It was such a beautiful day as I saddled up and pedalled up and out of Karlobag. First I needed to buy some fruit and specifically bananas. They’re great for energy. At the start of each day I think through what I’d like to eat and a thing I never expected to ever say would have been that I would have been delighted to find a Subway. Just to get a simple sandwich and some crisps (chips) would have been fine.
The ride along the coast had yesterday been up and down but the traffic was light and some of the views dramatic. The views continued to delight but the climb was all up and the type and volume of traffic changed; became fast and furious. Small ferry stations (that connected the islands) were shipping cars, camper vans, trucks and motor cycles across. I think that because the vehicles had to wait for boarding, wait to cross the water and then wait to disembark it came to resemble the start of a Formula 1 GP when they eventually got off. On the single track road cars jockeyed for position to overtake and motorcycles just did it! I was caught up in all this.
I lost count of the number of stretches where a car would pop out behind a camper van/ bus/ truck and overtake. The only problem was that I was only 50 yards away on the other side of the narrow road. As they squeezed by at Mach 4 I would either indicate that they were mental by pointing at my temple or use another well known English hand gesture that suggested that they liked sex (by themselves). Senj came and I found a restaurant down a side alley out of the glaring sun and had a glorious lunch.
Back on the road then as we got further north and nearer to my campsite at Crikvenica trucks became very common. These trucks were mainly articulated (semi – trailer), which made space tight. I’ve said before that professional drivers do have brains and courtesy ordinarily and whilst they may kill you it won’t be through negligence! On one stretch the traffic halted behind a recovery vehicle and behind that was a crumpled 3 Series BMW and some other hot hatch. All the result of this race track mentality.
You may wonder about my communication with home? I usually speak with Anna everyday and then there is WhatsApp and text. However, I am also tagged and via ‘Find Friends’ (on our iPhones) Anna always know where I am.
By 5pm I was torched by the heat and pulled into a targeted campsite. The tent went up but I needed a hammer/mallet to put the tent pegs into the ground. I found a bunch of other Croatian campers chatting and started with the winning line of “Do you speak English?” A chap there couldn’t have been more helpful and he found another ‘resident’ with the said device. I have to say that the Croats were always kind, helpful and courteous, if not driving, and I never felt in danger during my time there. Also whilst I never tested this then I didn’t think that any theft or crime was likely.
So down to the sea to bathe my legs – the sea wasn’t very cold! Later I had some spaghetti and hit the sack.
Busy campsites on the coast possess children. (Anyone would think that they deserved a holiday by the seaside!) They make a noise running around and shouting late into the night whilst mother and father take that next glass of wine safe in the knowledge the campsite is sealed. This was noisy for a tired man trying attempting to fall asleep. Added to that was a distant cafe bar with a singer who murdered most covers of 1980’s American chart classics. Stevie Wonder would have sought litigation but in fairness Donna Summer would have maybe been less upset.
I’ve stopped mentioning other tourers. They are simply far too many to mention. They are mostly heading south to Greece. With this heat have you lost your minds? Personally I would like to visit Albania but not in July or August. Olly and Aaron, from Cornwall, two millennials got to the site at around 7.30pm. That is pushing it on a campsite on this busy coast. They had tales of a hellish ride from Slovenia to Croatia – not what I wanted to hear as I was doing the reverse trip the next day. They had wild camped in Slovenia for three nights, I think a shower and some restaurant food held a great attraction to them.
The next day saw me follow Google Maps and my Garmin route to Rijeka. It was convoluted and I’d done 400 metres by the time I cycled through this unattractive port. For the sake of completeness I thought I’d cycle through the pedestrian precinct with its shops and restaurants.
Here I discovered ‘Mecca’: my first McDonalds for hundreds of miles! I locked up the bike and took a photo.
To the right you can see an old boy. As I’m locking the bike up to facilitate a quick entry to the temple he kicks off in Croatian about something. Two younger guys nearby looked similarly nonplussed. They translated that by leaving my bike there I was undermining his access and egress. Pillock. He wasn’t even a customer but just taking a breather on a free seat! Being the nice guy I am (occasionally) I moved the bike and went in search of a McChicken meal.
On my return he’d left – no doubt his minders in white coats armed with a syringe had tracked him down and had shoved him into the back of a van sedated. However, no seats remained and so Ian gave up his seat and I got talking my him and Marko.
Ian’s parents spent six years in Australia and hence the name. Both chaps worked in a nursery (tomato plants not children) and they’d got up at 3.30 am to start a 230 km bike ride. Beyond epic. I had an interesting chat with Marko about why Croatia hadn’t joined the Euro. He wasn’t keen as he observed then all it did was put up prices. Eventually the boys had to go and so did I.
I then had to ride up 500 metres to a town call Viškovo. In the heat and with unspeakable gradients I did quite a lot of pushing. This hill was unreal and I’ve cycled enough to have some perspective. After this climb I still had another 100 metres upwards before the Slovenia border presented itself.
A few drops of rain fell as I was struggling up the last bit and just as I’m looking forward to a great photo opportunity at the border torrential rain fell (with thunder). Why always me? All I could do was take cover as rain bounced back up off the road for 30 minutes. However, no photos.
Despite ending with hail the sun quickly came out and I descended into my second country of the trip, Slovenia. The main thing I know about the country, apart from previously being part of Yugoslavia, was that the long suffering Melania Trump is a native. She certainly knows how to lay on a welcome!
Hills to climb were splendid easy gradients and all the buildings had an Austrian appearance with lots of small holdings. Industry also was evident with this chipboard mill.
What a difference, all green and alpine scenery. I pushed onto a previously researched campsite within a delightful setting. I got there at well after 7.30 pm, it looked like that laundry would have to wait!