Bicycle touring from Caorle, Veneto, Italy to Karlovac in Croatia. Crossing Slovenia in a rush. A daily report.
Caorle – San Giorgio di Nogaro
Since we are in a comfortable camping we wake up late, around 9:30. It is already very hot, there are 30 degrees and not pull a breath of air.
We pack our things calmly.
An Alpino asks us where we came from and tells us that as a young man he was an amateur cyclist and that even now, at age 76, he makes his 40-50 kilometers rides.
Everyone always asks us where we come from, no one has ever asked where are we going. I don’t know, maybe they think that the place where they live must be the destination, no matter what.
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However, with the phlegm that distinguishes us, we are ready to depart at 12.00.
We find out that the guy who runs the campsite knew about us, we had been in touch through the internet forum “Il Cicloviaggiatore“, what a coincidence! It for sure deserves a picture together.
He tries to explain to us a quiet route but we get lost and end up doing some 40km more than due.
The road does not have anything in particular, passing through fields, fields, fields and more fields. We share the road with tractors looking like huge dinosaurs.
We arrive in the village of San Giorgio. ice cream and beer. Just outside the village, there is a kind of grove where we sleep. It’s full of fireflies!
San Giorgio di Nogaro – Bosco Bazzoni
At about 10:00 am we are cycling towards Monfalcone. Daniele still has strong pain in his knee, we stop, we take the medicine bag and inside we find ants, not a few ants but an army of one hundred red and black ants, everywhere.
We still don’t understand why instead of assaulting the food they preferred the Oki. However, somehow we got rid of these traveling companions.
Then, stop at the local hospital where they finally make the miraculous puncture to Daniele. Pain is gone, like magic. God bless painkillers.
Up to Monfalcone nothing noticeable, fields and little else. Very nice instead of the scenic route to Trieste. At the top, there was a small tunnel called “the tunnel of the horn“.
In fact every car that passing by honked like it was mandatory. We do not know why, if you know or find out please tell us!
Then around the waterfront of Trieste, with its iconic wind, arriving in Piazza Unità d’Italia.
After a beer in the nice square we head to the Slovenian border, and here begins the hell, also known as the first climb of our lives. Somehow we manage.
I have never got off the bike and with an average of 8.5 km/h (with peaks of 5.5) I reached the top. Happy! And with a gentleman who keeps on giving me directions, walking beside me at the same speed I’m doing cycling, he even expects me to answer him!
We made our 70km, four are left to the border. Hard to leave this Italy.
However, just before the descent, we decide to pitch a tent in the woods along the road. A very nice groove, full of flowers and perfumes.
Daniele also says there’s a sprite of the forest around us. I hope it’s a good one…
We eat just in time to avoid the coming downpour, perhaps thanks to the forest’s Totoro.
There are thunders and lightning, even inside the tent and we have to shout to hear each other. Hopefully tomorrow the weather will be better.
Bosco Bazzoni – Divaci (Slo)
After the night storm, we wake up with beautiful sunshine. We start towards the Slovenian border, which is only 4km away, but the Président has a problem with the front brake. So we detour again to Bazovica to find a mechanic. So hard to leave this damn Italy.
Here in Trieste’s province, everything is closed on Mondays, all day long, and today, of course, it’s Monday! Lucky us. They tell us to try to Opčine, 10 kilometers further, but there everything is closed too.
Just when we just decided to spend the day drinking Lasko Pivo a gentleman at the bar tells us that after the border to Sezana there is a repair shop and that they are open over there, in Slovenia.
So we finally cross the damn border with Slovenia, basically, just a sign that looks like the Eurospin logo. But we left Italy, and this starts to feel like a long trip.
Besides the fact that I would feel safer wearing a motorbike helmet more than a bicycle one, the scenery is fine.
The fist Slovenian town has nothing special but the bike shop where we fix the brake. Koga vs. Président 1-0.
Slovenia is beautiful, full of greenery and placid woods, perfect for free camping! After dinner, we realize we’ve been watched all-time by a wild boar.
Cycling into Croatia
Pri Divaci (Slo) – Soboli (Hr)
It’s raining, raining, raining. The tent holds, for goodness sake. Around 10:30 it seems to stop so we leave, there are 9°C. That is 20 less than yesterday.
