To Trieste - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

September 21, 2018

To Trieste

Well, we were too hasty in thinking we had made a clean escape from our laundry fiasco.  This morning Rachael realized one of her two pair of bike shorts was ruined.  The padding is deformed, like it melted and fused into a clot.  So, she’s got a shopping mission ahead, if we can find a bike store with womens apparel.

For breakfast we walked downstairs to a cafe, enjoying coffee and pastries on the store.  Soon after we left town, cycling north on a bike lane along the waterfront - a relative rarity in Croatia.  We enjoyed several relaxing miles of this until the bike path ended and we return to the road network and follow a well marked bike itinerary that traces the shoreline of the small peninsula north of Umag.

After this we briefly turn away from the coast, cross a small ridge, and merge onto a highway - surprisingly clogged by a bumper to bumper traffic jam.  It takes us awhile to realize that we are approaching the Slovenian border, and this is the end of a half mile long queue for the customs gate.  There’s no shoulder, so we watch for gaps in the oncoming lane and gradually work our way to the front.  The end of Croatia!

Umag’s modern harbor, and its petite old town.
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It’s such a calm morning. The water and sky blend so seamlessly it’s a bit hard to see where the horizon is.
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A tight squeeze approaching the Slovenian border, and the entrance to the Schengen Zone. Bikes can go to the head of the line, as long as they can get there.
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Our is icing experience changes with whiplash abruptness once we enter Slovenia.  We hop on the Paranzana Trail, which is now a paved, lovely bike way packed with cyclists.  Looking back the way we came, we see that it is paved for at least part of the way into Croatia, so there was probably a better way for us to get here if we’d been watching for it.

We’re only in Slovenia briefly, but it gives us some of the nicest cycling of the tour.  The Paranzana Trail follows the coastline for the next ten or fifteen miles, sometimes on separated bike path, sometimes on small agricultural or residential roads.  It’s all beautiful.  It’s enough to get us thinking about coming back to Slovenia someday.

We break for a salad lunch in Izola, and exchange our remaining Croatian kunas for euros at the post office (you can’t exchange kunas at the currency exchange shops for some reason).  After Izola, we leave the Paranzana Trail, which goes away from the coast here on its way around the bay of Trieste.  Instead, we continue following the coastline though big, busy Koper and then around a small peninsula before rounding a final bend and getting our first, impressive sight of Trieste, across the bay and sprawled out along the water for miles, a large and idle rising sharply behind it.  Along the way, we pass one small protected cove or beach after another with sunbathers lying on blankets on the sand or even just lying on top of the concrete barrier at the side of the road.

I’m sure you can just bike all the way into Trieste, but we decided to try the small ferry that shuttles across the bay between it and Muggia roughly once per hour.  It’s a great service, if you can just find it.  I had mapped us to the correct spot on ou GPS route, but once there I was sure I’d gotten it wrong - there’s nothing at all to indicate that this small, unmarked pier is a ferry terminal.  After a couple of inquiries though we learned otherwise and biked out to its end, lay our bikes on the pavement and waited on faith for about a half hour with a few other people.  About the time it finally came into view, about fifty to a hundred pedestrians walked out onto the pier.  One of those things you just have to know.

Trieste!  Wow!!  We’ll be here two nights, so we’ll look at it tomorrow.

Once inside Slovenia, we join the now paved Paranzana Trail. There are none in this photo, but for most of the wa6 through Slovenia we’ll pass many cyclists on this trail, including many pannier-laden travelers. A big change from just across the border in Croatia.
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Most of Slovenia’s short coastline is a protected area, the Strunjan Nature Park. The Paranzana Trial follows a canal along its margin. Very scenic.
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The Paranzana Trail and Strunjan Nature Park
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In Strunjan Nature Park
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In Strunjan Nature Park. I really liked the rickety wooden piers that line the canal. I wouldn’t feel too confident walking on any of them.
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In Strunjan Nature Park
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Portoroz, I think
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This stretch of the Paranzana Trail is a real delight. It passes through green, cultivated flats and then cuts beneath ridges in several well lit tunnels. This one is about a half kilometer long, as is a different one you’ll see in the video.
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Jen GrumbyWow - looks like a fun ride through the tunnel. Great photo & video!
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonIt was fun. I really like the lighting effect. I liked not climbing over the ridge, too!
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2 months ago
We’ve seen several of these structures since entering Istria. Anyone know what they are? Guard towers from the Cold War era maybe?
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Steve Miller/GrampiesHunters hides, maybe? We have often seen similar structures in fields and near woods elsewhere in Europe.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesHunting what, I wonder? Bike tourists?
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2 months ago
Piran, another little peninsular old town, is maybe the most scenic town on the Slovenian coast.
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Along the Paranzana Trail
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Nearing Koper, we leave the Paranzana Trail and follow the coast road. For about a mile here it looks like preparations are being made for an event - perhaps a run. Temporary stands are stocked with bottles of water. The white ribbon is a long plastic banner of some sort, with drawings on the underside.
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Entering Koper, a fairly large port, a bit confusing to navigate.
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An epic stage! We cap a three country day and finally reach Italy, our home for the next seven weeks.
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First view of Trieste
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This somewhat surreal scene is in Muggia, at the landing for the foot passenger ferry to Trieste. Out at the end of a small unmarked pier, there is no indication whatsoever that this is a ferry terminal. You just have to know.
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On the Muggia-Trieste ferry
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Leaving Muggia
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Trieste is a huge shipping port, lined with docks, maybe a thousand truck containers queued up for transport.
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After a few miles following the port we finally near the heart of the city, just around the bend to the left.
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Ride stats today: 39 miles, 1,500’

Today's ride: 39 miles (63 km)
Total: 759 miles (1,221 km)

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