Vienna to Primošten: 713 kilometres
Like seemingly everyone else in Northern Europe, we are craving some sun and warmth,and like seemingly everyone else in Northern Europe, we are heading to Croatia to find it. We are heading to on the Dalmatian coast, halfway between Šibenik and Split, where Stefan, who we met in Frankfurt, has a small guesthouse. Once a small island only metres offshore, Primošten was connected by bridge to the mainland 500 years ago.
Passing from the Valley to the Coast
Traffic is heavy on the Austrian autobahn as we head out of Vienna early on this Sunday morning. The drive through the hills is easy – we note that the Austrian autobahns wind through the hills, gently rising and falling, unlike the Italian autostradas, which are much straighter and which use tunnels and bridges far more extensively. We make the Slovenian border in excellent time. We continue on the autobahn for another 30 kilometres, then it heads off to Ljubljana, and we, like most of the cars on the road, take the narrow local road for the 60 or so kilometres to the Croatian border. We get through quite easily, but the line of cars heading north waiting to cross back into Slovenia is kilometres long. A few kilometres into Croatia we hit the motorway to Zagreb. Our road atlas, dated 2003, shows us that from Zagreb south, about 350 kilometres, we will be on local roads, but we discover that in fact the new southern motorway opened on July 1 – and we zoom down the road, except for 1 short interval where we drive over a mountaintop because the tunnel through the mountain won’t open until next year. We see hundreds of cars with German, Dutch, Polish, Czech, Slovak, British, Italian and of course our French license plates, all heading south, all fully loaded with gear. We go through a long tunnel and emerge on the other side to views of the ocean – we have passed from the valley to the coast.
We leave the highway and drive the last few kilometres on the coast road, bumper to bumper and moving very slowly. (The tolls for the motorway, about C$25, seem well worth the price.) We find Primošten, find parking (harder than finding the town itself, as it is overflowing with people), the bridge connecting the island to the mainland is no longer recognizable as a bridge, but in aerial photos, the island still looks like an island, albeit an island connected to the mainland. We meet Stefan, and start the winding walk up to Stara Vila.
When we get to the villa, we find a charming place. Dusha, our official hostess, shows us our room. It is a wonderful white bedroom off a treed courtyard.
On sight I fall in love with the place, and contemplate luxuriously lazy naps in the stark white coolness of this chamber.