Having crossed the Alps in some pretty cold weather Kyle and I agreed to spend a few days at Lake Bled to rest our legs and enjoy the scenery. Slovenia is a very beautiful country and Lake Bled is the centre of attention, popular with tourists from across the globe. We arrived on Friday evening to a busy lake and expensive campsite. Chatting with a few folks on the grass down by the water we learned that the hostel over in town would cost less and provide much more. So with our new friends Lauren and Kendall we set off to check in at the Castle 1004 hostel.
Rumour had it that there was an epic sunrise taking place early on Saturday morning, with the best vantage point being a 20 minute cycle and 15 minute scramble up a hill high above the lake to the West. Maartje had the tip and organised bikes, retiring for an early night at 11pm in preparation for a 4.30am wake up call. Being a Friday night after an Alpine crossing I stayed up all night high with excitement and went straight out with Maartje in the morning. We were first to the summit and figured we’d pulled off a master stroke. Five minutes later the entire amateur photography community of Bled arrived and made like Sky News at a bank robbery with tripods and zooms lenses everywhere.
Our few days in Bled were a blast and in fact we stayed on for four long restful days and nights, leaving on Tuesday morning recharged and ready to roll. The road to Trieste was a treat, with rolling valleys and misty mountains on all sides, essentially skirting the boundary of the Triglav National Park. Making hay while the sun shines was a priority for one and all. Communities all along the road were busy cutting, raking and collecting in a frenzy of activity. A joy to behold.
At Kanal our luck was massively in. We found an abandoned Auto Camp; running water, a bench to sit on and perfect flat pitches for the tents – result. Later that night we were witness to a dazzling display of fireflies. A magical end to a very lucky day. Oh and the moon. The moon was big and orange and marvelous. Thanks nature.
We had arranged a Warm Shower over in Trieste which took us a short couple of days ride. Our host Erin, a young American, was fantastic. We shared a superb Indian feast and several Negronis – a very special treat for a pair of hot, sweaty cyclists. Thanks Erin for looking after us so well. Next day we found a snapped spoke on the mighty Dawes. A sign to spend a little time on bike maintenance. A quick visit to the bike shop and seven euros later the rear wheels is true and ready.
We rode a big day to travel from Piran to Rijeka ending with a 17km climb at 9% gradient which at the tail end of 100km was a big ask. It was hot too. SO very hot. Mid thirties. Phew! Over the hill we freewheeled down into Rijeka. Kyle at this moment had a breakdown – his rear rack snapping on the right side from its mount – making the last hour a tough one. We holed up for the night in a cheap hostel and a well earned hot shower. Next day Kyle took the bike for a fix and decided to stay on in Rijeka for a few days. I pushed on towards Istanbul.
After a couple of days alone cruising along the Dalmatian Coast I met a plucky young Frenchman called Alan, just outside Zadar. We spent our first night together sharing a double bed in a plush apartment. Fifteen euros well spent. We set out together headed for the shared destination of Greece where Alan would turn north for Bulgaria and I continue for Istanbul. We made light work of Croatia and camped wild for the next 10 nights, napping at noon, swimming and taking a leisurely lunch then pushing on for a few click to find a suitable spot for the night. A comfortable routine that has brought us all the way to Tirane in Albania in a matter of days.