Slovenia and Croatia: Day 10 – Trieste

Cycled Volarje to Gorizia
Train Gorizia to Trieste
Cycled Trieste to Fernetti

Date: 25th May 2008

The next route map may be inaccurate, because we were a bit lost

In the morning we passed through a few more nice small towns before reaching Nova Gorica. Kanal in particular was memorable as it was Sunday and it seemed the whole town was walking the streets on their way home from church. Just before Nova Gorica was the largest stone arch train bridge in the world, which was very impressive. Nova Gorica is a young town with an interesting history. It was built after 1948, when a treaty left the traditionally Slovenian town of Gorizia on the Italian side of the border. A new town on the Yugoslavian side grew up to replace it.

We planned to finish up our trip in Slovenia quickly and move on to Croatia, so the plan was to take a train from Nova Gorica to Divača to see the Škocjan Caves. However there was only one train from Nova Gorica and it was in the evening. About 10 metres from the train station was the Italian border, and a couple of kilometres from there was Gorizia train station, so instead we caught the train from Gorizia to Trieste which is about 20km from Divača. This turned out to be a bit of mistake – it would likely have been quicker and easier to cycle the rest of the way (it often is).

Getting the train to Trieste was easy enough, but getting out of Trieste proved quite difficult. We had no maps and people we asked were of little help. When we did find the general direction it was a huge climb out on a narrow but very busy road with impatient drivers. I stacked it at one point after my front panniers got caught in a hedge on a narrow path. I received a few cuts and bruises, but nothing major. It was an unpleasant ride, but had I had the OSM Cycle Map I carry with me on my phone these days, we would have known there was a bike route out of the city and it would have been a much more enjoyable visit.

We ended up reaching the border a little out of our way but heading in the right direction. By then it was time to pack it in so we found a campground on the Italian side. The hard gravel pitch was a disappointment after all the nice Slovenian campsites.

Our side trip to Italy was shortlived and not so fun, but eventful.

Slovenia and Croatia: Day 5 – Ljubljana

Cycled Varpolje to Polzela
Train Polzela to Ljubljana

Date: 20th May 2008

Our original plan for this days ride was to ride the 45km or so to a campground at Kamnik and perhaps beyond to Ljubljana, but it was such a dreary wet day that we changed our plans and headed towards the safety of the nearer train lines around Šempeter.

We only made it a short distance before we gave up and caught the train from I think Polzela. Being cold and wet isn’t always fun when there’s the possibility of being dry and warm somewhere. Catching the trains at this time of year was pretty easy because there weren’t too many people. I understand it can be difficult with bicycles sometimes though, as it’s entirely up to the conductors whether or not you can take them on. The first train was memorable because of the duck noises it’s horn made as it went past the villages.

In Ljubljana we again opted for a guest house near the station. It’s a very nice old town with a great castle, but nevertheless I would have been happy to skip it if we hadn’t taken the train.

Newcastle to Taree: Day 4

No cycling. Train to Coffs Harbour

As I awoke the next morning from uneasy dreams I found it had turned into monstrous weather. It had rained 25mm overnight and my somewhat beautiful campsite had become waterlogged. I had gone to bed planning to do one more day of riding, aiming for Wauchope (pronounced “war-hope”) where I would catch the train and be in Coffs in time for Nats. However it was raining heavily and the forecast was for more rain, thunderstorms and flash floods up the coast.

Taree Campsite

Taree campsite

Since it was around 75km to the nearest useful station and I didn’t fancy a day of riding along the highway in heavy rain I piked and caught the train from Taree.

Still, it was a good introductory trip for me of two and a half days riding. The second day was the highlight, and I highly recommend a ride through Myall Lakes, although many might prefer to take the proper road rather than the shortcut along the closed road.

Things I learnt:
– Don’t skimp on panniers. My vaude bags are OK and not at all cheap shit, but the rain covers are a bit annoying. I would be happier to have paid the money for the fully waterproof ortlieb bags.
– Staying dry can be hard work. It’s easier if you just wear clothing that you can get wet but will keep you warm.