Zagreb was eerie and quiet, It’s Sunday morning. We park our bikes against a wall, take stock on our losses and figure out where to stay the night. We’re amazed by how thoroughly the thieves have gone through our stuff, right under our noses. They’d even taken care to remove cash from our wallets then carefully place them back in our bags. We’d been fleeced good and proper. We carry on looking. Phone, cammera, yep, gone. They’d even taken Jim’s jeans. We were livid, scratching our heads in bewilderment, how didn’t we wake up? Did they really gas our cabin? The truth is we’ll never know but we arrived in Zagreb feeling pretty down about it all. The weather had taken a sudden winter-ward snap. The cold fog was sucking the life out of us as we sat dejected on the pavement.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to end!
OK so it could have been much worse, we still had our bikes, passports and enough time to ride the final leg to Lljubliana. We vow never to take a night train again and put our shoes, jackets and gloves on. One, two, three, four. Five bags. Ride on!
We soon find the perfect antidote to our Bosnian blues. Hostel Funk. Once we are revived with coffee and burek our hosts pass around foot long rifas. We don’t loose much sleep over our ordeal! After so long on the road it’s easy to forget what day it is so we were over the moon to discover our visit had fallen on their legendary Halloween party. Just what we needed. We went off to the second hand shops to buy warm clothes and knocked together a couple of superb scary-ish outfits while we were at it. Harry Potter and the Mask of Zara. When we return the decorations are up and music is pumping. Now this is happening!
As we peddle into Slovenia on the following damp November morning it felt as if everything was changing. The colours. Bright yellow to deep red and everything in between, lush deciduous forest. Pumpkins smile at us as we pass garden gates. Grey clouds stretch over our heads. The pastel shades of Austrian architecture return. Alpine tranquillity approaching with ever turn of the pedals. Our moods return to optimism. We’re going home!
The days are filled with reflection, the mountainous valley walls are flipped in reverse to our side in the cold waters of the Sava as the past 14 weeks reel through our minds. From Burnham Street to the Balkans. We recall our favourite characters, people who we will never forget. The kindness that kept us going, riding on to see who else was waiting for us. The frontiers we’d crossed, steeped in history and culture. The places, the struggles, the hope, the victories. Getting lost and finding ourselves.
We arrive in beautiful Ljubljana smug and exhausted. We fly home from here. Home. If you start to feel most at home when you’re in motion then maybe home is just a state of mind. Whatever home is I’m not entirely sure of any more, but I’ve felt at home in places I’d never even imagined of a few months ago.
Our spirits are high as we reach the final days of our journey. Two of my closest friends arrive to party with us. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate. Slovenia’s capital doesn’t disappoint! We find our selves in a crazy squatted military barracks drinking Rakija with the locals, smiling, laughing, putting the world to rights.
This is how it was supposed to end.