It was already 32 degrees in Mostar Bosnia when we set out at 930 and headed to the coast of Croatia to try to cool off in Vodice.
We made a small 15 km side trip to see the Dervish Tekke house. This is situated on a river that emerges from the mountain or that is how it appears. It is now 34 degrees except right on the river where they have detoured channels of the river thru the restaurants to create a natural air con.
Leaving here we headed north west and to the Croatian border. The exit from Bosnia was an easy passport stamp and the Croatian crossing is about 20 meters away and was equally fast and easy.
From here we made for the 5 km tunnel thru the mountains to cut off about an hour from our route for 1.50$.
The coast road is scenic, but by the time we made it to Split it was 38 degrees. We turned off to get up into the hills where is was a blissful 32! We stopped at a local place for roast lamb and a huge fresh tomato salad. We did not have that many Kuna. We asked the waiter if they took visa and when he said no only cash, we said “ok but we don’t have that much Kuna….He said “No problem don’t worry”! In the end we had enough for the lunch.
We then made the last 30 km to our hotel on the water in Vodice.
We had planned to chill out here for a couple of days since we have been pushing hard of late. This is a family orientated beach town full of only Croatian and a few German tourists. It has a nice relaxed atmosphere. The water is crystal clear and about 22 degrees!
Grappa for breakfast…
ICE CREAM x 3!!
Today we have a very short 36 km to get to Biograd na Moru where our Austrian friend Michael is to moor his catamaran tonight. We had a lazy slow start and then did a loop up to the Krka National park.
There are some very cool waterfalls here with calcium formations, but with conversion the park entry is almost 50 Canadian for us and that is too steep. We took a back road into the park to see the lake and the monastery on the island. It was 34 and very humid so we did not take the ferry across either.
Arriving to the Marina at Biograd it is a bit of a gong show as they ferry line up and the hordes of German and Austrian sail boat charter people are all trying to access the same area. Luckily when we drove up Michael had just arrived to look for us. Initially we thought he was one of the many guys who flag you down in these towns to see if you want accommodation! Amazingly we found a parking spot in the charter yacht lot and headed to the boat. We did a bit of a trip to one of the small nearby island for some swimming and then went into the old town for dinner with his charter group. We had our own cabin, which was very nice!
Today is is a bit cooler and overcast at 30. We are trying to get as far north as we can and planned to go to Pula on the Istrian Peninsula.
Leaving Beograd we cut cross country to hit the coast road above Zadar. This is a two lane curvy road along the ocean, but even with a fair amount of traffic we made good time. The north coast of Croatia is much less scenic as the islands are very flat and barren. The water is the same amazing clear blue. The traffic got heavier as we neared Istria and we decided to go for the toll road for the last 100 km to save us an hour and a half in the heat.
Pula is famous for the almost intact Roman amphitheater. The heat is still on us today and we stayed inside until after 6 pm when it did cool off a bit. We did a bit of a tour of the old town, but it is full of tourist shops and “tourist” food restaurants.
“The Pula Arena is the name of the amphitheater located in Pula, Croatia. The Arena is the only remaining Roman amphitheater to have four side towers and with all three Roman architectural orders entirely preserved. It was constructed in 27 BC – 68 AD and is among the six largest surviving Roman arenas in the World. A rare example among the 200 Roman surviving amphitheaters, it is also the best preserved ancient monument in Croatia.”
Leaving Pula our plan was to get north into the western mountains of Slovenia and then into Italy far enough that we would be in striking distance of Bassano del Grappa to meet our friends Gino and Fiona arriving from Scotland.
We made it north in Croatia on the secondary roads and then arrived at the long line of traffic snaking to the Slovenian border check. This is because even thought both Croatia and Slovenia are in the EU, Croatia in not in the Schengen zone and so there is passport control to enter Slovenia. This is a minor issue and they scan and stamp your passport, but this does delay the flow of holiday traffic. There is no check at the Croatian “border”.
Welcome back to the Schengen zone!!
We then drove the 23 km across Slovenia’s link to the sea in a line of caravans and cars for about an hour.
Then it is back into Italy without a border check and a 63 km drive up to the Border of Slovenia again at Gorizia. From here we snaked our way on the mountain roads north east to Tolmin and then northwest to Zaga. Here you can decide to do one of 2 passes over the mountains and into Italy again for about 380 km. We chose the north route on the Vrsic Pass thru Trenta.
“The Vršič Pass with an elevation of 1,611 metres (5,285 ft), is a high mountain pass across the Julian Alps in northwestern Slovenia. It is the highest pass in Slovenia, as well as the highest in the Eastern Julian Alps. It connects Upper Carniola with the Trenta Valley in the Slovene Littoral. The road across the pass, known as the Russian Road (Ruska cesta), was built in 1915 for military purposes, to supply the Isonzo front of World War I. The Russian Road rises from Kranjska Gora in a series of 50 hairpin bends, traverses the top of the Vršič Pass, and descends into the Soča Valley. The upper elevations of the road are rendered impassable by heavy snowfall during much of winter.”
This MUST be a good Motorcycle route!!
We had some dark skies in Slovenia and a smattering of rain for the pass, but in general it was not too bad. The hairpins are about half on each side. On the east they are paved and fairly tight and off camber at times. There was very little traffic. The western curves are bricked, which was a bit slick as they were wet and made for some slower going.
We gassed up just before the “border” at 1.21 E/l and were happy we did since the station on the Italian side was 1.43 E.
The next good thing that happened was that the blue sky and sunshine appeared for the rest of our trip towards Tolmezzo.
We drove on the secondary road that essential fell beside and at times right under the elevated toll highway. Our plan was to camp by a small lake near the village of Cavazzo Carnico. The weather cooperated and we set up camp and watched the kite and wind surfers on the lake.
We only had 185 km today to get to Basanno del grappa and so we had a nice late start and wandered about on the small village roads.
We planned to meet our friends here and spend the one night before we fly home for 2 weeks and they head south on their road trip to Sicily. We had been here last year, but that was the day of Dan’s run in with the fuel truck and he was laid up in the hotel.
“Bassano Del Grappa is also famous for inventing the spirit Grappa, traditionally an after-dinner drink made from pomace (discarded grape seeds, stalks, and stems). The city was founded in the 2nd century BC by a Roman called Bassianus. The symbol of the town is the covered wooden pontoon bridge, which was designed by the architect Andrea Palladio in 1569. The bridge was destroyed many times, the last time during WWII. The Alpine soldiers, or Alpini have always revered the wooden bridge and Bassano del Grappa.”
We came across this lake in a nature preserve for the Griffin birds.
In Bassano del Grappa we of course had to visit the Ponte Vechio and the museum of Grappa.
Safe travels Gino and Fiona!!!
From BDG to Venice is only 65 km and so we did a loop up the switch backs to Asiago and then round by accident the amazing SP 73 from Foza to Valstagna.
From here we made a B line to the coast near Venice and the BMW dealership, which is also only 4 km from our hotel.
They agreed to replace the swing arm bearings on the 650 and then store it for us for 2 weeks. The hotel, which is very near the airport agreed to store the 800 inside a garage with the rest of our gear.
The best thing about getting here today was that waiting in our room was a gift from Frey Daytona! They have sent me a new pair of Daytona Ladystar GTX with a custom Daytona sole to make my short inseam taller! The original hand made boots have a 6 cm elevation built in, but they added an additional 2cm for me in the sole! I will be comfortable, dry and flat footed! Thank you SO MUCH Frey Daytona! Your boots are the best gear I own and I never ride without them.