Oct 17 – 19 (Venice)
The day after the Hostel DJ started out with a bit of panic. We told our friend Ben (Californian we met at the hostel) that he should come visit us in Greece for a bit and he told us he couldn’t because it would be going past his 90 day limit in the Schengen area.
We were never told that Americans had a limit to this section of Europe so we asked him what he meant and he told us that Americans are only allowed to stay in the Schengen area of Europe for 90 days out of 180 days. We looked it up and sure enough it was true.
So we had to cancel our Airbnb in Greece for the winter and figure out our next steps. So for that first day in the Anda hostel we were researching and trying to figure out what our options were to keep traveling in winter. We are currently still trying to figure it out, with a couple ideas in mind.
The next day however was a lot less stressful. We spent the day out with friends from the hostel. So the total group we went to the city with was Me, Henry, Jelle, Ben, Geo (another Californian) and Jack from Washington state. We met Geo and Jack at the hostel. They came up to us and asked if we wanted to play Blackjack and said yeah, then he dealt us five cards and left 3 cards in the box. He was a little confused but we corrected him. Then we all went out for dinner and smoothies on the island.
The last day in Venice we walked the island for a few hours then came back for a chill night in to figure out where we’d go next. We decided to take the train to Trieste for two reasons 1. To avoid rain and 2. To get closer to the border of the Schengen area since we were at day 80 out of 90 already. We got some advice from hostel room mates on where to go as well. He had 4 roommates over the time in the hostel, Max from Germany who worked in a company that sent him traveling the world, Alex from the US with dual citizenship in Germany, Yi Shen from Wuhan, China. And our shortest roommate was from Jordan and he left after about half an hour because I moved too much in bed.
We left the hostel after a tasty breakfast and headed to the train station to get our tickets to Trieste. We boarded the train just before 11am and got to Trieste around 2:30. I spent the train ride researching places we could spend the winter now that we didn’t have plans anymore.
We got to Trieste and biked to our Hostel near the train stop. Trieste was a beautiful city. It was my first time seeing the Mediterranean and it was jaw droppingly clear. The city is built on a mountain so the whole city overlooks the sea and you can see all the infrastructure from one point. It made for an amazing view but a horrible bike ride out of the city. Our hostel was right by the sea and had a balcony outside our room it reminded me a lot of our friends apartment in Brussels. Both places were at the top of buildings and had balconies overlooking the city.
Jelle, Henry and I went to a Kebab shop for one last Italian slice of pizza, and then we went up to the rooftop bar of the hostel for the rest of the evening. We watched cars 2 after the rooftop bar and then we went to bed.
I’m not sure if Trieste always has bad air quality, but when we were there it was awful. The bad air quality was especially bad because the first 7 km out of Trieste was an insanely steep hill. We had to take 4 breaks and walk twice. It wouldn’t have been too bad if the air quality was fine, but our lungs were burning the whole way up.
The rest of the day was mostly uphill and rainy. We were kind of dreading it because we had to go far to get out of the Schengen area and it was going to be hilly and rainy, but it ended up being a really nice day uphill in the rain. Jelle and I left first in the morning so it was just me and him for the majority of the day and William and Henry were behind us.
We crossed into Slovenia right when it started raining. We had to avoid big border crossing since Jelle wasn’t able to get a vaccine before leaving the Netherlands. So we crossed the border up a dirt backroad mountain.
After we crossed the border we got back onto the main road and stopped at a roadside cafe for some soup and coffee. I wish I could’ve stayed in Slovenia longer, but we had to get out of the Schengen area. So we crossed the small part of Slovenia in about an hour. I separated from Jelle at this point because I was going through the main border to get my passport stamped and he had to take a backroad.
I didn’t have any service in Croatia so I biked the rest of the day alone and met everyone at the hostel in Rijeka.
I was originally supposed to meet them at a cafe just off the border, but when I got there it was completely abandoned with an exploded pink limo in the parking lot. It was strange because there were signs for it for 50 miles or so and then when I got there it was unlocked and abandoned. A lot of the stuff here is only open in summer so it’s likely that was the case.
I got to the hostel about 5PM just when the rain was starting to get bad then I paid for a bed, made some dinner and waited for everyone to arrive. When I got WiFi I got messages from Jelle saying he couldn’t get across the border so he was wild camping tonight.
We stayed in Rijeka today to help Jelle find a place to get a COVID test so he could cross the border.
He tested Negative a few hours later and he was at the hostel by 5.
It was raining all day so we spent the day in the hostel and watched Die Hard. Our idea to watch it was inspired after seeing that there’s a Croatian energy drink sponsored by Bruce Willis called Hell Energy.
I woke up at 7 and did some research on ideas for the winter now that we couldn’t do Greece. At 11 we left and started riding down the semi mountainy Adriatic coast. It was insanely windy. At one point in the day we had such a heavy back wind that I went 40 km up a hill. Most of the time it was on our heads or sides and it blew us off the road a few times.
We stopped around two at a restaurant that overlooked a really pretty bay town. We hung out there for an hour and a half and then kept riding up and down the mountains. Towards the later afternoon we found an abandoned bunker at the top of a mountain. Me, Jelle and Henry explored the bunker and then came back out and biked down a huge mountain towards Senj. I saw a castle up on the hill which was only a couple minute ride off our route so I proposed we should go up and check it out. Sadly no one joined me, but I texted them when I got there and told them to come check it out. William and Jelle kept going because it was getting late and we still had a while to go, but Henry came up to me.
