I followed the wrong signs…

Whilst driving down the coast of Croatia, I only had one job: follow the coast to Split.

Of course I fucked up within a couple of kilometers.

Don’t get me wrong: I religiously followed the signs to Split, not realizing that there was an inland highway that would probably be much quicker than the scenic coastal road. Being the dumbass that I am, I just drove deep into the mountain range, and didn’t even once question my path. Suddenly we found ourselves on an inland agricultural plain, surrounded by mountains. The plain itself was rather ugly and boring and the mountains were hard to see, as a haze of wood-fired chimney smoke filled up the bowl-shaped area and killed potentially splendid views all around. We passed countless campsites and RV lots, but I couldn’t find their raison d’etre. Meh, not for me… I felt stupid for taking the mountain detour.

Then Heike found some information about a cave park in Perusic. Apparently they didn’t mind campers on their (pretty isolated) parking lot. I like caves, and Perusic was located towards a more hilly end of the plain. Things were starting to look brighter suddenly. Thirty minutes later we arrived at an empty place that was pretty beautiful, and where we certainly were unlikely to bother anyone. We only wildcamp if we are certain that no one will be bothered in any possible way. If there’s a chance of locals not appreciating, I’d rather drive to the nearest RV lot. But this time it was fine. We had a great night’s rest.

This morning I opened my high-roof window blind, and woke up to a hazy sunrise that was hard to capture.

Sunrise at the Perusic cave park. The buildings on the left are the park’s meteorological station.
Everything about the park was very ‘Eco’ themed. As an ecologist I frowned with some of the stuff, but overall this place was well-designed and maintained.

After breakfast, we followed a short trail called the Flora trail. It was interesting finding the signposts sometimes, but my son greatly enjoyed that. Not much botanically interesting going on here (yet). Due to higher altitude, the plants were still mostly dormant. Some Potentilla and Helleborus were flowering, but that was about it. I think this will be a Valhalla for botanists in a month or two. Maybe we should come back someday. What was interesting though, was the series of caves that was located along the trail. I didn’t expect to be able to descend into one, as the park was officially closed, but there were no signs telling us otherwise (whereas this was the case for one other cave), and there was an inviting stairway down ‘into the earth‘, as my son Rafa kept saying. The cave had beautiful rock formations, nature’s prettiest art. I loved it. To make the picture perfect, they also completely filled the bottom chamber with teddy bears. There’s probably some explanation, but it mostly creeped me out.

One of the caves – into the earth – along the flora trail

Just after lunch, we were packing up to leave, when a converted old German fire brigade van parked next to us. A Canadian family of four rolled out and started a conversation. They had sold their belongings, bought the van in Germany, then just left and had been underway for six months. It’s interesting how easy you meet like-minded folks on the road (not our first encounter with travel families on this trip). It’s also sad that you have to say goodbye soon after. I guess that’s the life of a nomad. Meeting other weirdos makes travel memorable.

We drove about two hours through landscapes that made me tremendously grateful for my dumb deviation from the main path. The road through Gospic and onwards to Karlobag (with a K!) was worth a couple of kilometers extra. I only stopped once in a safe spot to take some pictures. The rest of the road was even more breathtaking…

We parked for the night in Starigrad, where we hope to visit Paklenica national park. We’re parked in a sad place with a horrible view. Let’s hope the park’s worth all of this… (Vipera ursinii and Zamenis situla occur here!!!)

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

5 thoughts on “I followed the wrong signs…

  1. How do you do this?! How do you travel all day, take pics, and still find the time to write a post a day? That’s some inspiration right there, not just on your exciting life, but your discipline and output as well. Yeah, not a totally relevant comment, so I’ll just add this: Nice pics and that’s a creepy cave indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, don’t worry, my life is not all that exciting. I’m just driving my camper van around a beautiful place for a month during parental leave. I honestly barely take pictures since my kids take up most of my attention these days, so the secret lies in taking pictures only of the things that are interesting. Saves time sorting pictures… The writing I combine with bringing my son to bed. While he’s closing his eyes,dad is writing on his phone in his blanket fort. Not all is pretty, and there’s certainly no higher-than-high-tech involved. Discipline, yes. That’s why I started blogging in the first place!

      I might do a post on ‘the other side of travel’ soon – might be fun, too. I wrote a similar one last summer, about van life… It’s not all you may think it is…


      1. Haha. Well… If I use the right tags, the right title, at least four pictures (are you sure this time?), a good intro sentence, I’m sure it will find you and you will find it ;-)!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: