Day 4: Buzet to Medveja (near Opatija)

Total distance to date: 2514km:  Today:  76km and 870m of climbing

We both had a solid sleep in spite of our window overlooking the only bar in the old town. Buzet specialises in Truffles – I’ve never quite known what they are – expensive fungi along the lines of caviar (sort of cocaine for people who like mushrooms) when you try it you can’t quite see what the fuss is about. However my white bean, fig and black truffle soup from the night before was delicious and I was still savouring the taste as we set off.

We had woken to cloud in the valley but that quickly burnt off. We climbed, and climbed and climbed and were soon looking down on Buzet set in stunning scenery. Eventually topped out after 340m climbing – a 1000ft climb always a good start to the day but at least it was before it was too hot. We had 2 possible routes from there – a short route over the mountains or longer route down a valley then doubling back along the coast. One glance up at the mountain route had us turning right and down the valley! David’s navigation (aka good luck) took us down a beautiful little side road, still through great scenery and a charming old village. Down at the valley floor we hit a main road – a few lorries but otherwise pretty empty and mostly gradually down hill. It was getting hot, legs were getting tired after 38km and we were due a stop when miraculously in a fairly barren landscape now we hit a little town with a roadside cafe. We revived in the shade with coffee and bananas. Just as well because we were down at 20m above seal level and assumed that it would amble at that level around to the coast but we were wrong.

We climbed….and climbed…and climbed again. The gradient wasn’t too bad and as we turned round the end of the mountain ridge towards the coast we started to get a bit of a breeze. Finally at the top we reached the sea – and a restaurant with spectacular views each way along the coast 250m below, and over to the island of Cres. This time revived with a delicious seafood Pizza. Our original plan was to get the ferry over to Cres and ferry the other end down to Zadar but had found the ferry fully booked so changed had changed our plans to continue along the coast. Wow, so glad we did because then had one of my top 5 descents of all time. We were 250m above the sea and first swooped down then a long long gradual descent, long views over the adriatic, little coves far down below, sunshine, a cooling sea breeze and respectful drivers.

Finally down to sea level and we passed through pretty seaside villages. Although only 3.30 it was too good to pass through and we stopped at a campsite in the village of Medveja. We found ourselves a lovely spot right at the far end, under a tree and below the wooded and rocky hillside. Having set up our camp we swam in sea in the pretty cove in the late afternoon sun, bliss for tired legs, then sat under our tree reading. David has insisted on trying to read something “improving” and so has nearly finished “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad. He insists it is worthwhile but looks pretty gaunt each time he finishes a section.

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Now sitting in a bar overlooking the sea drinking a Mojito. It’s a hard life this cycling lark!

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