To Mošćenička Draga - Balkan Dreams - CycleBlaze

September 22, 2020

To Mošćenička Draga

Last night

After much anguish, reconsideration and gnashing of teeth, Team Anderson decides to change its plans.  Our plan for tomorrow was to bicycle to Cres, but we’re fearful of the threatened rain and thunderstorms.  It looks like we’re due to get wet, possibly completely soaked, and the idea of a twenty mile ride along the exposed, mountainous spine of Cres Island in a thunderstorm sounded like more than we care to take on.  In our experience, thunderstorms in the Balkans are no joke.   The fireworks and deluge from our night in Dubrovnik  two years ago is still vivid in our minds.

So, we look at the map to look for an easier destination that keeps our options open.  Looking at the map, we stumble across Mošćenička Draga, a seaside town a few miles this side of Opatija.  A much shorter and easier ride, and a destination that gives us options: it’s not far past the Cres ferry, so we can bike from there to Cres if conditions improve in a few days; or we can bike forward to Rijeka if they don’t, and maybe bike across the bridge to Krk or catch a bus or taxi somewhere if it still looks miserable out.

We don’t know thing one about Mošćenička Draga (even though we biked through it on the way to Labin last week), other than that the location is right and it has lodging and restaurants.  Expecting to get wet in the morning, we carefully pack for rain and then call it  a night.  We’ll wake up early in the morning, scope out the weather, and pick the best window we see - even if it means foregoing the nice included breakfast at our hotel.

Today’s ride

We’re elated when we wake up this morning and see that the foul weather has pushed out.  It looks like there’s a trough of dry skies running north up the coast that’s predicted to last until about noon.  It looks wet to the south and inland, and wet over Cres; but going our way, straight north, it looks better than we have any right to expect.

With only a fairly easy 20 miles ahead of us, we have time for breakfast.  We’re down to the restaurant when it opens at seven; and an omelet, a croissant, coffee, a variety of meats, cheeses and fruits later, we’re back in the room packing up to go. I consider patching the flat, but we decide against it in the interests of getting up the coast faster.  If we flatten, we flatten.  It’s not going to rain anyway, the Weather Channel has promised.

We’re out the door by 8:30, heading north under calm, dry skies with a bit of a tailwind.  Ideal conditions, considering.

Leaving Labin, likely for the last time. I doubt we’d decide to bike up this hill a fourth time, but life is full of surprises.
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We were sorry to have changed our plans, but for today at least it all works out like a dream.  Definitely Type I Fun.  The ride is short but fantastic, one of the best of the tour. I can honestly say that I’m glad we were pushed into this decision because the ride is so enjoyable.  We rode and enjoyed this stretch just last week but going north, with the water on the right, and the road dropping sharply just a few feet from your pedals it is really amazing.   This is a bit of coastline I could happily ride again and again, but it’s an especially delicious experience when we had been expecting to get wet.  It doesn’t hurt our appreciation either to look off to the right and see the storm clouds over Cres.

Dropping toward Plomin Bay, colorfully blanketed in fog this morning. We’re wondering if we should be fishing out the lights, but we bottom out just above the fog line.
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Probably as scenic a view of the Plomin chimney as we’re likely to get.
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The mouth of Plomin Bay, with the island of Cres beyond.
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Looking back, we see that the fog has almost completely dissipated in the last twenty minutes.
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Looking south across Plomin Bay along the east coast of the Istrian Peninsula.
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The Cres ferry. If we’d kept to plan and decided to go to Cres today, we’d have gotten an earlier start and been on that sailing.
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It looks a little gloomy over Cres this morning, and we’re just as glad we’re not headed that way. Still, it might have worked out if we hadn’t already committed ourselves to a new plan.
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One great thing about our new plan is that we get to ride this awesome stretch of coastline again. It was good the other way, but going north and downhill with the water on your right, it’s amazing.
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The view north along the coast. The coastal village to the right is our destination today, Mošćenička Draga. Above it on the crown of a ridge is the ancient historical town that predates it, Mošćenice.
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We could happily ride this coastline all day long - or until the rains arrive, at least.
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Video sound track: Mambo Sonambulero, by Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban 