The castle was pretty cool, but it was closed so we just had to look inside.
When Henry and I left the castle we were only about 5 minutes behind William and Jelle, but we ended up getting to Senj a couple hours later than them.
We had 20 miles left to Senj from the castle. We stopped at a Lidl for a quick snack right before the sun set and then kept biking. We got to a mountain 15 miles before Senj and the wind was the strongest wind I’ve ever felt. We were being pushed into oncoming traffic so we had to stop and walk. We spent the last 30 minutes of sunlight trying to hitchhike in hopes that someone with a big trailer or something could fit our bikes. No one stopped and thus began Croatian Night Biking Volume One. We looked for a possible wild camp spot at the top of a mountain but couldn’t find anything so we turned on our lights and warm clothes and agreed to just go 2 miles to the closest town and find a hostel.
2 miles later…
Steep downhill into town and no hostels are open. Then all of the sudden I hear a metallic click on my wheels and notice that a piece in my front breaks had been broken somehow. So I replaced my breaks and we started on the last 10 miles to Senj.
Biking in the dark is pretty fun actually. Because it gets dark around 6 so you’re not tired yet, and there are less cars on the road. So the last 10 miles was just dark riding and talking until we finally arrived to the hostel William and Jelle had found.
We got there and we were pretty wiped out from fighting the wind all day so we picked up some food from the store and went to bed.
The next day we planned on going to Prizna and then cross onto the island of Pag in the morning. About halfway through the day we decided to cross the ferry and stay in Novalja that night instead.
A few miles into the day we stopped for lunch and the ended up spending an hour swimming in the sea. It was cold but it was so clear and deep that we could resist.
The terrain from Senj to Novalja basically just up a mountain for 15 miles then flat for a bit then down 15 miles. Those days are always fun. You ride up and get a beautiful view and then you get to ride down a mountain. This one was especially nice because we had finally gotten out of the wind and the view from the top of the mountains overlooked all the island in the sea and we could see all the towns we had gone through since Rijeka. Down the mountain was all the way to Prizna where we met the ferry and we were able to see the ferry crossing the water as we came down the mountain. The downhill was at 5 so the sun was setting and the whole landscape was lit up by the sunset.
We got the the ferry at the same time it docked, but they needed an hour to unload and reload. We ate hot dogs and ham and cheese sandwiches at the port restaurant until the ferry was ready.
When we were able to get onto the ferry we went to the top deck and looked down into the sea. You could see all the way down which if I had to guess was about 20 ft and you could see every detail of the bottom and all the fish. When the ferry started we got our warm clothes on and watched the sunset. When we got to the island it was dark and we had 10 miles left to get to Novalja. And thus began Croatian Night Biking Volume 2. We rode up a winding hill road which was famous for car commercials.
We got to Novalja at 7 and spent the night exploring the city center.
I left Novalja first so I could find a good swimming spot further down the road. I found a great spot right off a pier with a spot we could all dive off of with even deeper water than the last swim spot.
We spent 10 minutes total in the water and a few hours at the spot. The rest of the day was on backroads with the occasional town. The last town we stopped at served us a huge platter of meat. They served lamb from the farms we had biked past.
We had an Airbnb scheduled for the next week in Zadar so we could figure out our winter plans. We were also meeting up with our friend Ben from the hostel in Venice there.
After the meal we had 20 miles to Zadar so we split up. Henry and I went to Zadar but William and Jelle wild camped. We would’ve wild camped too but our tent was wet and needed to be aired out in Zadar.
So we got started on Croatian Night Biking Volume 3. We rode the last 20 miles as my light slowly died and then got to Zadar around 8PM.
The plan for the night was to chill in the hostel and get to bed at 10 or so. What ended up happening was getting back at 3am throughout that night we made good friends with a bartender named Stefan p, then we went to a outside dance floor where someone shattered a glass cup and got glass in my foot.
We woke up at 10am and I cleaned my bloody foot, then we walked to the Airbnb and waited for William and Jelle to show up.
They got here midday and we split into our rooms for a nap. We had an easy night in the Airbnb with some card games and explored our neighborhood.
Today was Bens birthday so we planned out a big birthday night. We started out with a fancy restaurant in Zadar. We got some steaks and pizzas and mussels.
When we left the restaurant we met s bunch of Dutch people and we took them all back to Stefan’s bar. After the bar we found a swim spot just outside of town for another day of swimming and then we went back home and hung out for a bit before bed.
Since we’re sleeping in beds now and don’t have to wake up to bike we slept in nice and late. We all went down to the city center at 1 to explore the town. The city center of Zadar is a small part on the water with lots of old ruins, shops, boats and tourists attractions. Also a Godfather themed restaurant called Al Padrino.
When we got back to the Airbnb in the evening we finished the Cars Trilogy, played some card games and then went to bed.
Our Winter Plans
Henry, William and I are all going to split up in about a week.
William is going to take a ferry from Split to Rome and then train around Europe until January when he’ll go home with his Mom.
Henry is going to visit a friend in La Rochelle where he’ll leave his bike and then go home for the winter to work. After the winter he’s planning on coming back to Europe to meet me snd keep riding.
My plan is to keep going south to Albania and then fly to a spot in the Southern Hemisphere to bike where it’s going to be warm. Then in the spring I’ll return to Europe and start towards Asia.