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Old 05-10-2014, 10:14 AM   #1
Olorin_the_13th OP
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Easter on two wheels...in Croatia.

Dear fellow riders

After longer abscence, I feel it’s time to take you as company through the remembrance of my latest trip. All my three week-or-longer rides before have been solotrips, but this time the greatest Sozia of them all, my lovely Julinka, was tightly tugged to my back all the time.
So, this was our first two-up for more than a couple of hundred kilometers, which on one side made luggage a whole new story and on the other side was a test for both of us – and also meant to be, so we can be more assured to survive longer trips together.

What did we take with us?
In one sidebox all what was required to make us a decent meal and enjoy it, in the other sidebox just some oil, some tools, some chain lubricant, some drinks, some towels. That’s it.
On the luggage support behind Julinka, the luggage required most often has been put: the laptop, some clothing and some other electronics in one bag; the hygene stuff in the other box. Beside our leathers we took some jeans and sneakers to actually do something other than riding.
You will understand, we are going to have a boring stick-to-the-tarmack-and-sleep-in-hotels road trip. And I know there is considerable room for improvement ;-)
While the original plan was to go to Ireland during Easter, it dawned we could have better timing and more of it – so we postponed Ireland to visit Croatia. From my hometown to Croatia it is somewhat 600 miles/900 kilometers. I have done long hauls on the highway going solo before, which was exhausting for me and did no good to my bike as well. And with the greatest Sozia of them all?
No. We pussed out, we played chicken. I bought myself a trailer.

Day One - Monday

And so our trip starts, from a private pension in Drobollach on the Lake Faaker (near Wörthersee) under the observation of Mittagskogel (snowy mountain in the back)…


In Drobollach, the Austrian Harley Meeting is being held every year. But on this Monday in the middle of April, we have been about the only Motorbike around.


Our first goal was in Slowenia, a lake called Bled. Slowenia was part of the Austria-Hungarian monarchy, as such quite rich and well-known for it’s university in Laibach and the culture there.
After 1918 it became part of Yugoslawia and us such after 1945 part of the Warschauer Pakt, the Eastern Block. The bad, poor, communists, you know…until Yugoslawia broke up after 1990.
Today? You could not tell the difference between Austrian small towns or villages in the mountains and their Slowenian counterpart. Those people are first world, most def. To repeat for our American riders: Slowenia is NOT far east of Moscow, it’s not in Siberia, it shares some boarders with Italy, which is on the mediteranian sea.
But now, some pictures.
Lake Bled is just a quite nice spot for Tourists. Not many of them here, at the moment, but enough to fill two Gondolas, which one paddler each slowly shoves over to the Isle in the middle of the lake, where a church is situated. Probably a pilgrim thing I don’t understand.


The streets in Slowenia do need some preparation still. Here you see two guys on the tough job of burning grass.


The plan for this day was to go West from Bled, through the mountains, then South, to Postojna – skipping Ljubljana/Laibach in one big circle.
Reisebericht

But something went wrong. Appearantly, we did not hit the B209 and went southwards to early. The route went through small, homely streets through slowenian moutains villages – where one could find peculiar haystacks everywhere, see below – and woods. All of a sudden it went kinda chilly and left and right of the road was covered in snow. Some hundred meters after these photos, the snow was on the street as well, luckily a path was already cleared.


On the slopes downwards, wonderful scenery opened up to us, looking far over the moutains. Right until the moment the road went missing. The Slowenian signs tell you “road construction, slow down”. What the don’t tell you is: we removed the road completely. In the serpentines. Thank you.


We took a ride through a many miles long valley Eastwards. Very serene, good roads, despite a bit wobbly. Typical alpine village scenery. We didn’t take many photos, I apologise. Only one worthy...of the Greatest Sozia of the all.


When our Route was to go South again, the way was blocked – mountain pass still closed. So we were forced to take the route around Laibach anyhow. To remain in time, it was our first Highway leg in this vacation. Not a long one, though, just maybe 50 miles to Postojna (old: Adelsberg), were we wanted to stop for the Caves..

