Epic European Cycle : 2015-09-18 : To Marčana

Activity
Type Name Description Service Provider Cost Kms To Date Total Notes Actions
Cycle Labin to Marčana $0.00 0.00 0.00 Day 68: 35km: Total 2903km
Accommodation
Type Name Service Provider Confirmation Location Cost Notes Actions
Pension Relax and Enjoy Apartments Marčana Booking.com Marčana $72.00


Trip Log

Notes Actions
When we left Labin today, we dropped 200m or more into a long valley. 5.5km of not pedaling at all. Then we followed the valley bottom for a while before climbing back out over 5km.

3km into the 5km climb:
Me: I think our climb is leveling out a little
Brent: I think you're just getting used to it. 8% is the new flat
Marčana is an interesting little town. It is definitely off of the tourist beaten track, and, as Brent described it, it is "monochrome".
Last night Brent and I had our first talk about what we should do with the remainder of our time to make sure we do everything that we really want to. We have variously talked about:
- West coast of Istria
- Island hopping down the coast
- Visiting Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik
- Visiting Sarajevo
- Cycling north along the coast all the way into Slovenia and then Italy to Venice and then coming back to Croatia (we do still have 11 days we can spend in Schengen before Oct 28).

We won't have time to do all that, and with Istria serviced only by trains from Slovenia, we may have colored ourselves into a bit of a corner. It's time for us to start figuring out what is most important to us and how we're going to fit it in!
From Brent:

After Budapest we were running out of time in Schengen so we've come to Croatia. I have to say that I've never given Croatia any thought as a vacation destination but I would recommend it.

We've been making our way slowly from Cokovic to the west coast of the Istrian Peninsula. We've gotten hung-up a couple of times. Rhonda got a bit sick in Cokovic and we spent a couple of more days there than we had planned. Later I got an intestinal bug and we got hung-up in Ogulin for a week, until I could eat properly again. Ogulin isn't a bad town, it's in a lovely valley in the mountains, but I wouldn't normally spend a week there. In our other time we've been to Varazdin for a big street festival, we've been to Krapina where Neandertal fossils have been found, we've been to Belavici where they have a campsite beside a freaky-beautiful warm river, we've been to Rejika with it's clean harbour and hilltop castle (561 stairs to get to the top), we've camped along Kvarner Bay on the Adriatic and climbed a few killer hills in Istria. It's been good.

Croatia is a pretty country and the Croatians are working hard to make it the best they can. The war is only about 20 years in the past and the government still seems to be on a major public-works binge. There are still new sewers and road paving going on all over the country. The country is clean. We've met a few people who have commented on that fact; when we were in Ogulin we went to the city-centre park, there was a trash can beside every bench and people use them. City Works empties the cans regularly. Of course somebody has to pay for all of this and the taxes here are crazy high (percentage wise but not in real terms). There are several levels of tax, the most common being 25% for most things, including most food. Five percent for bread, 13% for some other things. That all sounds awful but the tax is included in the marked prices (they break it down on the receipt) and when you can go to the store and get a half litre of beer for a buck (80c for beer + 20c for tax) it's hard for a tourist to complain about taxes.

Here's an odd thing: Random camping is illegal in Croatia and campsites aren't that common, some counties don't have any campsite at all. There are lots in Istria but they are stupid expensive, up to $40 to pitch a tent. But Croatia also has lots of "Apartmen"s. Which are pretty much what they sound like, anything from a bachelor to a 2 bedroom apartment, furnished with all the mod-cons, rented by the night for $40 to $75. The Apartmen's we stayed at last night and tonight came with complimentary wine.

So the total of what I'm trying to say is that, so far, Croatia is pretty, modern, clean, safe, warm and cheap. Oh, and everybody speaks English. It's kind of hard to practice Croatian because everybody hears we have accents. Seriously, in a month in Croatia I've only had to interact with about 10 people who didn't speak English, 2 of them spoke German so I could make myself understood, 1 spoke Italian so I could get the jist but not respond.

We're probably going to spend 2 or 3 more weeks in Istria and/or the Adriatic Islands then visit Dubrovnik and Sarajevo, Bosnia before heading back to Schengen. In Schengen we plan to visit Venice, Bruges and return to Paris. We might have a couple of days for Switzerland on the way past but haven't settled that yet.


Photos