Travel on two wheels

From Snow To Sea

DAY 4: LJUBLJANA – RIJEKA

DOBER DAN HRVATSKA! What a fun day. In terms of cycling. 7/2/15

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It’s 8 o’clock. I’m leaving Ljubljana, but it is not a farewell. The Slovenian capital offers more than you could visit in a day. It will definitely be worth another trip.

I exit LJ via the main road Southwestbound. Good thing it’s a Saturday—there`s hardly any traffic. The road goes straight and flat for a good while, until it mounts to Postojna, a Slovenian winter sports village. All of a sudden, cross-country skiers ride along the road next to me. Everybody out on the street drags at least a sleigh or a slider behind them. I must look sort of extra-terrestrial to them, judging from the looks they give me. The only commonality between them and me seems to be how we both enjoy the sun and the snow.

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Sometimes even the road is white. That’s when the cars and I get down to the same speed, trying to cross the snow sections in style and safety. It’s a slippery affair though, especially on two wheels.

After a couple of high climbs, the road descends. A lot. And with that, I enter a new zone—Adriatic climate. The snow fades, naked brown trees and meadows appear beneath it. It gets warmer. Croatia and the sea are near.

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The snow and the cold have left their traces on the bike. It`s covered in salt and dirt. I don’t mind the patina. It makes it less attractive for theft and looks kind of hardcore. I generously put oil on the moving parts though.

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I almost entered Croatia illegally

Croatia is my first non-schengen country. And I almost enter it illegally. There are no barriers at the border controls, it looks like you can just pass through. And I probably could have, if the border officer had not shouted “passport” at me while I was slowly rolling through. So I turned around and, standing in an awkward crooked way with my bike, handed him my documents. Other than that, the whole procedure is hardly exciting. The only question I am asked is whether my name really is Paul.

On the other side of the border, I am welcomed warm-heartedly. Not. Three times I am overtaken and almost touched by fast drivers. On an otherwise empty and wide road. Everytime I raise my hand in rage, trying to flip them off, which is impossible. You can’t show your middle finger wearing mittens. Which makes them such a wonderful invention actually.

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Sea at first sight.

Traffic increases exponentially as I roll down to Rijeka by the sea. The first glance at the water gives me the chills. I just love cycling to the sea. It`s my favorite kind of water and as we don`t have a seaside in Austria, it always feels like you’ve traveled pretty far when you get to the sea.
A white car overtakes me, suspiciously slowly. And it does not appear to end—it’s a stretch limo. “Dober dan, dober dan”, good day, the youth in the back are shouting at me, laughing and offering me a glass of prosecco through the window. I decline and give them the only thing possible with mittens on—a thumbs up (again, what a beautiful invention—you can’t flip people off, you can only give them a “like”).

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I arrive at a completely abandoned youth hostel. I have an eight-bed dorm for myself. I occupy the whole of it, hanging up my wet laundered clothes everywhere.

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Rijeka is a port city, the sunny beaches are found elsewhere. 

Later in the evening I check out the city’s shopping mall “Tower centar”, a horrible consumption temple. But according to the hostel staff, this is the only place where I can 

a) change my euros to kuna, 

b) get something to eat and 

c) buy a sim card. 

All of which I kind of do. Although I 

a) feel frauded by the money exchange bureau (because I still have no feeling of the kuna value in comparison to euro), 

b) only have a pizza on the go and 

c) buy the wrong kind of sim card (nano instead of micro). 

All of this leaves me with a certain degree of discomfort, but I decide to sleep it off and take care of it tomorrow.

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