Les Trois Escargots

A growing family of snails.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Croatia - Part 1

We left London with my bike (the only one with welded mounts for a rear rack) laden with two panniers, a rucsac and two cardboard bike boxes. We rode to Liverpool Street and dismantled the bikes before putting them in the bike boxes and taking the train to Stansted. Who said travelling by bikes was easy? The Ryanair flight arrived late and we reassembled the bikes in Zadar airport finishing just as they turned off the lights. A short ride took us to a coastal village where we put up the tent on a campsite. An angry short German woman hissed that it was private so we moved next door and finally got into our sleeping bags about 15 hours after leaving the house in London.

On the second day, we rode through grim industrial estates and on roads with dangerously fast traffic. The first 8 km took almost two hours and we were beginning to get disillusioned with Croatia. However the pretty walled town of Zadar and a kilo of sweet cherries lifted spirits and we rode on to a small village called Petrcane where we found a tiny campsite within spitting distance of the sea. We pitched camp and swam in the fresh, cool water.

The next day we rode north to visit the tiny town of Nin on a small island. My energy levels were flagging until I ate a huge creme brulee ice cream and I could then face the hill out of town. A pleasant detour took us to a sandy peninsula where we covered ourselves in black, therapeautic mud. In the evening, we watched a pod of dolphins slice through the oily pink water and drank cold beer at a local BBQ to watch the Croatia v Russia Euro qualifier.

An early start to catch the ferry from Zadar to Mali Losinj, a pretty port on the island of Losinj. The ferry took seven hours as we meandered between rocky islands clad with pines. At the small ports, hand carts were wheeled on to the ferry, filled and then wheeled off. We camped in a huge campsite with capacity for 2000 people, though thankfully it was pretty empty, and swam in a small cove before pizza and beer in the evening.

We headed south to Veli Losinj to visit the Dolphin project and to swim in a stunningly beautiful bay with clear blue water. After a late lunch, we rode north along Losinj island before camping at the pretty village of Nerezine where we had a refreshing swim after some hot hours on the bikes.

We crossed a small bridge the next morning onto the island of Cres with large campervans from Germany and Austria roaring past us. It was hot and the dust stuck to us especially when we turned off the road onto a dirrt track and rattled our way for 15 km off road. The 20+ kilos on the rear rack hammered the back wheel of my bike. We ate lunch at a restaurant high on the cliffs on the west coast before freewheeling for a good half hour to the cove village of Valun where we camped.

It was a hard start the next day with 10% climbs interspersed with gliding downhills for the first few hours as we crossed the island to the ferry port. A short crossing to Krk and another off road ride through lovely shaded woodland and olive groves rich with wild flowers. We rested by the sea in Krk Town and camped just out of town. In the evening we wandered the pretty harbour before eating pizza and ice cream after a hard day's riding.


Post a Comment

<< Home