Day 3: 64km and 829m of climbing: Total distance: 2438km
The first 10km was, of course, a glorious decent into Trieste. All that climbing disappeared in virtually no time as gravity worked its wonders.
It is fair to say that this city has not got the greatest writeup in the Guide Book.It was the centre of Italian Fascism in the 20s and 30s and had the only Italian concentration camp. Joyce lived here in the period before the First World War and wrote most of Ulysses here. Apart from that it does not a great deal to recommend it.
The city plaza is reminiscent of Innsbruk, which is hardly surprising as this was the port of the Austro-Hungarian empire before WW1. During the Austro-Hungarian empire’s control the city thrived but it remained deeply Italian and the locals wanted unification with the rest of Italy. They got their wish after WW1 as a result of the peace treaty but then irony struck. It became part of Italy and the rot set in because Trieste needed to be in Italy more than Italy needed Trieste. To be fair it is picking up and has something of a small historical centre, but the cathedral was not jaw dropping. I found that I left the bike cable there when we unlocked the bikes after being underwhelmed but that was our fault – not Trieste’s but I will blame Trieste nonetheless.
The part south of the city was complicated by the fact that all signs to Slovenia took us on the motorway, and thus we had several false starts in getting out of the city. Getting in and out of cities on a bike is never easy and always frustrating.
We struggled on, ignorant of the later discovered loss of the lock (and the gismo for putting up photos onto the site and hence we will be photoless for a few days). The road out of the city was confusing and then we found a bike path to Slovenia, along with a Canadian cycling couple on the way to Athens, and then appeared to be going no faster than us – which take some doing. The plan was to cross the Istrian peninsular but by now it was hot – very hot – and we were not yet used to the heat. We climbed up the 625 road through Sv Anton and stopped for lunch in a lay by – how British – because me head was pulsating and I just had to stop. Feeling better with dry bread, ham and cheese we pressed on and up. It might not seem much to say it topped out at 375m but this was the hottest part of the day on the final few km was 15%, which is energy sapping at the best of time.
Summitting at the top was not end of the climb but was a glorious view, looking back to Kotar which is the sole Slovenian port. We went on, got water and directions from locals who were, of course friendly, helpful and incredulous in equal measures. The landscape reminded me of California – well off,arid but hauntingly beautiful. The Istrian coast is a playground but the internal parts are quiet and heavily agricultural.
Then down to the crossing to Croatia and out of the Euro. Buzet is a hill top fortified town which was running its own film festival. The word “hill top” gives a clue to the effort needed to get to the town but it was worth it. We found an excellent little hotel amongst the shaded streets and had a lovely evening meal overlooking the stunning countryside (photos to follow when new photo transfer gismo purchased (hopefully later today).
The main feature of the film festival was the UK film Pride with Croatian sub-titles. What they made of the Lesbians and Gays support the Miners is not recorded for history but there is hope. Lovely hotel but knackered. Only 63km, 827m of climbing and more tomorrow. But this is a stunning place (as you can see when we buy a new gismo)!