Since the tourist have access the Caves every two hours, we wasted some time with our first meal – to be remembered was the expensive „Veggie Burger“, two lumps of breadroll with some ketchup and fresh bell pepper in between. After that, the greatest Sozia of them all needed some mood rising by stocking up on jewellery – you could find chains, ear-rings and rings based upon all kind of cheaper gemstones (quartz, amethyst and the kind) on this tourist trap. The greatest Sozia of all times remained modest, which is why she is the Greatest in the first place.

Around 4 p.m., the tour into the caves started: a pack of maybe two hundred tourists being stuffed in a small pit tramway, mostly consisting of a Chinese and a Japanese tourist troop, we wedged in between. The tramway goes about 2 kilometers deep into the caves through some very, VERY, small holes. The prototypical American (which turned out to be a German), 2 meters in height, 2 meters in width, in one lorry with his small daughter, had quite a hard time…
Back when the Austrian princess Sissi visited the caves, the tourists have been brought into the cave by a Draisine (handcar/trolley) – kind of a pity it is no longer available!

After the tramway the tourist have been separated by language – why we ended up with the typical American and his family in a group of less than ten people being led by Janina (name changed by authors) in perfect german.
The first man exploring the caves (which have been known for many thousand years, but not being stepped in due to superstition) did so in the beginning of the 19th century, having only torches on his disposal. With the, he ventured about 5 hours per direction into the caves, more than 2 kilometers deep. One can hardly imagine the impression… The many people that followed him throughout the years, including tourists and princess Sissy, used candles and torches as well, why the first part of the caves is covered on black, grey and green (moss), including the dropstones.
In the parts where one can find them in the original colour, they are of bright white, red of gray – depending on the mineral composition.

Only at the end of the 19th century, when electric light was installed (by the way, the first electric lights in all of Slowenia), a second part of the caves has been discovered, when somebody registred a big hole in what was formerly supposed to be a wall. Back then, this second part was hard to reach, but after the first world war, prisoners of said war build a brigde for all the tourists. Now, everybody can see the dropstones in their natural colours. The Slowenians gave the halls in the cave funny names like “spaghetti cave”, “red cave” and “curtains”, in which the stalagmites are hanging from the ceiling like bacon. After the second world war, the Italians created and artificial tunnel, so the tourists today can take an 8-shaped-route through the mountain.
Here some pictures, but don’t tell, ‘cause taking pictures is against the laws of the deep mountain!



Chinese (and Japanese) patiently waiting in line for the train to take them out:


Up to now, the river has produced three floors within the mounting: one above the halls we traveled, which is unpassable since the dropstones already grew until the halls have been filled – and one below our track, were the river is still creating cavery. At the end of the trains trail back, the tourists leave the lorries in a big hall right above the river.



Even deep inside the dark mountain, there is rich life. The most spectacular species is the Grottenolm (lat. Proteus), which can live only in caves – being washed out of the cave after to much rain is deadly, the dry out and die in the sunlight. These are amazing creatures: with a heartbeat of down to 3/second, they can extend there life up to 100 years and not eat for up to 12 years without starvation. But…they are quite ugly.

(Photo stolen for charitable purposes..read: you.)

Beside the caves, you can find other attractions around as well, e.g. a castle built into the mountain and a submarine build by the slowenian marine.
We left the caves as the last tourists of the day, it was already quite late considering we had only two hours before sunset to reach our destination. Hence, we took the agonizing route over the highway, skipped Rovinj and dropped down in Pula, where we ended the day with a walk into the inner city in desperate hunt for food.
Funny thing: you actually can get a taxi in this small town…but only to get out of it. The center is the only place where you can find them.
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Old 05-10-2014, 03:15 PM   #2
Darel
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You took very unusual road from Bled. Not best in april, but you know that now
Just one remark: Yugoslavia was never part of Warschaw pact, it was the only eastern country that showed Stalin the middle finger and survived that.
Keep on..
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Old 05-10-2014, 03:51 PM   #3
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Well done guys. I love the alpine scenery pics.
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Old 05-13-2014, 05:05 AM   #4
Olorin_the_13th OP
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Thank you, Zadok & Darel.

Yes...I did not lay down my track through the Jura Alps all too well.