We take the shortest road to Croatia, scenically beautiful, with mountains to the right and to the left, but very busy, with lots of curves and no space to the side of the car lane.
After about ten miles we decide to stop to eat. Daniele wants Slovenian specialties: in almost all the restaurants, on the outside, there is a fireplace and a skewer going through a little pig.
Since I’m a vegetarian Daniele is basically forced to adapt, to cook two separate dinners with an alcohol stove would be a bit too complicated.
We see a place that inspires us, a little set back from the main road. The manager is nice, but no pig on a spit, sorry. On the other hand there is an endless list of dishes, and everything looks good!
When I say I am vegetarian he proposed “grilled vegetables” as always happens, without realizing that gnocchi with mushrooms and fried cheese are actually vegetarian too, yummy!
Daniele has to settle with the steak of the house, wrapped in prosciutto. As big was the meal as small was the price, great deal.
However, we get into Croatia. Still cold outside, around 10 degrees. Climb, climb, climb!
Passing through tiny villages is not so much of a change in the landscape, as it is of homes and villages.
Among which is Lipa, a hamlet of a dozen houses, where at every corner is remembered the massacre of April 30, 1944, when Italian fascists burnt the village to the ground killing women and children for reprisal against the local partisans.
A few more kilometers and climbs and we meet another village (actually ten houses) where there is a small supermarket. There is a clerk, a man with a huge mustache and a beer in hand, and a third anonymous gentleman. They look at us like we just landed from an alien planet.
After the climb begins a long descent, which unfortunately seems to end too fast. To use a culinary metaphor, it takes hours to cook a good meal, and then in 5 minutes you eat it and it’s gone.
The woods are behind and the area begins to be more populated, there aren’t many places to camp. At 8 pm, after almost 70 km, we stop in a meadow, in the shade of a few trees, just 50 meters from the road.
There is a lot of wind and cooking is a bit complicated. We rest, waiting for the real climb that awaits ahead of us, tomorrow.
Soboli- Ravna Gora
This night there was a strong wind, we woke up many times. In some fear even. Tent test No. 2, was a success.
At about 9:30 we’re almost ready to go, we speed up a bit when we realize there are sleeping goats in the neighbor’s pasture. There are 24.5°C, perfect weather.
After just 200meters the climb begins, 900 meters of ascent in a few km. I do some parts on foot, after noticing I was doing the same speed as the bike.
Almost at the top, there is a bar where an elderly lady makes us a delicious cappuccino. She was a very sweet lady, one of those old ladies with smiling eyes.
After 20 km we can see the Lokvarsko Jezero. Sure, the climb is a grind, and while you do it with a bike that weighs more than yourself you think of a lot of swearing, also inventing new ones.
Then, when you get up, you see the distant sea, you see the cars on the road, by which you came, so little and small, and you’re happy. Of the happiness that takes you as a child when for the first time you do something with your legs. Like riding a bike.
From a distance, but not too much, we see rather ominous clouds approaching. Missing only a kilometer to the lake we catch a nice hailstorm. Total frostbite of hands and feet, hail grains as big as walnuts!
I find a bus shelter just when the hail storm is over. Because, you know, the shelters are never in the right place at the right time.
In fact, as soon as we start again, it starts to rain. We stopped for supplies in Delnice and we have the most deserved of a beer. And here’s the best thing of the day (apart from the satisfaction of the climb).
The bar is run by a lady of indeterminate age but certainly remained with her mind to the ’80s, bouffant hair, big bangs, and denim jacket.
Croatian music plays. Patrons aged 50 to 60 years. All drunk. They sing all the songs and know all the words. It’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon, not bad.
When are we’re about to leave, the drunkest one begins to speak in Croatian, who, according to him, is the most understandable language in the world.
Eventually, we understand (mainly due to the less drunk) he wants to give us the keys to his house in the Shuma (do not know how to spell it), forest.
Daniele thought he was talking about Schumacher, and I was sure he was proposing a threesome. We politely decline and eventually, he offers us a beer.
The climb was not over. Some more up and down. Tonight we take a room, it seems a wise choice, here two days ago it was snowing and the thermometer was below zero!
Now we sleep in a bed, the room is as big as my house. And tomorrow we’ll cycle to Karlovac, home of the legendary beer Karlovacko. Or so we think!
Caorle – Ravna Gora
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