Thursday 2 august 1984
Zagreb. 100km. Total 3633km.
An early start. Last night the lady with the blue eyes who was weeding brought us a plate of home made cakes called boukle, they were delicious, having prune conserve inside. We return the plate and follow the river to Kostanjinca, where a roadside café serves coffee and is friendly. Up a steep hill then to stop in a field for breakfast. We still find our appetites aren’t very big – our food lasts a long time at the moment. We have chosen a less major road which faithfully crosses the hills undulations. They come hard after so many days rest from hill work. The country here is fine, verdant, a lot of villages, but country lying between them, trees, (I have not noticed many birds here in Yugoslavia . I wonder if they are killed)
The day is cooler than yesterday and for this I am glad. We make good time and around 10 are at Petrinjac, in a noisy slasticarna, with Eastern music crackling form a wavering player. Later, when we are the only clients, the record is changed and we have Abba.
The road becomes busier as we approach Zagreb, and we stop for lunchtime tonic waters. A car runs into the back of a bus, we notice crowds of heads squashed into windows and doors, watching the event. Once we come into the city proper, the traffic is less, and easily contained by great empty three-lane highways which are well signposted. We walk for a while, looking for the tourist centre, so that we can locate the campsite. We feel happier once we have a street map, and can enjoy cheese patisses at a modern soft furnished café. There is a feeling of pleasure at the return to sophistication, luxury and quality after so long without. This city is the only place we have found these things in Yugoslavia, – even n the large county towns there is no sign of such luxury.
Zagreb campsite is a dirty hole; muddy and full of mosquitoes. We pitch on a patch of dried earth. But there are two American cyclists sitting beside their blue tent. The American lady (Carolyn) comes to talk to us. Later, Marriner, her husband joins us. We enjoy their company very much and later invite them for a drink. They are both about 65, doing a long strenuous European tour. They seem easy going and fun, with many anecdotes to tell. Like the time they were eating a pack of biscuits outside an English post office, and being invited in for tea by the postmistress. and they seem ready to put up with physical discomforts. They pack very little, with the exception of Carolyn’s 7 pounds of art materials.
In the early evening a van trails a smoke-producing machine through the area, belching out vast quantities of dense whitish DDT mist, past all the tents, to kill the mosquitoes. I feel very cross to have this nauseous service forced onto me. Mosquitoes and aphids fall dead all around as we eat supper. I lie in bed, wriggling and hot, thinking neurotically that we would all be poisoned by smelling the fumes. Until very late at night, people are moving, banging, thudding, clattering and flashing.