Venetian Weight

3 Oct

Hello again. I have been having a leisurely day today so have the time to use a computer. I only cycled 35km from Umag to Porec in Croatia; however I did have to stand up all the way because I forgot to put a bag over my lovely leather Brooks saddle last night so it got sodden when there was very heavy rain this morning. I didn’t want to sit on it and stretch the tightened leather as when it dried it may have been to slack. But this afternoon I have been sunning myself on the beach and eating plenty of food so all is good now.

Since I last left you I have had a couple of frustrating days and couple of really nice ones. The worst idea I have had so far was to visit Venice. I didn’t think I was going to like the place from the outset but seeing as I was going so close I thought it silly not to ‘pop in’. I imagined a quick coffee in a lovely plaza and then back out again heading toward Gorizia to meet a couch surfing host the following night. Well, to begin with the road into Venice is horrible, a busy dual carriageway through industrial areas. I thought I found a cycle path alongside it but that veered off to a desolate place of disused factories. Eventually I made my way along the road and reached Venice alongside thousands of other tourists. I should have thought taking a bike there was a bad idea at the sight of the first foot bridge, but not wanting to cycle back along the road I decided to get the ferry to Punta Sabbioni the peninsula that heads North east in the direction I was heading. 

I had to carry my heavily loaded bike over countless bridges and push it through the crowded narrow streets. This suffice to say somewhat spoiled the place for me. I got totally lost and frustrated at the place. Eventually I thought I had found the answer a water bus that would take me to the peninsula. I bought my ticket and then was refused boarding twice because they were too busy. I tried walking along the ‘line’ to the last stop before heading out to the peninsula where the boat would be less empty. After many more bridges including a really big old wooden one I eventually found the place, within the hour that my ticket was valid for, and was refused boarding 2 more times despite there being room on the boats. Eventually I found the correct larger ferry that would take me across after about 3 of the worst hours of my trip.Even without the bike I don’t think I would have liked Venice, there were too many tourists and it seemed like an open air museum. I hate sightseeing anyway, but the basilica and cathedrals I did see were to to my taste, over-grandiose displays of opulence.

In the afternoon I needed to make up some ground in an effort to get close to Gorizia, I got a bit lost, it started raining and had to get to a town for water (and then back out to find somewhere quiet to camp) as night was falling. But I managed to cycle 70 km which was pretty good going, spurred on by brooding post-rock and the prospect of soup for tea which worked some of the frustration out through my legs.

The next day was good, apart from my stiff back from all the lugging of my bike. I rode the 70km easily and with enough time for a long tasty lunch (leftover pesto really improved a mozzarella and tomato sandwich) and reading in the sun. I met up with Irene a host, who showed me around town and up to the castle which gave a great view over the city at sunset. I was lucky to be in Gorizia, usually a quiet city, on that day (as I was told countless times). It was, roughly translated, ‘borders tastes’ festival. Basically a festival of food and drink from all the Balkan countries. We went out in the evening with lots of her friends and ate some interesting food. I had pizza, which I had to have in Italy but especially enjoyed the deep fried courgette flowers and mozzarella balls. I also tried a Spritz: soda water, white wine and an orange liqueur, a quintessentially Italian drink and surprisingly good. It was still 21 degrees at 1 in the morning when we returned to the flat to sleep.

 

The next day I bought a map of Yugoslavia and headed off into Slovenia. I got about 20km up a lovely scenic valley and went to take a photo only to find my battery completely dead from uploading the photos the night before which was very frustrating. Then I realized that I had left my Kindle back at Ire’s flat!!! So back I cycled and luckily here flatmate was still in as Ire had gone back to her hometown of Rome early that morning. Whilst on the way back I stopped to get some water from a stream, slipped on a rock and soaked both my shoes through! Great, could my day better much better. Well, I decided to take a different route from Gorizia, I had seen some of the Slovenian hills so I headed towards Trieste on the coast for a dip in the sea. On the way I inadvertently lost my fleece by leaving a pannier open at a food stop. When I reached the coast, I could see it was a cliff face all the way to Trieste, not giving me the chance to have a swim or a place to camp. So I had to cycle into the city as night was falling. It was almost completely dark when I saw a turning off the busy road, next top the motorway that was just about alright to camp on, so I took it and proceeded to drop my pot of jam. I was very glad when that calamitous day was over! Maybe it was a penance for the cigarette I smoked the night before, or more likely the result of lack of sleep and a few beers.

However the next day I cycled over the border again into Slovenia, saw the small area of coast that Slovenia has and then entered Croatia. The weather is good, warm and sunny and the roads are great to ride. Wonderful scenery and rolling hills that you have to pedal hard up get to the top, speed down the other side and try to keep the momentum going to reach the top of the next one. And flat sections through coastal towns with rocky beaches, fishing boats and crystal clear sea. 

Now I need to think a bit more clearly about my route towards Sofia, I know I will follow the coast of Croatia for a while but after that who knows. If anyone has any recommendations let me know.

 

I have updated the map so you can look at my route so far on the Route section. 

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One Response to “Venetian Weight”

  1. ray October 13, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    Enjoy reading of your progress on your trip.planning one myself. best of luck. i,ll keep looking out for new posts. i don,t do twitter or facebook but will catch up with that before i leave. i,ve been reading your past posts as i,ve just discovered your blog. think i,ve been reading it backwards. which month did you leave the uk?

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