To Krapina - Balkan Dreams - CycleBlaze

August 25, 2020

To Krapina

It’s moving day!  After five nights in Zagreb we’re finally ready to mobilize.  We’re happy to have gotten such a good look at the city, but we’re getting antsy to move.  We have never spent so long in one spot at the beginning of a tour.

We have a fairly short ride today and can’t check in at our lodging until 3, so we take our time getting started.  After leaving our suitcases behind at the hotel for the next two months, we finally leave the hotel about ten and start biking west out of the city.

Twelve miles and nearly two hours later, it feels like we are finally leaving the city behind.  Leaving Zagreb to the west is much more difficult than the other directions - at least following the route I picked out.  The city sprawls further in this direction, and is much less bike friendly.  Later, over dinner, I asked Rachael to describe this part of the day’s ride.  Awful.  Terrible.  Dangerous.  Scary.  Also, very slow.

We don’t expect to pass any bakeries or well stocked groceries today so we stop to pick up sandwiches for lunch before leaving town.
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We were disappointed to come to this subterranean railroad passage and were just preparing to unload our bikes to haul them down the stairs (not these - there’s a separate access around the corner) when a kindly young lady pointed out the elevator. It’s great traveling in a country where nearly everyone speaks a bit of English!
Heart 3 Comment 1
Kathleen ClassenThis brought back such a funny memory for me. Keith manfully carrying his bike down the stairs in Germany and coming back up for mine, when the kindly bus driver hopped out of his bus and suggested we use the lift. Which was right there in plain sight...but we hadn’t seen it. We laughed so hard. The bus driver must have thought we were world’s most unobservant tourists!
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4 weeks ago
Slow traveling at its best: a very slow elevator, sized for one; wait for it to finally resurface so the other party can descend; repeat at the other end of the passage. It must have taken us ten minutes. Carrying the bikes would have been faster.
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So we’re on the other side of the tracks, but for no obvious reason are crossing them again almost immediately. Even slower than the elevator: this quite long train arrives just as we do, proceeds a few hundred yards, and then stops. Five minutes later it backs up and we’re on the move again.
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Finally, two hours later, we leave the congestion, traffic and highways behind.  The rest of the ride is really very nice, getting better by the mile as we work our way north into Zagorje, the county northwest of Zagreb along the Slovenian border.  As we move north the terrain becomes increasingly complex.  Our route remains flattish as we follow the narrow valley of the Krapinica River, but all around us the land is starting to swell up.

Toward the end of the ride we come to the only real challenge of the day - a short, steep climb over a narrow ridge.  We only gain about 200 feet, but they’re all painful; and mostly gained by pushing our bikes up.  We earn a dramatic view though, and a swift descent down the other side.

We arrive in Krapina about 2:30, and find an open cafe near our room to enjoy a drink and ice cream until it’s time to call our host Maya to meet us at the room.  We’re staying at an apartment here, quite a change of pace from our last five nights in a four star hotel with a big spread for breakfast each morning.  This will become the norm though.  We are staying almost exclusively in apartments on this tour, and won’t stay in an actual hotel again for nearly three weeks.

Maya’s place, the Lavandra Apartment, is very comfortable and has a stylish decor, with purple and lavender everywhere you look.  A separate bedroom, a full kitchen, there’s even a washer and drying rack.  It feels like an excellent deal at roughly 350 kuna/night (about $55), but the rate is pretty standard.  Most of our lodgings will be roughly this expensive.  

We’ll be staying here three nights, so we can take day rides into the surrounding hills.  Soon after we check in, Rachael walks to the grocery store just two blocks away to provision our stay here.  Later, we walk along the road for a half mile to the commercial center where we stop in at Manna Mia’s pizzeria for dinner.

Our walk back to the room is very pleasant.  Instead of following the road road we walked along a path along the edge of the Krapinica, enjoying the slow-moving creek with its ducks and small breakwaters, families in the parks and playgrounds, and the rows of stately trees lining the bankS.  It feels great to be out of the city again.

Fifteen miles into the ride, we finally find ourselves on quiet roads. From here on out the ride keeps getting better.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Oho! A Croatian sidewalk lizard, I believe. Right, Dr, Bill?
Heart 5 Comment 2
Bill ShaneyfeltDr? Yeah, that was once a dream of mine!

I think you have found a common wall lizard. I have found them in the Cincinnati area myself, maybe 20 years ago and was surprised to find they are invasive here in southern Ohio, in that area.

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/55990-Podarcis-muralis/browse_photos

https://www.uc.edu/lizards/Wall_Lizard_History.html
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4 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltA wall lizard? On the sidewalk? I wonder if it fell off and can’t get back up? Poor thing. No wonder it looks a bit forelorn.
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4 weeks ago
I’m not sure, but I think we’re looking here at the back side of Medvednica, the mountain north of Zagreb.
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For the next fifteen miles we generally follow the Krapinica River northward through a series of small villages.
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Video sound track: Sreca (happiness), by Philip Disdar

Entering Žejinci.
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Mystery plant of the day.
Heart 2 Comment 2
Andrea BrownThis is lythrum, or loosestrife, a noxious weed in parts of the states, but I have to admit I kind of like it and have left one to grow in my yard.
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4 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownOnly one? It must get lonely. They look like they prefer the company of their own kind.
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4 weeks ago
Continuing north along the Krapinica, the countryside grows prettier with every mile as we work our way into the hills.
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Svaljkovic, of course.
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It’s been a generally easy ride today, with no serious climbing - until now, just before town. Suddenly we’re looking at a short, super steep little climb that convinces us that it would be a nice day for a walk.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Much nicer dropping off the other side. We’ll enjoy exploring the Zagorje without panniers over the next two days.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Dropping back down to the Krapinica River. Our destination, Krapina, is just around the corner.
Heart 3 Comment 2
Jen GrumbyOh! A beckoning road!
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYup. Biker magnets, we call them. You always wonder if there’s a medieval monster with its jaws wide open waiting at the end.
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3 weeks ago
The living room of Lavandra Apartment, our home for the next three nights.
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The kitchen and entryway, Lavandra Apartment. You’ll note the apartment has a color theme.
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Krapina’s commercial center is a bit more relaxed than central Zagreb. A nice change of pace.
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Saint Nicolas Parish Church, Krapina.
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Walking back to our room along the Krapinica River.
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The Krapinica splits the town lengthwise, a long ribbon greenbelt with a walking path beside it. It gives the town a special, relaxing character.
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Ride stats today: 39 miles, 1,200’; for the tour: 157 miles, 2,800’

Today's ride: 39 miles (63 km)
Total: 157 miles (253 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 10
Comment on this entry Comment 2
Jen GrumbyKrapina looks beautiful! And what a great price for the lodging.

Did you book the apartment there (and others to follow) through Airbnb?
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyNope, not AirBnB. Other than the hotel in Zagreb that we booked with directly, we’ve used Booking.com for everything. Over here, apartments are often listed on Booking, and many of them also list on AirBnB. We find Booking much easier to work with, especially if you anticipate occasional changes of plans.
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3 weeks ago