The battle begins at dawn. The first rays of sunlight break through the clouds at the edge of the horizon, and the orange color washes over the evening grey. Almost as if taken by surprise, the clouds let the sunlight through, until they gather enough strength to hold it back. There is no hiding. At least for now, shadows begin to grow and narrow, and locals begin to inhabit the city streets. A few hours earlier, social interactions between strangers would be cautioned, now we are open, joyful and ready to start another day. I am walking. Home finally, my gait is laborious, as I have been on my feet all night. Ten hours earlier, I stopped to get a falafel at Jerusalem Kebab, and quickly befriended the Palestinian owner and Nigerian chief. My long evening of festivities began. Now I am alone again and so close to sleep.
The road to Pula was difficult to say the least, I must admit I had to stop and rest while climbing the steep cliffs that hug most of the northern Croatian coast. I have entered Histria, the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. The beaches once so accessible are now far below. At night, it is like riding into a void. The road traces the cliffs for 30 km and eventually leads into a large valley. It is foggy and extremely damp. I stop repeatedly to catch my breath, before noticing my rear brake pad rubbing the rim.
I have become more bold, or rather careless in my camping style. My first night, I slept in front of a summer hotel “Kimen”, and awoke before dawn to a team of drywallers unloading their tools ready to begin a day of hard work. After apologizing for waking they offered a bed in one of the completed rooms but I declined, and set off for a long day of riding. Tres, my island landing point between Krk and the mainland is more mountainous, and is barely inhabited. There is no silence, wind, waves and cow bells echo in the distance.
Traveling by bicycle is a constant shift from the 1st to the 3rd world. One day, hours are spent hours finding clean water, food and a safe place to camp. The next is in a café and it is time to decide what type of coffee beans would be good in a mocha.
Pula is a very sleepy, laid back city that employs most of its residents on the docks building ships. Summers are extremely popular here, and the small population of 60,000 grows to over a million during the cities music festivals, Outlook and Dimension. The old city is home to the Arena, a huge Roman amphitheater built 50 years after the completion of the Roma Coliseum.
It is hard to get a taste of what summer life is like here. Friday and Saturday nights were rather quiet but I some how managed to stumbled across parties both evenings. This is cycle touring at a different level , and sometimes seems to mimic a celebrity life style. I will be in villages and nature again soon and have decided to leave Pula tomorrow in order to see Croatia’s most beautiful national park, Plitvice Lakes. I have picked up a tarp and an extra dry bag to hold back the rain and snow, and I hope to hold up camping in the high altitudes. But need to leave the city lights and late nights.