Day 55. Wednesday 25 July 1984.
Karlovac, Croatia. 100km. Total 3165km.
During the night I get up, walk along the lighted path between the fir trees and mist. The toilets are a cosy haven in the blurred night. A Narnia.
The mist is still here in the morning and we cycle through its shiftings, sometimes rising above it to look down as from an aircraft on cauliflower clouds. We eat a bread and honey breakfast looking down onto such a valleyful of mists. The countryside is clean and beautiful, like Dad’s fantasy of rolling green flower meadowed mountains, log cabins, wood stacked everywhere, pine forests.
Buying food is awkward, the shops seeming to offer very little for us. As the sun warms up we find a path leading off the road to a steep thyme scented field where we eat. Later, the roads become busier with lorries, the sun hotter, the land switchbacking. There is a stand –up snack bar, glassy gloss, mirrors, coaches of people.
When we realise we are in good time to make it to Karlovac, we stop for a rest, in a meadow beside a river. Slow fish in bright water, weed streaming out seawards, dragonflies, bronze and gold spiders grasping green crickets.
Karlovac has quiet streets, several churches, a sleepy fruit market and a friendly bar. We find the site by asking locally; a woman is called who speaks good German, the language of exchange, although it is important to establish that although you may speak German you are actually English.
The site is grassy beside the same big flat river glistening with mosquito rings and horse chestnut shadows. Cold showers, big muddy foot prints appear on the sleeping bags while we are away washing.
A sumptuous supper, during which three Swedes introduce themselves, who are cycling trough France, over the mountains through Italy, and one of them, the most articulate, plans to go on to Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. He is charming, and enigmatic, widely travelled, and seemingly modest. They had come up from the coast, like us, but on a narrow mountain road with no surface, of 20% gradient and had to carry the cycles for 6 kilometres. They give us a few tips, – try looking for maps in petrol stations, and tourist offices, and that eating in restaurants is cheap.
At the bar, I try slivovich in coffee.. Good