passed some Alpine-looking chalets as we neared our destination at Krka. Hilltop villages of white houses with bright, terracotta roofs and the typical little churches were all along our way and we saw a field full of storks! A nearby town had a typical Slovenian village on a hilltop just above it. I tried, but failed to get a photo from the car.

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The nearby hilltop village with its typical Slovenian church photographed on a later walk!

We also failed to fill up with LPG. Although we did find one garage that sold it, the adapter which was the right shape seemed to be just ever so slightly the wrong size! It was not the end of the world, but did preclude our plans to go off grid. We had enough gas for our basic needs, but certainly didn’t have enough to power the fridge for a week in 30°C!

As we approached Krka, we drove into a phantom menace. The road ahead was straight and bordered by a spookily dark forest. The limbs of the trees arched over our heads and met, giving the feeling of driving into a tunnel. In an instant, the carefree summer sky turned inky black. Before us, we saw a blurry interface that looked like something you might see on a film. Behind it, leaves on the road had suddenly start to lift and swirl as if led in a serpentine dance by some mysterious charm.

We hit the weather front head on and felt the jolt as Big Blue burst through the pressure wave. We had punched our way into a new, strange and monochrome world. Leaves and other debris chased like a mad hunt past our windows, rustling and moaning like banshees. As windsurfers, we have felt many weather fronts – and ridden the winds that they suddenly generate with unfettered joy. However, this was the first time that we had actually SEEN one!

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Grad Otočec, the only water castle in Slovenia. The site dates back to the 13th Century, but the building is relatively modern, having been renovated after being burnt down in WWII

Our campsite, Kamp Otočec, was glorious in terms of location, if a little unloved. We chose a pitch right by the river Krka overlooking a pretty island, which houses the gothic castle, Grad Otočec. The only water castle in Slovenia, it has now been converted into a luxury hotel. (For a more detailed history of the castle, click here.)

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One of the wooden bridges with a 3T limit – over which we had to tow Kismet with a ferocious side wind

However, our entrance was a bit nerve wracking. First, we had to turn Big Blue and Kismet sideways on to the now howling wind (Bojana had warned us about how the Bora wind could suddenly and fiercly whip up!) Then, we had to cross the river via two wooden bridges, each with a 3T weight limit. Laden, Big Blue weighs more than 3T without Kismet in tow.

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An unladen Big Blue crosses the wooden bridge well within the 3T weight limit!

We sat for a while considering our options, but since there seemed to be no alternative, we decided to risk nipping across quickly. While we waited, we had seen three cars on the bridge simultaneously and decided that collectively, they must weigh more than 3T. We took a run at it and I invoked the intervention of the gods as we raced across; “Don’t collapse. PLEASE DON’T COLLAPSE!”

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Had we seen the state of the bridge before we crossed, we might have thought twice…

And so, we found ourselves camped beside the Krka river. I watched two white swans take-off up the river and storks flying past. It was stunning, but then that was no different from the rest of Slovenia!

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Our view was not too disappointing!

 

 

 

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