Hello from Porec , Croatia.
On Thursday, June 2nd we left Trieste very early hoping to catch a ferry south down the coast to Muggia. After a 1/2 hour in line someone told us that the ferry had been cancelled as it was a bank holiday. Mike asked but no one seemed to know what the holiday was about. Now, call me silly, but we expect extra ferries on holidays in BC - but evidently not in Italy. Change of plans - we had to cycle out of Trieste - through ++ industrial areas including by the Illy coffee plant - which is based there. Unfortunately, Mike caught a wheel in one of the tram tracks in town and fell hard. He is now sporting some serious road rash. Those rail tracks are very dangerous as some of our friends have previously found out.
After Trieste - which sits at the northern point of the Adriatic - the coast drops south and you are in the peninsula of Istria - which juts out into the Adriatic. The history of the area includes Roman, Venetian , Austro-Hungarian and, finally, of course, being a part of the Yugoslav Federation. Slovenia has a very diverse geography with large mountain ranges and alpine terrain but we were only traveling close to the coast on this trip although there is a lot to see in other parts. Approaching the Slovenian border we rode past salt flats and fish farms located in a wide estuary but then started started to climb. The coastline is steep and rocky in these parts. We readied our paperwork to enter Slovenia but it turned out to be only a signpost on the bike trail. “Welcome to Slovenia” . ( photo enclosed)
Turns out that Slovenia is very cycle friendly. Lots of well marked, paved routes following old rail lines. ( the Parenzana Trail) . Our friend Laura sent us a travel article about biking in this area and ,evidently, Istria ( Slovenia and Croatia) are where all the cool kids are cycling these days. Who would have thought Mike would be on the leading edge of a trend! Slovenia has only a small slice of access to the ocean and there is a massive port at Koper with container ships, ship building industries and many large leisure yachts. Fortunately, we mostly skirted around it.
Overall, we had a good day of cycling in Slovenia - although the fun was interrupted by a couple of hair-raising road crossings. We enjoyed a lunch of spinach pastries with our toes dipping in the sea. We biked on to Portoroz and rewarded ourselves with a refreshing dip in the ocean. Lovely azur blue water and relatively warm sea water - even slightly warmer than the water in August around Hornby Island. We managed to get dinner at a small, family-run restaurant called Pri Mari which has won a number of awards. We drank the local white wine - Malvesia ……..quoting Helen: “a bit heavy on the petrol notes but very quaffable”. Our cheerful waitress advised a cold sea food platter followed by a baked sea bass with veg. The proprietress - who is featured in all of the photos on the wall - deftly deboned our sea bass and served up a delicious fish meal. The only weird part about our stay in Slovenia was an poorly appointed hotel which was interconnected by walkways to 4 other equally odd hotels. We kept getting turned around and Helen and I started to hum Hotel California - you can never leave……. In addition, we noticed as we left Italy and entered the Balkans that the cheerful, Italian hospitality has passed and we have encountered a number of surly, bureaucratic types and also loads of smoking. We had to beg for extra towels from a very stern looking hotel manager and finally resorted to snitching some from the cleaner’s cart. On checking out we were charged 6euros simply for using the housecoat.
Yesterday was our last day of cycling and we had to work for that last 60 kms. The temp was 25 degrees when we left Portoroz and we quickly started one of three tough climbs in the blistering heat. How steep was it? Well, even my e-bike on its lowest gear and highest power setting came to a standstill. Mike was feeling a bit wobbly from his spill so the Logan sisters took a couple of turns pedalling the regular bike which gave Mike a chance to try out the e-bike. I don’t think he has converted yet but in the 30 degree ++ heat, he appreciated the break on the hills. We crossed into Croatia with a bit more formality ( stamps in passports) than Slovenia but nothing too tough. We had pre-registered our visit on-line before leaving Canada.
We completed our 834 km trek in the town of Porec yesterday afternoon. We were knackered, very hot and ready to give the bikes back and give our derrieres a rest. We enjoyed a leisurely drink and lovely dinner last night in the old town. This is a very touristy spot with lots of people from all over Europe, Mike says that this used to be where all of the rich oligarchs had their places. We have seen some lovely yachts.
Today we rest and swim in the ocean again. We’ve met some fellow travellers along the way and tonight we will join a British couple who live near where Mike grew up. You can imagine how the stories are flying.
Tomorrow is Sunday and we catch a very early ferry back to Venice where we say farewell to Helen who is off to the Florence area for a few days with friends. Mike and I have an extra day in Venice which was planned before the COVID testing requirements were changed. We’ll spend a quiet day with perhaps a train trip to a local village if we feel inclined. I think we’ll avoid another trip into Venice.
It’s been a great trip made all the more fun after being home for 2 years. All the things we worried about didn’t happen, although we did have contingency plans in place.
From Helen: “ I want everybody to know that I will always remember the wonderful roses, honeysuckle and floral scents along the way that can’t be captured in the photos.”
From Mike: “ Biking Europe with the Logan sisters is , as always, a glorious and humbling experience.”
Signing off from Croatia. Thanks for traveling with us. Hope to see some of you very soon.
Love Heather/ Mom/ Grandma ( and also from Mike and Helen)
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