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Published: October 14th 2010
Drying out on the Train
It was not a good start to 2 weeks of riding
Thunder and Lightning in Venice!
That's what woke us up and what we rode through to the train station. Even the short trip left us soaked. We left from the Statione San Lucia for Trieste where we planned to start riding. We were so wet, we draped our clothes on the seats. The train people were great about the bikes going on the train and the extra fare was reasonable. A few stops later Ray from England came on with his bike. He was a bit ahead of the storm so he was not quite as wet as we were.
All three of us left Trieste together. The skies were clearing and it looked like a good day ahead. We were so bad at getting out of the city we actually went on the autostrade and were flashed off by the Polizia. Lesson here - if it looks like an autostrade and the cars are speeding up the ramp, it probably is. Ray veered off to Koper while we went inland to Slovenia. We met Ray again in the middle of nowhere. Not to say anyone was lost, but it was pretty funny.
There were times that day, it
a little Istrian town
was raining so hard you could not see the chickens on the roads. In one place we took shelter in a bus stop with surly teens. They would not speak English or help with directions. Lorry was happy to Sveti Anton in her rear view mirror with its 15%!g(MISSING)rade. Finally we found our way because a lost electrician would speak English and there was a huge wine country tourist map that got us on track. It cleared by the afternoon. There were beautiful hill rides with big valley vistas as we swooped down to the Slovenia/Croatia border. I choked up seeing the border crossing. It was hard to believe we had really made it.
We ended the day in Buzet. It is a lovely town in a river valley, but with an old town on the hill above. We stayed at renovated Hotel Fontana, where other bikes were parked in a corner of the lobby. Dinner was all truffles at a local restaurant in the old town. We arrived at the peak of truffle season and enjoyed the treat.
The Istrian penisula had good roads and moderate traffic, probably because we were in off season.
We followed a smaller local road out of Buzet headed for the ferry at Brestova on the western coast. Until Pazin, I think the only traffic was road repair trucks. We stopped and explored the small hill town of Draguc. It was much like a Tuscan hill town. The ride itself had hills and more hills. At Pazin we followed the main road to Brestova. Gracisce, on the hill out of Pazin, was another perfect spot to stop, right at the top of a huge hill. Traffic was steady and we learned quickly to watch out for on coming cars passing vehicles. Dan had a passing car heading right for him when the truck it was passing moved enough for the car to squeak by. We made the decision to use our bright green rain covers on the front of Dan's bike and the back of Lorry's for warning to cars. Note: our usual riding order was Dan in front, Lorry in back.
On to Cres
In what seemed like our luck of the trip we got the ferry at Brestova just before it left. We made a promise to ourselves not to let ferry schedules dictate our pace
Dan loved the old buildings
and that turned out to be a good thing as we most often arrived with a few minutes to spare and rarely had a long wait. We quickly learned that a ferry port at sea level means a great down hill in and a steep long climb on the other side. Use the time on the ferry to rehydrate and stretch! The climb out of Porozina on Cres, after a half-hour ferry trip, was incredible. It went from zero to 650 meters in about 13 kilometers of climbing. At the top is a huge lookout well worth stopping. We made it to Cres town and used the tourist information to secure a room. Cres town is on the water meaning another nice descent at the end of the day. It was well deserved as we had covered almost 110 kilometers.
Cres was a great stop. The riva is broad and makes a U-turn with boats lining the bay. There were lots of caffe-bars and restaurants. After enjoying wine at a local wine bar that poured out of vats, we had a good fish dinner at a restaurant they recommended. Our only flat of the day was finding a flat
a typical alley way in Draguc
on Dan's bike in the morning. We were fortunate to be able to repair it before we started out.
The ride out of Cres to the next ferry was as steep and hilly as the ride in. We finally made it to the ridge and rode that for awhile before starting a long descent to Merag. The ferry was waiting and we were on our way to Krk.
What we learned about ferries
Much of our bike trip involved taking ferries. We expected that in order to enjoy many spots along the Adriatic. We did not have our planning as well as we could have if we had understood the system. Jadrolinja, the main Croatian ferry line is decidedly not bike friendly. Only certain vessels will carry bikes. No catamaran routes will take bicycles. This limited us to islands served by full ships only and required a change in plans.
The charge for a bicycle is the same as a motorcycle and more than a person. Some Australian guys told us they would ask truck or van drivers waiting at the ferry if they could load the bikes in the truck or van. We had good luck
Dan took alot of stone window frame photos
doing that, especially when the trip was during the week. If we did it again, we would consider break apart bikes, that could be carried on in any type boat in a case. For anyone planning, consider your route by which ships carry bikes. The N&K line from Dubrovnik to Mljet did not care and the bikes cost about one-half a person's fare. Unfortunately, the line is pretty local and has few routes.
Good:Truffles in Buzet
Bad: The near death experience
Indifferent: Being so jet-lagged you forget your bought round trip tickets train tickets for you and the bikes when you get back to Trieste.
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