Wrapup of Croatia and the entire trip

The traffic in Croatia was not as bike friendly as in Slovenia, and our couple of rides along the busy coastal road weren’t particularly pleasant. This basically limited us to travelling the islands. That’s OK, as Croatia has fantastic islands. It’s generally easy to travel by ferry between islands, but for some reason you can only take bikes on car ferries and not the people-only catamarans, and this limited our movements considerably. Ferries can also be quite expensive for bikes.

The heat was often a bit too much to ride in, so opting to spend four or so hours in the middle of the day lazing about in the shade somewhere, and only riding morning and late afternoon was great. The time off can easily be wasted on delicious gelato, beer, and enjoying the seaside towns.

Krk as a town was a highlight – beautiful, but small and relatively quiet. For cycling the highlight was probably the twin islands of Cres and Losinj.

Although the big cities are great in themselves, as a cyclist it’s difficult to like them. Dubrovnik in particular is a very beautiful city, but is more suited to the normal tourist than cyclists. On another cycling trip I would gladly skip the big cities and spend the entire time on the islands, then visit Montenegro via Trebinje. The inland route via Bosnia seems it would be much more pleasant and easy than the coastal road.

Finding campgrounds in Croatia was easier than in Slovenia, but they were usually rocky and hard ground, and we came home with a few bent pegs. In some cases we used rocks more than pegs to anchor the tent.

We didn’t cycle as much distance as we intended. In Slovenia we were limited mostly by bad weather, and in Croatia it was our limited ferry options and our unwillingness to ride the main coastal highway, and the heat. What we did was very enjoyable though. We also improved quite a lot as cyclists over the three weeks, and were in pretty good shape by the end.

Apart from the unusually high rainfall we suffered, Slovenia was a better country for cycling. It’s less touristy and more bike friendly than Croatia, and there were areas that sound great for cycling that we didn’t visit, such as the Krka river.

Anyway, it was a great trip. I think our only mistake was to try to fit in too many places which were far apart, meaning we had to cover quite a lot of distance on other forms of transport in order to fit them in. Catching trains, buses and planes is so much less fun and rewarding than cycling, and considerably more expensive. It would be better to cover less distance and be cycling nearly all of the time, even if it means missing a lot of the big drawcards of a region. There are so many small things which will make up for it.

Slovenia and Croatia: Day 12 – Krk

Cycled Rijeka to Krk

Date: 27th May 2008

We left Rijeka and started out down the coast road of Croatia towards the island of Krk. There’s quite a lot of traffic and it was quite a change from our relaxed Slovenian experience. The cars didn’t give very much space, particularly the buses. I was driven off the road by a truck who was a bit impatient to overtake on Krk.

Against the warnings of some locals we rode through the middle of the day, and the heat was quite oppressive. Particularly as we were told of a “shortcut” that took us up and down some steep hills before taking us back to the main road we had started on. The bridge to Krk was also kind of strange as we were directed by a toll operator to take the footpath, but that led us into a large set of stairs, so we reversed up and took the main road instead. We’re learning quite quickly that the advice of locals here is not always of a high quality (apart from “don’t ride in the middle of the day”), although it seems they mean well.

We made it to the town of Krk and settled into the campground there. It’s quite fantastic as it’s only a short walk from the town centre. Krk is a very beautiful walled town and we spent the evening enjoying beers and the company of a friendly german shephard, who was very well mannered and seemed to want to act as our tour guide. This was one of our best stops of the trip because of the facilities of the campground and it’s proximity to a very lovely town.

Although it was very hot, we were relieved that there was finally no sign of rain clouds. For the entirety of the trip before we reached Croatia it was either raining, or there was the threat of rain. Now the skies were clear and we had a great excuse to take a break in the middle of the day for ice cream and beers.