Between the third and the sixth of October 2019 we had a mission to get to Italy ASAP, thereby passing through Croatia and Slovenia in the shortest time possible. There wasn't anything particular requiring such urgency, we just wanted to spend more of the remaining summer days in the last four countries (Italy, France, Spain, and finally Portugal).
The Shortest Path
We had two ways to reach Italy from Bosnia and there were many wonderful places to visit in between too. We bit the bullet and decided to save Croatia and Slovenia for another time. The two options we had were:
- Cycle the most direct path through Croatia and Slovenia, arriving in Triest, Italy (blue)
- Cycle to Split and ferry to Ancona, Italy (green)
In the end we picked the first option in order to maintain our cycling streak since Iraq Kurdistan (where we had to take a vehicle for 60km due to bad weather).
Welcome to Hrvatska
Croatia's real name is spelt very different to the one in English. To pronounce this country's name correctly, you have to say "hrv" together and the rest is read as it is spelt. This confused us a lot because we couldn't figure out which EU country had the letter HR in their name when reading car number plates.
Tourism is booming in Croatia. As soon as we crossed the border from Bihac (Bosnia and Herzegovina), we started seeing signs for rooms advertised in every village. Almost everyone with a spare room had a sign up advertising in four languages: "Room, Zimmer, Cemara, Sobe". We arrived at the end of the summer season but still saw a lot of motorhomes, motorbikes and campervans.
It took us two days of cycling to reach the Adriatic sea. It was really beautiful when we got our first glimpse at the pass, 700m above sea. The islands in the distance added a Mediterranean feel to the photos. We were super excited to see the sea once again. It had been rather cold the last few days cycling out of Bosnia.
We heard that it was difficult to camp by the sea as the coastal stretch is developed with hotels everywhere. So we stayed above the sea following the higher roads looking for a nice spot to camp. It was rather easy as the area above was mainly forest or grass fields. It was a quiet road and we really enjoyed cycling with the view from above.
We found a nice spot with views of the sea and tucked away behind trees from the road. The only neighbours we had were horses. We thought the horses would be scared of us but instead the opposite happened!!! As we unpacked and setup picnic, five of them crowded around us watching very closely. They were so curious about us, sniffing our bags and bikes, we started to get worried they might stand on something!
The horses said "neigh" for us camping hereAfter unsuccessfully maintaining our personal space from the horses, we decided to move on to another spot. Soon after we found a nice spot away with enough clearing to see the coast for the sunset. We pitched our tent just in time and climbed up the nearest hill to watch it.
Lights from Rijeka in the distanceThe next morning we cycled down to the coastal highway towards Rijeka. It was surprising the number of German campervan traffic on this route, but we heard that during peak summer season it was impossible to cycle. This is the same coast where Dubrovnik, or King's Landing in Game of Thrones was filmed.
Picnic lunch above the Bay of Bakar
View above the town of Bakar
Welcome to SloveniaWe thought that Croatia was in the Schengen visa scheme but apparently not, so the border crossing was still controlled and we had to wait in line to show our passport. It was a pain-free experience and we got through in no time. Next border crossing should be much quicker!
The 31km route we cycled across Slovenia was not so interesting, but we had butterflies in our tummies all day about Italy. All we observed were vast fields of pasture and forest. A wild campers' wet dream.
Approaching our last controlled border (Croatia → Slovenia)
Morning: cycling through the forest
Noon: church bells ringing for lunch time
We had lunch at a quiet rest stop before carrying on to the Italian border. We ate ayvar and salad on sliced bread. The smells and sounds of Italy are getting stronger!
Too Long; Didn't Read
We cycled 233 km over two countries - Croatia and Slovenia. It took us one afternoon and 3 full days to get across. We camped 3 nights enroute. We are now in Italy enjoying the wonderful Italian things!