BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Friday, 20 July 2012

You expect me to ride over THAT!
You've got to be joking.


We said good buy to Jess, Jesse, and Sara, along with David and Katrina our neighbours at the hostel, and a nice German couple with a baby that we'd spoken to quite a bit but never got around to swapping names. It was a baby thing. It's so good staying in hostels and meeting people.

We're on the road to Croatia. Our brother in law, Ivitsa (John. Why do we have to change people's names?), told us we have to go and see the Plitvice Lakes. Thanks mate, I wish you'd given me the Croatian spelling. We Google mapped the location and as the sat nav didn't recognise it we picked a place close by and set off. Croatia is only a small country. It couldn't be that hard could it? Well, we left at about 11 am and arrived about 8 pm. We did have a few small breaks along the way but it was by far our longest day on the bike.

We've been wearing thick winter gloves we bought in England all trip and they are bloody hot over here as it's been around 30 degrees since we left Bled. We hadn't seen a bike shop anywhere so we pressed on. It was a warm morning and I said to Suzanne we really need some lighter gloves. As we were speaking we rolled around a bend and saw a huge billboard that read "Dianese Outlet Centre - 500 Mtrs". It was like winning the lottery. We now have some beautiful new lightweight Dianese gloves to look after our hands, and two pair cost less than one pair in Australia. I could have spent about ten grand there the gear was just soooooo nice. Weight and space restrictions on the bike prevented that.

Back on the road to Croatia. We managed to sneak through the border check points for both countries. They obviously haven't heard about Suzanne here.

The terrain here is a lot more hilly (read mountainous) right on the coast so it took a while to get used to riding so high and looking down onto the towns (which means I was scared). In Slovenia all the roads were lined by trees, so if you run off the road you won't fall too far. This was a different story. Now I cope with heights OK. I don't like them but the voices inside my head tell me I'll be OK and I get through it. When the person on the back is screaming "Holy S***!" through the intercom she drowns out the voices and I find it difficult to remain calm. So when we saw this...

...and had to ride over it, it was vey "exciting". It's one (very narrow) lane wide, and I don't know how high, but it falls into the category of "BLOODY HIGH". I rode around it very, very, very slowly and I really didn't want to be there. It was probably the scariest thing I've ever done. As for Suzanne, I think she now hates me for taking her on this trip, but it got better (worse?).

The view from ground level. Yes we rode over the piece of road in the top right of the photo. Believe me, it looks and feels a lot higher from up there.

OK, now we're down at sea level again we can enjoy ourselves. We rode along little cliffs along the coast that last month would have scared me but now I don't even notice. Then the sat nav said turn left. Interesting. We rode up this narrow winding road and into the mountains. Single lane, steep drop offs, no barriers etc. For about an hour or so we rode up into the mountains. We then rode along some nice little roads, then an hour back down the mountains. Suzanne had had enough. I was thinking that the sat nav was taking us the most direct route as I had chosen "Shortest Route" when we set off. Wrong! When we got to the bottom again we were only about thirty kilometres further along the road we were originally on in a town called Senj. It was another experience, but I'm buying a map. Another few hours riding and we were at our accommodation for the night.

We're using and it working a treat. We rode into our accommodation in Grabovac at about 8.30 pm and Ana Maria, who is about 14, checked us in as her Mum and Dad weren't there. We moved into our room which was very nice and very clean. Great value. We'd bought a few drinks with us so we went downstairs and sat outside to relax.

Nedeljko (Dad) arrived home from work, sat with us, and had a drink. When I had finished my beers Nedeljko grabbed another out of his fridge for me. Thanks Nedeljko. Marina (Mum) then arrived home and we sat and talked for quite some time. We learned a lot about Croatia and where the country is going. We also got tips on where we should go and what we should see. Local knowledge is invaluable and staying with locals is so much more enjoyable than big hotels. It really is a whole lot more personal and adds to the experience. Thanks guys.

Tomorrow morning Suzanne has promised to paint the girls then it's off to Piltvice Lakes and then a night in Zadar. Cool names eh?

Where's rex's Buff?

Incognito Buff wearer.

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