The idea was not to go too far West due to a hint by BeemerSW.
Well, unusual tracks mostly give me the best experiences, to be honest...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darel View Post
You took very unusual road from Bled. Not best in april, but you know that now
Just one remark: Yugoslavia was never part of Warschaw pact, it was the only eastern country that showed Stalin the middle finger and survived that.
Keep on..
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Old 05-13-2014, 05:32 AM   #5
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Let's continue a bit.

The first leg of this trip was a bit to long, as I learned. The greatest Sozia of them all intervened, hence we decided to shorten the legs to less than 300 km per day. At least, we intented to.


In the beginning, there was Pula – a typical small town for this region, but it has something wonderful: a collosseum. As far as I know of, only three in quite good shape remain, world-wide: in Rome, Nimes – and Pula. Due to the price of entry and our general mood, we just took pictures from the outside.






Originally it was planned to have our first stop at the Krk island. There we would have been able to see another dropstone cave (but what would it have been like compared to our experience yesterday?), also the island is connected to Hrvatske with a one mile long brigde. We decided to skip this – there would be more than enough gusts of wind coming from the side anyhow, it turned out.

We drove through the Istria region (a halve-isle part of Hrvatske) tot he coast. Istria is very, very green. I think, the road to the coast was the greenest experience I have ever made so far on two wheels. Happens to be we have springtime, maybe this has something to do with it. A couple of pictures might give you an impression.



High above the Adria we took our breakfast break, including the first coffee of the day.



The coastal roads we took are not really suitable for sporty bikes driving sporty. You have too many real tight turns, which surprise you with bumps or a sudden hefty blowing right in the apex.
This evokes very dangerous stuff happening, like hits on the helmet by the Greatest Sozia of them all. To prevent angry pillon riders, I suggest a calm, steady pace – which allows enjoying the scenery as well.

Here come more impressions - also of less rural structures^^
I know it's picture overkill, but it was impression overkill, too.






By the way, in case you find a motorhome in front of you – don’t overtake it. It will be back in front of you as soon as you enjoy your exceptional good hot chocolate. Said chocolate is in Croatia thick and spoon-sticky, so the spoon remains where and how you stick it into. How must Croatians feel leg-pulled, when ordering one in Germany…


Apart from a couple of fat cats, the villages along the coast are still almost void of inhabitants. They just start to pour back in to make repairs on the houses in prevention of the storm of visitors in the summer months. Sign of advertisement for the tourists make it very visible, which group of tourists is expected the most. They read “Sobe-Zimmer-Rooms”. ;-)


At the end of our somewhat 300 km long trip, we reached Zadar. We were both very tired, but the Greatest Sozia of them all did not complain – might she have been too tired?
Well. Who of you has been riding on wet grass?
Then you might have an idea how tricky the tarmack is in Zadar. It’s black and sticky, then it changes to grey and…is the tarmack of devil. We learned this the hard way, when braking at a stoplight (was it even on one of the white arrows?) all of a sudden the frontwheel started to slip. I could prevent a Highsider, but considering my valueable freight and the weight of the hog, it was kind of a scarry expierence.
This did not prevent us to head directly into the pedestrian zone (which is actually quite forbidden, but nobody seemed to care). There, the paths are made of … marble. The complete inner city is marble. Marble a couple of thousand years old and threadened on by uncounted villagers over time. Hence they are even more slippery than the tarmack of the devil. One can compare it to Ice.
We got catched by the friendly Verica, which felt sorry for the hapless bikers and invited us to her apartment with roof garden access. Which is why Julinka and Verica perambulated slowly through town with a sweating motorbiker following them, at 1 mph with the feet on the ground, trying to stabilize.


After a decent meal, we visited our real intended goal: Zadars Sea Organ, being ignored and drowned out by springbreak studendts. A couple of years ago, concrete pipes of various lenght have been fabricated into the quai by an artist. The waves flowing in and out generate spacy, spherical sounds.
But listen for yourself (Sorry, I was unable to embed the thingi):



The organ is accompanied by a light installation, based on solar cells, generating crazy light mandalas in the night. Ideal for photos, but also for Springbreakers looking for a place to celebrate, singing loudly into the night sky.


