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Day 251 - SLOVENIA: Postojna to Matavun
March 31st, 2007 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー

Marko and Urska’s apartment was warm, comfortable and happy. Outside was cold, grey, and dull.

But the show must go on. Peter and I said our farewells, and headed out into the grey.

Thank out Urska and Marko! You are the best!

Peter and I soon warmed up on the limestone hills, and made our way forward. First stop was an unexpected caving mish.

Planina Cave, Slovenia

We were looking at the cave near Planina above (can you help me with the name, Peter?), when a two-man maintenance crew mentioned that they were going down to fix some lighting in the cave. Peter asked if we could come, and they said yes.

Cave maintenance near Planina, Slovenia

We walked to where two rivers meet (Peter, what were they called again?), and watched as the cavers did their thing.

On the road near Planina, Slovenia

Once on the road again, the next stop was Predjamski Grad, a castle built into the side of a cliff, recessed into a cave. History tells of a time when the castle was under siege, but the attackers couldn’t get access to the castle due to it’s position in the cave. So they adopted the strategy of guarding the entrance to the castle, so that no one could get out to get food. They thought that they would be able to starve the people out.

Predjamski Grad, Slovenia

What the attackers didn’t count on however was the fact that the cave into which the castle was built was connected to another smaller cave that went all the way through the hill to the other side of the mountain range. The occupants of the castle were able to get food into the castle undetected. The attackers soon gave up when the occupants had a seemingly bottomless supply of food.

After lunch at a nearby cafe, we headed towards our accommodation in Matavun, near the Škocjanske caves. We passed old churches…

Old church near Škocjanske caves, Slovenia

And lamented at the pitiful attempt at marking cycling routes. Is a cyclist cycling past at anything more than 5km/h supposed to see that arrow?! I’d have trouble seeing it if I was walking, let alone pedaling.

Microscopic bicycle route sign in Matavun, Slovenia

Logistics aside, we did make it to our warm accommodation, in time to eat a meal at the caves restaurant.

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March 30th, 2007 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー

I slept so well last night. Urska and Marko have a nice big sofa that converts to a big bed. Peter and I slept in luxury.

The plan for today was to cycle around Cerknica Lake, visiting Postoyna caves on the way. Plans however are not to be taken seriously, and things ended up better than planned.

Peter and I left our gear at Marko and Urska’s, and cycled to the Postoyna caves. Here we were met by a reporter and cameramen from a popular national Slovene TV station, 24 hour. Peter had arranged this meeting, and here is the result:

http://24ur.com/bin/video_show.php?SVET_d=1175248800&show_media=16177094

My spot is near the end, at 11 minutes and 15 seconds. Thanks Peter for the link.

Just after the interview, the Marketing Director for Postojna caves introduced himself, and being suitably impressed by my travels, gave Peter and I free tickets for the cave. A big thanks to Postojna Caves!

The caves are impressive. A very well thought out tour gives you a good idea of the cave’s interior. The caves in total are some 20km in length, and the standard 1.5 hour tour takes in about 3km of this.

The first 1km or so is by train. Speeding through narrow caves and past massive stalactites and stalagmites, it’s almost as if you are riding on a train in Disneyland. Only the surroundings are real!

Postojna Cave, Postojna, Slovenia

Photos are not allowed, but I snuck just one for the memories.

The cave tour took longer than expected, so we arranged to sleep again at Urska and Marko’s place that night. We met Urska after lunch, and the three of us headed towards Cerknica Lake. Two recumbents and a mountain bike.

Bicycle route sign near Cerknica Lake, Slovenia

Cerknica Lake is an intermittent lake, drying up in summer, and appearing again over the later months of the year. There are no rivers running into or out of the lake. The lake is fed by springs, and the water leaves via springs.

Causeway on Cerknica Lake, Slovenia

The causeway we are on here is at times completely submerged, and at other times is surrounded by grassy fields. Today we were lucky enough to see the lake close to half full.

