In Varaždin: Međimurje again - Balkan Dreams - CycleBlaze

September 2, 2020

In Varaždin: Međimurje again

(In case you’ve been struggling with how to pronounce Croatian names and become tongue-tied when you read the day’s post to your significant SO over morning coffee, I’ve decided to throw in an occasional phonetic equivalent spelling to give you a hint.  If you’d like a better introduction, you could review this tutorial on how to pronounce the letters with those confusing diacritical marks.)

For our last day ride from Varaždin (Varahzhdin), we decided to skip the plan of striking out in a new direction every day.  We haven’t biked straight east yet, but none of the roads that direction look really attractive.  Instead, we’re going back to the highlands of Međimurje (Medjuhmurya).  Without doubt, this is the premier cycling destination near Varaždin in our brief experience here.

The weather is cycling-perfect today.  The temperature dropped about fifteen degrees when the rains came through, the humidity is down, winds are light.  With no extreme heat to beat, we take our time getting out the door and enjoy a second cup of Turkish coffee.

Rachael has mastered brewing Turkish coffee! Here, she explains all the steps, perhaps hoping that I’ll take the hint and start brewing my own. But she’s so good at it!
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Bruce LellmanNow that I see your nice kitchen I'm wondering why you didn't buy that big bag of potatoes yesterday.
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Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanThere’s the lack of a cargo net of course, but the main thing is that the apartment didn’t come equipped with a cook.
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Because we got started late, and because we tied up our evening with other matters, I didn’t really get started on the day’s entry until around bedtime.  And because the WiFi here was very slow last night, I just gave up for the night.  And because now, the next morning, we’re preparing to decamp for our next destination soon, I’m out of time.  And because I’m determined not to fall behind, this is all you get today.  I already gave you an overview of Međimurje (which you now roughly know how to pronounce!) a few days ago, this is all you get.  Same old region, different roads.  

Plus some pictures, of course.  And plus this great video:

Video sound track: The Flavor, by Oscar Lopez

We took a different route into the hills today, turning off the highway after only a few miles instead of continuing on past Čakovec (Chakovets). Much nicer.
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Is there any temperate part of the world that doesn’t have crows? Here, at least they have some competition from their European cousins the jackdaws.
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I was wrong a few days ago when I speculated that the squash are hand-harvested. We’ve seen that happening here and there, but this must be the primary method now. It’s kind of cute: the vehicle puts along, mowing down a swath and intermittently spitting squash out the right, almost like a digestive waste product.
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We’re doing a circuit of the highlands today, mostly staying low as we follow the perimeter, and then crossing over the top twice.
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Some tilted tiles. Looks like they’re gradually collapsing to the right.
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We’re on our first rise here, up into the vineyards blanketing the southern slopes.
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It takes some work getting up here, but we don’t get tired of scenes like this.
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Bruce LellmanInteresting that the rows of vines go up and down the hill and not across. It must be designed so each plant gets the maximum amount of sunlight rather than soil erosion concerns. It looks like there is grass or something growing between the rows so maybe the erosion is totally controlled. I guess I have now answered all the questions I had, thank you.
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanAlways glad to be of help.
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Another klopotec (klohpotets), or wind-rattle. This one doesn’t have quite the character of the other. Looks like it could have been picked up at Ace Hardware or assembled from a DIY kit. Still, much nicer than a cannon.
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Another one of those roads.
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Lunch break, watching kids taking shots at a soccer net from the bleachers.
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Bruce LellmanEvery culture has its own way of doing things. Just when you think you have seen it all, something like this hits you.
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Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanYes, I thought this was worth a shot. I’ve never seen this either. Everyone gets a front row seat!
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Entering Štrigova (Shtrigohvah) a pretty little wine village on the north side, near the Slovenian border. It’s got some tourism infrastructure - several apartments for let, a few restaurants and cafes. It would make a nice base for a few days.
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The Church of Saint Geronimo, in Štrigova.
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An interesting finding in Štrigova that we haven’t seen elsewhere: a wine bottle bush. Right, Andrea?
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Andrea BrownAka Targetus practicum or in the vernacular, "out-to-the-gravel-pit".
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Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownHah, hah. Actually though, I think this is a staged display in front of a small winery beneath the church.
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Not sure of its complete scientific name, but it looks like genus Klavitetno.
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In Štrigova.
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Suzanne GibsonLooks like St. Florian, patron saint of firefighters.
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Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonThanks, Suzanne. I was meaning to research this. Surely must be right though. I wonder if he’s pouring water or wine on the blaze?
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In Štrigova.
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Going up again. Rachael is undaunted by the 18% grade warning at the bottom.
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Looking south west toward Ivanšćica (Ivanshcheatsa?).
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The view east, toward Slavonia.
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A curious roadside display. The GBO has been griping that he wants to see a bit of Croatia, so I thought I’d show him something a bit out of the ordinary.
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Jen GrumbyThere's our guy!

He looks very happy to be stretching out under the sun, checking out this most interesting collection.
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Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYes, but he’s getting a pretty warped idea of what this country is like. We’ll have to show him a vineyard or vista before long.
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In case you need ideas for what to do with your old Nokia collection.
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Oh, good. I was hoping to see another one of these before leaving the region. From a distance it looks like it could be prefab, so let’s have a closer look.
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Definitely hand-woven. I wonder how long it takes to create one of these?
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Over dinner on the park, we discuss the pros and cons of a possible itinerary change.  Rachael came across a description of Pivlice (Pivleesa) Lakes, a famous national park and one of the top sights in the country.  It does look like an amazing spot, but it’s a bit off-route. We had been thinking we might see it driving back to Zagreb to Split at the end of the tour, but now we’re also looking into whether we can get our suitcases shipped to Split and fly out from there instead.

So, we explore the possibilities for including Pivlice Lakes in our cycling route.  We’ll need to free up two days, find a plausible cycling route, make sure that accommodation is available, change some reservations; but we conclude that it’s all doable.  Back at the apartment we make all of the necessary changes, which takes up most of the evening.

We take our time walking back from the restaurant to our apartment, taking a last look around at this beautiful place radiant in the late-day light.  I doubt it’s like this normally, with the streets filled mostly with residents, families out strolling with their children and oldsters sitting around.  We’ve seen very few others who look like tourists - it feels like we’re seeing the place deep off-season, but with fine weather.

I suspect we haven’t seen the last of Varaždin.  It’s just across the border from Slovenia of course, another country we keep meaning to revisit.  So maybe some year, maybe in autumn after the tourists have gone home and the leaves have turned.  Another one for the wish list.

A last look, for now. We’d be happy to find ourselves back here again someday.
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At the foot of Grgur Ninski.
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Well, I’m already full but it’s such a small ice cream. Why not?
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Ride stats today: 46 miles, 1,900’; for the tour: 512 miles, 13,200’

Today's ride: 46 miles (74 km)
Total: 512 miles (824 km)

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Jen GrumbyPlitvice National Park looks incredible!!

Can't wait to see the posts about your visit there.
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2 weeks ago
Jen GrumbyAlso, too, love today's video! Beautiful ride and I think I only saw one (moving) motor vehicle.

Do you know what the structures to the right are at the end? Look too high to be for grapes and too low for hops.
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI think the structure is scaffolding for a protective netting covering an apple orchard - to keep the starlings away, presumably.
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2 weeks ago