03 September 2014

Let's be happy campers. In Croatia.

We've taken up camping, dear friends. 

Imagine the three of us, tucked snugly into our brand new instant tent in our warm sleeping bags, atop our self-inflating mattresses with our heads resting on pillows from home, as we embrace the nights and days in the great outdoors.

Alas, we have stuck to sites with electricity (in our two outings) and we have, admittedly, brought along our electric coffee pot (the American one!), and our favorite dark roast from Community along with our Polish mugs.

For us, this is a change of pace and feels A LOT like we are roughing it in the great outdoors. Being forced to use the communal bathhouse is rough, very rough for the likes of us. It's downright savage.

Some have suggested that we are  "glamping," but I'm afraid I must disagree with them. For goodness sake, we are sleeping in a tent, a tent that leaked the first time we used it, and a tent whose walls still perspire quite a bit. Even a perfectly dry tent is still a tent.

I grew up camping with my family, though not exactly in tents and certainly not in France or Croatia, the location of our first two adventures. 

Did you know that most European campgrounds don't allow open fires? The kiddos made s'mores with tea lights....sigh. And they swam in the sea and played bad mitten and cards. They did the dishes, too. (For the record, we still only have one but we had a gang of friends with us.)

The whole experiment is prompted by the youngest of us who has been begging us to camp for nearly half her life. We finally acquiesced and invested in the necessary equipment. And after our first outing, invested in more necessary equipment. Can you believe we still NEED more stuff? 

Don't judge. We don't even compare to the Germans. Have you seen a German family camp set up in a European campground? Envious. "Glamping."

Of course, necessary equipment includes lights to adorn our tent. Yes, we must be festive, friends. Most Germans don't do lights, it seems. Also necessary is gin or wine or gin AND wine.

It must be noted that we did not embark on this alone and that both outings have been in the company of friends, some experienced and some not-so-experienced. I think I like group camping. Okay. I know I love group camping with friends.

I also like the challenge of meals in the great outdoors, and I'm not exactly ready to PB&J-it entirely just yet. The good news is that both France and Croatia have lovely grocery stores stocked with fine foods for camp meals (read: cheese, salami, olives, fresh fruits and veggies & wine)...and that restaurants are not off limits to our style of camping.

We hope to fit in another weekend before the cold arrives. Or...wait...did it ever leave? What a weird summer in Northern Italy!

Our first camping experience was five days near Lake Annecy in France, and for this recent three-day weekend we ventured to Croatia, where we stayed at Camp Polari just south of Rovinj on the Istrian Peninsula. (These photos are from the most recent trip.)

The campground in Croatia was huge, institutionalized, and packed, but it was also clean, quiet, and well-run. Our sizable pitch was in a quaint area full of crooked pines. Huge = 4900 possible guests. Oddly enough, the shore, which was a two minute walk from our campsite, never seemed crowded. We spent the days lounging under the olive trees that dotted the bay or taking walks along the forested coast as our kids swam in the Adriatic Sea. I'd return there in a heartbeat to camp among the Germans, who made up about ninety percent of the guests at this campground. 

We are making lots of observations as we take up this new "hobby," but Richard's was the most poignant. After a particularly lovely day and evening among friends, as we walked through the campground back to our tent, he observed: "Campers are happy people." It's simple, it's true. And we always welcome more "happy" into our lives.  Lord knows we need it. So, yes, "Let's be happy campers."


  1. Gorgeous photos! Wishing you many happy trips!

  2. i love this for a gazillion reasons - and yes, let's get back to 'happy' - and savoring each moment. and doing so under the stars, well, no matter how you do it - you simply can't beat it.

  3. Lovin' your sense of adventure!!

  4. This is beautiful! And the pictures are fab, too. My husband has been trying to convince me to go camping for months now. This may have just about given me the push to try it.