Starting to get more and more excited about Croatia now, with only one more day left in Italy, before crossing briefly into Slovenia and continuing down the Adriatic coast. Think it’s going to be ace.
Routes and stats for the 25 and 26 August below:
- 25 Aug: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/877454715
- 26 Aug part 1: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/878606260
- 26 Aug part 2: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/878394742
- 26 Aug part 3: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/878394825
–> 25 Aug –
Two A Gentleman smelly cyclist and his Lobster in Verona, and on to Vicenza
I covered a sedate 97km today, taking it easy with a stop for some sight-seeing.
Do you ever hear things go bump in the night? I was awoken in the early hours of the morning not by a bump, but by rustling and some snuffling/snorting. The noise came from just the other side of my inner tent partition. Somewhat tentatively I unzipped the inner door, and glanced out; hedgehog…again…about the 3rd time I’ve been visited by these lovely creatures on this tour. The hedgehog was busy snuffling about for crumbs, but had somehow got wedged into a crisp bag I hadn’t got around the throwing away. I carefully upended the varmint, releasing him/her from his/her predicament; the hog made a swift exit. A great encounter, but on a serious note it reinforces the problem plastic packaging presents to the natural world. Creatures are always getting stuck in plastic bags, or ingesting bits, or in the case of the film clip I saw recently breathing it in; a turtle had a whole plastic straw stuck up its nose and down into its lungs – the rescuers got it out but it was pretty horrific. Plastic takes a very long time to decay, and we should all be more thoughtful about how much we use. For example do we really need to use plastic straws with drinks, for instance at fast food chains? (if you’re squeamish don’t watch that film clip, but brings it home – say no to plastic straws!)
It was still cloudy and damp when I packed up on the shores of Lake Garda, so I didn’t hang around, instead cycling the approx 25km to Verona. I unfortunately passed about 3 squashed hedgehogs on the way, not unusual, but sad after my earlier encounter; more routes needed for animals to get under/over roads.
Verona is a lovely small city, with some spectacular buildings including a huge amphitheatre that dominates the centre; the Grand Arena, built in the 1st century AD, and which now stages shows, operas and plays. No history lesson today, however needless to say the city goes back a long way. It’s also the setting for at least 3 Shakespeare plays including Two Gentleman of Verona, The Taming of the Shrew (loved the modern film adaptation), and of course Romeo and Juliette. I spent an hour or so looking around, and grabbed a Calzone pizza for lunch. Unfortunately I failed to find a suitable Tarte du Jour, but I did get caught on webcam by the Norwich MI6 branch; good work.
I was slightly confused by all the Egyptian paraphernalia located around the Grand Arena, however it’s the time of year when Verona hosts an annual opera festival, and the props were for Aida; always wanted to see that and must be superb in the amphitheatre – I’ll put it on my list of things to do when back in the UK.
After being a tourist for a bit I pedalled East towards Vicenza. I decided to put my fate in my Garmin’s hands, and followed its route to my campsite for the night. It took me what was probably a longer route, avoiding some main roads, but they were a lot quieter and I rode through some nice farmland – nice grapevines. I had to detour when confronted by a bridge that no longer existed, however I can’t really blame Garmin for that; it looked like it was being rebuilt. I can blame Garmin for trying to take me through a military base just prior to the campsite; a definite no go area which I had to circumvent. This isn’t the first time it’s tried to do that; happens frequently in the UK around Thetford.
A few miles before the campsite I rode with an Italian cyclist for a bit, out for an evening’s ride. We spoke in French (he was born in France), as I related a brief summary of my tour to date. He’d recently completed the Camino de Santiago by bike. It was good to have a chat and we shook hands as he pedalled off; people very friendly in Italy.
I made it to the campsite and set up, discovering that it was infested by mosquitoes, therefore liberal application of repellent was required; seemed to work reasonably well, although the Tiger Mosquitoes are pretty persistent. I hadn’t heard of Tiger mosquitoes before this tour, but the name suits; they’re definitely stripey.
I met a German couple at the campsite, from Berlin, touring Northern Italy for 3 weeks by bicycle. It’s there first big cycle tour and they’re loving it so far; best be careful, its addictive. We discussed Ortlieb panniers at great length, as they were keen to extol their virtues; can’t say I disagree, mine have been brill so far. I also bumped into a Japanese cycle tourer briefly, on his way South, but didn’t get to chat for long as he was off for dinner.
I spent the evening attempting to plan my route through Eastern Europe to Istanbul, and think I have a rough idea of where I’m going now; Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey. I’m still a bit nervous about it, but a lot more confident than I was; thanks to Tim Moss for a few tips (http://thenextchallenge.org).
Off toward Venice tomorrow, although I’m bypassing the city as cycling is forbidden in much of it; I’ll cut up North and then down to the Adriatic.
–> 26 August 2015 – to the Adriatic and Duna Verde (Camping Altanea)
Campsites are definitely merging into one; when writing my journal for today I had trouble remembering where I’d stayed the previous night! 123km pedalled today, so a fairly long day, but all flat.
I set off on my way East, not entirely sure of the route past Venice, however I figured as long as I pointed my bike in the right direction and headed towards the Adriatic it would all work out. The cycling proved easy, as there were no hills to speak of, just lots of farmland and frequent small towns to negotiate.
I passed around the top of Venice by several kilometres, not wanting to get embroiled in dual carriageways and autostradas, then headed down to Jesolo and the Adriatic coast. After some busy and pretty boring roads it was nice to reach the coast again. I thought I might find a campsite in Jesolo, but they were all very busy. I pedalled on looking for either a wild campsite or a quieter site. On my way further East I had another chat with an Italian roady, albeit it in rather hesitant English; he was enthusiastic about my tour and wished me bon route before pedalling off to Caorle. As I mentioned yesterday Italians have been nothing but friendly.
I made it to Duna Verde and discovered Altanea Camping, a ‘green’ campsite. I decided to stop there, as they had a simple field with trees I could pitch my tent in, and also use my hammock; it only cost €19 too, which is cheap for this time of year on the coast. Free wifi too!
After turfing Lobster out of my hammock, I enjoyed a siesta, before catching up with my parents and doing some admin. I also checked in to see how a poorly friend is doing back in the UK; get well soon JJ, thinking of you and hope recovery is swift – I recommend long hours in a hammock for convalescence purposes. I also discovered I needed to sort out a new washing machine for my tenants at home, the old one having given up the ghost. Why don’t modern appliances last longer?! This one is only about 7 years old.
I decided to eat at the campsite restaurant, enjoying red wine and mixed fried seafood; very nice it all was too. My dinner was accompanied by some Europop, from the adjacent ‘disco’ area. It wasn’t too loud, just amusing; the Macarena featured – used to know the dance for that from back when I taught foreign students English, and had to take them to the disco in the evenings.
On to Trieste then possibly Slovenia tomorrow, before heading to Croatia.
Note: Blog a couple of days behind – I’m now in Croatia after a few long legs, and making great progress.
Really keen to hear your thoughts on cycling in Croatia. My pipe dream is to cycle from home to Dubrovnik one day. Need to work out how to get 6 weeks off first though!
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Sounds like a great plan! Croatia great but coast pretty busy. Seems like most of Germany has descended on the coastline, and a lot of Austrians too. Roads good though, lots of ups and downs to keep the legs working. Can be a bit parched looking compared with Slovenia, but might be different inland. Will get around to blog post with more info soon. Well worth a visit though; I’m moving through it quite quickly due to time constraints but a slower pace to visit more places of interest would be good.
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