The Great Croatian Escapade

29 09 2012

Firstly as she will be riding with us until Antalya I feel we should introduce Rhiannon in a little more detail for those who don’t know her and as her brother Jimi has the artistic licence to do so:

The curious case of Rhiannon

Rhiannon rides a bike like no other. Despite its fixed components and spherical wheels she manages to make cycling look like a novice hill walker scrambling up Crib Goch, flip flops and sombrero in tow.

After two days of marvelling at this epic struggle we were forced to briefly hospitalise her. Her chest pain finally brought tears to her eyes and we took a taxi to the emergency ward. After a thorough examination; a verdict of a pulled muscle was administered and she was dismissed before they could photocopy the passport, much to the surprise of the receptionist. Rose and I did try to take this opportunity to put Rhi under house arrest orders for a week whilst we pedalled away, but fearing we may ‘party’ without her  and revitalised by the doctors diagnosis, she had a second coming and vowed to soldier on. I even caught her doing these insane sit ups down by the dock one morning.

This diagnosis had also had the effect of improving her riding style, where before she would be out of the seat more times than Tyler Hamilton up the road to Bayonne and stopping more times than our old dad in his middle aged fell running crisis, she is now forced to ride more smoothly and at a steady pace which greatly pleases us as it’s much safer to stay as one group on these busy Croatian coastal roads. Such has been Rhiannon’s improvements that questions have arose over her means. “I’ve never tested positive,” has been the all too familiar rebut. So we await the inevitable USADA’s case to be built before we can clean up our Tour de World guest star. She can however cook up a mean fish, potatoes, salad and even makes beans and tomatoes taste amazing.

We have substituted “the translator” for “the chef” and she now delights us with the ‘campsite cooking’ meals every night. But don’t worry Jake she can’t speak a word of German.

Anyway on with the blog…

So after the last post, Jimi wrote about us leaving Rijeka and heading to Zadar on the ferry the next morning. We awoke at 6am after an early night and well rested, it felt like we were sneaking away in the dead of the night as we cruised down the hill in the dark into Rijeka. We were greeted by a smiling sailor who sweetly said, we are not sailing today, the weather is too bad, we all looked up into the beautiful rising sun to what looked like a promisingly beautiful day. Rhiannon replied with a laugh and “ha! Ha! he’s joking, it’s the funny Croatian sense of humour” he smiled again and said “well you can wait if you like but we won’t be leaving until Wednesday.” We watched as other eager tourists loaded with their backpacks were told the same thing and slinked away, wondering how they were to reach their destination, fortunately we did not have a flight to catch the same day as some tourists did.

So of we set back up the hill to Rijeka in the hope of catching a ferry the next day which we hoped would take us to Zadar. Happy to be on the bikes again after a lazy few days at an abandoned festival we headed full of energy (well half full) and found a lovely wild camp spot 60km towards Rijeka.

We were in bed by 8pm and awoke and set off the next morning by 7:30. Arriving into Rijeka we were told, sorry no bicikla on this catamaran, you cannot leave Rijeka today and will have to get the overnight ferry to Split tomorrow as this is the only one you can take your bike on. Not to be disheartened by this minor set back, we booked the tickets and set off in search of the campsite. Low and behold, the campsite did not exist although we were told various legends by 3 different locals. We gave in and Jimi found a small cheap apartment however on seeing two girls ‘Mama Ana’ upgraded us to a bigger apartment with ‘more room to rest’. We communicated with Ana in little broken words from French, German, Italian, Turkish and English and in the end she said “ahh my children, call me Mama!”

Safe in the knowledge we would be leaving Rijeka (a full week after Jimi and I arrived there the first time) and catching the night ferry, we settled into the apartment, did some bike maintenance and watched a film. Not quite the camping and slumming it that we would usually be doing but enjoyed the luxuries all the same. The next day we headed to the ferry port but were cut short with Rhi and her broken rib and decided she should see a doctor. I settled in at the port and Jimi escorted Rhi to the hospital just to be on the safe side and unsure if she would be able to continue the trip if her rib was worse than expected. 30 minutes later they returned and Rhi was diagnosed with a pulled muscle in between the ribs, much to everyones relief.

Finally after a lot of waiting around and me worrying about getting the good seats on the ferry, we boarded and found some comfy seats in the salon, ready to bed down for the night and awake bright and breezy in Split, ready for the next leg of the journey. Me and Jimi looked worryingly as 40 rugby men boarded the boat in front of us, concerned about the rowdiness of the sports teams/large groups we had previously encountered. Rhi on the other hand had a little smile on her face in the hope that somewhere amongst them they may have a little party on the boat she could get involved in. We met some fellow cycle tourers from Slovenia who were part of a travelling theatre company called The Pink Aliens and we shared a bottle of wine and some tales on deck. We even had a wonderful nights sleep, just about waking up before the ship docked in Split.

