Split, Dubrovnik and Albania.

Split and Dubrovnik proved to be opposites when it came to camping. In Split we looked for a camp site that no longer seems to exist and ended up "wild" camped on the roof of a laundry! In Dubrovnik we had intended to "wild" camp but ended up in a camp site.

Split was a very pleasant stop, with an attractive harbour and Diocletian's Palace lived up to expectations. The last day of the Croation boat show, in the harbour, also added colour. We originally intended to wild camp near the ferry terminal but were firmly turned away. We then followed the signs to a camp site that may have existed near the Split Hotel, however it no longer does. We did find a car park, apparently belonging to the American Go-Go Bar. With their "permission" we camped at the far end of the car park, which on close inspection turned out to be the roof of the hotel's laundry. The site has fine views over the sea and is a pleasant 5km walk to town (or a $8.00 taxi ride back). (43.50319°N 16.46840°E)

On the drive down the beautiful Croation coast between Split and Dubrovnik you must cross a small finger of Bosnia. There are border posts but it is only necessary to show your passport.

In Dubrovnik we camped at Camping Solitudo, one of the best signposted camp sites we have encountered (from 100 km down to 100 metres!). Charges were about $16.00 per van per night. We were told that attempts to wild camp near the old city resulted in threatened fines of $150.00 and firm instructions from the police to go to Camping Solitudo.

Dubrovnik from the City wall.The old city was, in 2004, mostly restored to its former beautiful state, but there is still much evidence of the extensive war damage of 1990-1.

After Dubrovnik we headed for Albania. This required us to cross part of Montenegro. The Croatia - Montenegro border was straight forward with compulsory insurance available for those without "Green Card" cover (15 Euros for 15 days).

We finally crossed into Albania at Han i Hotit. Originally we tried to cross into Albania south of Lake Scutari between Sukobin and Shtuf. However we were turned back by the Montenegro authorities because there was a "weak bridge" ahead (and/or a "low tunnel" or "narrow road"). This required a 110km detour. The Montenegro - Albania crossing took the group about 90 minutes. We were charged 5 Euros for "disinfection" of the vehicle tyres, 10 Euros per person and 5 Euros for the vehicle. All these charges were required in Euros, US Dollars were not acceptable. Insurance was available at 30 Euros for 15 days. The border was well organised, quiet and everybody was friendly.

We are currently camped round the back of a fuel station on the outskirts of Elbasan (2 Euros per van and we must be off before 06:00 when the boss arrives).

The roads in Albania have been an interesting introduction to "urban off-roading" for the group. Albania remains a very poor country for Europe.

Stephen Stewart.

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