Got up fairly early – had a pretty good sleep. Went to shower at 6:30, but apparently no hot water until 8. Did yoga while I waited, and researched campsites near Split.
Had a nice hot shower (well, a mix of almost scalding then barely warm – no in between). Just finished a bit to eat (what I’d brought with me) when Dom face-timed me. Nice to see a friendly face, someone that’s not trying to scam me for something.
Checked out before 10:30 and headed for the bus station – only a few blocks away. Was now told that they couldn’t sell me a ticket until 15 minutes before any bus leaves because they might not have room for my bike. First bus to Split leaves at 1:45 (gets in at 11:50- pm) – I’m to come back around 1:20 or so. If that one doesn’t have room, I will try the 4:15 to Rovinj, which is much closer and gets in around 6 this evening. It’s on the Istrian peninsula, which is supposed to be nice, but can be hilly so might not get to do as much riding around. Sue will be there for 3 days, though, so would likely get a better visit. Failing that bus there’s the 6:15 to Split (that I missed yesterday), getting there at 4 tomorrow morning. I’m going to try my luck on the first one and see what happens.
Sat on a bench in the park across the road from the station – some guys sat next to me that I think were making drug deals. Went to an Arab market/store to get some cheese, buns and water. Had a picnic on a bench in a different park waiting to see if I can get on the 1:45 to Split.
Lots of pigeons and a seagull begging for food – didn’t give them any as bread isn’t good for them (although I don’t think they care about that). Some guy came up to me asking for money for the bus – gave him 1 euro, although he’s likely just another scammer. Maybe the gesture will bring me good luck for my kindness and generosity (ha ha).
Went back to the bus station shortly after 1:00 – a different girl said ‘oh, you don’t have to wait, that bus isn’t even half full – you can get your ticket now. Look for the bus that has AutoTrans on the side – should be in bay 1’. Waited around a short bit, then went to the bus bay. No bus in bay 1, then an AutoTrans bus pulled in and went straight ahead next the the sidewalk marked ‘bus’. Waited a few more minutes – still no bus in bay 1, so walked up to the driver of the AutoTrans bus and asked if he was going to Split – of course he was! Wasn’t sure what he wanted as far as the panniers on the bike, and when I asked a man if he spoke English (to try to translate for us) he said ‘a bit’, and walked away. The driver opened up a new storage thing for me and I took the panniers off – think it irritated him as I heard him say something about ‘blankety-blank tourists’ to another guy. I kind of started to cry and then I think he felt a bit sorry for me. He handed me one of the small panniers and indicated I should take it on the bus and stow it. The bike cost 12 euros extra and each pannier another 2, although all together with the ticket itself is wasn’t really that much. Got on the bus head down and sniffling, got into the first empty seat I could find – 3 rows back.
The drive to the Slovenian. border didn’t take long – I saw a small building with one policeman/guard at it and thought – was that just the border? Apparently it was, as the next thing I saw was a sign in Slovenian.
Very pretty here – kind of like parts of Italy (of course) – hills with lots of trees. The border to Croatia was much different than the last – we stopped and a guy came onboard and collected passports from everyone that wasn’t European – myself and one other couple.
There were two booths in each lane, one right in front of the other. Our passports were taken first to the front booth, where the lady looked at them, in between letting other vehicles thru, then gave them to the guard, who turned around and gave them to the guy in the rear booth. He also looked and looked (and passed other vehicles thru), then stamped each and gave them back to the guard, who again turned around and returned them to the lady in the front booth. She now looked and looked again, stamped each, and finally we got them back. Looked inside mine and saw that the rear booth-guy stamped ‘exited Slovenia’ with the date on page 6 of the passport, while the front-booth lady had stamped ‘entered Croatia’ with the date on page 28 (entering Italy with the date was on page 29). I guess I’m not on any threat lists (at least not yet!).
Continued on the ‘milk run’, bypassing most of the Istrian peninsula, but following the coast very closely and stopping at all towns of any size, plus various places in between. People would go up to the drivers (they had 2 who took turns) and say – I want off in 1 km or something and they would pull over where ever they were asked. Changed to a window seat when one lady got off.
Had a couple of breaks – first one was supposed to be 20 minutes – ended up more like 45, but time to use the WC, change some euros to kunas (about 7.5 kunas per euro = about 5 kunas per C$). Bot a donair – it was so huge I couldn’t believe it, and so was the price – 25 K! Except when I worked it out it was just under $5, so had to laugh.
Terrain now is more like Greece – rocky hills with smaller, scrubbier trees, but still very pretty, with villages every 5 miles or so.
After it got dark and the bus was a little more empty I tried to sleep a bit. Got into Split over an hour early – drivers were impatient to get everyone off so had to really hustle to get my bike and gear out of the bottom compartment. Was just finishing getting it all together when a guy walks up and asks if I need help, or a hotel – surprise, surprise, another scammer. I said no, I was going to ride to a campsite and he did his best to talk me out of it. ‘It’s a really nice place, and cheap – only 40 euros’ – I asked how much money he wanted from me and he looked a bit offended and said ‘no commitment until you see the place, then whatever you think’. I still said no (very politely) and pushed my bike further up the sidewalk to get directions from a cafe to the route I had picked online earlier at the hostel in Trieste – supposed to be 7 km. The girls there said it was over 20 km to the campsite and would take me at least an hour – it must have been around 11:15 pm by then. They did point me in the right direction, and I was just about ready to start riding when the first guy came running up again, trying mightily to make me come with him to see the ‘great hotel, at cheap price’ that only he could show me. When I still refused and insisted that I was going to ride he looked very pissed off and huffed away muttering to the other scammer that was with him. I am so tired of folks like that!!
Rode a bit, asked a guy at a cafe if I was headed for the right road – got more directions. Ended up on the wrong road anyway, but when I stopped another fellow (who spoke very good English) he gave me more clear directions – I was headed the right way, just on a different road. The roads I wanted to take were very small and up and down hills, so ended up taking the highway for a couple of km – nothing is marked that well, so went right past the campsite entrance and had to turn back after asking a very nice lady for help.
Finally arrived at the campground around midnight – some motorcycle folks in leather were just walking out (likely to the bar I had passed) and a campground guy was right there also. The office was closed, but he took my care-card as ID and led me to the tenting area – I can check-in in the morning.
Got my tent setup near the beach using the headlamp of my bike – got settled in just before 1:00 am. Very windy – as I was setting the tent up I had to quickly throw a couple of panniers in it to prevent it from blowing away.