Monday, May 31, 2010
Amazing what one day of riding in a new county can do. I felt better on the roads the 2nd day and we wiggled our way back up the eastern part of Istria and I was looking forward to riding along the coastal road. The map suggested we backtrack for a while and then, after Labin, take a road that goes along the Adriatic coast. So much for our planning! There was a detour. I followed the detour signs one by one and felt good because once in a while a sign gave me positive reinforcement that I was on the correct road. Yet the road we took was not at all coastal but more of the inland experiences we had yesterday. We ended up just west of the town of Učka. We had a choice here; do we take the new, 5.1 Km tunnel along a toll road or the old road to Učka over the mountain pass? We choose the pass, naturally, and what a ride this turned out to be. The road surface over the pass was excellent. The corners were constant, not the smallest section had a straight away and there were 19% grades. This went on for 26 Km, Wow, what a road! Yet I saw hardly a motorcycle in sight. I think I saw one other bike on this road. In the U.S. this would be a biker’s heaven. I must say that the ADAC group marked this spot but Carol and I had chosen the coastal road along the Istria Peninsula which was not that great. The Učka pass however is a must take road. The section takes all your concentration and was wonderful. The town of Učka is so small that you will most likely miss it at 1401 meters at the top of the Vojak Mountain.
Coming down from Vojak Mountain we entered the very large town of Rijeka. Rijeka is an active harbor town that hugs some small areas of flat land along the coast. The signs now told me to follow the road towards Split. Even though Split is far away, that is the direction indicated on the signs. Finding the way through town was a bit tricky since again, there is only one sign and the sign is not always large and the direction is not always logical. Go straight and then immediately move left to make a left hand turn. I found the route ok and I was glad to leave Rijeka behind me.
From now on, we just followed the directions towards Split. This made negotiating traffic a lot easier. We were on the main road now going south. The road was in very good condition. Mostly hugging the coast, it winds through picturesque smaller towns and in order to see these towns we had to get off the main road. We did this once in Crikvenica, just to see the town. I used the Bankomat (ATM) and then we went on our way. The town was pretty but it was too early to stop for the day.
We rode on to the smaller town of Sveti Juraj. I cannot say why we stopped here. The weather by now was warm. The temps were around 25 C; the sky was blue and sunny. The time was mid-afternoon; around 3.30 PM. Normally, we ride longer. Yet on this trip the distances are packed with newness so that pushing on for the sake of more miles seems ludicrous. We stopped for the day. The town is really small. It is an active fishing harbor. We see a Konuba right on the water, a trattoria, a gasthaus. This place is kind of like a hotel but privately run and more like a family business. The price is 40 Euro per night without breakfast. Breakfast would be another 20 Euro. I think it expensive and we ride through town looking for other places. We are told by one guy that there is a place next to the town cemetery. We find the place, the owner even speaks a bit of English but he is still closed for the season. Two old ladies are walking on the road; one speaks German and tells me to go to an agency.
We saw this agency right across from the Konuba. Two young gals managed the place and one led us in her car to a house way up a hill, away from everything for 35 Euro per night. Nice place but not a good place to park the bike, nor a good place to get a meal at night, etc. We went back to the first place and paid the asking price of 40 Euro, without breakfast. Our room was overlooking the water, we had a balcony with a table and chairs, and we could park our bikes in their gated front yard. It was a good spot albeit a bit high in cost. Walking around town we found a market and bought our breakfast but found that had we paid the extra 20 Euro we would not have been cheated either.
Sometimes my head expects things to be a certain way but in reality things are different. I like a bargain yet sometimes I need to realize you do get what you pay for. While walking around town we found a few other restaurants but we opted to eat at our trattoria. We made the right choice. The food was first class. The garlic on the mussels was wonderful, the salad fresh and the Calamari grilled just right. We slept with the balcony door wide open, hearing the ocean waves break against the rocky shore, a slight breeze drifted the scent of a wood fire into our noses, and the moon shone silvery over the anchored boats. We were in a small jewel of a place. Life is good.