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Traveldiary chapter 3 [May 2000 - November 2000]
(Discovery trip through South-eastern Europe)
|Top||We are naturists because ...|
(naturist summer in Croatia, (Autumn in Slovenia and Hungary, through Austria back to Switzerland)
After we visited our folks in Switzerland for the whole of May 2000 (beautiful spring), we headed for our summer destination which we had jet to discover.
Two days prior departure, we decided (very) spontaneously to head east. We only just stocked up the Travel Guides in Innsbruck, since we couldn't get them in Zug anymore 10 Minutes before leaving...
Passing over a few mountains in Switzerland and Austria, we came past a funny village called 'faak am See' we decided to stop for a few days to feel what it might be like.... Driving on, we soon stood on top of the steepest passroad in the middle of the julian alps in Slovenia.
Slovenia gave us the impression of quite an advanced country with not much difference to it's Austrian neighbour. At that point, we only just crossed it, but we're certainly go back to see more of it.
After the mountains, hills became smoother and then we hit the istrian coast, down in Rovinj in Croatia, which is a marvellous old town.
As recommended in the LP (Lonely Planet Guide) we opted for the nudist resort...Also, it said; go, before the crowds return - but we're afraid, at least in Istria - they (especially Krauts) were here before us...
Anyway, first we had a week to our own, before joining a 7 day sailing tour around the islands. It turned out marvellous. All of the group were in our age and we matched very well together and had lots of fun together. The weather was even too good to set sail, we only had sunshine and clear waters, as well as a wonderful captain-cook (i.e. the captain cooked also very well). Thereafter, Heinz'sister and her hubby joined us for 10 days in an appartment of the giant resorts. They barely left, and already we had arranged our friends from Austria to join in for 3 weeks.
As Heinz quickly gets bored of the same Restaurants, we changed over the channel (Limsky Fiord near Rovinj) to another naturistheaven.
This one here offers even a special island only for campers with tents, to which we changed after nobody else was ready to help us pay for a highseason-priced appartment....
We are going to stay there until the Krauts leave to work again, together with their italian-, slovenian-, austrian-, dutch- and other sunseekers, so we can discover Eastern Europe to ourselves.
We plan to visit Croatia all the way down to Dubrovnik, then up again via its capital Zagreb into Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Rep's and maybe Poland.
For what we can say by now about Croatia, is that theft is not a problem at all, as it doesn't seem to be one in neither of the ex-Yugoslavian countries. At home, those people got a very bad reputation, however, here even german Immigrants think; if there is something stolen, it usually is committed by 'tourists'=foreigners, and not by locals. Anyway, it's quite amazing what we have seen sofar in Istria; the towns are clean and nice with loads of tourists - no thought of the war that was going on not so long ago, even though Istria was never affected at all.
Most of the naturist-resorts have been set-up by Tito as "money-making-machines" 30 years ago. On a stretch of coast about 100km long, there had been as many as 20 resorts built, with a capacity of over 100'000 sunseekers. Unbelievable, what was possible under that communist regime, but now, most of the camps are privatized and well maintained.
Finally we managed to leave our paradise island and discover the formar Yugoslav states. The dalmatine coast 1000 km down to Dubrovnik was very fascinating. Many islands and sparkling clear waters surrounded the charming little villages and towns along the coast.
Dubrovnik as the most famous, was a jewel - entirely rebuilt after the civil war of 92.
However, further inland, there is still a lot of damage visible on the houses that belonged to the Serb minority in Croatia. To us, it's ununderstandable what has happened in formar Yugoslavia. Serbs and Croats belong to the same tribe, their only difference is in catholic or eastern orthodox believs.
Luckily, nature showed us beautiful sights again, that don't get affected. There was a national park that is listed in the UNESCO world-heritage list with 16 lakes that are connected through waterfalls on ever descending levels. The water is as pure as 'Pupu-springs' in NZ and the colours are of an incredible green.
Afterwards we briefly visited Zagreb, before moving on to Slovenia.
This little country is much more developped than its neigbour Croatia with lots of shopping centers selling western style stuff. To us it looked not much different than Austria or Switzerland, just as mountainious and with high living standards. People have nice houses, 2 cars, spend their holidays abroad (mainly in Croatia, but some also overseas). How they finance it all with their still quite low wages, remains a miracle to us.
As it's only half the size of Switzerland, we discovered almost every corner of it in 2 weeks as for ex. Ljubliana, the Skojan caves, Bled and it's beautiful lakes around. As well as many of it's restaurants, which are as good, if not better than those of Croatia.
Mid September, we arrived in Hungary and we saw on the first sight, that this country is much poorer than Slovenia and also Croatia, which lies in standard about halfway between those two.
As people do not own cars as often, traffic was very low and the most common car seen, was the 'East-German' Trabant. The countryside was very flat for most of the regions, which is easy area for big farming. Another income is tourism, especially around the big lake Balaton, but also in the rest of the country, many thermal springs favour this business and are mainly catering to the retired who, at the same time, service their teeths, eyes and hair... Internet services were surprisingly easy to find and often brand-new. As everywhere, the young people like to go with modern times. Shopping is easy, as everything seems to be available (to most not affordable though). Foreign investment is widespread and so most shopping-centers, banks and insurances were built by some western-european or even american companies.
Old towns all proof their history of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and therefore resemble each other with their pretty facades and wide avenues, unfortunately, often there is no money for renovation. In most places we found pleasant private-rooms to stay and also the last few bungalows on camping-gounds which closed in automn only. The weather was still fine and we loved the colours in the trees until one day, we were already near the border to Austria, temperatures dropped and in the radio which we could now receive in German language over the border, we heared about snow falling quite nearby. Lucky as we are, just that day we checked in a pension that had a sauna. And so, we could relax and take advantage of heating up as Europeans love to do when winter arrives.
Food is a special chapter in Hungary; as not many locals can afford to dine out, good restaurants are rare to find. There were some very good specialities available but in many places the cook only uses the deep-frier to prepare a meal, which is not exactly the way we like it.
Arriving in Austria at our friends Gusti & Pepi near Vienna, they looked after us, curing Brigitte's "fritteusen-trauma" (of deep-freezers) in really nice restaurants. For more than a week we stayed with them, before enjoying a pleasant ride back through Austria from east to west.
At first, we followed the flow of the Danube which was bordered by colourful forests. Later on, we drove down to the Salzkammergut near St. Wolfgang-lake and stayed for 5 days in a guestroom on a farmhouse with beautiful views of the lake and mountains. We hiked halfway around the lake and took a boat back, where we enjoyed the most wonderful panoramic vistas, especially in the clear autumn air. Another day, we drove around 5 small lakes and also visited pretty Salzburg again.
Only stopping for Thai-food in Innsbruck, we slowly made our way back to the Swiss alps. Up there, the snow was already near and the air much cooler, but since Heinz loves to drive over steep pass roads with our little Twingo, we had to make a compromise.
Surprisingly, this time we didn't get a price-shock when coming back to our country: We found the cheapest room since Hungary and also food-prices in restaurants were very good value for money. So, we decided to enjoy the Engadin for a few days more, exploring the tiny villages with their thick-walled houses and the mountains with its presently golden Larches. We didn't need to get up early, because in the morning, the ground was deeply frozen and the sun heated everything up only in the afternoon.
For two and a half weeks in November 2000, we now stayed in Central Switzerland, visiting friends and family. Night temps were down to 7 °C and so it seemed best (to us) to make a reservation in Costa Natura in southern Spain, hoping we could still escape winter.
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