Split to Sibenik 88km
To Zadar 48km
To Starigrad 76km
To Senj 115km
To Rijeka 67km
The two days of loud rolling thunder, followed by illuminating lightning, were pretty scarey, and to be honest I was wondering just how safe was it being on the road. But there isn't too much choice, when so little is open, so I kept cycling...... Then, overnight, the cloud and rain disappeared, the sun was shining, the sky a brilliant blue, and the wind started. From the north, freezing, and right on my nose. For two and a half days I cycled straight into it. But then I had to stop. They have closed the road in front of me, as the wind is too dangerous for vehicles. Yep, it was, once again, a bit scarey. I was regularly walking across the viaducts and bridges because I wasn't feeling comfortable about where the next gust would deliver me.......
Its no wonder that some of my stuff is wearing out. 600 plus days, and just over 33,000km, in all weathers. I'm so pleased I have my trustie "fixers", Duct Tape and Zip Ties. I've got one or the other, and sometimes both holding together my shoes, my flags, my helmet, patching holes in my panniers, my clothes and my dry bags. Wonderful tools. A must, on an adventure like this.
I was cycling towards Zadar, as I had been invited to stay with Renata and Goran, and what a delight it was. After several days staying in empty hostels, I had company, someone to talk to, in a warm, cosy, lived in Croatian home. Amazing. And a delicious homemade meal, including a traditional (vegetarian) meal, with mashed potatoes.....oh my goodness..... bliss. And, despite my normal..."I'm over looking at old buildings and broken stuff", Goran took me on a tour of the old city of Zadar, after dark. It's amazing how much more interesting a walk around a town can be, when you've got a guide who knows his stuff. (Hmmmm... lesson for when I'm guiding....) Zadar Old City was extensively bombed by the Allies in WWII, trying to dissuade the occupying Italians. Close to 90% of the city was ruined, but this has allowed some really cool stuff to be done.
Along the waterfront they have installed pipes. The waves flow through the pipes, creating an Organ, that produces music....... 24 hours a day.... I'm sure local residents do get used to it.... As the restorations have been worked on, all sorts of ancient remains have been unearthed. A "pillar of shame", ancient arches, and mosaics...... very interesting .
Best of all, when being hosted, is that I get so many questions answered. History, geography, tourism, outdoor activities, and politics, were all discussed. Now here's something to get your head around. Renata's grandmother has lived in the same village almost her whole life. During that time, if she had wanted, or been able to travel internationally, she would have had five different countries passports, The Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Austria, Italy, The Republic of Yugoslavia, and Croatia. We in NZ have had it so easy.
When the road was closed, I found myself at a hotel, at the doorway to Paklenica National Park, so even though it was flippen cold, I decided to have an explore. Paklenica is a very well known area for its amazing rock walls, apparently the highest in Europe, up to 300m, and in the summer is very busy with rock climbers from all over the world. This whole coastline of Croatia is pretty amazing for adventure activities. I can see myself really enjoying the sea kayaking, the sailing, the mtbing, the hiking, and even some of the alpine stuff available, and watching, in awe, the crazies climbing the massive walls. Certainly worth a visit, but come in Spring, Summer or Autumn, when the weather is a bit more accommodating.
The wind has stopped, but may start again, (it's an annual occurance), so I'm making a dash for the next town. I heard 104km. Damn, the extra 10km were tough. But the coast road was great. Fantastic views across the numerous islands, and tiny villages, tucked into tiny bays, protected from the horrendous January winds. I get to Senj, knackered, but the only hotel is closed.....
Never mind. My host at the only open restaurant has a friend...... A dodgy looking guy, leather jacket, racey car, zooms me through a maze of streets to an apartment. It's not touristy. It's an apartment in a "Soviet" style apartment block, surrounded by scruffy kids, and cars on blocks. But it's warm, comfortable, and has a hot shower, and way too expensive. I accept. He zooms me back to Fiona. Trouble is, can I remember how to get back to the apartment. I make a couple of small navigation errors, but eventually find the correct building. Now, which floor was it on? Eight flights of stairs, hauling Fiona, panniers and trailer..... I'm exhausted.