To Lopar - Balkan Dreams - CycleBlaze

September 27, 2020

To Lopar

We have only a ten mile ride ahead of us today, and only eight tomorrow.    some explanation is in order.

We have a two night stay booked in Rab town, starting tomorrow night.  This is an uncancellable reservation we made long ago, when we first started planning this trip and thought that admission requirements to Croatia might require us to book and predeclare our entire itinerary.

Traveling from Cres town to Rab town requires two ferry crossings - one from Cres to Valbiska on Krk Island, and a second one from Valbiska to Lopar on Rab Island.  We have a spare day to spend somewhere, and have been waiting for more definition in the weather before deciding how to spend it.  The most natural would be to overnight in Krk town on Krk Island, and bike over there a bit.

Fortunately, we finally got around to looking again at ferry schedules a few days ago and saw that we had a problem.  On Monday, there are only two sailings from Krk to Rab.  One leaves at about eight in the morning, and the other at seven at night.  Neither is convenient, or even manageable.

The problem with the morning sailing: we would have to catch the 7 AM ferry from Cres to Krk in order to arrive in time to catch the ferry to Rab.  The Cres terminal is nine miles away, with a 1,200’ ridge in between here and there.  Sunrise is roughly at 7 now, so we’d be riding this entire ride, including a three mile, 8% climb, on a highway in the dark.  No, thank you.

The problem with the evening sailing: the ferry arrives in Lopar at about 8.  Beyond that, it is 8 miles to Rab town.  Sunset is at roughly 7 now, so we’d be riding the whole distance in the dark, on essentially the only paved road on the island.  No, thank you.

So, by default, we end up with the only reasonable plan.  We book an apartment in Lopar, a half mile from the Rab ferry terminal.  We’ll arrive at 8, but we can easily either ride or bike to our apartment depending on conditions when we arrive.

So, ten miles today, and eight tomorrow - plus any other additional miles we care to do that fit within that minimal framework.   We wake up this morning, look at the weather, and make decisions about the plan for the day.  The weather looks promising well into mid-afternoon, so it looks like a longer ride is possible.  We consider ride possibilities on Cres before heading down to the ferry, but decide the most flexible option is to catch the ten o’clock ferry to Krk, take an out and back ride there, and then catch the 4 PM ferry to Lopar.

With that settled, I eat a quick breakfast and then head over to the waterfront for coffee and some blog work.  I’ll come back about 8, and we’ll target 8:30 to depart for the ride to the ferry terminal.

It’s Sunday morning, and Cafe Bar Fortis isn’t open yet; although it looks like it could soon. Now what?
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Fortunately, Cafe Buris is right next door and is open. Looks like it’s an early morning hangout of the fishing crew.
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So, I’m back a bit after eight, as promised.  Things going as they usually do though, we don’t make it out the door until about 8:45.  We have a bit over an hour to climb a 1,200’ pass, bike 9.3 miles to the ferry terminal, buy tickets, and board.  Not much slack there.  Knowing who will be assigned blame if we miss the boat and have to sit around for 90 minutes waiting for the next one, I keep a strong pace to the top and whiz down the other side, arriving at the ticket office ten minutes before departure.  Plenty of time!  I watch anxiously for Rachael to come coasting around the final bend, which she does a minute later.

It didn’t seem prudent to stop for photographs, so I just biked through.  Fortunately, Rachael documented the descent for us:

Video sound track: Gnossiennes #1, by Erik Satie

The ferry is already in port waiting for us, as we knew it would be because a steady string of cars passed us going the other direction a few minutes ago, new arrivals on the island.
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Looking east across the bay, through the gap between Cres and Krk toward Rijeka. It’s grey and chilly over here, but it looks like fine weather is ahead.
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So, we make the ferry.  It’s a short run, just long enough for a cup of coffee and trip down the hall to the WC.  Surprisingly, it’s cold - the coldest day we’ve experienced since arriving in Croatia.  Rachael is actually shivering a bit.  We discuss our plan again, and look outside at weather that looks like it’s deteriorating and turning greyer than we’d been expecting, and change our plans.  We decide to scrap the planned ride on Krk and just catch the next ferry to Lopar, which leaves about an hour after this ferry arrives.

Parenthetically, we’re lucky to have this option.  The island ferries are starting the process of transitioning to their off season schedules, and today is the last day that this ferry runs midday until next spring.  Good timing, Team Anderson!

On board the ferry to Valbiska. It carries quite a bit of traffic, because once on Krk it’s an easy drive to the mainland by crossing the new Krk bridge. I’m sure everyone coming to Cres or its contiguous neighbor Lošinj uses this ferry rather than the one from Istria.
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We hang out in the cafe at Valbiska for an hour, warming ourselves up with tea and coffee, and then coast back down to the dock.  It’s a different experience this time: big ship, small cargo: 4 cars, 2 walk-ons, and two cyclists.  It’s no wonder that they’re cutting down the schedule.  I feel guilty thinking about how much diesel fuel is being burned for such a small passenger load.

Another virtually empty ferry.
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On the Lopar ferry.
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Looking across the tip of Rab to dramatic Velebit, the largest mountain range in Croatia. I’m surprised to see a bit of snow at the highest peaks. Later, we’ll hear from tonight’s host that this is new, the first snow of the season.
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Arriving at Lopar. This photo gives you a good snapshot of the island’s characteristics. Its seaward side is green, and its landward side is a steep, barren rocky slope.
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The Bike Fridays come to Lopar.
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Looking back at the Lopar ferry. Not much traffic going the other direction either, but with all these lanes it must be quite different in a normal high season.
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From the terminal, it’s a short half mile ride to our villa.  Lopar is split in two: half of the town is here on the ferry side, and the other half is a mile away, on the shore on the other side of a small, snout-shaped peninsula.  Our room is exactly in the middle, at the high point of our small rise, and close to precisely nothing.  For dinner we’ll walk down to the other side to a decent restaurant, keeping as dry as possible under an umbrella lent to us by our host.  Until then, we’ll stay in our room, keeping sheltered from the cold rain that started about a half hour after we arrived.  Good thing we scrapped our plans for that ride on Krk!

Keeping dry in Vila Sabbia.
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The perfect afternoon to dip into a good book.
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Ride stats today: 10 miles, 1,300’; for the tour: 1,231 miles, 56,900’

Today's ride: 10 miles (16 km)
Total: 1,235 miles (1,988 km)

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