09.07.2011 -35 °C
It must have been around 4am when the first dollops of rain hit the outside fabric of the tent. Moments later everything in the tent lit up brightly, just for an instant as lightening began its race across the sky. Well I thought, the old Gal will now get a much needed wash after our `interesting` journey of yesterday... The storm although boisterous was a poor relation to the fine examples I had endured in France. Those were special ones. My experience of this morning however I know not to take too lightly, I feel there may be other storms to experience before I leave Croatia.
It`s now 8.30am. The rain is still beating its tattoo on the tent.. Had to go out a little while ago to tighten everything up, have a look round and then try to dry off inside. It is a small bivouac with enough room for me on the one side, full length, and on the other side, everything else. This comprises of four panniers and the one box that sits on the handlebars.. Re-finding something that you have just picked up and put down now that you found it, to then link it with the other thing that you needed to couple it with does get a bit wearing at times.. In this case it was first the toothbrush and then the toothpaste. Why oh why were they not together?... Just an example of small tent living, or perhaps its an age thing, someone will know.
Leaving Venice and getting on with the trip was a bit tricky, probably took me an hour what with being misdirected by folk who didn`t realise that Bicycles don`t do motorways.. It`s the same old story really. Why would bikes want to do long distances, they don`t, so therefore there is no need to cater for them exiting cities, and for them then to continue to the next. It must be true! or it would not be so.
Anyway and finally on the S14 heading off to Portogruaro, not pleasant, one lane either way – no pedestrian facility, flat, hard and close running traffic, and when I did arrive I looked closely for campsites and other facilities that may be on offer at Portogruaro. Suddenly a cyclist almost tumbled into me, half on the road and half on the pavement. The exuberance of youth I thought, love it! - But no, It`s that he was French, mid twenties, and completely bonkers. But what good fun, and so likeable. He`d been on the road for three months intended to keep going until April of next year, had no money, blagged food from supermarkets, you know, foods that had approached their sell by dates.. Camped out all the time, and could you not just tell!.. He had a good deal of experience dealing with the police in a variety of countries. He said watch out for those Croatia boys they are really tough, he said, grinding a single knuckle hard into the palm of his other hand, doing the same thing to his temple, and then doing the same thing again into his groin, camping in a free way is an offence. You must be very careful... (I wanted to do that bit in a Peter sellers `Closeau` accent but its useless!) Then with a crash bang and a wallop, he was gone, two lightly loaded panniers on the back and a sleeping bag on top. How does that work, when I carry a house?... and headed off toward Trieste!.. Me? I wouldn`t be there until tomorrow lunch time.
You know I have met many like that Frenchman throughout my life, and on this occasion so short a meeting but always the same result.. Good value! His attitude was forthright and direct. He expected hardship, and got them. He as those others before him always going onwards where angels would not have even peeked. With this really working positive attitude, not treading mind, but charging, full steam ahead, whatever happens I will deal with it, shoulder at the door let me in, attitude always worked for them...They kept score, they knew they`d lose at some point, but given the whole run, the whole picture, they would come out ahead of the game.. .. I remember saying to him ``don`t you mind being alone all the time`` and, ``don`t you mind the upcoming prospect of all those months ahead also being alone?``.. He looked at me without any comprehension. It must be the exuberance of youth I thought, He`s thinking ``I am immortal!`` And that he`s time ahead for that very ordinary, but different aspect of life which may include such things as `loneliness`.. Me? - I should understand that, after all I did do that course, I was once his age!... I remember those others that I knew from the past, those who were just like the Frenchman, all without exception gave good value!... Hope I continue to see their like.
It was all so very quick, out of Trieste, struggled for the dutiful hour to get on the right track to Slovenia... Went thru` the unmanned border point. The buildings are all still there as if they`d just shut down the night before.. Bought a map at a supermarket at the crossover point.. Wondered if I was doing the right thing. It did cost 8 euros.. .. became acquainted as best I could with the local layout. The language, the signposts, and where I might be going next.... toodled along a a while and then coming up to the Croatian border crossing, thought well perhaps that tiny little bit of research, such as it was, and relevant to Slovenia was time wasted... Nah of course not!.. I`m almost fluent!
