Cres - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

September 11, 2018

Cres

A wedding in Zadar

A short ride today, a short blog tonight.  Since it’s short though, it’s a good time to catch up with something missing from a few days back: the wedding in Zadar.  You may remember the photo of the interior of the cathedral, seemingly adorned in preparation for a wedding ceremony.

Walking back to our room after dinner, we got confirmation of our assumption when we heard the sound of singing and a saw a crowd gathered in front of the cathedral.  Rachael reminded me that I have a video option on my new camera, so I captured the simple circle dance in progress in front of the cathedral:

This reminded me of a similar simple dance we had seen twenty years ago in Barcelona, which we later learned was a patriotic statement by Catalonians supportive of independence.  I assumed this was something similar.

A few minutes later though, the dance ended and in its place a great commotion ensued and the square lit up with torches and shouts celebrating the entrance of the newlyweds from the cathedral.  Soon this was replaced by another dance - a conga line, led by the bride.  Great show!

The ride to Cres

Today is another two ferry affair.  After a dozen ferry connections in the past three weeks, we’re a bit tired of dealing with them.  They put such a cramp in your day - hurry up and wait.  We’ll be glad to see the end of the islands and hit the mainland, to be honest - which happens tomorrow!  One more ferry, and we’ll be in Istria.

Our first ferry, from Lopar to Velbiska on the island of Krk (what’s with these terse island names here, anyway?  Pag, Rab, Krk, Cres.), is a long one - almost ninety minutes.  It only runs four times a day, so we sure don’t want to miss the 9:30 departure.  The next one isn’t until midafternoon.  It’s only an easy eight miles, but to be on the safe side we allow an hour and a half to get there.  We arrive in plenty of time, and I hang out at a cafe over a real cup of coffee (rather than the instant we’ve been getting by on at the apartments) while Rachael takes a walk along the waterfront.

The old town, from the balcony of our apartment
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Our host and her son, whose monkey gives a tentative wave to Rachael before we roll out.
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After barren Pag, the island of Rab feels positively lush.
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It’s an easy ride to the first ferry - short, and with just a pair of easy climbs.
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Looking down on the bay near Lopar, the ferry port
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While I waited with an Americano by the ferry, Rachael took a short walk along the Lopar waterfront.
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I like this shot Rachael took of the approaching ferry - you can see the opposite bank through its windows.
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We don’t bike at all on Krk.  Velbiska is just a relay point for us, and we wait there for another hour for our second ferry of the day to carry us over the narrow channel to Cres.  It’s a surprisingly large ferry, but a short ride - about fifteen minutes.  It takes as long to load all the cars and trucks on as it does to cross the water.

On Cres, we face the only real challenge to the day - a four mile, 1,200’ climb over the ridge behind the ferry.  It’s not a bad climb, and we see a fair amount of shade from roadside trees; and it’s quite pleasant once we bike past the half mile of cars queued up in the opposite lane, waiting to board the ferry we just left, or the one after that.  And we have the lane to ourselves - there’s nothing behind us but the ferry, and there won’t be another one landing for over an hour.  I think we are passed by only a single car in our direction on the way up.

What goes up must come down, said Blood, Sweat and Tears.  The next four miles are a mirror of the last four, and we barrel all the our way down to Cres without turning the cranks.  We arrive right at two, as we said we would, and find our host waiting for us.  We’re staying in a great place, just a block back from the waterfront in the middle of a maze of narrow, bent, and for a change stairless lanes.  Our host is great - she sits down with us for about fifteen minutes, going over the town, its history, and her own interesting personal history.  She’s the mother of a thirty month old son, and nearing the end of the three year parental leave her job has allowed.  Her family has been here in Cres and around the bay for generations.

Looking to the north end of Kvarner Gulf as we leave Velbiska on the island of Krk. From left to right: the north end of Cres; in the distance, the hills of Istria; in the gap, the mainland port city of Rijeka; on the right, the island of Krk.
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The tiny harbor on Cres. You’ll note that there’s no way out but up.
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It’s a four mile, eight per cent climb up the ridge from the ferry; followed by an equal drop to Cres Town on the other side.
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Looking back north from the climb from Cres’s ferry port
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Cres Town finally comes into view.
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Cres Town

Cres is a wonderful little place.  We liked Rab Town last night, but we really like Cres.  It’s a small place with a wonderful ambience.  The core of the old town that borders its small harbor is carless, which I’m sure is because none of the streets and lanes are wide or straight enough to allow passage of a larger vehicle.  The only motorized traffic, if you don’t count ebikes and escooters, comes from the boats in the harbor and a few motorcycles we saw tucked away in the alley.

What there is instead is foot traffic, and bicycles.  There is a lot of flat land in town and along the adjacent coastline, and the waterfront sees a steady stream of bikers of all ages pedaling along with the pedestrians at a relaxed, leisurely pace.  Without the motorized traffic, the air is full of all  of the wonderful small sounds of a city that you never hear otherwise - children, chatter, the shuffle of feet on the pavement, bell chimes.  It’s quite wonderful.

We had a fine, memorable dinner on the waterfront, inches from the bay.  We were  reeled into this place by our waiter Muhammad, a very personable young Bosnian.  We enjoyed an extended conversation with him before we left, listening to him tell us of how beautiful Bosnia is and share his dream with us - to travel the world and then open his own restaurant one day, with his family around him.  At the end of the meal he brought us a treat - shots of plum brandy, from Bosnia.  He cautioned that it was a bit strong, and was right.  Yeow!

After our meal, we loitered around the waterfront, enjoyed an ice cream cone, and took in the delights of the scene.  Check out the video, which gives a better sense of it than my words will.  Really a lovely place.

Cres Town is very attractive - quiet, relaxed, colorful.
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Cres has a surprising amount of bike traffic. It’s amazing what happens when you take cars and hills out of the picture.
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The crooked streets behind the waterfront are intriguing, and a bit decrepit. And carless - they’re much to crooked and narrow for a car to get through.
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The Cres clock tower
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We ran into our host and her son walking on the waterfront. He’s quite the imp - here he’s pulling the lid off a jug and checking back to see if he’s getting a reaction.
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Bikes are piled up and leaning against walls everywhere you look.
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The Cres waterfront. Cres is a Venetian city, and most of the inhabitants speak Italian. It feels like we’ve entered a new country today.
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Frane Petric (Francisco’s Patricius), the town’s favorite son. Sixteenth century philosopher, Platonist. The town hosts a philosophy symposium every September.
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Don’t think of this as a food photo, but as an art work: Still Life with Grilled Vegetables (ceramic, pepper, zucchini, eggplant, tomato, onion, mushroom, artichoke, carrot, turnip).
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Steve Miller/GrampiesI clicked "like" for the food!
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesNobody appreciates art any more.
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3 months ago
For about ten minutes we enjoyed a rosy glow over the town.
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Ride stats today:18 miles, 1,700’; for the tour: 438 miles, 31,700’

Today's ride: 18 miles (29 km)
Total: 448 miles (721 km)

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Bruce LellmanWhat a great trip you guys are having! Everything looks so beautiful.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonIt’s turning into a pretty wonderful tour, alright - especially now that the weather has cooled down a bit and it’s not so humid.the last several days have all been really special.
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3 months ago