In Dolenje Jezero, a small village on the shores of the lake, locals have constructed an intricate model of how the lake works, with pumps and channels that mimmick the lake’s changes. We got an in depth run down.

Model of Cerknica Lake in Dolenje Jezero, Slovenia

On the way to Cerknica Lake are springs that gush water out of the ground at an amazing rate. The photo below shows such a spring. There is no river at the left of the photo. Just rocks.

Rakov Skocjan, Slovenia

Such springs created rivers that flowed through caves and massive natural arches.

Natural arch in Rakov Skocjan, Slovenia

It was a fairly cold day. Grey and misty, requiring gloves to keep the hands warm. Urska and Marko’s apartment was a welcome place after an afternoon of chilly riding, as was Luka (at far right in the photo), another experienced cycle tourer, and a friend of Urska and Marko. He cycled for about three months in New Zealand, and even went to Invercargill (my hometown).

Urska and Marko's classy apartment in Postojna, Slovenia

Dinner that night was prepared by Marko. A traditional Slovenian dish called Jota. It uses sour crout. Very good indeed.

Jota prepared by cheif chef Marko in Postojna, Slovenia

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Day 249 - CROATIA and SLOVENIA: Rijeka to Postojna
March 29th, 2007 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー

Thank you again to Aleksander for the bed last night and for showing me the way out of Rijeka towards the Slovenia border.

This is the day that I was to meet Peter, another recumbent rider, at the Slovenian side of the Croatia/Slovenia border. I left Riejka just after 9am, and hoped to be there by 10:30am. Peter had told me that he would be waiting from 9am, so I didn’t want to keep him waiting.

I hadn’t counted however on the fact that I would have to climb about 500m in altitude up to the border. I hurried up the hills and didn’t get to the border until noon. Sorry to have kept you waiting Peter, but it was great to meet you at last.

Peter and Rob at the Slovenia/Croatia border

You may notice that Peter’s recumbent is slightly different from mine. His has two 26 inch wheels - just like a mountain bike. It is an AZUB Max recumbent, made by Czech company AZUB. They are a small new company, but make very nice looking bikes. If you look closely, the rear fork is offset.

I met Peter through my website, after he made contact (Peter’s website). We arranged to cycle together in Slovenia, his homeland. The part of Slovenia that we will cycle through however is new to him, and many of the roads we will cover he has never been on.

Peter works in his parent’s company, designing moulds using CAD. He also has a small business selling recumbent bikes in Slovenia. Recumbents are not well known in Slovenia, so any extra publicity about these great bikes is a bonus.

We left the border after chatting and comparing bikes, and headed for Ilirska Bistrica.

Peter and Rob on the road in Ilirska Bistrica, Slovenia

Here we asked for directions to Susec waterfall. This waterfall only has water when it rains, and at certain times of the year. We found it in all it’s glory. Pity I got in the way :-)

Susec waterfall in Ilirska Bistrica, Slovenia

Susec waterfall in Ilirska Bistrica, Slovenia

Through many interesting connections, we ended up staying at Urska and Marko’s apartment in Postojna. This fun and energetic couple recently arrived back to Slovenia from a three month cycle journey to South America. Take a look at their website for some amazing photos. Check out the massive salt plateu!

They introduced me to polenta. This is made from corn, cooks fast (2 minutes), is really light, last long, and best of all, is rediculously cheap. 1kg costs about 0.50 Euros.

Instant polenta, prepared by Urska and Marko in Postojna, Slovenia

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Day 246 - CROATIA: Vodice to Zadar
March 26th, 2007 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー, Croatia

Look Mum! I’m on TV again!

National Croatian TV came to Vodice this morning to do a spot on the crazy New Zealander cycling across the continent.
I left Vodice after lunch, headed for Zadar. It was dark and wet again, with dead animals roasting on the roadside, looking none too comfortable at all.

Janjetina - lamb on a spit in Drage, Croatia

This little number is called Jajetina - roast lamb on a spit. All very gory. A Croatian I met said it wasn’t all that tasty.

