Saturday, August 31, 2013

Day 20 - Krk Island to Markovec (105km)

Heading north toward Slovenia, we knew that we would be climbing today...but, we had no idea what we were in store for. Almost immediately from the coast, the road wound up and up and up. Every time we thought we had climbed as far as the land would take us, we would turn the corner and find more. And it was hot.

The first hill of the day was unimaginably long, but we stuck to our guns and decided to keep working toward our target - to cross the Croatia/Slovenia border before dinner. The good news was that the highway was ours.

Eventually, the road went down. And fast. On the one hand, we were happy to make it back into double digit velocity as we would need to pick up the pace if we were going to make it to the border before dark. On the other hand, as we descended, we could see the next range of mountains that we would inevitably need to climb before the border. The speed wasn't going to last for long.

And in fact, the second range killed us. Even as we were descending (which normally makes me feel as though I can go forever), we realised that we were too slow and too tired to make our target and that we would need to stop before the border. We inched along, motivated primarily by food and, potentially, the prospect of a shower. It was prime camping territory and bush camp would have sufficed, but we needed a meal.

And so we kept going. And going. Chasing daylight. Until we reached the border.

The border guy told us that there was a town just about 10km away that had a restaurant and a guest house (Border police at small stations like this are soooo different than the ones at the airport). By now, Pierre was smashed and 10km could be an eternity. We asked the border guard how the road ahead would be, as is that might somehow make it easier. The border guy said that it was easy - mostly downhill.

Yeah, right. I've heard that before. Never trust a driver!

But, in fact, it was mostly downhill. And it was fast and scenic and the weather was perfect and there were no cars anywhere. And it was like, somehow, entering Slovenia, we had entered a cycling oasis. Why noone has told me about the magnificence of this place before now.

We ate dinner in the back yard of a magnificent guesthouse just outside of Markovec. In the background, there are heron calling. That sounds really exotic and a little bit romantic, but it actually sounds like an unhappy cat with a frog stuck in its throat.

But, really, nothing can get us down tonight. It was a big day, finished by a great 10km of real "mostly downhill" and a fantastic meal. I'm very happy to be out of Croatia. I have a great feeling about Slovenia.


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