In Karlovac: Dobra River loop - Balkan Dreams - CycleBlaze

September 7, 2020

In Karlovac: Dobra River loop

Today’s  ride

Karlovac is situated in an interesting location.  Just to its east begins the broad plain we cycled across when we arrived here.  Well, not all that broad actually now that I look at the map again - it’s more disc shaped, and only about twenty miles in diameter.  In other directions though, Karlovac is ringed by fairly low hills that are the tapering eastern margin of the Dinaric Alps.  These hills are hacked up and sculpted  by four different rivers pouring in from points west and southwest: the Kupa, the Korana, the Dobra, and the Mrežnica - all of which merge in or very near Karlovac to form an enlarged Kupa River that flows northeast across that small disc-like basin to the northeast.

I was thinking at least some these rivers were flowing from Slovenia, but I was wrong.  They’re all purely Croatian: the Dobra originates in the south, in the famous Plitvice lakes that we’ll be seeing in a few days; the Mrežnica also comes up from the south; and the other two originate in Gorski Kotar, wherever that is.  The closest any of these rivers gets to Slovenia is the Kupa, which forms part of the international border.

And Gorski Kotar?  I see now that that’s the name for these hills that begin here and extend westward.  Translated from the Croatian, Gorski Kotar is the Hills District, or Highlands.  It’s a karst plateau, largely forested, and is sometimes referred to as the green lungs of Croatia, or Croatian Switzerland.

So, let’s go check out those green lungs.  Today we’re going southwest on an oval shaped loop that crosses the nearest hill, drops down to the Dobra River for a few miles, crosses another hill before dropping to the Kupa, and then crosses a final hill before dropping back to Karlovac.

Up, and down; up, and down; up, and down.  That’s the story today, and for several days to come, it looks like.  We’ll be seeing a lot of the Gorski Kotar as we work our way south to the sea.

We’re back to Turkish coffee again, which Rachael is preparing here. I like the way her outfit and my Pendleton blend in with the kitchen decor.
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After about three miles and a stiff, busy climb we’re on top of the hills southwest of the city.
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I could have included photos of a hundred fine wooden structures like this today, if I’d stopped with the camera for all of them. But if I had, I’d have been riding home alone.
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Bruce LellmanBut, what about your readership! I would have liked to have seen a photo of each one.
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2 weeks ago
Here’s a lobe of one of those Green Lungs of Croatia we were just talking about. 63% of Gorski Kotar is forested, at least according to Wikipedia.
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I was sorry I missed this scene, which Rachael captured on video (this photo is scraped from it). Taking your turkeys for a stroll sounds like a perfect way to start the day.
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Jen GrumbyStill getting caught up .. those are some Big Birds!!
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3 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYup. I was sorry I missed seeing this, but I’m glad Rachael could extract a still from her video.
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2 days ago
Beautiful cycling through here, as we roll along the top of the ridge.
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In the Gorski Kotar.
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The fortified remains of Novigrad on the Dobra. This was a complete surprise to us, since as usual we were just following a promising road on the map and hadn’t researched it. It was quite a shock to round the bend and suddenly be faced with it.
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Novigrad is believed to have been founded in the late 15th century by Bernardin Frankopan as a defense against the Turks.
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At Novigrad na Dobra.
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Below Novigrad, a medieval arched stone bridge spans the Dobra.
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The 10 arched stone bridge at Novigrad was built in the latter half of the 18th century, replacing its wooden predecessor. It is still in use today, for both motorized and pedestrian traffic.
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Video sound track: Zaljubila sam se, by Detour

The Dobra River, from the stone bridge.
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Along the Dobra. The next few miles following the bank of the river were the cycling highlight of the day.
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The Dobra River. These really are magical miles. We’ve been riding close by rivers a lot here, but it’s unusual to actually ride right beside one that you can see, rather than hidden behind a green wall.
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The Dobra River.
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Leaving the Dobra, we’re back to that up and down thing. We’ll be at it for the rest of the ride.
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We passed many such scenes today. Many of these old wooden houses are well kept, while others look of a similar age but are complete wrecks. I wonder if this is another reflection of the ravages of the war.
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The next fifteen miles of the ride had a sameness about them, as we rolled along over one small rise after another - there must have been 30 or 40 marked high points in our GPS route today.
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Another fine farmhouse. I like these wooden balconies that are common here.
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And one more.
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The ride ends with two more substantial climbs. This one with about 300’ gain was very well behaved and an easier climb than several of the more modest rises.
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Toward the end of the ride we drop briefly to the Kupa River before climbing away from it and over one final ridge.
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Exploring Karlovac

For dinner we head off to Konoba Kostanjac, a small fish restaurant that gets good reviews.  It’s about a half mile to the northeast, on the opposite side of the town’s historic center.  An opportunity to see a different part of town than we’ve explored so far.  Good meal, good exploration, good walk, good company.  It’s all good.

Once you start looking, you see residual evidence of the war everywhere you look. This is the apartment building adjacent to ours.
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Karlovac has an expansive network of bike lanes. Like the other Croatian cities we’ve visited so far on this tour, this means that there’s a paint stripe and arrows on the sidewalks. It can get complicated, and a bit challenging to navigate safely whether on foot or on wheels.
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The center of old Karlovac is circumscribed by ribbon parks that follow the moats and the old star shaped pattern of the city. This part of the city at least is very walkable.
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Enjoying the remains of the day, Karlovac.
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Our restaurant for the night. A casual, unsophisticated place that served up a delicious grilled sea bream. We appreciated the Norah Jones sound track partially drowning out the lawn mower from the yard next door.
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The city museum. This photo gives you a sense of the unevenness of the town. Fine, well maintained baroque structures like this coexist next to others that are quite dilapidated.
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In the foreground, city hall. Behind it, the baroque belfry of the Holy Trinity Church.
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The Holy Trinity Church and the Franciscan monastery.
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The fountain in Jelačić square. The girl Turning back is adjusting her phone to take her selfie with the monastery in the background.
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Saint Nicolas Church.
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Some shops and signs, Karlovac.
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Ride stats today: 41 miles, 3,100’; for the tour: 703 miles, 22,700’

Today's ride: 41 miles (66 km)
Total: 703 miles (1,131 km)

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Lyle McLeodHi Folks,

Looks like you are having a wonderful trip so far in Croatia. Some of the pic's from your post today looked so familiar to us ... and then I checked the maps. We rode the same route as you from Donje Stative to Vukova Gorica (in reverse direction) back on 1 Oct 2017, a perfect fall day. https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/ltkk2017/goldilocks-day-55-zagreb-to-bosiljevo/
Your comment about riding along the Dobra being 'magical miles' is so true. We rode into Donje Stative from the north along the Dobra, still remember that feeling. Hope you two have many great fall days ahead of you.
Regards,
Kirsten & Lyle
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Lyle McLeodThanks for the link! I don’t recall for sure now, but I don’t think I ever read this journal. I certainly didn’t know you’d travelled through this part of Croatia. Disappointing - we thought we were pioneers!

I read with interest your ride to Opitija, because we’re bound that way ourselves in a few days after our loop over to Plitvice Lakes. Too long and too hard of a day for us old folks though - we’ll be staying overnight in Delnice to break it up into hopefully manageable bites.
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2 weeks ago
Jen GrumbyGreat video of the guy out walking with his turkeys!
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3 days ago