Day 18 – 17th July 2020 – Gornji Karin to Karvolac, Croatia
Am not rushing to leave today, but I am leaving. I would love to stay but I just can’t trust this bike not to break down again.
I must admit I am dragging my feet a bit so I get Cheryl to come with me for a coffee/OJ. We go back to the restaurant from last night to see if they have found our mozzie products. We go in Cheryls car as it looks like it might piss it down any moment.
We arrive at the restaurant and they do have Cheryl’s spray, but my dib dobber has gone walkies… boo hoo. I pop to the loo and the waitress from last evening spots me and says.. yes this is the toilet for you… I say thank you, she says… you guessed it… Most welcome… so sweet. I surreptitiously take a photo of her, and here she is.
After coffee Cheryl suggests going to the local pharmacy to see if they have a dobber, no such luck, but do get some anti mozz spray and antihistamine cream. I have counted my bites and I have over 20, including one on my forehead… buggers!!
Back at Cher’s I ask to borrow a drill… I want to make a hole in the puck then I can thread some cord through so that I can lower and retrieve it while sitting on the bike. Cher digs out an old hand drill, haven’t used one of those in about 30 years, but before I get a chance we find Rod’s electric drill so I use that. I don’t have any cord yet, am going to have to keep an eye out for a hardware shop or maybe Decathlon for tent guy line?
When that’s done we have a good old chin wag, on various topics including my proposed route out of Croatia. I have already checked the weather and thunderstorms are 90% definite for the Zagreb area so that confirms my decision to ride up the Adriatic coast to Slovenia and then on to Triest in Italy, but, the wind is very bad and the Croatian authorities have closed part of the coast road to high sided vehicles and motorcycles. This is the infamous Bura, which can blow up to 250km/h. Ok, I’d certainly rather get wet than blown off the bike so back to the Zagreb plan then.
Well, no more dilly dallying, I think it is time I made tracks. I pack up the bike and say my farewells, I feel sure Cheryl and I will keep in touch and I look forward to seeing her in London when she comes over. Thank you so much for the hospitality and the great company.. just what I needed after this terrible week.
We only just remembered to take a snap before I am on my way.
I am riding out on the same road I came in on, over the mountain, but first of all, as I leave Cheryl’s, I can feel the front wheel lifting and the steering is very light… what now… oh yes, I forgot I let some air out of the tyres yesterday to try and reduce the seat height as it was worse without the weight of the luggage. Bugger, I better find a petrol station and top them up.
Almost as soon as I start climbing out of the village the wind hits… OMFG it is fierce and I am really bricking it with the light steering, especially going round the sharp bends. I do manage to find a garage on the way up and stop to top off the tyres, this does make the steering feel better, but the wind is very, very strong. As I am going up I see a sign for Zagreb via the motorway, I make a snap decision to leave the twisty mountain road as I must admit I am quite afraid of trying to negotiate the hairpins hanging off the side of a mountain in this wind… I take the left turn and it is one of the worst decisions of my life.
The road is heading back towards Zadar and the wind is blowing from the right directly off of the sea… I am literally hanging on to the bike for dear life and am being blown into the oncoming lane… I think maybe I should turn around, but I’m not sure I can in this. I grit my teeth and keep my head tilted into the wind and the bike leaning to the right to try and prevent the cross wind blowing me over the road.
Luckily there is very little traffic on this road and after about 20 exhausting minutes I arrive at the toll booth for the motorway and pick up my ticket. It is only once I am through the toll that I see the warning signs overhead, high winds, speed limit 60km/h. It is absolutely ferocious, again am being blown about on the road and what’s worse there are lots of tunnels and every time I come out of one I am buffeted by the high winds, first one direction then the other. At one point the wind is head on and the bike is slowing down even though I have the throttle wide open, I change down to 4th gear and she picks up a little bit. I am not religeous at all, but I have to say I was praying for my life, I was convinced I was going to die, I am not kidding. I know I moaned about the wind in Utah etc., but believe me there is a reason they have closed part of the road. I do not know if this was a full on Bura, but if it wasn’t then you would have to be mad to ride in it. All the time I was wishing I had stayed another day with Cheryl.
The warning signs stay at 60km/h and then change to 80km/h, which I was hoping meant the wind had eased, but it was only for a short section before it returned to 60. I must have been battling it for at least 20 minutes, but it felt much longer. Eventually, the warnings went from 60 to 80 and then 100km/h and it felt much more manageable. I saw a service area ahead and immediately pulled in… the relief was just enormous, I felt like I had survived the death zone… never again!
Back on the road and it is still windy but much, much less and eventually I out run it altogether.
I get off of the toll road as quickly as possible and find my way back onto the road through Plitvice and on to Zagreb. It is a good ride, with some twisty parts and fast sections, but by the time I get to Karvolac I am exhausted so find a place via booking.com.
I didn’t really check this one out very thoroughly, it gets an excellent score of 9.5 out of 10 so I figure it must be good. When I get to the address imagine my face when I see it is a tall block of flats, not very attractive, in fact I think I must be in the wrong place. The apartment photographs show it to be very clean and modern, but there are no external photos. This does not look like a good area, very rundown.
I’m not being a snob when I say if I had seen a photo of the outside I would not have booked it. I message the owner who says he is 5 minutes away, so I wait but don’t park up or get off the bike in case this isn’t the right place. He soon arrives and seems very pleasant, he looks at my bike and says he will ask his friend to use his garage. This does nothing to improve my feelings about this area, but I am here now so at least the bike will be out of sight. He comes back with the key to his mates garage and he shows me where. I unload the stuff I want off the bike, he says ‘you know is at the top, no lift, but don’t worry I help you’ ‘ok thanks’. He locks up the garage and then we take my bags up to the apartment, 11 flights of concrete stairs…. stop it!
The apartment itself is very nice and there is a little coffee machine with capsules and milk cartons… bonus!! The guy is very nice and we agree he will return at 7.30am to open up the garage for me, so an early start for a change… good!
He recommends a local restaurant… Pizzeria Tiffany… I know. I do take his suggestion and make my way there on foot, it takes about 10-15 minutes so it was good to go for a bit of a walk.
Oh dear, the sky looks ominous, maybe rain tomorrow.
The restaurant does have other things on the menu so I don’t have Pizza this time.
A very pleasant walk back, although I was a bit dubious about walking alone in the area around the apartment block, but it was well lit and actually no one around so no problem. I should be leaving Croatia tomorrow and passing through Slovenia into Austria on my way to Vienna.