From Snow To Sea
DAY 4: LJUBLJANA – RIJEKA
DOBER DAN HRVATSKA! What a fun day. In terms of cycling. 7/2/15
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”).
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.
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.