Hence, a town with 3.500 years of history (which we ourselfs ignored deliberately), is renowned and visited for an art installation merely 20 years old.

Olorin_the_13th screwed with this post 05-20-2014 at 05:13 AM
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Old 05-13-2014, 05:58 AM   #6
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Fantastic

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Old 05-13-2014, 09:59 AM   #7
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Fantastic report! Thank you very much and please continue! I have only traveled through this area by 4 wheels so your report is both familiar and completely new to me. Perhaps the world's greatest Sozia serves a vital function as a velocity monitor on those nasty serpentine roads!
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Old 05-15-2014, 05:39 AM   #8
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Great report!
I see you rode through Sorica as I mentioned in trip planning section. Vršič wound not be good in April.

It got warmer as you approached coast line, right?
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Old 05-20-2014, 04:07 AM   #9
Olorin_the_13th OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BimmerSI View Post
Great report!
I see you rode through Sorica as I mentioned in trip planning section. Vršič wound not be good in April.

It got warmer as you approached coast line, right?
Yes, so we did - but the 909 and 403 to Tolmin was closed...

Well, it turned out to be good the way it was, otherwise we would not have had the time in Postojna.

And right, it GOT warmer eventually...but should not keep this way all the time. Stay tuned^^
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Old 05-20-2014, 05:10 AM   #10
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So, folks, after some days of laziness, I want to continue our small story.
Thanks for your replies so far.

Day Three - Wednesday.


In the not-so-early morning, we wanted to see Zadar in sunlight, why we hiked the roof terrace of our pension. After saying Goodbye to Verica, I was quite lucky to find two policemen supervising my motorbike – a great excuse to inch my bike out of the slippy pedestrian zone, instead of having to drive it. Look at the right and you will see just HOW slippy it was.



After we had managed to leave the grey Asphalt of doom of death from outer space +3 as well, we settled down to have breakfast in a kind of truckstop – while the swine on the spit already rotated in the fireplace.


From there, we headed to our first goal – Sibenik. There, the greatest Sozia (again: this means Pillon Rider) of them all was able to film wobbling boats.


We came to Sibenik for the UNESCO-protected chappel, but much more impressive was the system of small backstreets ranking up the coastal hill and which can only be climbed by foot. Or – so we thought.



Since we were not able to enter the castle over the town due to repair works, we followed our morbid motifs and visited the local graveyard, respective it’s cat. Only when departing we noticed a sepulture going on at the same time.



The route went further along the coastal road, more or less, but this time it was much more comfortable, much less sidewinds, so we both could enjoy the scenery. Our Croatian friends had urged us to definitely visit Trogir en route to Split, so, we did. Both towns are embedded in their bays in a very impressing way. Already on the descend down the coastal road, one can almost feel the atmosphere of pirate attacks and naval battles.



The complete inner city of Trogir is protected by UNESCO. As it is with Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany or the dockland of Trondheim in Nørge, one immediately is being relegated to medieval times…would it not be for stone drunk germans, bawling loudly after young Croatian women and all the bric-a-brac being sold to unwary tourists on every corner.



The rest of our short leg of the day lead us to Split over a street called „Johannes Paul II.“ (the late pope) to Berlin-Lichtenberg, since “on first glance” is nothing more than a huge developing area with ugly plattenbau all around.


But all of a sudden, one is surprised to find a city center made of antique romanian buildings and from the time of Jesus Christ. Through a maze of small backstreets and standing as well as fallen stone columns we found this place to enjoy our evening meal. The poor, but brave Croatian waiter had to bring it into the courtyard, since we wanted to eat in the fresh evening air – which in April is more like winter for the locals. At least one of us is a real Norseman, after all! (…I am speaking about the Greatest Sozia of them all^^)





