April 22 – Rijeka to Lovran
What a top day, what an absolutely top notch, first class, super dooper day. I hit the trifecta today with a nice ride, a roam in the sun and then capped off the day with a run which I’ve been hanging out for.
We enjoyed a nice breakfast on the boat this morning, before heading off and beginning our pedalling down the coast. Yesterday we thought of backtracking to Krk so we could get a ferry that takes bikes, over to Cres Island and we toyed with the idea again this morning but in the end decided to keep moving forward and ride down the coast. We had a climb out of Rijeka but it was long and gradual so definitely classified as easy. We rode the footpath most of the way to keep out of traffic and had views down to the water and across the coast which was magic. The pedestrians were really kind and even though we kept stopping for them because we were actually on their turf instead of the road, they still moved aside and gave us a wave to let us past. Much appreciated. We stopped at the top of a hill and could look down on a sports field where athletes were training for javelin and hurdles and the javelins were being thrown and the hurdlers were doing high knee drills and beyond them was the water and rolling hills.
Before long we were in Volosko and stopped for elevenses. As we were riding into town we passed a lady walking a little dog on a lead on the path beside us and when we drew beside them that little dog launched itself at us, snarling and barking. I’m glad it reached the end of its lead and couldn’t actually get to us because it would have had our ankle for sure. We found a bench outside a lovely building, looking across at the water and had our snack, before pedalling on.
It was a little bit tense for me because the road we were on had no shoulder and there was a rock wall right beside us, so wall on one side and traffic on the other. This meant supreme balance was needed, something we’ve established is not always my strong suit, so I kept my eye on the white line and just tried to stay on it and thread the needle between traffic and rocks. As we pedalled up the hill, I changed gears and…grind, clunk, the chain came off. I couldn’t stop to put it on because of the aforementioned rocks and traffic situation with no space left for bike maintenance, so I had to do a fast leap off and wait for a break in the traffic before sprinting across the road to a path and walk the bike up. Thankfully Steve had stopped to wait and he leaned over and sorted out the chain, but the bike does choose the most inconvenient times and places to have a little hissy fit sometimes.
We came to Opatija and it’s just as well we’d planned a short ride today because we spent a lot of time here. There was so much going on, we had to take our time and take it all in. We walked the bikes through a nice little park overlooking the water and there were buskers and people everywhere enjoying the sun and the holiday and eating their weight in ice cream. The buildings here were gorgeous and it had a real “lifestyles of the rich and fabulous” feel about it, with yachts and stylish people walking about with designer dogs. It had a real buzz but was a lovely small town even though it was teeming with people.
We walked along the promenade and came across some musicians and dancers. This was BRILL-EE-YANT! Oh, they were so good, in traditional costumes and performing traditional dances. The women came out and their dance looked a bit like little pitter-patter steps with a dainty little kick here and there, then they joined hands and did a little bounce up and down. Then the men joined them, held hands or linked arms and spun around and tapped their ankles together. They were wearing bells on their boots, so they were jingling with every step and it was just so amazingly fantastic, better than Eurovision! I even got a bit choked up watching them, just thinking how lucky we are to be here doing this and seeing these sorts of things. So thankful for this.
We continued walking the bikes along the promenade and there were women walking around wearing dresses that made them look like Disney princesses, carrying baskets of chocolate eggs that they were handing out to children. One of the women had a bunny buddy with her and that poor person must have been so hot in there! It was just lovely though, the sound of the dancers and musicians filled the air, families strolled along and princesses and bunnies were adding to the joy and merriment by handing out Easter treats. Just utterly magic!
As we strolled along we found ourselves on the Walk of Fame. I did see one star I recognised, the only famous Croatian I know of. Although I am still a bit miffed that he beat our Pat Rafter in the Wimbledon final!
The other event that was going on was a display from the Classic Car Club and there were some great looking classic and vintage cars sparkling in the sun. I thought the bright orange Buick and the Triumph Roadster looked fantastic.
On we pedalled to Icici where we stopped at the beach for lunch. The beach wasn’t sand or even little pebbles, it was fair dinkum big rocks, but there were still people happily sun baking on the stones. I don’t know how they got comfortable but they obviously did. We had pigeons walking around us giving us that “got anything for us” stare, just like the seagulls do at home. I shared some sultanas with one of them to reward her persistence.
On we went the final few kilometres to Lovran where we’ll spend the night. We passed some campsites but they were closed. When we looked up some camping places for our onward journey it seems that May is the beginning of the season, so it’s still a bit hard to find places open. So we opted for four walls again in a nice hotel across from the water. It’s also forecast thunder storms tonight and tomorrow, so we thought it best that we not be in a little tent in a storm anyway. We settled the bikes into their own little room downstairs and then, knowing there was a walking path beside the water, I set off for a quick run. The path is paved and cobbled and runs above the rocks and water, weaving along the shoreline. It was great to run along, look out at the water, people watch and just soak up the place and enjoy going for a run again.
Lovran is a nice little town, right on the coast and a lot quieter than neighbouring Opatija. The name Lovran is named after the laurel trees that grow in abundance. Its written history dates back to the 7th century when it was named Lauriana, but according to legend it was actually formed as a town five centuries earlier when the Roman statesman Marcus Agrippa built his summer residence here.
Steve’s words today were, “I think all days should be like this, slow and easy and just living in the moment.” Yep, I’d have to agree with that. It was indeed a slow day. A short ride with time to enjoy the sights and experiences that presented themselves along the way, It was a fabulous day. Steve even got a rave review on his Croatian! When he checked us into the hotel and recited his script of Oprosti, ne govorim hrvatski (Sorry I don’t speak Croatian), the lady at reception told him he’d spoken very well! We continue to do our best with the language and the locals are gracious in their patience with us!
Tomorrow we wait and see what the weather brings us and then hopefully continue trundling down the coast. We’ve got some doozies of hills in front of us again, so we plan to do slightly shorter rides when we have that to contend with, so the rides aren’t quite so epic. Now…time to either rest the legs ready for some more climbing or put them to work on some dance moves…the day was so good I could dance and those dancers today had the moves…click, click, tap, tap, bounce, bounce…let’s give it a go…!
Distance ridden: 18.5 km
Time in the saddle: 1 hour 34 minutes
Actual time to arrive at hotel: 4 hours 42 minutes (so much to do along the way)!
Distance run: 6 km
Pigeon friendships formed: 1