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Sun Oct 25 2015: Learn how to speak Croatian

We've been on the move, gallivanting all over Europe for a month now, and while it's been amazing to spend time with friends, it'll be nice just to stay in one place for a while. Since we sold Neda's mom's apartment last year we don't have a place in Pula anymore. Iva's dad has an apartment in Medulin, which is a sleepy town less than 10 kms outside of Pula, so this is where we've settled in ever since arriving.

Carolyn, our friend from one of the motorcycle forums, sent Neda a cross-stitch pattern of one of our pictures from the trip.
Because of all the free time we've had in the last while, it's coming along nicely!

We've remained stationary for over a week now and it's so satisfying just to unpack everything around us and relax. Neda's friends realize that we're locals now so there's not as much of a mad rush to plan get togethers. The weather is absolutely gorgeous, which is surprising for this time of year. We were in Pula exactly one year ago and I remember how cold, wet and miserable it was when winter drove us out of Croatia. Now, it's 20C and sunny every day. If the weather continues to stay like this, we may be able to linger here for awhile longer to recover before we're forced to head further south once again.

Neda is so happy that she has a kitchen again. We're eating great home-cooked meals every day

It's a good thing we have transportation, unlike last year when we were waiting for our bikes to arrive from South America. Neda is able to ride into Pula and go grocery shopping every morning to get fresh food for us. Being from the coast, Neda loves seafood, so she's been buying a lot of fish from the markets in town, straight off the fishing boats. She's preparing all her favorite Croatian dishes from her youth.

Me, I've basically gone into hibernation mode. All I do is eat seafood, sleep and watch TV. I have zero motivation to do anything else. I can't believe how tired I am. It's been so draining just moving from place to place and I'm soaking up all of this downtime like a sponge. It feels like I could do nothing for months and not get sick of it.

We're still figuring out where we're going to end up, but one thing is certain: it doesn't make sense to go back to Canada in the wintertime. I think the plan right now is to follow the warm weather, stop moving when the climate is tolerable and put off any decision-making until the spring when there are more options available to us.

It's my fourth birthday on the road. These annual milestones make me think back to where we were on each anniversary. We celebrated my first birthday on the road in San Jose, California. Then the next one on the Stahlratte between Panama and Colombia. Then last year we were in Switzerland. Amazing to recall all the places that we've been!

For my birthday, Neda organized a day ride around Istria!

Our first stop is to see a kazun

In the area around Pula, there are these little circular, stone huts everywhere in the fields. They're called Kazun (Ka-joon) and were originally built as shelters for workers in the olive gardens to take a break from the elements, but these days they're basically tool sheds or ornamental structures. Actually, these days you'll see more kazuns as tiny souvenirs sold in the tourist shops as a symbol of Istria. When Neda and I first started dating, she gave me one of these tiny souvenir kazuns and I kept it on my desk at work to remind me of her.

I've seen many kazun in the fields outside of Pula, but this is the first time we've stopped to actually pose in front of one! I like the word Kazun because it sounds like you're sneezing. Kazun! Kazun-Teit!

Making our way to the east coast

Neda's route for the day hugs the rugged eastern coast of the Istrian peninsula. It used to be the primary eastern route traveling north-south to the mainland before the highway was built. These days it's just local traffic and vehicles out for a leisurely cruise.

We're going to start our coastal tour at the town of Rabac

Unfortunately we couldn't find the coastal road. Turns out it doesn't start in Rabac, but further north

So back to the mainland, up north and then cutting back to the coast. But first, more pictures in pretty Rabac!!!

We stop for a Kitteh-petting break in the town of Plomin

The coastal road starts in Plomin. There is a beautiful inlet where cruise ships and cargo ships come in. This is also the site of the Plomin Power Plant, a coal-fired power station which supplies 13% Croatia's electricity requirements.

I walk out to the cliffs at Plomin to get a shot of the inlet

Behind me, the Kitteh follows me looking for more hugs (or probably food). Sorry Kitteh, I'm allergic to you!!!

Also in Plomin is the Hotel Flanona

Before the highway was built, when Neda used to take the bus from Rijeka to Pula, it would always stop here for a refreshment and washroom break. She would see tons of bikers in the parking lot suiting up to tackle the twisty coastal roads that start and end here. Now we're part of that action!

Lots of bikes taking advantage of the beautiful late fall weather. Neda's old transportation in the background... :)

From the deck of the hotel/restaurant you can get a better view of the inlet

And then, back on the road to do some twisties

We passed dozens of bikers going up and down the coastal road between Plomin and Opatija, which is at the top of the peninsula. It's about a 30km stretch of very twisty asphalt with an amazing view of the coast constantly at our side. Sportbikes zoom past us, sticking their right leg out to say hi (that's how they do it in Europe). Actually, not just sportbikes, all bikes pass us and wave their right leg out as if to say, "Wow, you guys are slow." A minivan also passes us, the passenger rolls down her window and she sticks her leg out at us. :(

Krk is the largest island in Croatia, a popular tourist destination because of the beaches and the old walled city

Surprisingly, Neda's never ever been to Krk. So this was a first for both of us. We had to ride over a 1.5km bridge to get to the island which took us high above the Rijeka Bay of the Adriatic Sea.

My favorite part of Krk is its name. I like that it has no vowels, so when you say it it sounds like you're clearing your throat. Basically if you make a lot of involuntary noises, you're already well on your way to learning Croatian!

There are a whole bunch of Croatian words that rhyme with Krk that have no vowels. Neda and I make up a silly rhyme for all of them: Srk, Mrk, Brk, Trk, Krk... Helps pass the time when we are in our helmets...

Like the true Istrians that we are, we have a nice seafood dinner at Krk

Neda orders squid! A classic Istrian dish.

Marina at Krk

Our tour leader, Captain Krk, sitting outside the walls of the old city

Marina pictures. Sun is setting so early, we have to get back to Medulin

Packing up to go home

Going back over Krk bridge, I stop to snap a nice picture before sunset

Merging back on to the traffic on the bridge

Another wonderful birthday on the road! And totally enjoying our R&R in Croatia!

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