#SubaruOfftrax Week Two Highlights

July 28-Aug 3
Both the XV & the Outback set out for Subaru Trieste, Italy for a quick photo, and fixing for the Outback, which in turn separated us again, as they were a few hours behind. Entering Slovenia was a breeze with roadside roast pigs and lamb throughout. After a quick stop to pick up local brews, (which we’re tracking in Untapped under Offtrax & JessWatt) we were entering Croatia and a new currency, the kuna. Pushing to make it as far down the coast as possible, but not sacrificing beauty, we drove the scenic coastal road. On one of the road there’s aqua blue waters and the other dry arid white rocky mountains. It seemed like every little alcove had a home or two in it, with a boat and sometimes pebble beach. Gorgeous and quiet….that is till we hit the city of Split, Croatia’s second largest. It appeared that this was the dividing line between quiet and hoards of vacationers. So this is the Meditteranean Corinne warned us about… After viewing half a dozen campsites or as we call them, caravan shitholes, we finally settled on one that at least gave us a bit of space and we didn’t have to wake up to a neighbour’s kitchen. Yes, some of these caravan sites are full out. Complete with gardens, water coolers, individual kitchens, the works. Trailer park living I guess…or European cottaging?
The Outback crew hooked us up with a sweet site overlooking the sea. With the sun in full gear, Elly and Corinne tested out the Scrubba ‘washing machines’ while Rubber Duck Andy & I tested out local beers. After a late afternoon swim at the nearby ‘beach’ or concrete slabs as it essentially was, we grabbed a bus for the old city. Nothing like a disappointing dinner to sour the night.
The following day Corinne & I set out to walk the high walls around the city-a total of 4km. Stunning views of the sea and the tiled roofs of the city. Also in sight was nasty looking storm South of us in MonteNegro. Great, we were heading into more rain… On the opposite of the border, now in Monte Negro, we made our first stop at the ‘Hip Hop Fresh’ Supermarket to stock up on local specialties and random meats that looked decent. Driving along the Bay of Kotur, a large fjord-like bay surrounded by lush mountains. The colour of the water was aquamarine and the twists and turns on the tiny road kept us well alert. With some fancy yachts on the water we knew this surprising beauty attracted riches. In the wee town of Kotur there was massive traffic, so I jumped out leaving Corinne in a dead stop. After walking about 20min into the centre and to cause of the traffic, (a minor accident that the cops wouldn’t move) I ran into Rubber Duck, Elly & Michael and a massive 2l cold beer. Corinne, still stuck somewhere in traffic would have to wait and wait.
Our drive to the camp area was wildly close to the water and single lane. The local buses flew through, barely slowing down for anyone to get through. We were inches away from going off road with a drop off to the bay. Lesson learned (again): size matters. To add to the crazy drive, that massive storm we saw earlier hit hard with a consistent downpour, making it hard to see anything.  We camped that night further down the bay at the worst camping area to date. Chock-a-block we were amongst the fellow patchwork, dive caravans.  We sat in the car hoping the rain would let up for about an hour, as we watched Michael and Rubber Duck set up gypsy in the rain. Upon completion, we hauled ass to gypsy, getting completely soaked. The hard rain, thunder and lightning continued on for another few hours, as we partied in the gypsy.
Needing to push on, we left the Outback crew and started the long drive to Sarajevo, a place that Corinne grew up with in the news everyday, living so close to it in Italy. The super informative history museum was our first stop to best understand what happened back in the 1990s and how WWI started. It was intense to walk around the city / former war zone to see buildings littered with bullet holes. There was one particular building that really stood out for us; a former retirement home that had been bombed to shit, still stood on the main road, now covered in graffiti with weeds growing around. A constant reminder of how things were….
Our next stop was Belgrade, Serbia took longer to get to than it should of. Now with no GPS, we managed to take the long road north thru Croatia in Serbia. Let’s just say driving into a city of a few million at night is not ideal. Due to exhaustion we didn’t even get to take the best out of Belgrade’s nightlife as we were done.
In Hungary, another detour, we had our worst meal to date, minus the fish soup and goulash. A dish of 52 fried potatoes, yes 52, and a cordon bleu-styled ham with a garnish of fried cold cuts. Nasty! Even the 52 potatoes were bad. What was scary to us was, a table of four next to us, with two kids inhaled the exact same dishes in no time, WITH mayonnaise! I’m guessing all the surrounding fields of sunflowers aren’t just for their seeds, but more so for the oil.
Over in Romania, we were on the ‘hunt’n for one of the world’s Top Ten Waterfalls, a must-see in your lifetime kinda thing, or so we read. The Bigar Waterfall. Well, again without GPS and minimal signage we wasted over 3hrs trying to find it. Only to be told it was another 100km out of our way. With our luck that damn thing would have been tried up in the extreme heat, so we called it quits and went for our goal of Sibiu, the city with eyes. Note, to anyone ever attempting to drive Romania: there are cops everywhere, radar sectors don’t detect and the average speed limit is 40km/hr, meaning it takes forever to get anywhere. Super frustrating… Thankfully upon arriving in Sibiu hours later, the ‘eyes’ of the local homes were upon us. Despite not having a place to stay, we were mesmerized driving around, with all eyes on us. Seriously this is something you have to see to fully appreciate. Many homes in Sibiu have a certain architectural feature that has the upstairs window(s) looking like leary eyes. Its particularly creepy, walking around, knowing you’re being watched, but we love it.
Having driven the Grosglockner back in Austria, we couldn’t pass up the Transfagarasan-another criss-cross, windy road up and over the mountains that is only open during the summer months. Very choice with many opportunities for photos and free!With the number of rabid dogs in Romania our push to the Bulgarian border was fast & furious, calling it a night just short of the border in Giugu. Here we got a dive hotel, where thanks to a table of drunk locals we ‘learned’ about Romanian wines, foods, and tuica, a plum brandy. Wowza!
Best of the week: Montenegro, Sibiu, Romania and Sarajevo, Bosnia