Friday 27 July Blejski Kot, near Sisak. Yugoslavia.
111km. Total 3276km.
The day begins in country that reminds me of Italy’s Po Valley, but feels more ample, more spacious and with more opportunities to get off the road. We find that it is a national holiday and are lucky to buy some bread just as the shop is open for a short while. Behind us on the road are horses pulling a cart I can hear their bells as they ride nearly as quickly as we. We discover that a road marked yellow on the map indicates a pebbles, pothole and mud surface. In a field like a bowl, butterflies, a swallowtail. It is difficult to feel certain of our direction when there are no signposts. So we keep asking people, two men on a combine harvester, a woman on her shady patio. We pass wooden houses, dark old wood, tiny windows, creepers climbing steps, hens storks nests on the roofs, old women in black using a sieve or walking with cows. Clean air, quiet roads, bounty small fields of green and flowers, old trees.
I skid with both wheels in a patch of deep pebbles and a spoke is broken, and I must go carefully so as not to break the wheel. Bars are friendly, people seem interested bt not nosey. At Sisak, realising we won’t get food any other way, we eat exceedingly sweet cakes in the slasticarna of a drunk boy who talks some German to us and is trying to mend a broom by knocking a nail in with a spanner. Finally he flings it under the counter and cooks us a thick Turkish coffee in a small enamel pot. We are hoping to find a campsite in Sisak, but a consultation with a few local lads looking at our bikes proves negative. It begins to rain as we leave the town, and we shelter outside a bar, are invited inside, to drink wine and beer. A rugby field beside the road is where we camp; the lady we asked seemed sure it is OK, and is unperturbed.