Pula to Plitvicka: if Croatia has flat bits, we haven’t seen them yet!

  

Sunday 12th July

Miles: 49

This morning Eric realised that our front derailleur was bent out of shape. My guess is that it happened when we leaned it against a tree and accidentally put all the pressure on there. As a result it was jamming the chain, and there was no way we could ride the bike until it was fixed. 

Eric got really mad and started swearing in a Yorkshire accent (but very quietly as it was 8 in the morning). I was tempted to state the obvious but unhelpful truth that ‘Getting angry isn’t going to help,’ possibly adding the phrase ‘is it?’ just to be extra irritating. However, I have seen this reaction in Eric several times when something breaks: like an intellectual Hulk, he gets mad, and somehow in his rage he comes up with a solution to the problem – his anger makes him smarter (not so much ‘HULK SMASH’ as ‘ERIC FIX’). So I said nothing, and soon enough, in between language that would make a pirate blush, Eric had figured out how the front dérailleur worked, got out his multi-tool and repaired it. We were out of the campsite by 8.30. Well done Eric. 

We pedalled inland for the first part of the morning, eventually cycling over a large hill which led us to an interesting-looking valley. It was like some large round hills had been dropped onto a completely flat surface.

  
We cycled along the base of the valley before our path inevitably took us up one of the hills. We slowly climbed upwards. We reached the top, turned the corner, and we were back on the coast.

  
The hilly, hilly, beautiful, hilly coast.

  
We spent the rest of the afternoon amongst the coastal hills, working hard but seeing some amazing views. 

  
  
It was a hot day. We glugged litres and litres of liquids, mostly treating ourselves to Powerade – so good!

We finished the day in a campsite that was opposite a tiny little beach, which was filled to the brim with sun beds.

Skimming stones.  


Monday 13th July

Miles: 53

The beautiful hills of the Croatian coast continue… 

  
The hills weren’t steep, but they were long. 

  
We cycled around quite a few bays filled with clear, turquoise water.

  
We were parallel to Krk, one of Croatia’s big islands, for a lot of the day.

      
In a supermarket car park we realised that we had cycled exactly 3000 miles. Woohoo!

For the first time in a while we had some cloud cover, and we cycled through our first spot of rain in about 3 weeks. It felt quite nice. What began as a refreshing breeze slowly turned into a fierce headwind throughout the day, making the hills quite hard work by mid-afternoon. 

We stopped at a campsite perched right on the coast with some stunning views of the sea. The wind did a good job of drying our washing during the evening. 

  

Tuesday 14th July

Rest day

The wind gusted away during the night, and was still going strong in the morning. After a look at the weather forecast we decided to wait for a day so as not to cycle in a potentially dangerous headwind (it wasn’t a very hard decision. We were right by a beach, and this campsite has wifi). 

I spent the morning washing clothes and updating the blog. Eric finally finished reading Moby Dick. We had an unnecessarily large set menu lunch – just £9 for the both of us. I love Croatia.

  
After lunch I finally finished the blog updating and then headed down to the little beach, immediately wondering why I’d spent so long in front of a screen when this was a few metres from the tent.

   
 The white cliffs are part of Krk, one of Croatia’s larger islands. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent taking nice dips in the cool sea and lying around in the heat. It has been good to appreciate the sea as tomorrow we turn inland, and won’t see a coast again until the north of France! 


Wednesday 15th July

Miles: 60

We knew it was going to be hot, so set off by 7.30AM while it was relatively cool. We are totally getting the hang of this early morning business. 

The sea was super calm, and we could see the white cliffs of Krk clearly across the water. 

  
We followed the coastline for about an hour and then turned inland. We knew we had a large climb ahead, as on our map we could see that the next town was at almost 500 metres above sea level. Sure enough, we began to steadily ascend. 

Views on the way up.

  
… and two hours later, here’s our final view of the Adriatic from 700 metres above sea level.

  
I felt a pang leaving the sea behind as we began our well-earned descent. There’s always something exciting about seeing the edge of the land. 

Down we went into a flat-ish valley. We reached a little town called Otocac and devoured a family-sized loaf, packet of ham, cheese, an orange and 7 “strudel” bars between us. 

Then we cycled on.    

Hills in the distance started looming. The road began to rise. ‘Uh oh’ we thought. We began the next hill and saw the cyclist’s portent of doom: a 10% incline road sign. We groaned. We pedalled. 

On the way up we found a free camping spot where we filled our water bottles and patted some very soppy dogs on the head.

  
Over the top we went. There was a run-down looking town on the other side where I bought us some Lucozade style drinks (it took a while as I was behind the local alcoholic in the supermarket queue, who spent ages drunkenly talking to the cashier). Outside the supermarket several more drunk-looking men were sitting on the steps. I’m sure they were harmless, but we wheeled our bike on and drank our drinks elsewhere. 

We cycled through another flat-ish valley along a beautiful quiet road.

  
Some houses were being built, many were run-down or abandoned.

  
Everywhere there were stalls by the side of the road selling locally produced honey, jam and cheese. Ever since entering Croatia we have seen these everywhere – often in the middle of nowhere. If you’re someone who gets a strong hankering for a wheel of cheese while you’re driving through the countryside, Croatia is the place for you! 

Some more nice views.

    
Our campsite was just 5 miles away when we hit the last incline. It was tough, but we knew that after this we would be done for the day, which makes things a lot better. 

When we reached the top we had that satisfying “ta da” moment, where the view is your reward.

  
Then we sped down hairpin bends, and a mile later arrived at our campsite, rolling through the gate at about 4.45.

Eric said this was our biggest day yet in terms of combining miles cycled with metres ascended. He’s probably right. 

On that note, time for bed!

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