Today the distance was correctly estimated, with about 80km to Zadar. Once there, I called upon Nenad’s great networking prowess, and had a number in minutes for the president of a local road bike racing club. Ante Zorovic arrived a few minutes after I called him in the club van. My bike was piled in, and we were off to his place.

He had recently purchased a new racing bike for his son. An Italian bike - a Wilier. Very nice. The frame is all carbon fibre, and the frame alone only weighs 1.2 kg.

Oh so nice bike in Zadar, Croatia

I would love to have a go on some of the ultra-light recumbents out there. I do miss the thrill of a really fast bike.

Ante’s wife fed me till I couldn’t eat any more (really good jaffa cake!), and I had a restful sleep.

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Day 245 - CROATIA: Split to Vodice
March 25th, 2007 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー

I left Mirela’s place late. It was 1pm before I got away. But hey, I only had 60km to Vodice, right? Ah, wrong. I read the map wrong, and it ended up being a mad dash to Vodice, 100km away from Split.

Nenad worked his magic once again today, and arranged for me to sleep at a member of the Vodice Mountain Bike Club’s place. Goran had just started a new job, but kindly let me stay at his place despite being very busy.

Thank you to Goran in Vodice, Croatia Thanks to Goran's family in Vodice, Croatia

The ride to Vodice was like yesterday wet and generally miserable. At one stage I heard loud thunder not far away. The strong tailwind was the only saving grace. The 100km ride only took just over 5 hours.

Tough clouds near Rogoznica, Croatia

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Day 244 - CROATIA: Makarska to Split
March 24th, 2007 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー

On the road after a great few days in Makarska. Once again I have to thank Nenad Zidic and his wife and family for their great hospitality during my stay. Also a great big thanks to Goran, a member of the Makarska Bicycle Club who fixed my speedometer.

It was mostly flat for the ride to Split, and despite the light rain, I enjoyed a stiff tailwind that blew me to Split, passing more of the spectacular rocky coast that sprung up out of the water.

More coastal wonder in Croatia

Nenad had been busy during my stay in Makarska networking so that I would have some places to stay for my route through Croatia to Slovenia. In Split, he had contacted Mirela, a student studying in Split.

I arrived in Split and nervously called the number that Nenad had given me. Mirela’s voice was friendly and open, so I breathed a breath of relief when she cheerily said that she would be down to pick me up in a few minutes.

It turned out that Mirela has done a lot of travel herself. Better still, she travels as I do. Cheap and free. She has hitch-hiked with friends through Spain and other parts of Europe, often sleeping outside. She had slept under bushes in Amsterdam, I had slept under a bridge in Greece…

For some unknown reason, I only have a photo of an orange and bananas from my stay at Mirela’s place. Oh well. Thank you so much Mirela! Many more happy travels to you!

Red oranges in Split, Croatia

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Day 243 - CROATIA: Makarska
March 23rd, 2007 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー

Right it’s all on. Tomorrow will be the big day. The weather has done a complete turn around, and if I was a good 80’s NZ man, I’d be in my stubbies (watch this short video clip to become enlightened in the way of the stubbie). Didn’t you wear stubbies at one stage, Dad?

Anyway, I will be out of here tomorrow. It has been a resting time (again) here in Makarska, and it is time to hit the road.

And for some reason I have more photos of dogs from Makarska than I do of people…

Cute pooch in Makarska, Croatia

Tough pooch in Makarska, Croatia     Tough pooch in Makarska, Croatia

Tough pooch in Makarska, Croatia     Tough pooch in Makarska, Croatia

The mini-pug pooch in the top photo would have fit in the mouth of the maxi-pooch in the bottom four photos with ease.

