Mike and I have just spent the last 10 days on our first of the many islands we will explore in Croatia. Mike spent two days putting my e-bike back together. We took the bikes out on an easy 10-mile road ride and they worked fine. A day or two later we went on our first “real” bike ride, following an advertised easy cycle route. Well the route was not actually difficult but the path was made out of gravel and rocks. We expected the 25 km route to take less than 1 ½ hours, after 90 minutes we had made 8 km or about 1/3 of the trip. At that rate it was going to take us another 3 hours and would be well into the dark and scary on these trails. We think we might have been in the middle of a large park or something, there were no asphalt roads anywhere near us according to the map. We were concerned about how our bikes would keep handling this type of terrain. I was concerned that my new, expensive cell phone would bounce out of its mount on the front of my bike. Mike worries about flat tires in areas like this. Luckily after about another 45 minutes we did come to a road. We used it, instead of the bike trail, to get back get home and saw a lovely sunset enroute. The next day we went for a much nicer and relaxing ride on a bike path along the Adriatic.
A couple of days ago we took the car on a ferry to Cres Island. We drove around a lot of the island, stopping to visit small towns on the way. Some of the towns were tourist or fishing villages at sea level and others were in the mountains. One town, Lubenice, was a medieval town 378 m (1240 ft) above sea level. Way down (378m) below the town was a beach with no road access. According to a German travel magazine this beach rated as 15th of the World’s Top 40 Beaches. I originally thought that the only access to the beach was by boat. We did see a couple leave their car next to ours and start hiking down the mountain. Can you imagine trying to do the climb back up to your car, later when you are exhausted.
Gorgeous scenery is the norm every where you look in Croatia. I really hope that the locals don’t ever get completely used to it. The other norm are the narrow, single lane mountainous roads for two-way traffic. We certainly won’t be getting used to them for a quite a while. Hopefully we never come upon one when we are driving in the RV. That does concern us a little.
One of the towns we visited had this cross in their church. Notice the large dice at the bottom of the cross. We didn’t understand the significance of the dice.
The whole area here is really, really rocky. Mike says that for rocks, it even beats out my favourite Canadian province “The Rock” or Newfoundland.
Those of you that have been following this website know that our laundry machine stopped working last year so we bought lots of new parts which got damaged in transit to Croatia. Mike spent two days working on the laundry machine and got it going again. We had decided that in future we would only run it on our generator that produces North American 60 cycles per second. Well, I am not positive that it is cleaning as well as it should, and the dryer heat doesn’t work anymore. Mike isn’t that concerned about the dryer because he doesn’t want the generator running for the length of time the small dryer takes. I am concerned. We will see if Mike gets in the mood to work on it again sometime in the future.
Many of these very old towns have stone houses where the plaster on the outside walls is crumbling very badly. If I had walked into an area in New York City, where I used to work, that looked like this I would have turned around and exited really quickly. In Croatia the same buildings simply look historical and very interesting.
In one town on Cres we saw three dolphins or porpoises playing around. At one point in time two of them were jumping together with one just a little forward of the other. It was like watching one animal with two fins, really interesting. You noticed that I said dolphins or porpoises, since we didn’t know the difference, of course we had to look it up. Thanks to the internet we now know that we were watching the much more prevalent dolphins. If you know what to look for you can spot the difference between a dolphin and a porpoise quite quickly. If you can see the face, the dolphin will have a prominent, elongated beak while the porpoise has a smaller, flatter mouth with no beak. The dolphin also has a hooked or curved fin in the middle of its back while the porpoise’s dorsal fin is much more triangular.
While I was searching around on the internet, I discovered that Croatia had recently celebrated Pink T-shirt Day, known as the “Pink Shirt Day”. It is a program of prevention of peer violence or bullying. The original event was organized in 2007 by two teenage boys from Nova Scotia, who bought and distributed 50 pink shirts after a male ninth grade student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt during the first day of school. It is interesting to see that 11 years later a small Canadian protest has spread around the world and is continuing.
One day another vehicle joined us in our parking lot for a few hours. The emblem on the side said, “Crime Scene Investigation” IN ENGLISH. What a CSI vehicle was doing here we have no idea. We also saw a car that had obviously being imported that had, “to serve and protect” on its side. It had the star and emblem on the door scratched out.
It is really common in this whole part of Europe, to have the photo of an individual on their tombstone in the cemeteries. Sometimes you will have pictures of multiple family members if they have all been buried together over the decades. It is actually quite interesting to see. You see this at home but not very often, here it is the norm.
For the gourmets out there, mushrooms in Croatia are much tastier than our mushrooms at home and are very popular over here. Yesterday a restaurant said they didn’t have mushrooms when I tried to order a mushroom pasta. They then explained that the best ones aren’t available at the moment and all they had were some white ones. They said that I could have the white ones but it was obvious they weren’t recommending them. The cost of eating out ranges dramatically depending on if you are in a restaurant on the seaside or in rural Croatia. Eating where the locals eat is quite inexpensive. We have paid $8.00 for pasta and mushrooms in one restaurant and $20+ for the same meal in a different restaurant. Both looked very similar. This always assumes that you can find a restaurant to eat in, especially at this time of year. It drives Mike nuts. You can usually find somewhere to sit and have a drink with friends, alcoholic or just coffee, but 90+% of these places do not serve any food. We visited a reasonable size tourist town today and found out that there were two restaurants, both in hotels, that were open although we saw lots of cafes and a couple of bakeries open. Part of this is because we are out of tourist season, but in many areas, restaurants just don’t exist!