We have made it to Cres and the rain has stopped. We had better watch out this expedition doesn’t turn into a holiday.
3 days ago we smashed out a 60km time trial in the driving rain then relented and paid for a hotel room in Gorizia. Having done that we thought we might as well go to a wine bar too. Everything in moderation.
At noon the next day having washed and dried every stitch of clothing including our shoes in a laundrette we rolled out of town heading for Slovenia. Dropping forever down to Trieste and the coast, the roads getting busier and busier we paused in the city’s dramatic main square that looks directly onto the sea and had our last Italian ice cream of the trip.
Then began the search for the start of the old Paranzana railway that would take us blissfully off road all the way to the Croatian coast. This frustrating search went on for some time and we eventually gave up and stayed in a casino style campsite on the Slovian side of Trieste.
We did find the Paranzana the following morning but only after stumbling upon a local festival in Isola where we were forced to stop and drink coffee and listen to some traditional accordion music.
We headed south east on the Paranzana then, with a last minute communication from some friends from the Croatian Adrenalina Mountain Bike Team (www.adrenalina.hr), swung off halfway to the coast to join them inland. Mario popped out of the bushes somewhere near Paizan and we were escorted in style by 7 of the team back to the farm / hotel they were staying at. So lovely to see these guys again. Earlier this year they put on the best couple of races I entered in preparation for the Games – the Kamenjak Trails – a Cat 2 XCO on the Saturday followed by the most beautiful marathon the following day on the Premantura peninsula. Dave Henderson and I ended up there for 2 weeks in total back in April!
We passed the most entertaining evening of the trip so far as their guests at Golororicki Dol where all food and wine is grown and made on site. I learned more Croatian terms for wine making than I know English ones. Then promptly forgot them again. All I remembered in the morning was the word "bobica" which I have been using relentlessly ever since despite the context of the exchange.
In the morning we continued our mission to the sea this time making straight for the east cost of Istria and the ferry where we would begin phase 2 of our trip wiggling our way south through the Croatian Islands.
And here we are. Less wiggling and more swimming actually. It’s hot so we are slacking off and enjoying the sunshine. Back in it tomorrow. Promise