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One trip, three countries, eight days on two wheels

One trip, three countries, eight days on two wheels. Crossing the picturesque Julian Alps in Slovenia. A pizzaslice of Italy, the 42km coastline of Slovenia and then further on the old Parenzana railwayline in Croatia. On day one you soon become aware, whilst cycling, of Slovenia’s pristine friendlyness. Spectacular stone castles look down on Lake Bled and many tourists. We enjoy it on our new horses around the lake. Day two takes us up the Radonva valley in the Triglav National Park. We are so proud to have packed all our essentials in four panniers. Now I know how to pack for the rest of my life. Goodbye to suitcases bulging with clothes never to be worn. Hot but pleasant once the bike-aircon kicks in. Then the wonderful D2 cyclepath. Effectively utilising old railwaybridges and infrastructure up to Kranjska Gora. By taxi we cross the Julian Alps through the spectacular 50 hairpin bends. The Vršic Pass is Slovenia’s highest at 1611m. The Alps tower up to 2864m. Then down in the emerald Soča Valley.

Day three starts with the best breakfast in Slovenia at the Hotel Sonje ob Soci in Bovec. The owner’s wife is more than a chef, perhaps a humble food magician. She takes pride in her tasty delicacies. My favourite was the Zuchini carpacio, fresh from her garden. The whitewater rafting was calm. The personel enthuastic. Tolmin via Kobarid was hot at 40 degrees. Marko has a good bikeshop in Tolmin. He made the necessary adjustments to Benita’s derailer that gave her more gears for those uphills. The Hotel Krn ( or Dvorec) has had a facelift with the new owner. The old criticism in Tripadvisor is unfair. It was, however, our only hotel without aircon. The chef was friendly and recommended an excellant Sauvignon Blanc of the area. Day four included the longest and toughest climb for me. Benita had less problems. Fortunately uphills are rewarded with views and downhills. All the sweat disappeared with the sumptuous meal with superb wines at Medana. Thanks, Tina, for this special treat. Our taxidriver to Nova Gorica was punctual and knowledgable. We discussed Slovenia’s unusual 10day war for independence in 1991. All our drivers were proud ambassadors.

Day five started with the taxi up to Stanjel. Absorbing the beauty downhill was shear pleasure. We often stopped at bars for water or coffee. English was never a problem. A cooldown shower fell when we were in the Skočjan Caves. The pickup at Lipica worked well. Majestic Lipizzaners. We laughed when we crammed the bikes and 2 tall bodies into the taxi. With Benita on my lap we arrived at Hotel Roma in Trieste. I washed our cycling clothes every evening. It dried sufficiently overnight. Day six started with the ferrycrossing to Muggia. I would strongly recommend this change to your itineary. The ferry pickup is near the hotel. It takes 30 minutes to cross. It is cheap and you avoid all the Trieste traffic. At Muggia cycle back for 10 minutes towards Trieste. The Parenzana route is after the first small bridge. Out of Italy and back into Slovenia with its short scenic 42 km coastline. The clean well-lit 550m old railway tunnel says much of a country ensuring safe rides for cyclists. Portoroz is like a beehive of tourists. All enjoying their vacations. Day seven we cross the Croatian border. All our hotels on the entire trip were superb. We drank the local water in our bathrooms. We slept very comfortably. Yes, there were days when the cumalative affect was felt in my 67 year old legs but the rewards made it disappear. Regarding the required fitnesslevel for the trip.

In Cape Town we try to cycle regularly. We are not fanatics. It was good to experience en route how popular tourismcycling is. Croatia’s section of the Parenzana is more stoney. We had 3 punctures and were ably assisted by our host from B and B Antico in Motovun. Please convey my appreciation to him again. Day eight to Porec we decided to remain on tar. To sum up. The trip has incredible potential and many of my friends will partake. I would rate the tour 4.5 out of 5. Thanks to Life Adventures (Tina Verk) and all the roleplayers.

Herbert Raubeinheimer

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