Days 5-6 - Croatia
Last night after getting soaked on Vrsic Pass in Slovenia, I ended up stopping at B&B near Udine in Italy for the night. I didn’t fancy camping all wet and this was the cheapest room I could find. For 10 pounds I got a bed, dinner and breakfast – cheaper than some campsites plus I got fed!
I was glad to see the sun out when I woke up in the morning. I wished I stopped somewhere before Slovenia last night so that I could do Vrsic pass in the sun this morning, instead in the rain the previous afternoon (this pass had 50 cobbled hairpin bends). Was even tempted to turn back and do it again, but that would mean riding at least an hour back and forward again so I just went to Croatia instead.
This was the route I did that day:
Udine (Italy) – Trieste – Koper – Pula (Croatia) – Opatija – Rijeka – Crni Lug – Tuk Vojni – Povile
The plan was to head to Croatia and ride around Istria peninsula (to Pula then to Rijeka) and then see what next. The sun was out and it was warm so I wanted to stop at some beach and go for a swim.
Still in Italy:
Slightly further there was a beach near Trieste in Italy. Stopped there and wanted to go for a swim, but beach was rocky and water was actually freezing cold so only went in the water up to my knees. After half an hour or an hour later set off again.
Next it was to Pula. At first views were not any spectacular and roads were ok, quite twisty and generally good but not super amazing. I was so hot at some point that I decided to take jacket off and just ride in a top (not something I do very often), but I put it back on not long later as it was cold at higher speeds.
Views started getting better near Plomin, on the eastern side of Istria peninsula:
From there on the road was amazing (road 66 between Plomin – Opatija). It was probably one of the best roads in Croatia. There was a lot of bikers trying to get their knee down on the corners – it would also be me if I didn’t have all the luggage on and if I had leathers with knee sliders on, instead of jeans! (only ever managed to get knee down once or twice though)..
Plomin on the left and Opatija on the right:
Here’s the video of this part:
After that I wanted to go more in-land. I wanted to do a mix of coastal roads and twisty back roads inland. I looked at a map and picked some small twisty roads after Rijeka.
There were almost no straight bits of road at all, it was corner after corner for hours. Road was mostly going through the woods but every now and then views were like this (Gornji Zagon):
Roads were very quiet and I passed some tiny villages every now and then. I was zooming in on the map and kept picking some random, small twisty roads. One of these roads went past small village Tuk and after that road started going uphill with a lot of gravel and narrow bends. Then there was a no entry sign (only for locals), so I turned back.
I started heading towards the coast again – towards Novi Vinodolski. Started getting worried about my fuel as usually my sat nav shows any petrol stations within 50 miles range, but it wasn’t showing any. I was hoping that there would be some petrol station along the way that maybe isn’t marked on my sat nav. But there wasn’t any. Eventually my sat nav showed 20 miles to next petrol station – in Klenovica. I thought great, I should make it as I only just switched to reserve about 10 miles ago and my bike does about 30 miles on reserve.
But there was no petrol station. Well, there was. But it was shut for ages. There was some holiday park behind it so went to check if anyone is around and ask where the nearest petrol station is. They said 5 miles, in Novi Vinodolski. Actually I went through Novi Vinodolski 5 minutes ago but didn’t see any petrol station. Turns out there was one in different part of the town that I didn’t go through earlier.
I looked in the tank – empty, tried to shake it – no noise of any petrol at all. But the bike started, so I headed there.
Couple miles later my bike started dying and eventually stopped completely. Great, I will now need to push it for some 2 or 3 miles with some sections up the hill. With not much choice I started pushing it. It was main coastal road though which was very busy.
Two minutes later two Italian bikers (a couple on one bike) stopped and asked what’s wrong. I said that I ran out of fuel. They asked if I have some bottle so they can put fuel from their bike in it, then into my bike. Found some empty juice bottle, I said one bottle would be enough but they insisted to put two in my tank. I said there is a petrol station 2 miles up the road and I will fill their tank in return, but they said they have 47 liter tank and they don’t need fuel. Thanked them for stopping and for saving me having to push my bike and went to petrol station in Novi Vinodolski to fill it up to full.
It was getting late so I had to find a campsite. I went back again the same way where I ran out of petrol – there were signs for a campsite in Povile. I couldn’t find the right turn off though. Went back and forward 3 times, tried one turn off which was steep down the hill but it wasn’t there, so back to the main road and tried another turn off. Finally found it. There was no one there to pay so I guessed it was either still off-season or there used to be a campsite some time ago. There were no barriers or anything so I just put my tent up there. The view was amazing. It was probably the best place I have camped so far, or one of the best anyway.
Look at that view!
(You can buy this tent here: https://amzn.to/2RrN88P)
There were a lot of spiders though. And I hate spiders. But for the views like these.. I could live with that.
Here’s the video from the second half of the day:
This was the view in the morning:
The plan for today was to check out Plitvice lakes and ride more inland. This was the route I did:
I packed my tent and set off towards Plitvice Lakes (Plitvicka Jezera). Instead going the fastest route (straight and probably more boring) I looked at a map and picked more twisty route.
I didn’t do much research about Plitvice Lakes before and I thought I would maybe spend 10 minutes here, see the lakes and get back on the road… It turned out that I had to hike few miles to get to the lakes. There were several options: from 2-3 hours the shortest route to 8 hours the longest. I thought ok, I’m here now so I may as well do it.
I picked 2-3 hours route. Left my bike at the car park, strapped my jacket to the bike and followed my route. First I had to get across one lake on the boat. After that it was just 3 or 4 miles hike (more like 4 miles I think), following the arrows with my route code.
I was glad that I was wearing jeans on this trip rather than leather trousers, or I would never do this hike. Walking boots instead of proper bike boots was also a good idea. If I came off the bike they wouldn’t protect me that well but at least they were comfy. I should have left hoodie at my bike also though – it was so hot and carrying it with me for 4 miles didn’t help.
Anyway it was worth it though:
At the end of my route (2-3 hours route) there was a bus that takes people back to the main car park. Got on the bus and went back to my bike. The whole route took me about 1 and half hours as I was walking quite fast.
I got back on the bike and followed some more twisty in-land roads, before I eventually headed towards the coast near Sibenik.
Here’s the video:
When I got to the coast I really wanted to go for a swim. I found a beach in Split. It was getting late in the afternoon so I decided to go for a quick swim and then find some campsite.
I found a campsite in Stobrec, a little bit past Split. While setting my tent up some biker came up to talk to me, he was from Germany if I remember right but he didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak German. He showed me his route on the map and I showed him my route, it’s funny that even though we don’t speak the same language can still communicate.
I decided to go back out on the bike to get something to eat, as I was really hungry. I went to McDonalds as it was not far away and cheap (although not the best food on the planet).. It was dark already so had it quickly and went back to the campsite. Went for a quick shower then went to sleep.