The dog at bottom is an Argentinian Mastiff (info). A massive, powerful dog. In Turkey, packs of up to three or four of dogs like this would chase me. Not fun. But this pooch was super friendly, and just loved to lick any skin that got close enough. The owner was a responsible owner however, carrying a muzzle. At one stage during our chat, he put the muzzle on the dog when another dog owner walking his dog came over. And just as well. The two dogs didn’t get on too well, resulting in some ferocious barking. After the other dog had left, the Mastiff was all happy again.

Which would I choose? The mini-pooch or the maxi-pooch?

Considering maintenance, the rug rat has my vote.

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第242日目 - クロアチア: マカルスカ町(日本語要約)
March 22nd, 2007 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー, Croatia

日本語要約:日本語のブログをしばらく維持しなくてごめなさい。しばらく日本語で書かなかった理由はいくつかありますが、とにかく、これからもっと努力します!しないと日本語を忘れてします(汗)。

マカルスカ町に着いて3日目です。こんな長くいるつもりはなかったが、ちょうどこの3日間天気が悪化したし、マカルスカ町チャリクラブの会長と出逢って、クラブのミーテイングルームで無料で泊まらせてくれました。ま、急ぐ必要はないから、ここで天気がよくなるまで過ごすことにしました。以下は2日前マカルスカ町の新聞社にインタービューされたときに撮られた写真です。 

I have been kidnapped by the great folk in Makarska.

I tell you, they won’t let me leave.

But what a great bunch of people. If the clouds clear up good, then we might go for a slog up the big mountain behind Makarska. 0m to 1750m is a solid ride. Rain rain go away…

Ivo Raivc from Makarska Kronika has kindly given me the photos he took the other day for the article about my journey. Here is a selection:

Interviewed by the Makarska Kronika (photo by Ivo Ravic in Makarska, Croatia)   Photo by Ivo Ravic in Makarska, Croatia

Photo by Ivo Ravic in Makarska, Croatia   With Nenad Zidic, president of the Makarska Bicylce Club (Photo by Ivo Ravic in Makarska, Croatia)

Photo by Ivo Ravic in Makarska, Croatia   Photo by Ivo Ravic in Makarska, Croatia

It’s not often that I get photos of me on the bike. So that is quite enough for now. Thanks to Ivo Ravic and Makarska Kronika for supplying the photos.

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Day 241 - CROATIA: Makarska
March 21st, 2007 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー

Rain, rain go away…

Still here.

And because a blog post is never any fun without pictures:

My first ever proper photo taken with a digital camera:

Mmmmmmffff (at a festival in Karatsu, southern Japan) / がんばれ!

Taken on 2 Nov,2003 - Boy in festival in Karatsu, Japan

Currently most popular photo on my Flickr photosharing album:
(357 views, 29 favs, 14 comments)

More icy beard maddness in eastern Turkey

Taken on Jan 10 2007 - More icy beard madness in eastern Turkey (-20 degrees daytime temperature near Oltu Town)

Forgotten photo I

A forgotten photo - met Barbora & Petr from the Czech Republic in the Wakhan Valley, Tajikistan

Kindly taken on October 13, 2006 by Barbora - A chance meeting with Barbora and Petr from the Czech Republic in the Wakhan Valley near Yamchun, Tajikistan

Forgotten Photo II

Forgotten photo - I was clueless (taken by Katy in Pusan Ferry terminal, Korea)

Kindly taken on July 23, 2006 by Katy - Rob is all enthusiastic with no idea after arriving in the Pusan Ferry Terminal, Korea

Forgotten Photo III

Forgotten photo - first pedal strokes out of Pusan ferry terminal (taken by Katy in Pusan, Korea)

Kindly taken on July 23, 2006 by Katy - First 200mof cycling on the 14degrees journey in Pusan, Korea

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Day 240 - CROATIA: Makarska
March 21st, 2007 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー

Today’s distance / 今日の走行距離: 23.49km
Average speed / 平均速度: 10.8km/h
Time on bike / 走行時間: 2h 10m
Total distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 24.19km (plus 9700km)
Ascent / 上り: +600m (average ascent speed 8 metres per minute)
Descent / 下り: -600m (average descent speed 18 metres per minute)

Look Mum! I’m in the news!

