(written by Dave)
Our Rab Island mega-campground was surprisingly quiet overnight. I guess all those sunseekers get knackered sitting around baking all day. They don’t appear to sleep late either as this morning even though we were left before 8AM, many of the prime baking locations had towels spread out. There were no people on the towels mind you, but someone had to get up early to place the towel in position. I’ve read about “German” tourist doing this on cruise ships but there were a lot more than Germans at the camp. I’m not sure how long a towel can be left vacant before it is declared abandoned, we didn’t stick around long enough to find out.
We only had 15k to ride to reach our first ferry of the day. We wanted an early start so we had brekkie at the camp bakery, less fiddling with our gear this way. The ride took us over the centre of the island but the climbing was not too bad. We made it to the ferry dock with plenty of time to spare, enough for me to have a second brekkie. Nancy passed as the wind was up and she was in “long ferry ride, don’t eat or think of food” mode. Nothing but blue skies and some wind greeted us on the ferry. The wind was a bit of a crosswind making for some choppy seas but not too bad a ride overall. Hanging out on deck, in the sun and wind, with her wrist bands, made Nancy a happy camper for the full 1.5 hour sail to Kirk Island. One ferry down, one to go.
We were not riding on Kirk, rather just catching another ferry from there to Cres Island. The Cres Island ferry was supposed to sail at 1:30 but when we bought the tickets they told us that the next ferry was at 12:00. That left us just enough time to have a sandwich and fruit smoothie for lunch. Not sure that we earned all this food today but what the heck. There were two other touring cyclists on the ferry with us – two women from Italy. They were on a weeklong trip hopping the islands as well. They were having trouble with their cyclo computer so I helped them get it working. We didn’t get their names and had we been just passing them on the road, we would probably not have spoken to them. It is strange to get into Europe where there are so many of “us” that we don’t great each other like long lost strangers. The excitement of seeing your first brother-in-arms just doesn’t feel the same when you meet several per day and the ones going the other way seem to have no interest in stopping.
We had a fairly difficult climb from the ferry at Cres. The road designers were kind enough to put gradient signs whenever things got really steep. We had about 12k of uphill with over 1200 feet of climbing. There was never a sign over 10%, but there were several at 9% and 8%. I had a funny thought as we passed the signs, noting that I am not allowed to call out gradients while we climb yet Nancy never once mentioned being annoyed when we passed yet another road sign setting out the gradient. Perhaps it was the heat (my computer registered 41 degrees for the second day in a row). On one of the 9% sections we encountered anther fellow tourist, he was flying down the hill, we were crawling up. He is forgiven for not stopping. We passed as I was stopped to take a photo of Nancy – instead of bike shorts, he was wearing a Speedo swimsuit. In the spirit of equal exposure for both cute Mediterranean girls and boys, I’ve included this in today’s slideshow (there you go Inge, what more could you want!).
The climb from the ferry peaked out at about 1200 feet and we had to ride all the way back down to sea level to reach Cres town. There were no other options and we have to retrace at least ½ of the climb tomorrow AM. I think I heard Nancy mutter something under her breath but I’m not sure if it was directed at me or the road crew again. I chose not to ask her to repeat it.
We arrived in town and decided that we couldn’t camp again today. We’ve had pretty nice campsites the last two nights but it has been so hot that we are not sleeping that well. It has been too hot to sleep in the tent and we have been sweating so much that we just stick to everything. This is where the sobe comes in. In Croatia, mostly in tourist towns but elsewhere also, people with an empty room often put up a sobe sign. They might also put zimmer, camere, room or apartmani on the sign. The deal is that you just knock on the door, hopefully someone answers and shows you a room. From what we can tell, this is pretty unregulated as what you get for your room varies greatly. It pays to have a look before you accept an offer. Once we arrived in town, I took up the search for a room. I found a pretty nice sobe, right on the waterfront. I managed to get a small discount and to get the woman to wave the 20% one-night-stand penalty. From what we’ve read, they don’t like one-nighters, especially in July and August. I’m not really sure how many people would knock on the door of a house and say, I’ll take a room for a week but it must happen for the owners to get away with the one night surcharge. Whatever, I was not planning on paying it unless it was the only choice.
The room is nice, has a nice little patio and is about 10 degrees cooler than our campsites. There is no A/C but it is a ground floor unit and few windows. A good nice sleep is planned. While Nancy pre-tested the bed and room temperature (took a nap) and I am happy to report that room and bed are both of appropriate quality – phew, I’m always glad when my day to pick the room/campground works out… While Nancy napped I ventured out to have a look at Cres Town. Wow, what a great little town it is. The harbor is very compact (5 minute walk around) and it is surrounded by old 4 and 5 story pastel coloured buildings. It almost takes its own photos- you just have to point the camera. After rousting Nancy we wandered out for dinner at an Italian restaurant (we are close to Italy now). Though with Italy being close and Italy and England playing in the Euro tonight, I’m not sure how quiet it will be if Italy wins. Maybe I’ll sneak out to the pub and watch the match – if only I’d had a nap.
Tomorrow we have one more ferry back to the Croatia mainland. We are planning on about 60ks of riding and camping again. We have 25k and some big hills to go before the ferry. We are hoping to make the 9AM ferry which should be doable, so long as we don’t have any flat tires or the hills aren’t too steep. Or, of course if we spot any more Speedo-clad dudes that I have to photograph for Inge.