Waking up in The Dolomites
After one of our favourite days of the entire trip hiking around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, sleeping at the top of the mountains in the campervan and not dying of freezing cold temperatures (so glad we bought and installed that Propex heater before we left), we were ready to head back down the mountains and feel some heat again.
The whole reason we wanted to do this roadtrip was to explore Slovenia, while stopping at some amazing places along the way. We were so excited to head there, but had no plan of where exactly we wanted to go. Cue the worst day of our entire two week roadtrip…
Driving from Italy to Slovenia
We started our journey at the top of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo in the Dolomites, and our plan was to head through Slovenia to Rovinj in Croatia, but depending on time we’d scrap that idea and just stay in Slovenia by the beach. The satnav told us it would be roughly 4.5hrs, which was fine, we’d travelled that long a few other days of the trip.
Well, the drive from The Dolomites to Slovenia was very intense, and we were not prepared for that at all. The hills are insane and we were going down most of them in 1st or 2nd gear to prevent the brakes from overheating (and failing) like they did on the first day. It was a very, very slow drive to get to the highway, but after a couple hours we made it. Buuut, on the plus side, just look at those views! We saw the most blue lakes and rivers along the way.
To drive in Slovenia, you will need a Vignette that you stick in the windscreen. You can buy vignettes for a week, a month and a year at any gas stations near the border. We drove via Trieste on the highway, so we pulled into the gas station right on the highway as you cross the border and bought one from there. As we were only staying for a couple days, we just went for the week one which cost us €15. Make sure you check which Vignette category you fall into, as they have different rates for different vehicle classes:
- 2A – all vehicles which are classified as private vehicles in motor vehicle sales networks, up to the maximum allowable weight of 3.5 tonnes. This includes camping vehicles (regardless of height). This is ascertained based on documents e.g. a vehicle registration certificate (V5) and on the basis of permanently fixed equipment necessary for living in the vehicle. Vignette cost – €15 for a week, €30 a month and €110 a year.
- 2B – any vehicles with a height above the front axle of 1.3m or more and a weight of less than 3.5 tonnes e.g. light commercial vehicles like our Fiat Ducato (pre-conversion). Vignette cost – €30 for a week, €60 a month and €220 a year.
You can find the info listed above on the DARS Slovenia website here. You do have to make sure you ask for the correct vignette, as as soon as the vignette is applied, the vignette is then non-refundable. Basically, if you’re mid-conversion and can’t show that it’s a campervan, I’d go for the 2B vignette just incase, as there are heavy fines for not displaying the correct vignette.
By the time we arrived in Slovenia, it was a good 6hrs after we left. It was gone lunchtime, we were hungry, hot and sweaty in the van and had ran out of drinking water. We decided to scrap driving the extra hour to Rovinj and head to Koper for some lunch instead. As we arrived, they were closing off exits from all of the roundabouts into the old town and parking areas, and leading everyone back out to the outskirts.
We quickly decided to just scrap that idea and head over to the smaller seaside town of Piran instead. What a disaster that was too. We quickly found that Slovenia is not campervan/motorhome friendly at all. There’s barely any parking in Piran, but of the car parks that we found, they were all either height restricted or were for permit holders and hotels only. We drove around and around and around and were constantly turned away by parking attendants. They couldn’t provide us any information on where to park either, except pointing a finger to the direction we’d come from.
We ended up in the next town along, Portoroz and found a quiet street to temporarily stop in (we couldn’t park there), while we found a campsite/aire to stay the night. Well, campsites don’t have the best facilities in Slovenia and they all had terrible reviews, so we ended up finding an aire at the Portoroz Marina for the night, which had some ‘better’ bad reviews.
It was one of the most expensive places we stayed of the entire trip at €36, and probably the worst place too. There were no facilities (except fresh water, waste water and bins, which is fine, as that’s usually all you get on an aire), except we could see the toilet and shower block right by our campsite for use of marina guests. The aire is located on a little island, so to walk into town is a good 30 minute walk back through the marina, though it was just opposite the aire and we could see all the restaurants from it. And there was a proper campsite just across from us, with a loud bar and music blasting all afternoon.
Shane and I were both in such bad moods with a combination of the heat, humidity, disasterous day, how long it took us to drive there and hunger. I took a nap for a bit to get rid of my headache and woke up to cook some dinner and watch the sunset infront of us (the highlight of the day). As soon as the sun started setting, a bar in the town came to life and started blasting music all night, and we were right inbetween the campsite bar and the bar in the town and it was SO noisy. It carried on till at least 3am. It was not fun haha!
But on the plus side, we had the best sunset views over the sea to take in. I debated skipping over this post and just going straight to Day 9 because we did absolutely nothing but drive all day, but I thought I’d still share this post to show that not every day travelling in a campervan is perfect, and that even on our two week roadtrip through Europe, not every day went to plan. It’s easy to look at photos and think that everything is perfect, but in reality, you can be having the crappest day too!
I’m excited to share the rest of the posts from Slovenia though, as it’s such a stunning country!