From Venice to Fazana: arrivederci Italy, dobardan Croatia!

  

Tuesday 7th July

Miles: 60

We were up by 6 this morning and out of the campsite by 7.40 to make the most of the cool(ish) morning. By 8.30 it was already 30 degrees.

We were cycling past a long traffic jam caused by roadworks when we witnessed a road accident. As a man on a motorbike rode past the stationary traffic, he was knocked off when a woman began a three point turn, pulling out directly in front of him. When we pulled up to help, moments after it had happened, we found the man on the floor, looking very dazed and being helped up by another couple, and the woman who had hit him sobbing hysterically at the wheel. 

He had hurt his neck and back, but was up and conscious, though quite shaken (no wonder).

It turned out that he was from Leeds. We did what we could to help, providing a witness statement, water, painkillers and some company while he called up his insurance providers so that they could sort out getting his bike picked up. It was a stressful business for him. Moments after being knocked off his bike he was having to provide account details and license plate numbers etc. I kept thinking, couldn’t the insurance company ask him all this later? He’s just been hit by a car! 

After a little while the man sent us on our way with many assurances that he would be fine. We left him with sister of the lady who had hit him, who seemed to be taking good care of him. Just before we left he handed us a bottle of prosecco as a thank you for stopping… how kind is that? He seemed like a nice guy… it says something if you can be polite and friendly just after being hit by a car and having your motorbike ruined! 

We pedalled off in a very pensive mood, the same phrase hovering silently between us: it could have been us. Scary thought. 

As we had lost some time we decided to aim for a closer campsite. The rest of the day’s cycling was uneventful. We arrived at our campsite during the afternoon, and made a new record for rip off Italy – 39 euros 40 cents! It was a packed resort campsite complete with its own artificial beach, which was actually quite pleasant. We took a walk along there in the evening, Eric seemed to enjoy himself.

  
The night drew in and the air stayed close. I unwisely lingered outside the humid tent until several mosquito bites forced me in. Inside the tent we dripped with sweat, even with the doors open. This situation was driving me crazy: can’t sleep inside, too hot. Can’t go outside, mosquitoes everywhere. Eric had a chivalrous turn and fanned me with his pillow for 15 minutes. I felt better. We lay down in our sweaty beds and eventually went to sleep. 


Wednesday 8th July

Miles: 45

Another early start to take advantage of the cooler morning, which passed quite uneventfully. In the afternoon the landscape finally started becoming hilly again, after what has probably been a week of flat roads. It was a nice change – cycling is so much more interesting with a few inclines.*

Because of the poor sleep we’d had recently we decided to treat ourselves to a short day, and checked into a campsite in the early afternoon. Oh it was great. We had a siesta in the shade, and then I did a few little jobs like washing clothes and patching up a hole in a sleeping bag, while Eric did some handstands and other such activities of childlike whimsy. 

The best thing was that as the evening drew in the clouds began to gather. It was like magic – suddenly there was shade EVERYWHERE. Once we got into the tent the thunder started, then the rain, and best of all a delicious cool breeze began wafting through the ventilation patches of the tent. 

The storm raged and we slept so happily, waking every now and again to acknowledge that it was still chucking it down before slipping back into blissful sleep. 

*I hold the right to retract this statement at any time.


Thursday 9th July

Miles: 40

We woke feeling refreshed but still kind of sleepy, and so further treated ourselves to a slow morning, eventually starting off at the leisurely hour of 10. 

We took a pretty coastal road to Trieste, which is right by the northern border of Italy. After cycling up the dull east coast of Italy it felt good to have some interesting views again.

    
Trieste was quite a nice looking place, but a pain to cycle through with its one-way systems and a set of traffic lights every 30 metres.

We eventually came out the other end of Trieste and had lunch on a bench overlooking the docks. It was our last lunch in Italy. 

  
Then not too long after lunch look what happened:

  
We cycled into Slovenia! Woohoo!

Immediate impressions were that Slovenia seems a lot cleaner and wealthier than Italy. It was all very neat and tidy, with good cycle lanes everywhere.

  
We cycled along the most coastal of coastal roads, with the Adriatic about three feet to the right of our wheels.

  
Then at around 3 we climbed one last big hill to our campsite.

  
We were both hoping that the campsite would be significantly cheaper than extortionate Italian campsites, but were a little put out to discover that we would be paying 27 euros. Ah well, at least it wasn’t 40, like two days ago.

The weather in the evening was absolutely perfect. I updated the blog on a terrace overlooking the bay. 

  

Friday 10th July

Miles: 65

We set off from our campsite in Slovenia feeling quite chipper after another good night’s sleep. We went down a big hill, then up a big hill, then down, then up, then down, then up… 

The coastal path brought us more delights this morning, including this bridge:

  
By 9 o’clock we reached the Slovenian border. We showed our passports and were permitted to leave. Thirty metres later we reached Croatian passport control and dug out the passports again. 

  
Croatia welcomed us with a large hill, which turned out to be the first of many along a hilly coastline. We spent most of the day cycling just inland from the coast, past olive groves…

  
… countryside, little villages and quite a few bars fronting pigs on rotating spits (a speciality of the Istrian coast as it turns out).

Every now and again our path would dip outwards to the coast, and we would be treated to some marvellous views.

  
We had our first stop in a Croatian supermarket. Everything is a bit cheaper – particularly the ham and meat, the vegetables are a bit more rough-looking, they love pate in tins (there was a whole section), and a lot of the food packaging is written in English (useful!). Things are also different colours, I bought some mint green peppers and a blue Fanta – madness.

We reached our campsite at just after 4. Despite the big distance and the hills we felt OK – I think not only are we more used to big days, but we are feeling the benefits of lighter luggage, better tyres, better saddles and two nights of good sleep. 

Our campsite was right on the coast. After having to move our tent because we accidentally set it up in the camper van section – oops – we found a nice shady plot and positioned ourselves to make the most of the refreshing sea breeze. 


Saturday 11th July

Rest day

We’d read that a lot of people visit Brijuni, a small island just off the coast of Fazana, so we decided to take a day off to investigate. 

We wandered along the beach to Fazana, taking some pictures along the way.

    
When we reached Fazana we were quickly set upon by boat trip organisers, all offering the same trip for the same price. Luckily we were willing victims, and were soon climbing aboard the Kristina for a very reasonable 120 kunas each – that’s about £12 per person. 

We were taken around Brijuni – though we didn’t actually stop there.

  
We were also shown Krasnica, Tito’s private island, which has now become the current Croatian president’s private island (not sure that would go down well in the UK!) as well as Gaz, an island shaped like a fish, and some other points of interest, including an old lighthouse and a military base.

    
We were then dropped off on a very tiny island called Sveti Jerolim, where we had deep fried fishy things for lunch.

  
We then had a few hours to wander round/sit about.

       
Eric did what Eric does best.

  
This island was so tiny that you could walk across it in 10 minutes. This led to lots of sitting and two icecreams. 

   
 
The boat picked us up at 4. We wandered back to the campsite. Eating out is so cheap here that we treated ourselves to a restaurant for dinner. Afterwards I persuaded Eric to come and watch the sunset by the sea. He admitted that it was ‘quite magical’. 

  
Good day off. Back to cycling tomorrow. 

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