Riding through Slovenia turned out to be outstanding and spectacular. I have never experienced the Slovenian Alps before. Heading south we are reaching the border to Croatia. In some way it is quite special for me, since I have been driving and riding to Croatia already a couple of times in my life. But always on the fast route, the motorway. This time it is different coming from the windy road down from the altitude in the mountains and seeing the Adriatic spreading in front of my eyes with the Croatian island Krk in the horizon. The smell of the sea reaches our senses.
Pretty awesome. We stop at a gas station to discuss where we want to sleep. The nice late autumn sun is warm and the road is quiet. Since a couple of years and especially since Croatia entered the European Union, Croatia became a major tourist destination, even the Italians are coming to enjoy the clean and rocky beaches on this side of the Adria. In the summer months it is so busy that it takes almost double the time to travel from e.g. Austria to any destination in Croatia. So it feels charming, having arrived here in the calmness before the winter reaches Europe.
In the north there is a major harbor city, called Rijeka. A few kilometers down south there is a tiny town called Selce. My best friend, back in Vienna, has a house in that tiny town and when I asked them via WhatsApp, they gave me the info, that there is a campsite in the town directly in front of the sea. Sounds for us like the perfect place to spend the night.
Arriving at the campsite it turned out to be a massive area and the receptionist informed us, that it is the last day before they close for the winter break. Well we don’t have to look for a long time to find a spot, since the whole campsite was almost empty. Nice, quiet and the sunset in front of our tent.
I think I start to like the off seasons in Europe….. Waking up to the singing of the birds, we get our swim wear and walk down to the beach. The water in Croatia is so clear. Standing on the platform and looking down, it is like looking into an aquarium.
The summer was quite hot so the water temperature is still warm enough to take a dip. Jumping into the water and having the smell of the pine trees in my nose reminds me of my early twenties, when I used to come here every year for vacation. Nora and me have a lot of fun, splashing and screaming around like little children. The campsite closed its portals after we checked out, getting ready for its well deserved winter break. Heading south, we decide to take the coastal road. It’s slightly rainy, but still enough visibility to enjoy the outstanding views.
Croatia provides such a scenic landscape, since the mountain ridge is following the coast, its rocky formations gives it a unique character which you will find no where in the world except here. The road is perfect tarmac with beautiful curves, partly carved into rocks, so the road finds it’s way between two high walls. A pleasure to ride. A bikers paradise. Especially at this time of the year. There is no traffic. The towns seem to be empty and already fallen into the winter sleep. There is once in a while a restaurant that is still open, where you can find the great hospitality of the local people and enjoy a coffee on the terrace, with the stunning view of the sea and the islands. Oh I love Croatia. We stopped at a restaurant where they serve traditional grilled squid with “Plitva” a salad made out of mangold, potatoes, garlic and olive oil. Mmmmmhhhhhhh.
So we ride more south, following the coast, thankful to experience such a great ride. Our destination for today is the city of Zadar. Actually we planned to do a short riding day and stop earlier, but the road alongside the coast was so much fun, that we were sad, reaching the 20km stretch of highway that leads us to the city. Arriving at the toll gate to the city, we see a common motorcycle couple.
“No,…no way it is them, must be somebody else and we are just associating them.” But, we were right. It’s Kinga and her riding buddy again. Funny. We ride in a convoy into the city and split up since we have already arranged our accommodation. A sweet apartment where we will stay for at least two or three days. It is time for a city walk. We take one motorcycle and ride to the old town of Zadar. It is located on an island, a bridge is connecting it to the coast, no vehicles are allowed inside. The city gate welcomes us with roman letters and numbers. The city has a lot of its architecture from the time when it was a Venice enclave. The streets and its lime stone buildings are creating a cool feeling and at the same time the city looks so clean and elegant.
There are small well decorated shops and nice looking restaurants everywhere. Museums, even an open air museum with parts of the columns from the ancient roman time. Alongside the pier is a natural wave orgel. According to the rhythm of the waves crashing against the wall, it creates a sound out of its flutes. A nice and melodic sound appears and with the city, its lights and the view over the sea it creates a magical atmosphere. The small bakeries provide a delicious smell through the city and I order a “Burek” which is thin dough, filled with cheese and potatoes. I have been to the city of Zadar before. A few years ago I attended a maritime sailing course and spend one week on a training in the sea around Zadar. Thinking about the time back then I have to smile, since it contains so many nice memories, we had so much fun, learning new skills and joking around. Especially one of my best friends from Vienna and me, since we were doing the course together and we had a blast every single day. Sharing the same kind of humor and making jokes all the time. One day I definitely want to come back to this place for sailing again. Croatia is such a great country.
From Zadar we ride back into the country side. Towards the border of Bosnia & Herzegovina, where we pass the town of Knin. The town where the famous military operation called “Storm” took place during the Yugoslav wars, when Croatia liberated the town from the Serbs. Reaching the border to Bosnia & Herzegovina, we are leaving the European Union. Entering one of the most interesting countries in the heart of the Balkans.
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Coming back to Croatia for a 24 streak to visit Dubrovnik.