A large and quiet pitch under olive trees for shade, with every convenience and pools and beaches within walking distance, made Dubrovnik a perfect place for a long stay “vacation from our vacation”, even in high season. I was concerned about where I would spend the worst of the high season in August when everyone in Europe is on vacation, but this turned out much better than expected.
Autocamp Solitudo (www.valamar.com) is the closest campsite to the city center and quite luxurious because it is connected to four hotels, so all of their amenities (several beaches, several pools, mini golf, tennis, free kids club, stores, restaurants etc.) are available to campers. It does get crowded in high season, especially with Italian RV’s, but because we got an exceptionally huge and mostly private site (we parked our motor home in a perpendicular way which added more privacy) it never seemed crowded to us.
We have lots of room in front and behind the camper and use all of it at different times of the day. We actually moved her tent to the front section after a few days as it is shaded by a big oak tree and is easier for us to watch while we are inside. We notice as August wanes, that Netherlander, Austrian and German campers are out numbering the Italians now.
We also have a very different schedule than most campers when we are on a long stay, so we usually are in a deserted and very quiet campsite, because everyone else is up and out moving to another campsite or to tour or to the beach for the day. We made up a family saying while here, “They roll in and they roll out!” because it can be busy in the early morning (when the first ferry arrives and departs) and again around dinner time and no one seemed to stay more than a few days. The rest of the time it is extremely quiet and peaceful and we have the whole place to ourselves as others come and go.
It is a great place for Mozart and she got busy right away getting her tent up, bicycle out and building a huge city with all her tiny toys, building things, along with using rocks and twigs and anything that she found. Every day it was something new and she never ran out of ideas. If she could not build something she conned her dad into making things like a hammock out of an onion bag or ladder out of twigs and crazy glue for her ever expanding city.
She had a blast making boats out of aluminum foil on a lake she made out of a blue sheet of paper, painted with waves and held down by rocks. She made a church with a cross and included her little Mary icon souvenir from Mary’s house in Turkey. She made a travel agency, separate people and pet cemeteries, an office, school, museum, horse ranch, prison, hospital and heart machine,volcano, swimming pool, and more. I am sometimes amazed at what she comes up with and how involved she gets with this play.
She loved her little village and played for hours each day with complex story and family patterns that she would explain to us from time to time. She also got to catch up on some homeschool, piano and violin which she would usually do in the morning after breakfast. She filled her tent with books and sometimes would do her reading in there or really anywhere as she always grabs one when having a snack or meal.
She was often “cooking” at a barbecue stove she made with rocks lit by a match she made out of an old plastic cup we got while touring and making various potions. My personal favorite is a special cake that she made with mud and some kind of nut that she had gathered in the woods and MOM written on it with twigs. You never know what this kid is cooking up.
A long stay was also great for making things with Snap Circuit which she absolutely loves. She would make experiments with that every day if we allowed it and has quite a knack for following the directions and creating these working electrical gadgets that actually light up, make noise or fan you and such. She would just get tickled pink making them work as she is a natural inventor and scientist in many ways. I think it is the most fun learning toy that I have ever seen and I am grateful that it is small enough to bring with us (minus packaging). She is already begging for the large kit for the future and I see lots of years use out of this clever open ended toy.
She would jump rope to songs that she learned from a book that was a present long ago, fly a kite that was also a present before we left, make mud pies with baby wild olives for decoration. On hot days she would have amazing fun just filling the dish bucket with water from the faucet nearby and pouring it on herself, dunking her head, washing her dolls or giving us a “water massage”. Kids really can make such fun out of nothing and it is a contagious joy to watch. This time together is just as priceless as the wonderful touring.
She talked her dad into a set that had badminton, bocce balls, and a ball and sticky paddle game that we decided to call “goodminton” and yet another raft for the pool. Thus we had those active games to play along with our book of games (checkers, chinese checkers, etc...yep, another departing gift) and scrabble. It was nice to have the time to really enjoy these things together and do a lot of just hanging out. She is so much luckier than other world travelers as she gets to bring more toys with her because of the RV and our stay in Spain, altho every piece we have with us is thought over and chosen with care as space is still at a premium. It is astounding how good one gets at minimizing and compacting.
The pool and beaches were fabulous and a treat that Mozart rarely missed. She especially liked the pool as she prefers non salt water to swim and play in and she often rode to it on the back of the bike with her dad in the afternoon looking just like a European kid. She really loved the “kids club” there which was a room full of toys where the kids could stay for free if the parents needed a babysitter. We never used it alone, but she did manage to go to the free ice cream party almost every day that she dearly loved and always had some friends to meet for a while. Kylie was a special friend that she enjoyed who was from Washington, but now was living in Denmark.
They also have a thing in Europe that we have come across frequently that is called “ baby disco”. Boys and girls of all ages and families gather in a group “fun dance” to songs like the “hokey pokey” led by someone from the kids club. Mozart is big on dancing, so got a kick out of that and especially liked a cute new Spanish one that she learned here.
She enjoys just walking to town to pick up groceries and such and has gotten to know the city well. There are parks and harbors that she likes to visit on the way and loves spotting fish or crabs each visit. They can handle the heat and long walks on hills better than I can, so she usually goes with her dad and often they take a taxi back if they are full of groceries from the hypermarket. (They have a grocery store here on site, but the hypermarkets have much better prices and a better selection). When we take a bus together, she is always pointing out all the places that she has been as she knows this city well. They rave about a cake dessert that they happened upon at a pastry shop, which I still have to try.
They have a great slide here into the water that is really fast and Mozart loves. Luckily the water is very salty, or she would be on it more and she goes a little too fast for my taste. I prefer the quieter more primitive beach, but it is all beautiful where ever you look with islands and boats. It has been very soothing to have beach, pools and Old Town all at our disposal.
We have been on the road for five months straight now, a year total and have been to ten countries and seen enough for twenty lifetimes. It is really good to be stationary for a while in a lovely spot as life is just different when we are moving and when we are on a long stay. It is necessary to have the balance. We would never have the time to let all the toys out or allow the “little city” to expand like it has here naturally or even catch up on the blog, without the luxury of a long stay that allows us to “live” in a new place.
We get to know other campers and people visiting the hotels (from all over Europe), but we also get to know the staff that lives and works here. We have become quite fond of a young professional bassoon player that works here in the summer as his day job. He led us to a wonderful local female dentist where I got my teeth clean. Both DaVinci and Mozart got their hair cut at a beauty salon in Old Town, which was an enjoyable experience on the road as usual, with two cute and fun young girls. We are even getting to know some of the cabbies and people at the stores. Yes, this turned out to be a very good spot to spend most of August and enjoy a little long stay summer “holiday”!