Total to date: 2750km : Today 56km : 420m of climbing
Today almost started with a disaster. As we left the cool pansion at 6.45am with its air conditioned room Bernie noticed her stand was not working (that is her bike stand rather than her positional posture). We stopped, I unhitched the trailer and fiddled with it until it was working ok. We then pressed on out of town. A couple of kilometres later I suddenly shouted “Where’s your trailer?” which, with hindsight, was a monumentally stupid remark.
I knew exactly where it was or at least had been 10 minutes before. Bernie cycled back like a bat out of hell – praying to every known deity to seek assurance that the trailer was still there. It was of course because all of the bicycle trailer thieves in Pag Town were still sleeping off their hangovers after a successful day’s thieving the day before (or more likely there were simply no other bike trailers on the whole of the island).
Relieved we retraced our steps and ambled out of town. It was flat, cool and the road was quiet (for a bit at least). We cycled past abandoned salt flats – originally Pag’s main industry. It was later undercut in price by imported salt, I like to think the Siberian salt mines started work and exported to the world. However abandoned salt flats were erie in the early morning light.
We only had a short day but stopped for coffee at about 8.30am at a busy cafe. Croatian men get up early to get down to the serious business of putting the world to rights in the cafe. We asked for food and the waiter looked bemused. He explained in a voice that was reserved for particularly stupid 3 year olds and tourists that it was 8.30am and so the kitchen was not open.This seems common here – coffee but no food in the morning. So be it. We pressed on and later stopped for a banana to keep us going.
The last 20km into Zadar were rolling hills – that seemed to roll up more than down as the temperature rose but we rolled into town (creating the usual mini traffic jam as cars could not pass us) about 11.30. First stop was a bike shop to mend Bernie’s stand – once and for all. A new bolt was needed so I went to a brilliant hardware store where there were rack upon rack of individual items. B & Q eat your heart out – this was a real hardware store where I could buy a single bolt, not just a pack of 10 in slightly the wrong size.
Bolt inserted, stand fixed and we went to find our accommodation – only to discover that it does not exist! We had booked an apartment the day before but it wasn’t at the address give and the phone number provided just rang and rang. That will teach us for booking somewhere with no reviews. There was a marked shortage of other accommodation but eventually a totally mad landlady who spoke much worse English than she believed but made up for it in “mad Blackpool landlady” gestures, rented us a room in the old town for an exorbitant price.
We slept, recuperated and then went to explore. Zadar is a real city but it also has an ancient centre which attracts the tourists. An artist has installed a totally zany but brilliant “Sea Organ” which is a series of pipes under the promenade where air is forced through pipes by the waves of the sea and gives off organ music. I suppose if we waited long enough it would play the whole of Saint Saens’ 3rd Organ Concerto but we did not have a few millennia to wait to find out. However the eerie music was mesmerising and rather beautiful, especially when we returned in the evening.
The other “art installation” of note is nearby and is zany but equally fascinating “Greeting of the Sun” which has 300 plates of glass connected to photo-voltaic plates. It looks kind of funny during the day but lights up at night. We came back later in the evening and it was really atmospheric.
No Croatian city is complete without a few old churches and Zadar is no different. We saw the Cathedral of St Anastasia (complete with her bones and other assorted relics – big trade in relics) and St Donat’s church – now not used as a church but a lovely old building.
A swim in the sea seemed a good idea and then a stroll, evening meal and bed. Half a day off the bikes and we seemed better already.