Day 374, Rijeka, 25.590 km

After a well-deserved weekend of rest, after a solid breakfast and after taking Marie (who had come to meet me in Trieste) back to her car, I get back on the bike and on the road. I conscientiously follow the blue signs « Slovenia » which are supposed to lead me to Slovenia by road, avoiding the highway (which is indicated by the green signs). And as Italy wouldn’t have been Italy without the highway stories, I find myself once again and for one last time… on the highway. Fortunately not for too long, the exit is near and not blocked by construction works. I follow the coast, with its pebble beaches, which does not prevent bathers and other sunbathers from coming in numbers, and try to enjoy these last kilometers of Italy and its crazy drivers. The first border arrives, the one with Slovenia. An empty border post. A sign to take a picture. A gas station. I am in Slovenia. A good omen for what is coming, it seems that the borders are as much watched here as they were in the rest of Europe…

This time, Italy is really finished
Welcome to Slovenia

I drive along the thirty kilometers of seafront that Croatians have deigned to leave to Slovenians, marveling at the patience of the drivers, who do not overtake me as soon as there is 22 centimeters of margin and 1 meter of visibility. I always ride along pebble beaches, always full of people, and I even have the chance to enjoy a cycle track, 2×2 lanes, it’s a change from Italy! There are signs indicating the direction of Croatia, the distance to the next village, a real luxury! Then I see the border. For the first time, it seems that there are controls, and the line of cars is relatively long… I sneak on the side, throw a glance to the customs officer who waves me to pass. Here I am in Croatia. At least that’s what I think. 200 meters further, another border post. I understand that the one before was held by the Slovenian police, this one by the Croatian police. And the line of cars seems to be even longer… I sneak in again (it’s very convenient to be on a bike to cut the lines) and arrive near a hut where a customs officer is in discussion with a bus driver. I wave and ask if I can pass and he answers « Passport ». That’s fine, I can handle it. I show him my ID card, he looks at it, nods and says « Corona-Test ». I stammer something like  » heuu, I don’t, heuu, bicycle « . He answers « Corona-Test ». I try to explain to him that I’ve been cycling for several weeks, that I don’t see anyone, he doesn’t seem to want to understand. He asks me « Where are you going?  I tell him I’m going along the coast, he answers « Corona-Test ». I think that if I had told him that I was going to see the president in Zagreb he would have answered « Corona-Test »… Disappointed, I turn back, and luckily they let me go back to Slovenia without any difficulty… And now?  I look at the map, and I realize that there is another border post only 5 kilometers farther. Let’s try ! On the way, I start to think about Machiavellian plans, but apart from avoiding the customs officers, I don’t see how to not make this test… Second border post, another long queue, I cut it once again. Another customs officer, who also asks me for my passport. I show her my ID card, with a barrier distance of at least 5 meters (I could have shown anything that looked like it, she probably wouldn’t have made the difference) and she waves me through. And there you have it, « Corona-Test » passed! I wait a few kilometers before rejoicing, you never know, the Croatian police might have hidden behind a curve… But no. This time I am in Croatia!

And for a few kilometers, it is the idyll: the drivers are respectful, it seems that even the Italians drive well when they are in Croatia, there are cycle tracks on the side of the roads, cemeteries to fill the water bottles in all the small villages, the weather is nice: the perfect world for the cyclist. Then I get closer to the cities, Umag, Novigrad, Fontana, Vrsar and I get disillusioned: the road is full of tourists, who drive very badly (an Audi overtaking in the other direction is close to throwing me in the ditch), and apart from campsites, harbors and from time to time a nice city center there is not much to see… Oh yes, there is a road on the water. But it’s a bit thin… And the bike paths like to end with 15 centimeters high sidewalks, often in the middle of a descent, convenient!

Jay rides on water

Then I have to go inland and I follow a hiking trail through the forest. At least there are no cars. And even though some of the climbs are a little slippery, it’s kind of nice to hear the birds. When the rain begins to fall, I only have to go a little bit in the forest to find a small clearing perfect for my camp…

The next day, we start directly the serious things with a beautiful rise towards Kanfanar. The rare cars that I see early in the morning have Croatian plates, but quickly the road fills with tourists, who are all extremely in a hurry to go somewhere. There is a bit of everything: Austrians, Dutch, French, Serbians, Hungarians, Slovenians, Danes, but mostly Germans. At least one car out of three. I thought they were all going to Mallorca on vacation… At least the road is beautiful, a little high, with a nice view on the sea, on the mountains and on the islands off the coast. And Rijeka starts to appear in the distance… After Opatija, it is only city until reaching the port of Rijeka.

The mountains which fall down in the sea

While checking in at the hotel, the girl recommends me to visit the castle of Trsat. One can go there either by bus, or by climbing more than 500 steps… I choose the easy solution, and I take the bus. Indeed, the view on the port and on the city is worth it. I have time to try to go back down by the famous stairs (but I’m taking wrong stairs, it seems that Google doesn’t like them) and to go and find a terrace before the night falls… I feel that I’m not going to last long this evening…

Nice view on Rijeka from Trsat
The cathedral

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