Our last days in Austria...until next time.

Trip Start Feb 02, 2010
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Trip End Feb 02, 2011


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Flag of Croatia  , Primorsko-Goranska,
Thursday, April 8, 2010

This morning I have woken up under some trees on the edge of a small forest, with birds singing, sheep bleating and the sun shining on the tops of the trees making them golden, on a island off the mainland coast of Croatia. Apart form the fact I'm quite scared that any moment a farmer or someone will come walking along and will be all angry and like 'What are you doing on my land!’ (which Felix insists is impossible) it is so beautiful and peaceful. But before I keep going here I need to go back a few days. So…

Saturday we were still at Flo and Andreas house. After I expressed my concern the night before about us not having any plan at all of where we would go and therefore might run out of time to go to the UK to visit my friends while we ‘quickly’ went around seeing all the things and people Felix wanted to see, a typical reaction followed. All I had wanted to do was looking at a map of Europe and talk a little about what route we might take. Felix however interpreted this as I wanted to sit next to him for hours while he fiddled and fuddled around on the computer using Google Earth or something like that to plan out a route for us by using the destinations Felix told it we wanted to include, all during the time Flo and Andrea had prepared dinner for us and we had planned to watch a movie together. So I said I wasn’t going to sit and watch Felix, I was going to sit and eat dinner with our hosts, watch a movie like we planned and not make them wait for us. So then Felix got upset and said he was just trying to make me happy and do what I asked and wanted and I was being rude to his efforts. I tried telling him all I had wanted was to look at an atlas and spend our last night with Flo and Andrea actually with them.

We were both too tired by the time I was ready to actually look at a map with Felix so after the movie when we tried to carry on with our planning, it all ended with me marching off to bed very angry and Felix staying up until about two AM looking at the map, making a plan for the next few months and then looking for flights to the UK. To me it is pretty simple to just look at a map and think about it, but Felix has to think about the actual kilometres involved, the mountains in the way, the places to stay and most importantly the prevailing seasons at the times we are in a region e.g.  there is only one possible time to go to Northern Norway - Mid Summer! This was very good and kind of him but he needn’t have, because the problem in the morning was he couldn’t get out of bed after another late night so instead of leaving to go into Graz at nine AM like planned we only made it out of the house by twelve.

So the point of all that is we are now flying from Pisa to Leeds, UK, on the twenty fourth of April and returning on the twentieth of May.

Now, what actually happened on Saturday. We finally made it to the armoury, Landeszeughaus. This is such and amazing place. It is a four-story building, each floor being about forty meters long and ten meters across and absolutely packed to the roof with weapons and armour. Being pre-industrial, every piece was hand made; every single screw in each gun was hand cut and unique. Every piece of armour had a slightly different shape and embellishments. Every sword, axe or spear was a slightly different shape. And then there were some really outstanding pieces of armour made especially for nobility and tournaments with the most detailed metal inlays and etchings. They were pieces of art. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures but I’m sure if you Google the name of the place something will come up for those of you with visual minds.

Later we went to Kelly and Lena’s house for the Easter bonfire. All the usuals were there. Ernst, Gita, and Kathi, Schurli, Ronny and Claudia, Ber and Petra. Then with Felix, Flo, Andrea, me and of course Kelly, Lena and their children it was quite crowd. The theme of the evening seemed to be all the boys getting very, very drunk on schnapps while the girlfriends went to bed before the circus had begun. I naturally was the odd ball who stayed up knitting socks and watching the circus.

The next morning Felix had the worst hangover I have ever witnessed. It really was something to behold.

So that brings me to Monday. I had been looking forward to Monday all week. Monday we left Sankt Marein for Croatia with Schurli and Ronny. It was raining and the clouds didn’t look like they were going to clear anytime soon. Even in the rain I was so happy to be ‘on the road again.’ Not long after we had been riding, we stopped for petrol and money. It came to our attention that Nina’s break light wasn’t working and it seemed there was something wrong with the tuning again. After about half an hour of fiddling later the break light was fixed and to our great relief it was only the choke valve not seating properly that made the tuning seem out. What a relief, I was going to be very angry.

We went through Slovenia without much to mention besides a enormous serve of spaghetti bolognaise, a side salad larger than my head and the biggest jam doughnut I’ve ever seen. 
Felix thought it worth mentioning that it is also an extremely beautiful country

I think it must have been about eight to eight-thirty when we crossed the border into Croatia. We drove South along the coast for about an hour until we reached the ferry landing where we could take a ferry onto an island called Cres. As expected we missed the last ferry by only half an hour give or take a little so we just set up a camp right where we were in the car park, ate some dinner, and had a sleep while we waited for the first ferry in the morning.

