Almost 3 weeks have passed since I left Malmö. And now it’s definitely clear that I’ve also left the swedish automn befind me. So far I have not started to miss it too much though.
Last Wednesday I’ve noted as the ”bar day” – the day I found my luck in two bars, one in Slovenia and one in Croatia. The first was after a hill in the beautiful wine region Posajve. I was thirsty and out of water so I went in there with my empty bottles. I got water, and coffee – and karampampuli, a local strong alcohol made of grapes. The bar owner even offered me a small bottle to keep for emergency situations that might occur along the road. ”Good for stomach and mind”. Oh yes! It will most probably be useful.
And what about the other bar? That was in the small village Ostarije, where I just stopped to sit down for a while and to use the wifi. But I ended up camping in the bar owner and his family’s garden, with fresh grapes just outside my tent and free coffee before leaving the next day. Could have been worse. Hvala (”thanks” in croatian)!
Already in Slovenia it had started to get quite hot, but wednesday was exceptionally sweaty. Especially as I had not yet reached the coast. And to do so I had to pass two hills, one at 889 msl and the other at 700 msl. Only hills, but they still made me quite tired – and sweaty. When I finally got to Senj and the coast the first thing I did was jumping in the Adriatic sea. Unfortunately I still felt stinky after I had put on my greasy clothes again, but that’s just something you have to get used to when being a bicycle tourist.
In Senj I met two austrian cyclists, Jorgen and Gerard. They were also going south so we continued together that afternoon, and were supposed to find a camping spot for the night. But the thing was that all campings were located at sea level while our road was like 200 m above. We vere too lazy to go down the serpentine roud and then have to climb it the next morning. What we finally found was better though: a terrace outside a restaurant that had closed for the season. At least that was what it seemed like. But just as we had made ourselves like home and master chef Gerard was about to start cooking pasta on his Trangia stove, the restaurant owners showed up. Not to open the place for the evening though, but to do some cleaning and probably also to check out what homeless people there were. Despite serious communication problems we managed to convince her to let us stay the night. We even got some pivo (=beer) for the dinner.
Next morning I left early. I wanted to advance a bit before it got to hot, and since my new austrian friends were on holiday they obviously didn’t want to rush. So I let them enjoy their morning cigarette in peace. But I didn’t have anything neither to smoke nor eat for breakfast which soon resulted in me being desperately hungry. In my world breakfast is fundamental, and when you bike 6-7 hours a day you get used to eating for three or four people. And there was no village in sight. So, what to do? Like usual, the bicycle god was watching over me; after a while I saw a van parked at the side of the road. There was a tent outside of it and I noted that the car was norwegian. I saw my chance and simply went to the tent to ask the poor two guys sitting there if they maybe had something to eat. I nearly woke them up, but kind as they were they just invited me to their van and let me have breakfast with them. Thanks guys, you saved my day!
When we sat there and enjoyed the oatmeal with homemade blueberry jam another touring cyclist stopped by as he saw my bike. He showed out to be a cycling legend! Jan (I was so impressed by his story that I didn’t get all the details) was om his way back from a looong tour from Europe to Iran, through Morocco, Tunisia and Georgia – among a lot of other countries. His current bike had travelled thousands of km. Not to mention his previous one. Inspiring!
The guys (if you read this you have to remind me of your names) were climbers and out traveling for a year or so in Europe. Luckily, they were also slackliners, like me. Luckily because I could therefore give away the slackline I’ve been carrying from Sweden without using more than one time. It was a good plan to bring it (and it weights only about 2 kg) but I’ve realized that there is not so much time and energy left for other things than cycling, resting, eating and of course hanging out with other people than myself. So those two kilograms will be better with them!
The rest of the week I have just been following the Croatian coastline. The views are so amazing that I sometimes find it hard to concentrate on the road. But don’t worry, I do! And I also stop to cool down or to get some sugar from the fresh figs that you can pick directly from trees growing almost anywhere along the way.
The last week I’ve also been offered alcohol at several bars where I’ve come to ask for water. Sometimes it’s Pivo and sometimes other things, like grape liquor. Maybe I look like I need it, or it’s just that having cycled from Sweden appears more exotic the more south you get. Anyway, strong alcohol in the heat after biking a whole day and all your body shouts for is water might not be the best choice. But I’m way to polite to refuse when someone offers me. And it is for sure tasty!
Except alcohol I’ve also managed to get a free haircut Saturday. I was sitting down to have lunch in the little town Ostarije as a man approached me. We started talking a bit and he told me he was a hairdresser. After 15 minutes or so I was sitting in his saloon where I got my hair cut for the first time since like last year.
Right now I’m in Dubrovnik, right in the middle of the tourists’ headquarter: the old town. Dubrovnik is for sure a city worth visiting, but there are so much historical monuments to see that I just feel overwhelmed. I think I am happy just with a walk in old town and a coffee here in the shadow. Yesterday I spent the night in the small town Neum in Bosnia-Hercegovina (take a look at the map if you wonder why) and this night I will probably be close to next country: Montenegro.
The bar owner at Café Libertina where I sit is now closing the place for siesta. Maybe I will take one too. But first I will go back to my bike that has been alone for far too long now.