How You See Is What You Get

By Jane Mountain | April 26, 2013

It’s amazing how perspective can affect the way you receive what comes at you through the day.

This morning, after being sprayed for mosquitos in our sleep last night (yeah, thanks for not warning us you’d be doing that, Solaris), we rolled out of our tent and did an uncharacteristically efficient job of breaking camp. Even with coffee making, a trip to the campsite market, and waiting for the tent to dry, we were checked out by about 9 am.

Rough Around The Edges

I struggled right from the start this morning. My legs never like the first 5 km or so and I always end up wondering how the hell I’m going to get through the day. Today, by the time the legs had warmed up, we were in the heart of Sibenik, having decided to route ourselves through some side streets of the town instead of along the highway.

Sibenik is a little more rough around the edges than most of the towns we’ve been in, and the people there seem to have a more big city attitude (even though it’s a small town) than we’ve encountered elsewhere. The women at the market did not want to speak English to me (which is totally fine, just different) and there are a few angry drivers around, honking and buzzing us. This happened everywhere in Italy, but not so much in Croatia. Even a little old lady walking by me this morning grimaced menacingly, just after a fierce looking German Shepherd lunged to the end of its chain, snarling at us.

Feeling A Little Hostile

I guess all this set the tone for my morning, and I ended up feeling a little hostile towards the bland stretch of highway leading out of Sibenik. It was almost featureless, with nothing to look at but ragged olive grove after ragged olive grove.

The one highlight was our stop in Vodice. Just outside of town, there is this monument.

Monument to Boban in Vodice.

Monument to Boban in Vodice.

It is for the Croatian solider called Boban (or Ante Juričev Martinčev). In 1991, the Serbian army had a row of tanks ready to invade Vodice. Boban stood in front of the line of tanks with his hands raised high. The tanks turned around and left. Impressive feat for a soldier with just a few men with rifles to back him up.

Who know how the Serbs saw it? Perhaps Boban looked larger-than-life to them, or maybe they just didn’t feel like invading that day.

Musing on the war did nothing to lighten my mood.

Road Hogs

The traffic along this stretch was almost entirely lumbering trucks and tour buses – I guess most cars take the big motorway just a few kilometres away. The trucks are generally pretty respectful, giving us a wide(ish) berth and slowing down as they pass. The tour buses seem to fly by as fast as they can, and many of them barely move over at all. They are so tall and solid that the backdraft sets us wobbling for a second after they pass.

Not that pleasant.

When I start feeling low while on the bike, I think about some of the more frustrating characters I’ve worked with in my career as a web designer. Imagining myself stuck in a meeting arguing with one of them instead of pedalling through Croatia usually cheers me up in no time.


As we pulled into Biograd for lunch, after 50 km of the same bland inland highway, I remarked to Stephen how glad I was to be off that road.

“Really?” he asked. “I loved it. It was such easy riding and so empty!” He had really enjoyed the whole thing, while I’d been stewing in juices of my own creation.

Biograd was just another seaside town, a bit run down and depressing. It did have an unusually high number of Vespas though.

A beautiful Vespa and a gorgeous boat.

A beautiful Vespa and a gorgeous boat.

After lunch, we took a side route out of town and ended up in a charming little village where the annual flower fair was taking place. We bought olive oil and olive oil soap, admired the variety of herbs, flowers, and succulents on offer, declined the fried dough balls, and wondered why the cars were wrapped like wedding presents.

cactuses in a croatian market

Colorful baby cactuses in a Croatian market.

Back To Our Routes

The final 20 km into Zadar was along the seaside, with much more to entertain me as I rode. We took a circuitous route into town, through seemingly endless industrial parks. So far we haven’t found a great way of navigating these areas. For some reason, Stephen doesn’t like my let’s-go-in-the-general-right-direction-and-see-what-happens approach, so we always stop to check the map a lot.

Stephen’s note: Perspective. After 80 km of cycling I just want to get where we’re going and guessing our route through the industrial park is not my idea of a direct route.

I was just excited to be arriving in Zadar, which was to have been our first stop in Croatia had our route gone according to plan.

By the time we got through the outskirts and to the hostel in Zadar’s old town, dragged our bags and bikes up three flights of stairs, and got all unloaded, we were spent. I’m looking forward to a good sleep in my little bed cubicle and hoping the noisy boys just outside our room don’t stay up drinking their 2-litre plastic bottles of Karlovacko all night.

Soundtrack: Calexico, Algiers | Liam Finn, I’ll Be Lightening | Afternoons, Unreleased Demos (I so wish the world had heard these) | Wilco, Summerteeth   

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