The first few days in Croatia are rough. During the ride from Buzet to Opatija we cycle 1,600 altitude meters in about 35 kilometers. We have the coldest night in Istria, -12 degrees, and we get two days of non-stop rain. Then spring begins for us, fortunately! A big part of Croatia we cycle the D8, also called the Jadranska Magistrala. A motorway, but quiet at this time of the year. In summer it is very touristic here. It seems that all Croats rent out their houses along the coast. The entire coastline we see empty apartments, closed restaurants and many (large) supermarkets. As our Couchsurfing hosts said, we see no agriculture or industry along the way. We also notice that the prices in the supermarkets are sometimes higher than in the Netherlands, because almost all products are imported. That while wages are much lower here. It’s also difficult for the people to rent a house, because most houses are only temporarily rented out to tourists. That’s why many Croats are going abroad.
Camping in the rain, or in an abandoned building?
On the coast near Opatija we sleep at Kika and Amor via Couchsurfing. I wake up at six in the morning, light the stove and enjoy the view over the sea. The house is high on a mountain with a great view. Unfortunately it starts to snow and we need to descend to the sea. It’s very cold and we put on three hats, a scarf and sunglasses against the snow. Once we are at the sea we go into a supermarket to warm up. The snow turns into rain a little later when we go camping. It continues to rain the next morning and afternoon. At the end of the day we are discussing what we are going to do. There is a lot more rain coming and everything is soaking wet. We couldn’t find any accommodation on the internet or available at this time of the year. We continue cycling, hoping that we would encounter some houses. A little later we see an abandoned building whose door has been broken open. Inside it is full of junk. We decide to set up the tent inside, we have no other option. We also use a clothesline to dry all our stuff. When we start cooking around six in the evening, we suddenly hear someone opening the door. Startled we look around the corner and we see a man running away. We try to ask him something, but he flees. He is probably as shocked as we are. What are we going to do now.. what if he comes back? Maybe he calls the police and we get into trouble. Quickly we pack everything. Now it’s dark and the rain is still pouring down. The clouds hang low and we can’t see much. We cycle as fast as we can and descend three kilometers to a small village on the coast. The village is also deserted. We walk through the streets, looking for someone. Suddenly Lynn sees a TV on in some kind of outdoor shelter. There’s a man and we say that we are looking for a place to sleep. The man says, ”No, there’s nothing at all in this time of the year.” We ask him if we can put the tent on his terrace. “No, it’s too cold outside.. but you can sleep in the kitchen.” Perfect! The man laughs all the time and doesn’t really know what’s happening. We sit down and talk a little with him. His wife joins us and eventually we get a bed in their apartment. The next morning they made us a big breakfast with fried eggs, bread, salami, a traditional dish made out of dough and they give us a whole survival-package for along the way. Super friendly!
A few days off the bike
We take it easy in Croatia and we take nine days of rest. Certainly in comparison to the first month, in which we had only one day of rest. We do Couchsurfing for four days in Marušići, on the coast near the Omiška Dinara mountain range. We hike in the mountains, go fishing, do yoga and feel really at home here. We also have a good time with Nikša in Dubrovnik. He shows us beautiful places by car and one evening we eat together with his friends. Warmhowers and Couchsurfing still contribute greatly to the experiences we have on our journey!
Kika, Amor, Rudi, Nada, Alexander, Tina, Dean, Steffi, Andreea, Ambra, Nikša and his friends, thank you for your hospitality and all the fun!
Rudi and Nada who saved us after our experience with the abandoned building and together with Ambra, Andreaa, Dean and Luna the dog, in Marušići
Montenegro in three days
Crossing a border is always a highlight for us. We achieved something, but especially the differences we see with the previous country are very interesting. In Croatia it was mostly empty and in Montenegro we see more people on the streets, stalls, workshops and agriculture. We always compare everything in the first kilometers of our journey. In Montenegro we cycle a few very beautiful roads. The road from Kotor to Cetinje, also called the Serpentine, climbs from sea level to 1,432 meters in 25 (hairpin) curves. Three years ago we partly walked this route and it turns out to be beautiful again! After that we cycle along the southern side of Lake Skadar, from the viewpoint at Pavlova Strana to the border of Albania. In three days we cycle 250 kilometers and climb almost 4,000 altimeters. Something we could never have done in the beginning of our trip!