During our stay in the city of Durrës in Albania, we set out the explore the ancient amphitheater in town.
In the morning, we woke up to this amazing view of the fortified city of Ulcinj, Montenegro from our parking lot camp spot. We also woke up to an older gentleman asking us for money for parking. It sounded a little fishy to us because it is supposed to be free in the winter and he kept adjusting the price we “owed” him.
One of the reasons we chose to stay at a campground instead of wild camping is to test out our little electric heater. We bought a small heater from in Croatia for when we have hook-ups instead of using up our propane for heat. Plus it has a thermostat unlike our Olympian Wave 6 heater and that means we can leave it on all night without worrying about getting too hot.
We left the town of Kotor after a weeks stay with loose plans to head to the next ancient fortified city down the coast.
Landed in the city of Kotor, Montenegro for the week. We didn’t know much about this little European country before we arrived but have learned a ton in these last couple of days. One thing we noticed right away is this is one of the only countries in Europe without a highway system. Driving around with a large Sprinter van has been interesting to say the least.
After a week’s stay in Dubrovnik, we inched closer to the border of Croatia and Montenegro. Instead of crossing over right away, we decided to spend one last night in Croatia to take advantage of our unlimited internet plan and get some work done. Once we cross into Montenegro, our data plan will not work since it only covers Croatia and other EU countries.
Dan and I visited Dubrovnik a couple times pre-kids but this week we get to explore the ancient city with the entire family in tow.
We’ve been in Croatia for a little over 3 months, enjoying our time in Split and on the islands of Hvar and Vis, sailing the Adriatic, waiting for some residency paperwork and spending the holidays here with family and friends.
My grandparents hand built this home in Zastražišće, stone by stone, the year my father was born. With the help of a magarac (donkey), my grandmother hauled these stones from the hillside as my grandfather pieced them together. They finished it a few years later and it served as the family home until the clan moved to the US in the late 60s.
We have the strange feeling of rhythm and routine here in Croatia which makes me quite uncomfortable and antsy to hit the road. Fortunately, our stay here will soon come to an end as we have gotten word that our residency documents have been approved. We will be headed out shortly after the new year. Being that it is the day after Christmas today, we are looking at maybe a week longer here. During our time in Croatia, we have spent about half of our time in the city of Split and the other half in the little village of Zastražišće on the island of Hvar since we have been here.
One of the more complicated part of building a van for many people is choosing the right equipment for the electrical system. Selecting electrical components for your build can have long lasting impacts on how you use your DIY camper van. Will you have enough power to charge all of your devices? How will batteries get recharged when they are low? Where and what kinds of outlets do you install? And most importantly, how do you build such a system by yourself and ensure that it is safe?
Of course these were all questions we had for ourselves during our van build. Luckily for us, we have many years of full-time living in campers under our belts so we knew just exactly how we would use our electrical system. By no means did we build a ‘spare-no-expenses’ ultimate system of our dreams. We had limitations to work with but we tried to build the best system we could knowing our limitations.
In my junior year of high school I worked as a cook at a summer camp in the Sierras. That little gig lead me to a stint in the food service industry as well as lighting a little spark in my love for wind-powered water crafts. While at camp, when I wasn’t mixing up massive batches of macaroni and cheese or clearing plates to put in the industrial-sized dish washer, I went to the alpine lake and did my best to not turtle their Lasers and the Hobie Cat. At 9,000 ft in elevation, the last thing you wanted to do is finding out just how cold that water is first hand. All summer long I sailed across the lake numerous times, explored the coastline and discovered countless alcoves inaccessible by land. That summer led to me owning several sailboats of various sizes in my 20s as well as getting my bareboat chartering certification.