The further north I travel the weaker I become to resist bakeries. The Nathan you knew is slowly fading away and being replaced by a baguette and pastry eating version of the Cookie Monster. Now that I'm in Italy things are only getting worse! Panninis, pastas, pizzas, seafood, tirsamisu and the gilatto!; all washed down with wine.
Istria, still a part of Crotia, felt like I had already entered Italy. This peninsula has switched allegiances so many times over the centuries that many of the locals are in fact, Italians. I landed by bus in Pula at about 6:30 am and visited the best preserved Roman amphitheater outside of Rome. I was glad for the inspiration as I was about to set out for a long day of riding on about two hours sleep.
I had three days of hard riding to make it to Venice. I mainly stuck to the coast, but strayed inland occasionally to catch a site. Outside of Dalmatia, this coast gets the most tourism. But unlike Dalmatia which is full of tourists from all over the world, Istria is full of vacationing Europeans, mainly Germans and Austrians. And these tourists cycle! I was regularly being passed by groups of road bikes that waved and shouted, “Guten tag!” and, “Buon giorno!” with the occassional, “Bon chance.”
These giant snails keep me entertained on dreary, rainy days. They cover the roadside, which means I'm constantly swirving to avoid them. The occasional pop! sound reminds me to stay focused on the road. If I knew how to prepare escargot, I'd be feasting every night!
I stopped in the small picturesque town of Bale and discovered that Casanova called this apartment home during one of his many exiles from Venice.
I occasionally get a break from the busy two-lane roads by parallel country roads. A lot slower and a hell of a lot bumpier, the fresh air and scenery make them totally worth it.
Camping on the Istrian coast. Last night in Croatia.
I can confirm that the accounts that I've been reading about Slovenian bike routes are true. They are both amazingly beautiful and utterly confusing.
This was by far the best border crossing that I've ever experienced. This rail trail begins in Slovenia and ends in Trieste, Italy. It was so nondescript that I almost missed it.
Sometimes not speaking the language is a blessing in disguise. Coming out of Trieste there is a busy two-lane highway that provides the most direct route to where I was heading. The road was blocked and all traffic was being redirected. Not understanding the officer he motioned me through with a gesture of, “you can try to get through if you want to.” Looked ominous, but I rode on for a couple kilometers where I encountered a road crew and heavy machinary clearing a mud-slide. My desparate appearance and the fact that enough of the far side of the road had been cleared convinced them to let me pass. For the next 10 km or so I had this beautiful stretch of coastal highway to myself!
I concluded the first part of my trip riding through the Friuli countryside east of Venice. This pristine, lagoon filled caostline is full of touristy all-inclusives. This meant higher prices and increasingly larger crowds, but also some of the longest and best kept bike trails I've seen. It has been an incredible first chapter of this trip. And now for a couple week break from the bike to meet up with my sweety to tour Italy!