Friday, September 05, 2008

A Month in Europe

Day 346
Cres to Labin
Time: 4:31:00
Distance: 54.0
Avg Speed: 11.9
Terrain: Hills!
Location: N 45˚ 06’ 10.1”, E 14˚ 06’ 51.6”

It’s day 31 on the road; my toenail polish is almost gone, my skin is getting quite dark, and I’ve learned how to say “hello” and “thank you” in four different languages. I’m in Europe and I’m lovin’ it.

The first month on the final leg of our journey has been a lot different than the first month in New Zealand. However, we would never be here if we hadn’t gone there. I thought I might share the difference in distance traveled, average kilometers per day, etc. Really, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. The biggest difference now is that we have become accustomed to all aspects of the road.

Today was a pretty hard day. We started with a 15 kilometer, granny gear climb. Thankfully the views were spectacular and I was easily distracted. One thing I couldn’t take was the heat and humidity so I too adopted the Euro way. No, I didn’t go topless, I just decided my swimsuit top was the best option for the ride. Besides, I have some tan lines to even out.
The ascent topped out at 430m (starting from sea level) and then began a circuitous path down the opposite side of the island. We were headed for the ferry dock and the crossover to the Istria Penninsula. We knew we were going to repeat the uphill on the other side but didn’t put much thought into how bad it could be. The goal was to be up at the main highway before the next ferry crossed. I think it was close, but we made it despite the 20% grade. It didn’t start out too bad but finished as one of the steepest sections of road we have encountered. I guess it’s all training – we still have the Alps ahead of us.
We found ourselves an apartment for the night. The host is a really wonderful lady. She speaks absolutely no English but talked to us like we were fluent in Croatian. She never once got frustrated with us as we gave her several puzzled looks as she rattled off this and that. She called her daughter a few times for various translations; otherwise we worked it out between the three of us. Chris remarked recently about our new skill set of non-verbal communication. We were definitely using it this afternoon. Apparently, most guesthouses charge extra for stays of just one night. We hadn’t run into this before and were prepared to leave and make the journey to the campground. I guess she decided it was better to rent the place for one night rather than not rent it at all because she waived the extra fee. We gave her our passports and as she signed us in she began a new conversation (of which was spoken in Croatian). I paid close attention and noticed that she was pointing to an entry from Canada. As I listened I realized that two bicycle tourists from Edmonton had passed through just a week ago. I also realized that she was trying to tell me how funny she thought it was that two sets of people on bikes had stayed here in just the last week. Maybe I have learned a little Croatian after all.


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