3 weeks since my last post, and this one nearly didn’t happen but some questionable antics with some electrical tape and a bit of copper wire and my laptop charger is working again, woohoo!
We left Split and headed north to a small town called Biograd, it’s really small but the campsite was huge and mostly empty so we got a great spot right on the edge of the lake, the weather had turned for the better so we donned shorts and had a wander into town. I had been generously gifted some birthday money (it’s tomorrow but the gift was in Croatian Kuna) so this bought us a boat trip out to the Konati Islands, a natural Park for the next day.
Waking early we walked into town to get our lift into Zadar with one of the crew members, Croatians like to drive fast! We got to Zadar with an hour to spare before departure so had a wander around the historic old town, had a bite to eat and coffee before setting off on the boat. The boat dropped us off at a beautiful little island with a thermal lake, we had a little paddle until a shell ran across my foot, after a bit of pathetic squealing I realised I was standing amidst loads of hermit crabs, I was torn between wanting to get my feet out of there and not wanting to crush them into crab pate on my exit, it’s ok I escaped unharmed! The walk around the lake was nice in the sun and a crazy grey landscape at the opposite end made the trip worthwhile, just grey rocks and grey sun bleached branches as far as you could see. People have made loads of rock towers which just makes it look even more surreal, a quick stop at a nice lookout point and it was time to head back to the boat. The boat took us to another island where we had a lovely lunch of fresh barbecued local fish, we had some time to relax and get some sun and enjoy the beautiful location and clear blue waters before we boarded the boat for our journey home, brilliant unbirthday.
From Biograd we moved further north to Pag Island, a crazy sandstone lump of rock in the the Adriatic, we stayed at the Sumini campsite and another, even more stunning waterside camp spot, blistering sunshine and our home right on the waters edge. Despite the stunning location the weather was set to turn for the worse so the next day we got the ferry back to he mainland before driving up Croatia and over the road bridge to the island of Krk. After stocking up supplies we drove to Baska at the Southern tip of the island and though it was no waterside spot we got a very picturesque location in a lush green field surrounded by mountains and just a few minutes walk to the waters edge and the lovely seaside town. We spent a few days in Baska as it was so lovely, the weather was on our side and there is plenty to do, some chill time, some paddling in the sea, too much dining out in the many eateries that line the seafront, and some actual mountain biking! The trail I did climbed sharply up from the seafront to the church clinging to the cliff-like edge of the mountain, then up some more, the next section was loose rocks, ranging from fist to head size, I didn’t think I could ride it, not uphill, not so steep, but somehow I was at the top, gasping and bright red, but I had somehow ridden my bike up that insanity, go me! The trail continued up, steep and twisty but less loose giant rocks, through the trees until it popped me out into a moonscape of rocks, some hardy little shrubs and nothing much else, it was like another planet, strangely quiet too. The rocks here were all sharp buggers, grabbing at my tyres and trying to bring me down, I didn’t let them and eventually the trail turned into a farm track as sheep appeared to keep me company. The descent was fairly boring, down farm tracks and then a 3km section of road before some fields leading into the town. I had read a review saying it would be better to do the trail in reverse and if you can be sure to spot the markers that is exactly what I recommend, it’s a lovely ride and quite technical but it would be an absolute hoot the opposite way round!
When we eventually dragged ourselves away from Krk Island we travelled back to Slovenia to visit their tiny bit of coast, stayed in Portoroz which is probably lovely in the sunshine but we got there in torrential rain so spent the day planning and playing card games. The next day was nicer and we had a lovely cycle to the next town in the sunshine and even did a spot of urban mountain biking, or in other words, riding up and down sets of stairs. Inland to the winery town of Vipava and we were welcomed at a tiny family campsite with a bottle of wine, lovely! It has been a constant rule that the cheaper the campsite the better and this was no exception, lovely facilities, free wine, great hosts and bargain price, it is in the next village, so if you’re ever over that way check out Kamp Vrhpolje, they’re awesome. I tried to go biking at Javornik Bike Park but it was closed due to bad weather, maybe living in Scotland has made me tough (haha) but it was perfect biking weather to me, shame, this was one of the reasons we had come back this way.
Next country, Italy! Parked in a massive campsite full of German families but it’s ok because we got to spend the day at Gardaland, I am now a pro at rollercoasters, I think we went on the Raptor three times and I was not sick, I even managed the last go with both hands in the air, just, but in the air they were! From Garda we drove to Verona for a day in the historic town, we ticked all the tourist boxes and visited the Arena, the Castle, Juliette’s Balcony, had pizza in the sunshine, wandered cobbled streets, and had a grand time, Verona is beautiful.
Since Verona we have visited Lake Iseo, which is beautiful, Lake Como which is too busy and touristy, I had to squeeze by a bus on a narrow road and you’d have been hard pushed to get a sheet of paper between us, and we are now at Lake Maggiore which is probably the most beautiful of them all but I will decide tomorrow when I spend the entire sunny day lounging and enjoying the view.
After Lake Iseo we went on a magical mystery tour of Italy (thanks satnav) to Bellagio San Primo, a ski resort that turns into a Bike Park as soon as the snow is gone. If you’re a biker in the area you should give them a visit, great staff, friendly, helpful and happy, they give the place a nice feel and it’s a real community vibe going on. The uplift is the ski poma, you loop a strap around your seat tube and this clips to the poma, you hold the release strap and get towed to the top, pulling the release strap at the top and the whole thing comes off the poma and gets hung on a hoop to be sent down the hill again. The trails are all downhill and graded Green, Blue, red and black, I rode green with some blue options, but I was not on form, it took me until run 7 on Saturday to figure out I still had a bajillion PSI in my back tyre from riding around an island a few days before. Once I sorted that I was able to ride far better but was still fairly shonky, I need to remember to relax and get low for riding down hills, but I am glad I got my demons worked out here so I might have a shot at riding decently in the French Alps this weekend. I enjoyed the riding so much that we stayed overnight and I got a half day pass on the Sunday, fitting in 6 descents and a bit of time practicing jumps at the top, still rubbish at them, but I tried.
Writing this by Lake Maggiore, a couple of days relaxing then we will head towards France for more mountains, bikes and adventures, next blog post will be after I get home, boo hiss, until then having a great time, yay!