Rhi received a message from the Chrisophere, her friends called Chris who are travelling and climbing in Croatia, saying they would be in Split that evening and so we decided to find a room and hit the town and then continue on from there the next day. We searched for a tout for a room and of course there was not one to be found anywhere until finally we were approached by a man who promised us a lovely new apartment for 5 people with sky TV, air con and right in the old town, for the price we asked of him. We walked across town but he wouldn’t let us put our bikes in the apartment, he said they would be okay outside in the street but we were not risking our bikes being stolen so regretfully had to turn down the as mentioned beautiful apartment and try to find another room. We were met by another man who had a room, but he wanted too much money, another had given the room away and finally we found a small basement apartment, which just about would sleep 3, let alone 5 but after searching for hours we settled for this and decamped here.

This is the  reason it is easier to pitch a tent, set up camp and cook our dinner than stay indoors. 

Me and Rhi went in search of fish (at a market) but we didn’t understand why everyone was saying no until we realised they closed at 1 and we were too late. We eventually bought some fish and Rhi made amazing fish supper which was ready in time for the arrival of the mighty Chris’s. We all headed to the square amongst the beautiful old town and had a few drinks and headed back found everything closing as it was midnight. We were directed to the beach and to the ‘euro club’ which was empty when we arrived. Jimis late night party disco dream had come true and the rubbish beer and shit music added to the atmosphere of it all and was helped along with a few local shots of honey rackya. Me and Jimi left Rhi and the two Chis’ to it, knowing we cannot party as much as them three and headed home.

“Poor old Rosy Pose” was the saying the next morning as the ‘euro party’ (I blame the Chris’s and the ‘honey’ shot that did it but I did not feel well at all, and was not looking forward to the ferry crossing to Hvar, knowing the wind was strong.

We made it and across to Stari Grad and headed to the campsite, which was actually closed with a few campers but locked toilets. This did not deter us and we pitched up knowing it unlikely we would have to pay. A beautiful harbour was waiting us and since we did not pay for the campsite, went out for pizza and some home made wine at the harbour. This may be the time to explain about Croatian pizza. Croatians make pizza, nearly if not as good as the Italians and the pizza is crispy and tasty and after trying a few pizzas in Croatia so far have not had a bad one yet.

The next day was one of the best days cycling we have had. It was beautiful scenery all the way along the Island.

From there we took a short ferry back to the mainland and continued south. We stopped in Neum in Bosnia for the night (it was suprisingly beatiful and after finding a campsite, the man said ” wait there in ten minutes a man will come and watch you all night”. He sure did and we were guarded, Im not sure what from as we were the only ones there camping amongst the olive trees. (Mum auntie Bev and mads); there was a cat there called Tigger, same colour as our tigger and he sat outside our tent all night! Jimi learned he had passed his PGCE so we had an impromptu graduation dinner which was fantastic.

After some more miles and another ferry we reach Mljet. Jimi had been looking forward to this island for weeks but unfortunately it coincided with Rose’s knee being very sore and Jimi having the flu. So whilst Rhi explored the island we rested up in the beautiful village of Sobra for three whole days.

After two nights in Dubrovnik, a few more Spritzers (fast becoming Jimi’s favourite drink) and a hair raising ride down another busy coastal road we have left Croatia.

We have had a wonderful time, taking in some breathtaking views and met some lovely people along the way, cycled some of our best days and are pretty excited about the unknown of Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia and Greece…

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3 responses

29 09 2012
john and marie

Congrats on passing your PGCE, sounds like you are having a ball, you could do with a doctor for your sister Rhi sounds like a medical case with all her ailments. We are thinking about and planning Christmas groan groan weather is shit poor awful all three Ryan and Rob are Marathon running half marathon this weekend and a full one on the 14th. Except he injured his leg playing 5 aside so s laid up with a bad leg. Enjoy the next stage its great to hear of your exploits better than coronation st. Love John and gang

30 09 2012
Jason Middleton

Great update guy’s!! Disappointed I couldn’t come and see you all in Croatia, I was looking forward to it!

Pez is in Biarritz this weekend aswell but having work on Monday has scuppered any thought’s for a potential short break over there with him!! I have put the ‘Croatian Funds’ aside though so I will come and see you both hopefully this side of Christmas! Take Care, x

6 10 2012
rosyandjim

Hi Jas, sorry you couldnt come and see us but Im sure we will see you soon and maybe in Turkey. We will be there until August time so there is plenty of time! Nice to hear from you and see you soon x x

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