1141.5 km so far.
When you are cycle touring you tend to forget things like what day of the week it is, or the date.
We rolled into Slunj this morning, our destination for second breakfast, and it seemed like the whole town was on holiday. We joked that it must be the best town in the world: kids don’t have to go to school, adults don’t have to go to work, and they have beer on tap in the park.
The road we took from Slunj is a small country road that is also an official Croatian bike route (Number 9) and it almost felt as if it was exclusively for bikes. The road was practically void of cars, but we did see several other cyclists. They all appeared to be locals out for a morning ride. We wondered aloud why everyone didn’t move to this area where no one seemed to have anything to do but cycle and relax.
We were also following the route the war had followed. This was the area where fighting lasted longer than anywhere else in Croatia, with pockets of resistance up to two years after the rest of the conflict had ended. Like much of the past two days, we passed what were towns on the map, but in reality were nothing more than a few active farms surrounded by the remains of many more. When we arrived in Primišjle it was clear that a fierce battle had taken place. The memorial plaque was dated 1995. The war officially ended in 1993.
We cycled on and not long after we met Marko Poljak, a Slovenian cycle-tourist who recently headed out on his adventure. We talked for a while by the side of the road. He is also planning to be on the road for a few years and plans to make it all the way around the world without airplanes.
He was definitely our kind of tourist, and it would have been great to spend more time with him, but we were headed in opposite directions. Maybe we’ll meet up with him again in one of the Stans, or in Asia, later in the year.
Days Of Enjoyment To Which Everybody Cheers
Just down the hill from where we met Marko was Vrela Mrežnice, a small waterfall and silty delta where, in high season, there is a camp called Robinson Kamp. It wasn’t open for yet, however we could see many families were there BBQing, drinking, throwing a frisbee, playing badminton, and generally kicking back. We decided it looked like a great place to stop and have lunch.
As we rode in, I said to Jane, “It’s Wednesday, right? What holiday is on Wednesday? It’s May 1st. Is May 1st some kind of Christian holiday? Oh, wait… May 1st. It’s May Day!”
Finally, we realised why it seemed everyone was on holiday. They were. So we joined these Croatian families enjoying their midweek day off and had a great lunch by the side of the river, watching river rafters raft by, and being tempted by the water. After lunch I couldn’t resist and jumped in the very chilly river. I didn’t stay long as my toes immediately started to go numb.
Traveller’s tip: recently melted snow is cold.
No Such Thing As A Free Camp
Just up the hill from the idyllic river’s edge we started to see signs on both sides of the road that we had been warned about. We didn’t properly translate them until later but the picture of a skull and crossbones combined with the word MINES told us all we needed to know. NO FREE-CAMPING!
So many mines were planted during the war that they haven’t all been cleared yet, hence the need for mine clearing conferences. The Plitvice Lakes area was the first area cleared, but some uninhabited, less touristy areas have yet to be cleared. We were now riding through one of them.
When were arrived in the town of Generalski Stol (the General’s Table) we were both pretty tired and ready to stop. Fortunately there is Caffe Bar, Restoran i Hotel Gea, a cute spot at the crossroads of three thoroughfares.
The owner was very friendly and helpful, despite “only” being able to speak Croatian, German, a little Italian, and almost no English. He showed us to a room above the caffe. He then went out back to “turn on” the hot water, which he did by putting wood in the fire of the hot water heater. It was a very modern looking system, despite it being wood fired. He found us space inside for our bikes, which we asked for by using one of our translation apps.
We sat for a while on the patio of the caffe, drinking coffee (me) and eating ice cream (Jane). Families and groups coming from all three directions stopped for a drink and a dish of ice cream before heading home for the evening. We saw several groups that had been at the riverside with us earlier. We also met a pair of girls who we’d seen cycling just outside of Slunj, and then several times during the day. We had a chat with them about their day. They had spent all day cycling and we figured they’d done about 80 km in between stops. They had 20 km more to go before they were home.
When we realised the restaurant at Gea (which was the only restaurant anywhere) wasn’t open, the proprietor even let me use the restaurant kitchen to prepare our dinner.
He then had his very busy waitress serve our meal to us. Talk about customer service. If you ever find yourself in Generalski Stol, please make a visit to Gea. ♥