This border crossing was slightly different, well it was manned for a start, but examination of documents was still fairly cursory as far as I could tell. However there may well have been other stuff going on unseen in the background, I would have no idea.... I wobbled thru` on the old gal whilst at the same time trying to show my British Passport... I was waved at impassively, it was only later that I realised I was showing the deep red of the back of the passport and not the open pages..... I always thought I`d be pretty calm in a situation such as a border crossing.. But the old Gal being the way she was .. You know, slightly overweight, and a little old sometimes does me in... On occasion when I have to take one hand off the handlebars to show a document.. And because she realises this and being fully loaded, she will then wobble..... Well!... My sole intention at that moment as I was cycling thru` was to be the totally impassive Englishman travelling abroad unfazed by being asked for documents.. Not an Englishman out of control and immediately veering to the right as I approached the crossover point because I`d taken my left hand off the handlebars to show a useless vision of an English Passport!.... Ah well it could have been worse, heaven forbid. I could have fallen off, and in front of a load of following traffic.... It is after all a very very busy crossing point.... I didn`t fall off.... At that level I think I got away with it.!...But with impassiveness? … Not a chance!
I finally got away when the storm and the rain finally abated at around midday, my intention was to get as far north as possible today. On the Map, just where Pula sits, and at 3 o`clock is Sisan. Further to the east, is the coast , a pretty remote place which stretches up to Kavran in the North. I knew that the likelyhood of going off road was pretty high, but would commit to having a look at this other side of life... and to let the devil take the hindmost. This then was the prelude to my `interesting` journey` that I mentioned earlier.
I did take a series of photo`s of my descent from metalled road, to unmetalled and then downwards to the sea, I had been given an instruction to always bear left when opportunity came. Made sense, it is the way to go, north that would be.. So I was reasonably optimistic! - Once I arrived at sea level, I would go left and eventually meet a road, I could confirm its existence as it was on the map.. The strategy could not fail!... I became oddly accepting as the terrain became more difficult, not for me, but for the old Gal – We would of course thru` thickness and thin always stick together, and it was with a sense of resignation and after 10 miles that I reluctantly had to accept defeat. The way forward was now blocked for as far as the eye could see upwards and forwards along the coastline with a gorse like growth. Impenetrable to me and the old Gal. I had seen a possible exit route a couple of miles back heading back up the mountain, not a particularly attractive proposition, as it was upwards. It would be by definition a struggle, but the only other alternative would be to go back all the way.. Not a chance, that was steep!...
For the rest of the afternoon we made progress upwards and it was around 6pm.. When we knew we`d cracked it, when we left the branch impeded, but still used narrow pathways, you could see evidence of rural activities.. The going got easier, certainly flatter and suddenly we were home and dry and back on the road.. It may make you smile to learn that I had travelled no distance at all in the direction I intended... But had travelled 15 miles down along and upward, to a spot not far from where I`d started at around midday following the storm!.... Hmmmm!
Not sure when I will be able to post this Blog Entry. I do always try to upload photographs at the same time or even afterwards but it has become a pain. The process can take upwards of 5 minutes for the one photograph and to sit quietly with patience when this is in progress is deeply frustrating. Whoever I`m using as a provider at any given time may also have their own criteria. It may sense that I`m no longer using the service as I`m waiting excessively to be connected and will log me out to save me money.. Also, I often get the statement `your server has reset, please try again``.. and that can repeat and is also very irksome. Perhaps I should write folks!. Oh and how quaint that would be!
This by way of an explanation and an apology for the lack of photographs. However I will always continue to try.
This country Croatia continues to be harshly beautiful.. If you fall it will always be the hardest rock that you fall on, if you tangle with the bushes they will be be the most vindictive and will almost tear your eyes out.. We always knew tho` didn`t we kids `Beauty has a price... In addition saw a child fall of his bike, broke his wrist, it was very obviously broken, it was skewed..... Had to go back all the way to Triest to get treatment... No fracture clinic, no treatment and not an ambulance, after a telephone discussion it was ``make your own way to Triest!`` It will shortcut the sequence of events that will anyway and ultimately lead you to Trieste.. That is what I heard!.
I am at Senj in Croatia. I have 2081.7 miles on the odo... I`m heading full speed to Montenegro.. To
the Black Mountain, and Podgorica where someone special might just be... ?