And, we’re happy with this turn of events because Mošćenička Draga proves to be such a delightful little fishing village once we arrive.  Beautiful, full of character, quiet, perfect.  And our apartment for the next two nights is perfect too.  We’re tucked up inside a tight warren of interconnected structures just above the fish market, just yards from the waterfront.  We access our unit through a twisted set of concrete stairs to the south, or another one to the east, or yet a third one to the west.  It takes a bit to orient ourselves, but once we do it’s a fun place to walk home to.  The unit itself is brilliant - modern, large, airy, fully equipped, another place we could really live in for an extended stay.

And, the host is amazing too.  She greets us at the post office, shows us our quarters, and then walks us to her garage a few hundred yards away where we can leave our bikes.  Oh, and by the way: there are two beers in the refrigerator, and a plate of excellent apple cake on the counter.

We have mixed feelings about all of this.  It would be great if the weather improves and we can continue on to Cres  in two days.  If they don’t though, there could be much worse places to sit it out for longer.  There are several attractive restaurants on the waterfront, and several interesting hiking paths to explore during breaks in the weather.  A week here would be just fine, really.

Mošćenička Draga, our home for the next two nights. Looks OK.
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Jen GrumbyWhat a beautiful place!

This reminds me of Port Wenn in the BBC Doc Martin series.

Did you ever see it?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYes, it really is a beautiful spot. Going the other direction the first time, we really couldn’t see it at all. The highway stays above, and it’s only visible after you’ve passed it.

And no, I never saw or even heard of that series. Should we look into it?
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyDefinitely! It's hilarious.

We streamed it through Hoopla.
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1 month ago
On the waterfront. Mošćenička Draga looks like an ideal spot to hang out and watch the storms roll in.
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Focused on an unsuspecting pigeon.
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That one got away, but what else is around?
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First things first when arriving in a new town. Let’s do the menu crawl.
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Our new old friend, the hooded crow.
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Jen GrumbyThat's a handsome bird!

Same call as the crows back home?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI cawn’t say.
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1 month ago
Looking across the harbor to gloomy Cres. That storm is moving our way.
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A few sunbathers are out, aking advantage of the last bit of sun before it disappears. I’ve seen photos of this beach on normal years, and it’s packed solid.
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The pebble beach at Mošćenička Draga features a lot of legless gulls lying around like stones.
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Jen GrumbyDon't tell McDonald's. Their boneless McRib sandwich is a little out-dated.

They might see this and try to create a new Legless Seagull Drumsticks product.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI’m surprised to see so many of them. With all the cats around, you think they’d have been made short work of by now. I wonder how they manage to propagate?
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1 month ago
Ten minutes later the first drops fall and all the sun bathers hurriedly exit the stage.
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The gulls don’t mind though.
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Looking across the bay from our table at dinner. For one brief, shining moment Rijeka is aglow under a hole in the sky.
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Looking east, toward the island of Krk out there in the gloom somewhere.
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Looking at her meal, Rachael has misgivings about her choice this evening. She’s never been sure about how to eat these things.
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Will these dentist’s implements be helpful? Our server suggests not. They’re required to offer them, but they’re really just for show. She says Rachael should just use her hands.
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Ride stats today: 21 miles, 900’; for the tour: 1,193 miles, 53,000’

Today's ride: 21 miles (34 km)
Total: 1,197 miles (1,926 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 2
Lyle McLeodOoooh, it does look amazing, in all respects! We really short changed the whole Istrian peninsula with our meagre 48 hours in 2017. We’ll have to come back and follow some of your bread crumbs 🚴‍♀️ . Hope the weather holds out for you. If it doesn’t it looks like you have a great place to hunker down.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Lyle McLeodIt’s pretty wonderful, alright. A great place to drag your feet and get mired in for a while. Highly recommended.
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1 month ago