Monday, and it’s out and away to Rovinj. A 50km ride down the coast, save for a bit of a turn inland around Croatia’s only fjord and then back to the coast.
Our time in Poreć was very enjoyable. Again, like most of our time in Croatia, it has been very hot, usually well over 30C by mid afternoon, but on our “rest days”, all that means is more cafe stops, gelati, and walking slower. We seem to have perfected the “passeggiata” and applied it to most of the day.
But, soon enough it was time to get back on the bikes, and after a quick coffee in the bar by the hotel, we were under way.
As expected , the first 20kms wasn’t too bad, but we are both just about over gravel roads. How anyone can enjoy mountain bikes is a mystery to me. Out in the middle of nowhere, although there was probably a camping area somewhere nearby hidden in the trees, we stopped and chatted to a young couple from Warsaw who were out walking. Jean thinks Poland might be on the list, a thought reinforced when they told us that it’s mostly flat.
The gravel stopped at the 20km mark where there just happened to be a Kanoba, or Inn, so another couple of coffees, a panini and a refill of the water supply and we were set once again. The place was well on the bikers radar because in the time we were there, there must have been 30 - 40 bikes arrive.
For most of the ride so far, we had been up on a ridge, following Croatia’s only fjord, the Limski Kanal. But now it was time to push on, so off we went and with a couple more photo stops, it was down into the ravine.
I have noticed that the Croatian’s don’t do switchbacks like the Italians. Here it is just straight down around the mountain, and as we were to painfully discover, more or less straight up the other side. As you could imagine, the ride down was, well, exhilarating. The traffic is very considerate of cyclists, most drivers pull over to the other side of the road when passing, no-one passed closer than 1 1/2 meters, other than perhaps a truck or tourist bus, but even they gave a good distance considering their size.
Not much can be said about the ride back up, other than we both rode all the way, with just a couple of stops in the rare patches of shade for a drink. Riding close to a shear white rock wall for 5kms was like being in a sauna. Still, relief is always at hand and we finally reached the top and turned off down yet another quiet side road. Running low on water, and still with 20kms to go, we detoured into a group of houses, looking for more shade and maybe even a fountain. With nothing in sight, we pulled up under a tree for a while and after a banana hit, I thought I would give the next corner one last look, and to my great delight, another Kanoba. So in we rode, and asked the guy for some water. Out came a jug with ice and water and from there we chatted for about an hour, about his life, how the village had changed since tourists started to come, like no-one kept farm animals in their yards anymore because the smell wasn’t agreeable with tourists. This of course changed the whole dynamic of their way of life. The owner’s daughter joined us and spoke English, so that meant we stayed even longer. They were both so kind, proudly showing us their family tree with photos on the wall etc. and explaining how life was, and how these little village type inns were the social centre of the village. Refusing payment after refilling our water, including adding some ice, which didn’t last long in the heat, it was off again, only this time mostly down hill to Rovinj. At one point at an intersection, we saw a couple of cyclists who looked lost, so we shared maps, GPS, and our collective experiences for another 30 mins. They were from Berlin, two children, one married and one soon to be. It’s surprising how these conversations just seem to roll on and my smattering of childhood German came back.
Increasingly, it’s the people we meet along the way, more than the views that make it all so memorable.
Finally, we arrived in Rovinj, and after our numerous stops along the way, we were in surprisingly good shape.
The hotel is about a 10 minute walk out of town set in a forested park, very nice, so we should be right to explore the town tomorrow.