In the news again (Makarska, Croatia)

Well, the plan was to carry on to Split yesterday. However, there were other forces at play, it seems, and I ended up spending the night last night in the Makarska Bicycle Club club rooms.

As I was about to leave Makarska, I stopped at a kiosk to buy bananas. A gentleman riding his bike stopped, and asked where I was from and where I was going, and was generally interested in my bike. This gentleman was Nenad Zidic, the president of the Makarska Bicycle Club (http://bk.makarska.8m.com/). He invited me for a coffee, and being in no particular rush, I accepted. He speaks good English, and we chatted for a while, before he pulled out his mobile phone and called the local newspaper, the Makarska Kronika (www.kronika.hr).

The reporter and photographer arrived in 5 minutes, and proceeded to take photos and notes on my trip. The resulting article came out today in the once a week publication of the Makarska Kronika. Good fun.

Inside Makarska Bicycle Club club rooms, Makarska, Croatia

So today the plan was to catch a ferry across to Brac Island, cycle the 60kms to the other side of the island, then catch another ferry to Split. But the weather looked iffy, and who can refuse an offer of staying in dry, warm clubrooms for as long as I want. So I decided to stay the day in Makarska, and leave tomorrow if the weather has started behaving itself again.

Bicylce in view from inside the internet cafe in Makarska, Croatia

I spent some time an internet cafe that actually had reasonable prices. Only 1.20 Euro an hour.

In the afternoon I met up with Roko, a younger member of the bicycle club, for a blat up the mountain behind Makarska. The area is called the Biokovo Nature Park, and a sealed road goes all the way up to the top of Mount Jana (1750m). We didn’t have time to go all the way, but had some fun along some back roads on the way.

A ride in Biokovo Nature Park, Makarska, Croatia A ride in Biokovo Nature Park, Makarska, Croatia

On a good day I can imagine that the ride to the top would be fantastic. The road up to the summit was originally built by Napoleon apparently. Makes you feel small…

So yeah, Makarska is all good. Great place with great friendly people. And a town square that looks like the one out of the movie Chocolat.

Church square in Makarska, Croatia

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Day 239 - CROATIA: Gradac to Split
March 19th, 2007 | categorizilation: 全カテゴリー

The day is not quite over yet, in fact it has just started as I sit here in the internet cafe in Makarska. I figure I should get to Split today. So just a quick update for today.

Satoshi recently asked how much things are here in Croatia. Here is a run down on the last few shopping sprees:

Oranges: 7.99 Kuna/kg (1.44 USD)
Bananas (seconds): 3.65 Kuna/kg (0.65 USD)
Walnuts : 59.99 Kuna/kg (10.35 USD)
Dried apricots: 34.99 Kuna/kg (6.30 USD)
125g box of Jaffa cakes: 5.99 Kuna (1 USD)
180g drinking yoghurt: 2.09 Kuna (0.37 USD)
600g fresh baked bread: 6.50 Kuna (1.17 USD)
Gouda cheese: 54.50 Kuna/kg (9.80 USD)
Dried ham salami (YUM!): 149 Kuna/kg (27 USD)
Chocolate pudding 200g: 2.70 Kuna (0.48 USD)

I haven’t been cooking pasta or other things lately, opting for bread and other ingredients for quick meals instead. This means that I am spending about 50 to 60 Kuna per day here in Croatia (about 7 Euro, or 10 USD) for food. My main costs after food, actualy, my only cost after food, is internet. The place I am at now is 24 Kuna (4.30 USD) an hour. I just have to accept it, but it’s hard after spending the last 7 months sometimes only paying 0.50 USD per hour!
The weather forecast for the coast is not good. 80% chance of rain for the next four days. Rain, rain, stay away…

Dark skies near Makarska, Croatia

For the time being however, things are looking good for today. I will make as much ground as I can while the weather is good.

Clouds don't dampen the beauty in Makarska, Croatia

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