At five-thirty we woke, packed up and as we strapped down the last bag, the ferry was pulling in. we raced up the hill to by a ticket and scurried onto the ferry last in line. We were there all night and still managed to be the last on. As the ferry sailed out across the water the sun was just rising and it was really beautiful to see my first sights of Croatia from across the water at sunrise.

Our first day was so relaxing; it was like we were on a luxury holiday – but minus the luxury! Felix again wants me to mention the the sidecar has extraordinary suspension, luxurious lambskin seat coverings, plush seats and all round comforts, even 12 volts available for all your charging needs. After we got off the ferry, we rode up, up and up until we were quite high on the island. Cres is very long and thin and not high in comparison to the Alps by any measure but compared to its long narrow shape, so high and steep. The roads twisted and curved through the terraced stony hills and along cliff edges. I was completely amazed by the amount of rock everywhere. Farmers have tried to clear their field – or rather mountain slopes, by collecting the rocks in the way of the grass trying to grow and making walls and terracing out of them. But it hardly seems to make a difference! It looks like as soon as one stone is lifted of the ground another one grows up. In some of the flatter areas, stonewalls criss cross back and forth, back and forth. I’m pretty sure they don’t need that many fences and thy have just been built to make room for the grass. It was the first time I had seen this Mediterranean rocky landscape and the way it is cultivated so I was totally captivated as we rode through.

Our first stop was a small village where we parked our bikes and walked down a long steep road to a tiny marina. We sat on the wall in the sun and had a little more sleep. After a snooze we were aiming to go to the town of Cres. We were all really hungry and dreaming of bacon and eggs, chips, coffee, bread, baked beans, sausages… On the way we stopped to have a quick look at some ancient ruins in a beautiful, beautiful part of the island and didn’t end up leaving there for quite a few hours in the end. When we got there it was so nice and there was a great place to sit in the sun so we decided to save some money and cook some pasta and have an Austrian breakfast where we were. After our feast we did some more lying in the sun, I did some knitting, the boys did some juggling and let free a constant flow of filthy jokes.

After our breakfast/lunch we made it to the town of Cres and had some ice-cream and beer. After that, our wonderful tour guide Schurli took us to our camping spot. Somehow we ‘missed’ the sign that forbid camping here. It was possibly the best seaside camping spot I’ve camped at, and I’m not one to quickly give something the title of ‘best.’ We camped on a bed of small, smooth pebbles up on a rock ledge, surrounded by a natural wall of rocks with the sea, just meters away from us on the other side of the wall.

The next day in Croatia was much the same. We are having perfect weather. Schurli showed us another gem of a place – real postcard stuff. Clear blue-green water and cliffs with caves carved into them. The beach was made up of perfectly smooth stones. It is so beautiful (if you like that kind of thing) and the water looks irresistible until you realise there are hundreds and thousands of Sea Urchins everywhere in the water. They make it impossible to go in the water, it is so annoying and disappointing not being able to frolic joyfully or swim in such perfect looking places. Like everywhere, there were many shaggy sheep with spring lambs happily roaming the hills and occasionally wandering onto the beach to taste the salty sea water. 

It was already Wednesday now and Schurli and Ronny had to go home. We really had a good time with those two, even if most of the humour was totally disgusting. It was a strange feeling as they rode off, for the first time this trip it was just Felix and I in a country where we knew no one.

We stayed where they had left us for a few more hours, then went into a little town called Osor right at the bottom of Cres. This town has four thousand years of human settlement history. We went into the ruins of a church, right on the water edge that would have been so lovely in its day, it looks much more interesting as ruins though. In the floor there were grave size holes, from end to end all the way across. They may have just been the way the floor was made but it was cool for us to imagine they had once had people buried in them. We wandered through the town, which still has remains of the massive wall that surrounded it when the castle there was still used as a castle rather then tourist apartments. The island castles here are not the massive forts like in Germany and Austria. They are modest compared to those but still very beautiful and impressive. We had some pizza for dinner then rode to where we are now. So that’s been the last few days. Until the next episode…
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Comments

Julie on

What amazing adventures you are having. Makes me want to travel to ;o)

julie on

'too'

Maria on

We loved this entry!!! We'd simultaneously say 'Mmm' at each stunning photo from Cres - the water colour is incredible! And really nice to see these knowing Shurli a bit and seeing him there with you - makes me feel close to you via him in some funny way! Hilarious about you missing the ferry and being last in queue the next day. What a shame about the water - how infuriating it must have been to not be able to swim! And a bonzer series of photos was you getting rocks out of your jeans. Priceless!

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