(written by Nancy)
Well, condolences to Croatia for the loss last night to Spain, which puts them out of the Euro 2012 tournament. A late goal by Spain in the 87th minute – we could hear the roars outside our apartment and soon after some red flares started going up in a little café/bar around the corner. No wild riots though. Not winning tends to take the wind out of your sails.
We had a laugh this morning as we ate our cereal for breakfast, trying to guess the message on the Nestle Fitness Muesli box. The package was plastered with pictures of a very svelte young lady in skimpy clothes with the tag line ‘Flat belly 1-2-3’. We couldn’t read the text – none of the 3 languages it was printed in was English – but we guessed it didn’t mean eat 1-2-3 bowls of cereal for breakfast. We usually eat a whole box of cereal for breakfast between us, though I can’t usually eat more than two bowls; Dave has no problem finishing off the box. Eat to ride, ride to eat.
The road was not great today – too much traffic for our liking and not much shoulder. While we were generally following the coast for much of it we were inland just enough so that we could not see the sea. The road was marked as a scenic road on our map but we couldn’t really figure out why. It seemed to be mostly scrub brush and villages here and there. It was hot as well- temperatures on the bike computer over 30C again. We had a bit of a headwind, which made it feel a bit like riding in a fan-operated oven!
We were stopped at a servo for a cold drink when we saw a cycle tourist appear. I waved and he came over to chat. Peter is from Germany and he is on a relatively short tour (3 weeks) from Germany down to somewhere in Albania. We ended up sitting at the little café at the servo for almost an hour, chatting away. He gave us some good suggestions for routes further north – always helpful to get some tips from someone who has ridden an area we are headed.
It was very hot by the time we got back on the road after our chat with Peter so we just put our heads down to ride a bit, stopping a couple of times for drinks and snacks. All those pictures Dave takes of lovely delicious looking meals only tells part of the story. You should see some of the places we stop for snacks – more often than not we are sitting on a curb or the dirt somewhere. We took a couple of pictures today as proof. Bicycle touring is not always glamorous.
The plan today was to ride to a small town just south of Zadar and see how the camping situation looked; if there was nothing good we were going to head into Zadar. After a few hours in the heat and wind we both decided a nice place in Zadar with a day off might be the way to go, so we just kept riding until we hit the old city area of Zadar. Dave went into a tourist agency to check on rooms and we eventually ended up in a very nice little apartment right in the old city area for not much more than we would have paid for camping at one of the bigger places. Good negotiation by Dave again.
Zadar seems to be a really neat little town – it has a good vibe, with equal parts of tourists and locals hanging out in the various bars and cafes that we have seen. There is a nice old city area that we will explore more tomorrow. By the time we got cleaned up and organized there was only time for us to go get some dinner (great pasta at the Trattoria Canzona) and then head over to see the Sea Organ and the Sun Salutation, two of the prime attractions in town.
The Sea Organ is apparently the only one in the world. It is a system of pipes and whistles laid under some marble stairs with vents that make noise when the movement of the sea pushes air through the pipes. It is very unobtrusive – from a distance you wouldn’t think it was anything other than stairs along the waterfront. As you get closer you can hear the noise – it is actually a bit mesmerizing, easy to sit and listen to it for some time. Right next to the Sea Organ is the Sun Salutation, a large circle in the pavement that is filled with panels that collect the sunlight during the day and then use the solar power once it gets dark to run a light show triggered by the wave energy. Both structures were designed by local architect Nikola Basic.
The waterfront area is very pedestrian friendly and there were lots and lots of people wandering about, listening to the music and watching the lights. People were even swimming in the sea right there off of the harbour – the water looked very clean. We walked down some steps to put our feet in the water – it was pretty cool but I am sure would feel great on very hot days. As we were walking around we had an older lady beckon us over and offer to walk us to an old building that she was sure Dave would want a picture of. So off we went, her with her little 16 year old dog and us tagging along. The building was very interesting – built in 1813 and damaged by bombing in the war it now sits empty.
So, we are taking the day off tomorrow to rest and see the town a bit and try to figure out the route for the rest of Croatia and up into Slovenia, our next country. I think we are both looking forward to a bit of a sleep in and a relaxing day.