Umag, and the end of Croatia - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

September 20, 2018

Umag, and the end of Croatia

Well, the title for this post is a bit misleading.  We’re not really at the end of Croatia yet, but darn close.  Most of tomorrow’s ride will be in Croatia too, followed by a dash of Slovenia to add seasoning, and then a short ferry hop across the bay to Trieste.

It’s a pretty slow news day, ridewise.  It began with the usual push down Motovun’s cobblestones one last time, and then a repeat of the same 12 miles we’ve already covered twice now before we finally broke new ground and headed north to skirt Groznyn before dropping to the Adriatic again at Umag.  Riding conditions were fine most of the day, except for the final few miles into Umag which were predictably busy and shoulderless.

The big action for the day came at the midpoint of the ride, when the route drops abruptly to the Mirna River (the same channelized waterway we saw from above in Motovun), followed by a climb out the other side that began painlessly with a steady grade but turned into groaning twelve percenter.

We arrived too early to check in to our room, so we stopped at the first restaurant we came to for a salad lunch.  Very nice family run place.  The man of the house lifted Rachael’s bike up the stairs to the restaurant’s level so we could lean them against the walol; they have two adorable daughters and a cute cat; and mom was very interested in where we were headed on our bikes.

We’re staying in a great apartment, with a washer/dryer.  It’s a single unit that functions in two modes, but is confusing to use and comes with a users manual in Croatian.  So far, not so good - we ran our clothes through the washer on the cold cycle, and then washed them again in hot water when we meant to dry them.  We’re waiting to find out if we’ve shrunken anything.

That done, Rachael rode off to the bike store to have her breaks adjusted.This is the same place we discovered a week ago when I thought I had a broken bearing and needed a mechanic.  My broken bearing sound went away the next day as mysteriously as it arrived, so I think I don’t really have an issue after all.  Rachael’s brakes are rubbing a bit though, which she finds annoying on those twelve percenters for some strange reason, so as long as we had an actual bike mechanic at hand we took that route rather than risk having me fix it worse.

Looking east back at Motovun from somewhere around Visinada
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Roadside squash stand. Count the varieties!
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About half way down the descent to the Mirna River.
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Groznyn, another well known Istrian hill town. We had planned to ride here on a day ride from Motovun, until we learned that the road out the north side of town was closed. We couldn’t put together a road that left Motovun to the south and included Groznyn. Next time.
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Another look at Groznyn. This one also shows the Mirna Valley that we just dropped 8nto and climbed back out of.
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Fancy flower planter
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A bit past Groznyn we cross a low ridge and get our first sight of the Adriatic (since three days ago). We’re looking in the direction of Trieste, but can’t see it because there’s a headland blocking the view.
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Buje, another hill town that I’m sure is worth a look. Most of the commercial tours I’ve seen come through here.
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Rachael came back about an hour later, happy with her brake job.  So that’s good.  Also good, our laundry looks like it survived intact, but we did have a scare.  For quite a while we couldn’t figure out how to open the dryer, or turn it off.  When we finally discovered the secret trick, our clothes were scalding hot;but fortunately nothing was burned or seems to have shrunk.

For dinner we walked along the waterfront to the marina and enjoyed our   last meal in Croatia.  Afterwards, we enjoyed the best sunset of the tour so far walked back along the waterfront to the old town and our apartment.  It’s very pleasant out -comfortable, fairly quiet, the moon edging its way toward full.  Walking along the harbor, taking in the fishing nets and gear on the quay, the boats bobbing and lights reflecting on the water, folks strolling along slowly with their ice cream cones, I’m surprised to find that I’m feeling a bit nostalgic.  This will be our last night on the waterfront until we return to the sea near the French border seven weeks from now.  I won’t miss the heat during the day, but I’ll sure miss these warm Mediterranean nights.

Umag with cormorants
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Voted: best Croatian sunset
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On the harbor
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Rachael has a few kuna burning a hole in her pocket and is itching to use them before we leave the country.
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One thing this tour has reminded me of - I’m really drawn more to quieter scenes like this than the four star attractions.
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Ride stats today: 34 miles, 2,400’; for the tour: 715 miles, 52,600’

Today's ride: 34 miles (55 km)
Total: 720 miles (1,159 km)

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