So I'm a little out of order... after Hameln, I still have Berlin to tell you about in a little more detail, Prague and the rest of my time from Czech Republic through to Austria... but for now, I felt like writing about Croatia... plus, I had a challenge to meet for a little friend of mine...
Hmmm.. where to start...
Croatia was... just what I needed. Everything I was looking for. Perfect... almost.
The trip from Slovenia was surprisingly nice, especially after the trip in from Austria was somewhat hellish, with horrible weather... a thunder and lightning storm no less. Just what you want when riding into a country you didn't realise you had to ride into, to get to Croatia... It - Slovenia that is - was pretty and relaxed, and the people were lovely - when you saw them. I was there on a Saturday night, and the place was almost deserted. But otherwise, for me, on this part of my trip, it was just a place to stay, get some rest, call Dad for Fathers' Day, and push on through to Croatia.
The road out of Slovenia, as poorly sign-posted as it was, was actually perfect for riding, curved and smooth and open - until the dirt bit.
I either missed a turn off, or followed the "best" road they had... and battled at about 10km/hr over this bumpy and very slippery road, with front tyre due for replacement.. not fun! But so so pretty, when I stopped and was able to look left and right!
From here it wasn't far to the Croatian border, which I managed to get through with little pain, but a bunch of stress. Again, it was unexpected that the border would actually be patrolled (makes sense in retrospect given they're not part of the Schengen area) so I kinda freaked, as I didn't have my passport and papers ready. All was fine though, once I'd got my stuff together, and I passed through without hassle.
A rest and a bite to eat at what appeared to be a perfectly OK establishment on the roadside, and I was back burning through the gorgeous curves, frequented by many a biker, on the way to Zadar, Croatia, via Rijeka in the north.
I spent the hot, gorgeous afternoon making my way down the amazing curves of the Croatian coast on the Adriatic. Tiring stuff, but so rewarding! And with views like this the ENTIRE way, oh so worth it.
After a long day on the road, I pulled into a small "Aparmenti", "Sobe", "Zimmer", "Rooms", "Unit" - whatever you call it - showered, put my feet up, ate, and crashed into bed. Looking forward to the short trip to Zadar the next day to meet up with Jamie, the girl I had met in Berlin.
This is where the "almost" comes into play... I woke at about 5am, feeling like absolute death and feeling the need to vomit. I absolutely hate vomiting under any circumstances, so tried to push through, unsuccessfully. Apologies for the detail, but thankfully I made it to the bathroom in time and I vomited so violently and felt so bad through my whole body that I thought I had expelled bones from my hips, knees, feet, chest, skull and fingers... not a nice feeling. But one I endured for the following 18 hours or so, in this small square of a room. If I'd have been up to it, a time delay camera and the resulting footage would have been hilarious as I found myself moving and wriggling and bouncing all over the room trying to make myself feel better, and get away from the pain of my aching kidneys and body... I think I sat in every chair, in every position, in almost every square metre of the room... not fun! I can only imagine it was food poisoning, and I figure - based on the timing I am told - that it must have been from the roadside meal I had earlier in the day, just past the border. Bastards!!!
I was very lucky though, to be staying with a husband and wife who had young children and were very caring and looked after me the whole time. Right from the moment I crawled out of bed at about 10am and begged for some Sprite (they paid for and brought a 2 litre bottle for me, along with stomach settling pills), to the "Szchpagetti" for dinner, and the enormous, crisp, sweet apple they brought me for breakfast the morning I left. Thank you Zdenko Rikelj, and your lovely wife for looking after me, and your kids for entertaining me too!
The morning I left was a somewhat surreal one. I still wasn't feeling 100%, and was dehydrated and a little light-headed I think, so took it very easy on the road to Zadar where I met Jamie in the afternoon for some lunch and relaxing into the night.
From Zadar I put Jamie on a bus, and met her up again a few hours later in Split, and found ourselves an AWESOME hostel called Hostel Adria, about 10kms south of Split. We stayed one night, then left our stuff and jumped on the bike for a day of beaching, cruising, and then a night of camping - once we eventually found the right camping ground! There's so many in Croatia, but not all are... well... inhabitable!!
The next day Jamie bid farewell again off on a 40+ hour journey to Turkey and I commenced my relaxation phase. The real thing I was hoping Croatia would offer. And indeed it, and Hostel Adria did. I had the most amazing and relaxing few days literally chilling out by the Adriatic, reading, writing, swimming, sleeping, baking... Good. Times. And exactly what I shall remember Croatia for...
As I am sure you could understand, it was tough to leave Croatia... but I wanted to quit while I was ahead - and besides, Greece was waiting!!