Croatia & Slovenia. Wow.

Trip Start Jun 19, 2009
Trip End Jul 05, 2009

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Where I stayed
Castle 1004 Hostel

Flag of Slovenia  ,
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm sure you've read Lachlan's earlier story about Plitvice and what a showstopping place it is. I can only reinforce that and say it is now definitely in my Top 5 favourite places ever. The only other area I've been where reality looked better than the postcards is the Icefield Parkway in Canada. Words fail to describe how other-worldly Plitvice is, so I'll stop now. Just go.

Well. Back to earth. Route here. Yesterday we packed up with rain threatening (seems to be a pattern developing here) and headed for the Amalfi coast. Wherever there was a parking place along the road there was a car and a card table with 8 or 10 round, waxed cheeses and a few flourescent-coloured bottles of (I think) schnapps. Some of the villages had more and larger tables, so rated stops from tour busses.

We finally crested the last ridge and the Med stretched out in front of us. A narrow channel away were large rocky, bare, dry islands, and in the distance loomed (i think) Italy Off came the rain-suits and we headed down a massive series of switch-backs to the coast. Once there it felt like we'd been transported to the Riviera or the Pacific Coast Highway near LA. Dry hills, villages around tiny bays and the highway often on high viaducts out from the cliff or jumping
across deep valleys.

We stopped for lunch in a resort village. I tried the sardines (much smaller than expected and fried whole. Must ignore eyes. Must ignore eyes.) and Lachlan had an enormous calzon. Further up the coast were scores of massive painted-concrete houses built out from the hillside, all flash over style.

After negotiating Rijeka in the heat and our full biking gear we headed back inland toward Slovenia. On the Croatian side it's a nice, new tollway. Then passport control. Then, immediately, a narrow, two lane windy country road. Not that we minded. It was beautiful  countryside with steep hills and lush vegetation that reminded me of Maleny and the Sunshine Coast hinterland in Australia. Nice little villages, in generally good repair - a real contrast to the run down shacks we saw all through Czech, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. Then nice fun
switchbacks up and over the hills.

The last 100 or so km up to, then past Ljubjana (another probably beautiful city that will have to wait for another trip) were good quality motorway. The massive granite clouds of the Julian Alps rose out of the plains ahead, and we rode into Bled as the rain again played tricks but cleared to leave humid sun.

Bled is a stunning beautiful place, with its almost-circular lake of surreal, blue-green water, fairy-tale castle on tall cliffs and iconic church on a single island. It's also a real adventure
sports centre (paragliding was sorely tempting but I resisted)

We're in the Castle Hostel - ‚11 each per night. Not too bad once I found a bunk-bed that didn't collapse (no, I haven't put on weight, and no, I wasn't hurt - thanks for asking!) The place is an object lesson in how not to renovate a hostel and use domestic-grade fittings and furniture. A pity, as the new owner seems to be trying hard.

We decided to stay two nights and recharge batteries, so we've spent the day today exploring the local area including a ride up to the neighbouring Lake Bohinjsko, a nice coffee, a sit and chill by the lake and back through the pine forest. Then a few hours at Bled Castle soaking up the view and retreating into the excellent (and air-conditioned) museum.

We'll finish the day with a trip to the Laundromat at the Bled Camping!!! Will be nice to have clean clothes though as almost everything we own is either wet, sweaty or both :)

Tomorrow we continue towards home and head for the Dolomites via the Soca River valley. Real
biker country!

Croatia and Slovenia have both been fantastic and you should definitely visit. After you VisitBritain and VisitEngland of course :)

Love from Rob & Lachlan
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