And nope, we neither had the lobster nor the blue fish.
We left those for the marine officers roaming around in the restaurant and went to bed.
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Old 05-20-2014, 08:52 AM   #11
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Glad to hear you are enjoying Split and the palace of Emperor Diocletian. As I remember he was one of the very few Caesars to avoid dying while in power and thus he retired to this immense palace in the region where he spent his youth. If you go to Dubrovnik you may wish to stay in the little village that is just outside the North gate of the old city. The village is in a tiny cove between the city wall and a citadel on a high peak. There is a nice pensione there with a covered terrace just meters from the sea. And, at least a few years ago, there was living in the village a man named George who is well known for meeting the buses from the airport and finding rooms for people. He is a very friendly guy who knows the whole region like it was his apartment and can tell you the best places to go without all tourists. If you ask around in the village you will find him. Everyone knows him.
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Old 05-21-2014, 07:53 AM   #12
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Nice RR! Looking forward to read on the rest of your trip.
We are riding down to Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro next week with 3 bikes.
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Old 05-28-2014, 04:29 AM   #13
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Thursday was a day under the leadership of the Greatest Sozia of them all.



The idea was to stay in Split and recuperate. So, after some shoping,


we visited the Palace of Diokletian (no, Blader, the evening before we just went by), whose basements have survived almost undamaged through the centuries full of fights with pirates, with Turks and again and again with Trogir. Splits history is a very moved one – often the formed alliances with Trogir against the pirates, then they fought each other, then they were under venecian government… In 1990, Split was even bombarded by the yugoslawian marine, after Croatia declared its independence.



Sarcophargus, later used for "secondary purposes":

Dio, oh, Dio:


Basement flora (the fauna was doves, shitting on stones under reconstruction...):


Beside visiting those basements and strolling around in the city, the GröSaZ (pun intended) perpetuated youngsters playing foot-the-ball between these walls steeped in history in her sketchbook, we ate at a cosy Italiano and finally sent our beloved ones some post-cards.





This one is to welcome the GröSaz to ADVrider.com. It seems she did not like her welcome:


In the afternoon, we took the ride towards Krka national park. This lead us through tight backroads in the villages, or rather paved cart tracks, over the Croatian backland high-plane.


Here you are strongly advised to travel at thirty to fourty miles per hour – fifty miles per hour being deadly, since without any question around the next corner the mandatory Croatian in his old, huge Mercedes Benz comes barreling, a herd of sheep is lurking to run into you or the sheperds dog is standing in the middle of the road, barking at you. But should you be so wise as to take you time and travel slow, you can joyfully stray your sight over the high plains left and right – unless some a beater is foozleing it, standing in the way.


Yes, even the Croatian are beginning to plant energy windmills everywhere.


Being very wise, the Croatian have build a big hotel right beside the entry to the National Park – which had one single room left for us. While all over guests have gone to bed at nine o’clock in the evening (“they all have kids!”), the poor and obviously quite drunk waiter had to supply us with delicious mashed potatoes which for reasons unknown looked quite like French fries.
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Old 06-06-2014, 07:46 AM   #14
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Hi there!

A lot of stuff happening and a lot of work to do at the moment, hence the slow adding of another day.

At this progress, by the time this report will be finished, we'll already be off to Ireland - where we want to go to in the middle of July.

Anyways, let's continue.


On the next morning, the Friday, we met all the other five guests oft said hotel in the breakfast room. After testing, we can highly recommend the fruit juices here, original Croatian – which probably are made of sugar, purely. Sugar wakes you up! Contrary to the busload of hotel guests, we didn’t want to wait for the bus shuttle and took the footpath down to Krka national park.


This allowed us the first, great shots of nature of this day:



In the Park around the so-called Skadenski Bug (bug means waterfall), the river Krka forms over fifty waterfalls, some bigger, some smaller, but all great, which quieten in deep-blue pools. Being the clever guys they are, the Croatians have installed about two kilometers of wooden footbridge through this watery scenery, which we blazed along with enormous 300 meters per hour!






The greatest Sozia of them all went all Heinz Sielmann and felt the urge to film a lot of frogs, blue dragonflies, mussels, fish, air bubbles, figs and in the end some crazy guys bathing in the pond of the biggest Bug.
At the end of the report, I’ll post a film showing some of the material she took.




Since Selfies are a Must have these days...


When we hopped back into the seat, it had about 30° Celsius and we started our travel to Plitvice. For reasons of time, we traveled half of the route by superslab – which, crazy enough, does wind up the mountains via serpentines! On the remaining maybe 60 kilometers we felt it was not very wise to choose clothing for 30° Celsius…by the snow on the left and right.




