After leaving the Istrian Peninsula, we drove south along the beautiful coast of Croatia, the drive is stunning, passing high above the coastal towns with the amazing views looking out to the sea and inland to the mountains. The wind had definitely picked up and it was cold, but from inside the van with the sun shining in, it was quite lovely. We were heading towards the town of Senj, this was the turn off point to go to the Plitvice lakes and we were still undecided whether to go there now or continue south to Zedar.
After an afternoon of driving down the coast and a few little stop offs to enjoy the coastline, it was getting late in the day and the wind had really got quite strong, we were on the highway, very high up, driving along the cliffs, when a huge gust moved the van, it scared us and as we continued it got worse, we quickly decided it was too dangerous to continue and we pulled off the road at the nearest urbanisation, 20km North of Senj. We tried to find shelter behind some houses, but it was still so gusty and we were worried our sunroof was about to get torn off, it was dark by now and we drove down the hill abit to find somewhere more sheltered, we found a spot behind a thick, tall busy area on the side of a quiet road with big empty houses the other side, this was a much better spot, and we were sheltered from the horrendous winds and managed to sleep ok.
The following morning the winds were still quite strong and we felt it was best to spend the day sheltered until the weather improved, it was a lovely sunny day despite the strong winds that made it also feel very cold, we hid away in the van for most of the day apart from a brief walk down to the sea in the afternoon, the little village was completely abandoned, everyone had left for the winter, it seem, the sea was choppy and it was very gusty, but as the wind was coming from the mountains inland it wasn’t as bad as we thought it may be, after a walk along the promenade we headed back to the van, noticing several trucks on the way back who had also taken refuge in the area as it was also too dangerous for them to drive on the cliff side highway.
The following day we did manage to get back on the road and drove the 20kms to Senj, we had heard a noise coming from the brakes and decided to go straight to a mechanic to get them checked, we literally pulled up to the garage when we heard a horrendous sound. we were on top of a hill and had to get these brakes sorted before we could go anywhere. After a quick inspection, the guy confirmed the brakes were worn right down and assured us that he didn’t think we had done anymore damage. We would have to wait for the new brake pads to arrive that afternoon. Unfortunately the brake pads they ordered were the wrong ones, and we would have to spend the night outside the garage, the wind was back to being really gusty and our little van was rocking back and forth like we were at sea.
We didn’t sleep too well with the wind keeping us awake but were relived we had got to where we were at the right time with the brake situation. Just before lunchtime the pads finally arrived and we were back on the road with new brakes in no time and we decided after checking the weather that this was as far as we would go in Croatia. The upcoming forecast was for more wind and snow inland, we didn’t want to drive further south unless the weather was going to be alright and we didn’t want to go to the Plitvice lakes with the temperatures forecast to be below freezing. We hung around in Senj and visited the fortress on top of the hill with awesome views along the stormy coast in both directions, the van was sheltered by the fortress against the wind but when we got out and stepped around the corner we literally got swept off our feet! We needed to spend another night in Senj before taking that coastal highway and start making our way back towards Italy, so we parked in a sheltered housing estate and hoped the weather would improve by morning.
We woke early after another night of stormy wind shaking the van about, at least now the wind had dropped abit and we could get back on the road, we checked the weather again to make sure we were making the right decision before heading north, back towards Italy. We read online about the winds, which are common in this part of Croatia in the winter months, they call it the Bora and here in Senj it really can be quite terrible, its been known to literally lift trucks from the highway and that you should be very careful when a ‘Bora is in town’ we had definitely experienced a mild Bora over the last couple of days.