Salty Goulash: The Hills To Village Near Plitvice - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

December 4, 2013

Salty Goulash: The Hills To Village Near Plitvice

This evening am I glad I've checked into a guesthouse as it's freezing outside. Another plus of being here is I can use the evening productively, by beginning to update this journal. But first I can write the usual paper version, my diary in comfort, without the danger of cold fingers. My host told me there is a grocery shop across the road and a restaurant a little way along the road, but I'm not hungry, having had such a big lunch. Beef goulash. Though there obviously was too much salt in it, as I've a two litre bottle of Pepsi on the bedside table which I'm close to finishing, such is my thirst.

I arrived at 4 PM: Comfortable bed and a radiator, while the bike will take no hurt on the balcony.
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The day started with a yapping dog. Barking continuously. Luckily, the dog was a safe distance from where I'd camped in woodland. And wasn't barking because it'd sussed me I don't think. Dogs; some I like. The quiet ones. But there's the others. The plain annoying ones. The woodland where I'd camped had been a godsend the afternoon before as the sun set and there was nothing but one farmhouse after the other, including those left vacant because of the war. And every house that was occupied, had a big vicious barking dog; though luckily, all were chained up.

The first thing I noticed this morning was the tent fly-sheet was stiffened on the inside with a white frost. Then when I'd gotten out of the sleeping-bag, the sudden icy feeling. Then, I climbed out of the tent to the sound of that dog yapping from somewhere over there, beyond the edge of the wood. What an annoyance on top of my fingers being numb, the blood being pressed out of them while pushing the sleeping-bag into it's compression-sack. Then there's the tent. Its horrible taking down a tent in frost with bare hands. My Gore-Tex gloves for riding has little maneuverability in them, not for the likes of taking down the tent. The worse is handling the pole. But then, Is glad it was an uphill push back to the road, doing much to warm me up.

I was on the road at eight thirty and the first dozen kilometres was all downhill which was unwelcome, the morning being so cold. I needed to pedal in order to warm up. At least the road was dry with the bright sunshine, so there was no danger of black ice.

The road Is on eventually came to a tee, where I turned right and then was cycling in a westerly direction for fifteen kilometres until I came to another tee. This time with route 1. I turned left and was riding south. From here on the road was gradually uphill for the rest of the day.

Not having eaten much since a large breakfast at the hostel in Zagreb the day before, Is glad to reach a roadhouse restaurant shortly after eleven thirty. There were three trucks parked up outside, which is a good sign as truckers know the best places to eat. There were a few cars too. Inside, most where just having coffee. The menus was completely incomprehensible, except for bolognaise, which the patron who came to the table and spoke some English, said wasn't available. She recommended the goulash-beef stew. So I order the goulash with French fries. To drink, I order a coke. And she brought me a little 250 ml bottle. Hardly enough to quench the thirst. The beef stew was good though. Then I'd a coffee afterwards. Again, the coffee is a little small cup and I drank it in a mouthful.

In the afternoon, I approached on the left side of an increasingly narrow river gorge, the large village of Slunj. The river cascaded down past houses precariously sited on islands midstream; above which, a bridge took the road across to the right, where it climbed steeply up through the village and continued sinuously upwards for the remainder of the day. Soon there was a fair dept of snow by the roadside.

Shortly before four as the sun was waning and it began feeling cold, I was passing through a village just before the national park in which every house was a guest house; signs by the roadside with a picture of a bed and with three or four stars. I continued a little way past the village and thought, this is pointless; it's already freezing, everywhere is rocky and there's snow on the ground. A room for the night won't cost too much, so I doubled back.

The first three star place I pulled in at, no one came to the door when I rang the bell. The second place, an elderly lady opened the door. When I motioned with my head tilted against the back of my hand, she spoke German saying something politely, but, I got the impression soon she was telling me there was no available room. At the third house, I was glad to see a teenage girl open the door, because she could in all likelihood speak English and she did. The price was 100 KN (about 13 Euros) which isn't much. She showed me to this room and it was easy to persuade her to allow me to take the bike upstairs and put it out on the balcony.

Today's ride: 89 km (55 miles)
Total: 8,138 km (5,054 miles)

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