The closer we came to Plitvice, the more often we saw legacies of the Jugoslawian war – cementaries. Arriving in the proximity of the national park, sign even warned us of free-roaming bears. How good, we got a stone building for that night – the friendly Villa Vuk, which reminded us of the Danish films, plainly ;-)


After enjoying our evening meal – strange smelling meat loaf and tasty pizza – we were in distress of the Japanese guy on the table beside us, which did see the reproachfull glance of the waitress when the g.S.o.t.a. returned here loaf, but ate his own completely, outta the courtsy Japanese are trained to. We could not see him on the next day, too, but a whole bunch of his people.
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Old 06-26-2014, 03:47 AM   #15
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Saturday


Entry to the National Park Plitvice Jezera was just a few hundred meters from our nightlodge – a path led through peaceful birchwoods with a lot of dolines. Serenity was quickly over: at the sight of the huge masses of tourists coming out of the hotels right beside the national park, we congratulated ourself to our small pension.



Such tourist masses are well organised, fully in croatian vein. Boats and busses move the chain people along paths specially layed down for them through the watery landscape. Most of them consist of wooden planks, only a small amount is made of concrete or asphalt. On those paths, the chain people run in circles, all in the same direction. Reminds me of ants.


Compared to this days conditions, we had Krka all for ourselfes: wedged within a Japanese travel group, whose participants made a Selfie in front of a smaller or bigger waterfall, including photos of tourists of other nations as collateral damage, we strolled with about 0.1 km/h towards the hugest waterfall. Here, we were quite happy with our water-proof biker boots enabling us to take a rest aside the chain-humans directly IN the waterfall. Of course, we are much, much better than all the other tourists and made a picture of ourselves only every two and a half meters.



Moving with the chain-humans, we somehow without really noticing it managed to leave the biggest amassment behind – despite having some hedgehog-and-bunny-experiences with Japanese women, which we overtook, which still, by means magical, were already there, whenever we arrived at a waterfall. Maybe they were clones.


Being in front of the amassment had one drawback, though: we could not stop anywhere, since we had no intentions to be catched up with again. GröSaZ forced me to gather all my strength and storm the ferry to the upper part of the national park as last passanger. Thus, we left the Asians behind finally. Which did not help all that much, ‘cause now we were in the middle of German chain-people, whose friendly Croatian guidess explained the lust of the freely roaming bears for tender meat of pensioners to them.



But even those guys we left behind eventually – sadly, this was only on the end of the trail.


Don't get me wrong - despite my ramblings we had a hell of a good time. Maybe you could figure that out yourself.
Final impressions:



When mounting our bike again, we thought long and hard about whether to set sail for Ljubljana or Zagreb. Only after another 80 kilometers of national roads and some fried cheese we felt able to decide – for Zagreb. Arriving there, I was too much penny-pinching to let the greatest Sozia of them All have a night in the world-reknown Hotel Regent, it being a *****-Hotel. No, I choose the Hotel Zentral directly at the main train station and beside an Admiral Automat Club (a chain of gambling dens). ‘twas a wise choice, since the friendly Concierge came out to us into the beginning heavy rain and ushered our bike into a dry parking garage with a metal door meaning serious business!
I had to pay for my penny-pinching by taking the GröSaZ into downtown that evening.


Central place - dominated by finance "industry", despite old heroes.

Sector of diplomacy...

It was the night to Easter Sunday and the Croatians collectively did, what one expects from people on a Saturday evening – they went into church. Heavy loaded with baskets probably containing easter breadrolls, they poured in one after another – appearantly the mass was to continue the whole night or at least until Midnight, hence they needed that additional shot of power.
We were glad to be able to observe this from a small mediaval pub right beside a monastery and in front of a church. Said pub was called “Tolkien” and we devoured deliciuosnesses like “Gandalf The Gray” and Green Cider – with peppermint liquor. Seems the waiter kinda liked us, ‘cause he advised us to stay away from certain beers – which he had on his very own menu.



The last pictures of this night are quite crappy, since we were so drunk I am unsure of how exactly we happened to awake in our rented beds the next morning.
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