Overland Travel: Romania – Serbia – Slovenia

Bohinjsko lake Slovenia

“ Romania, Serbia, Slovenia. That is not slow travel.” You are right! We’re temporary heading back home to hopefully finally finish our home on wheels over the next 3 months.

 

If you’re new to our website or simply forgot :-): 

We purchased our truck at the end of 2014. We remodeled and built most of it ourselves. Although we’ve never build an expedition truck before we knew we wanted enough comfort and quality finish to make it our new home for the next …. years;  we have not set a end date.  The book “Wohnmobile selbst ausbauen und optimieren” (soon also available in English) got us on our way and then the rest we figured out with the help of friends and dr. Google.

Our goal was to start our new travel life in June 2016. It was a very ambitious plans since we’re not retired and we don’t have our own workstation/garage. Luckily we met a great couple who let us use theirs when they didn’t need it themselves. Thank you!!!

And of course when June 2016 arrived our truck wasn’t completely finished. But enough to get on the road for the summer. We headed to Romania.

 

Romania

Less than 30 years ago Romania was a communist country suffering heavily from the iron first of the “Securitate”, one of the most brutal secret police forces in the world. A time that still has it marks on its people and economy now. With an average income of €400/month ($500 or 2,000 lei) corruption and unofficial books are still everywhere. As a result in Romania 2016 luxurious cars and horse & wagon drive side by side.

Sheep in Romanian mountains

 

romania-travel-sarmale
Home made sarmale

Also our experience with Romania reflects this “extremeness”. We have been helped by strangers and invited to a sunday BBQ to experience traditional Romanian food like homemade mămăligă (maize polenta), sarmale (white cabbage stuffed with meat) and mici/mititei (kind of sausage made of ground beef, lamb and pork; served with mustard).

On the other hand we also had our worst travel experience here (for a decade of traveling). Something we are still not comfortable talking about and rather want to forget as quick as possible. But the local police had been very kind to us and helped us out this very unfortunate situation.  Would this experience stop us from returning. NO! Romania has so much beauty to offer and still allows wild camping everywhere.

Note: We have written a more extensive post about our travel experiences in Romania. But we’ve given others the change to publish it first 🙂 But in a previous post you can already find out the different Romanian roads to be explored and the beauty of the Danube Delta (incl. video). 

 

Serbia

We had no longer a place in Romania where we could safely leave the truck behind, while we had to catch up with work a few weeks. So we rushed through the Romanian mountains to Belgrade where Elmer’s friend arranged a  “parking spot”.  They had underestimated the size of our truck. A tree needed to be trimmed before we would fit on the driveway.

 

It was at this moment we discovered that our Europe data package (through BASE – Belgium) did not include the non-EU countries. ARGH!!!! They somehow forgot to mention that. Within 10 min our bill was already over 60€ ARGH!!!!

Belgrade itself didn’t impress us much. Many building are still in ruins since the war in 1995 and for the majority that are in use there is no money to maintain them. However, its FOOD surprised us tremendously. From smoked spicy sausages, perfectly prepared fish, Dutch oven-style lamb roast that was so tender it just fell from the bones to delicious nutty pastries. In “New Belgrade” (part of the city) we completely immersed ourselves in the culinary scene. In the morning we started our day wandering around the fresh produce markets, in the afternoon we enjoyed a light lunch at one of the many floating restaurants on the river and in the evening we sat back and relaxed while our taste buds were having the time of their life. All this in the company of a matching glass of wine and a life band playing traditional folklore music. If we had stayed any longer they could have rolled us home.

Restaurant with life band in Belgrade Serbia

Slovenia

Last year we crossed Slovenia on our Croatia-trip. Then, we had planned to travel through only, but knew immediately that was a mistake. This country clearly has tons to offer (adventure sports, walking trails, adventurous mountain passes, ski resorts, “God Father”-style dinner situations … )

This year we made sure we could spend more time here.

Ljubljana Slovenia

Ljubljana

We visit Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana. The last 2 years the city has underwent a major makeover. Most of the houses are restored in their old glory and everywhere you see cozy but modern stores and restaurants. Even the people that wander around these streets are fascinating to observe. We have are surprised how many different and out-spoken fashion styles are present in one rather small city – everything in the city center is tops a 15minute walk. So we quickly decide to take seat on one of the terraces along the water and watch the people walking by.

Note: To visit Lubljina we stayed overnight at Camperstop. Although this is not a scenic campsite, it does come with hot showers, toilets and free wifi. For us it was a safe place to leave our truck while visiting the city. We would definitely recommend it.

 

Bohinjsko lake

From Ljubljana we drive to Bohinjsko lake. The multitude of signs forbidding campers to park after 9PM warn us that bushcamping is not possible here. Luckily there is a really nice campground, where we can park the truck right next to the water (see featured image – first image of this post). We expect this campground to be much busier during the season, but now it’s rather peaceful here. A place we see ourselves return to once more.

Bohinjsko Lake Slovenia

 

Land Rover Defender Original colorsFew hours later a Dutch couple arrive here as well. They are traveling through Slovenia with their recently purchased Landrover Defender (one of the first ones ever build) still in it original colors. Covered in blankets we share travel stories till late in the night (oh and we discover some nice gin as well).

Trails

In the vicinity of Bled we walk our first tourist trail (4€/person), the Vintgar gorge. The gorge-trail is overrun by tourists; not our style! Plus the overpowering smell of perfumes made us cringe. Enjoying the natural aroma’s of nature clearly wasn’t something these hordes of tourists had partaken in before.

We risk a second tourist trail in Tolmin (4€/person), Tolminska Korita Gorge. Luckily this is much more to our liking: far less people and far more beautiful as well we think.

Tolminska Korita Gorge in Slovenia
Tolminska Korita Gorge

Bovec

From Tolmin we head to Bovec. It is Sunday, grey weather and the beginning of October. We stop at the outskirts of the village.  Aside from a single cowbell, we hear absolutely nothing. Is this really the place known for its adventure sports? Here is bushcamping difficult as well, but luckily a local tells us about a piece of no-mans land in the city center.

Bovec Slovenia

Not a bad spot right?

It’s in Bovec where we splurge on a Ziplining-excursion. Although very hefty in price (€55/person), the 8 ziplines, the adrenaline rush and the scenic mountian view convince us to open our wallet. We did not regret it.

 

Ziplining in Bovec Slovenia


 
With unspoiled mountains, rivers and approx. 2.06 million inhabitants Slovenia is a very peaceful but well-developed country. Over the last few years Slovenia invested a lot in tourism, with tons of campgrounds, tourist information boards and well-kept trails as a result. This makes it more difficult to find bushcamp/wildcamp opportunities.

Most of the roads are in good shape, but many not wide at all. More than once a single lane road drove us right between two houses.  The mountain passes are one by one breathtaking. Especially the one from Bovec to Kranjska Gora has a “wow” factor.

 

Next stop Italy, where we experienced one of the most amazing wild camping experiences ever.

 

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