Swimming in the Adriatic Sea

We chose to explore Slovenia and Croatia via campervan because of the freedom this method of travel would allow us. We could pack up and go as we please, sleeping over wherever we found a good spot for the night.

But what happens when you can’t find a good spot?

After our visit to Lipica in Slovenia to see the Lippizaners, we crossed into Italy with the idea of visiting Trieste. It was already late afternoon, so our first priority was to find a place to sleep over. Google Maps only showed us one campsite in the vicinity, and when we got there it didn’t look very inviting. After much deliberation, we decided to skip Trieste and move onto Croatia instead.

Next stop: Piran.

While I drove the campervan to a site I had picked before we came, Gareth phoned to hear if they had a stand for us for the night. They didn’t. He phoned around some more. There was nothing available at all. Panicking, we phoned the one place I had looked at before we came and vowed not to stay at.

Yes, they said. We have a stand for you, come on over.

My friends, this was the camping site where dreams come to die. It was filled with permanent residents, sitting on their camping chairs in front of their patches of scraggily grass, looking discontentedly out at the world. We felt unwelcome from the moment we rolled in.

And to make matters worse, the stand they had for us wasn’t in the actual campsite. It was across the road, in a tarred parking lot right next to the public beach. The bathroom they assured us was available, was the public toilets (without a shower I may add, or toilet paper), free for anyone to use who happened to wander past. And for all of this, they charged us a premium campsite price.

Yes, that is the public park behind our campervan. No, there is no fence.

But we had no choice. The sun was setting and the little one had had enough driving for one day. We squeezed into an unused parking spot, like rows of canned fish, and lowered our expectations (and the camper’s blinds) for the night.

The upside to parking right next to a busy public beach is, of course, the beach. We jumped into our swimsuits, slid into our swimming booties, and headed for the water. It was our first time setting foot in the Adriatic Sea. A pebbled beach, softly lapping clear water, picturesque boats nearby, blue skies above. Worth it.

Sunrise the next morning was worth it too.

But we still got the hell out of there as soon as we could.

Have you had an unfortunate camping experience like this one? Was there anything that made it worthwhile for you?

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