Thursday 13.8.2015 Countries:6 300km Total:1720km
We leave Trieste behind us and start following the coastline north towards Zadar beneath a scorching sun.
Kind of like the signs beside the roads on Iceland that informed us of exactly how much we were freezing Croatia has signs above the road telling you at what temperature your head is cooking inside the helmet.
The highest temperature I noted during the day was +34.4°C and it was very difficult to keep hydrated.
The sweat was flowing continuously and the wind didn't really have any cooling effect while riding either.
It felt like standing in front of a heater all day but after all, that's one of the reasons we decided leave the icy north and go here.
The traffic culture noticeably changed already in Italy but along the Croatian coastline people go completely kamikaze.
And If the cars are making doubtful manoeuvres, the bikes are riding like they have the opinion that life after all is unnecessarily long.
We have lunch at a place that had the completely genius idea to have a skewered pig rotating on a grill just by the side of the road.
Unlike the cars we could actually smell it coming up on it and the sign that said "Bikers welcome" definitely settled it. Screeeeech!
The rest of the days riding is so full of twisties that the switch in bears head that determines driving style immediately and with out warning switches over from normal riding mode which is more of Defensive+ to Race mode: activated.
No matter how doubtful my overtaking or how brutal (at least in my on mind it was) my curve taking was I always had a rear view full of kneescraping attackbear.
Considering I've had moronic bikers overtaking me in every doubtful and/or dangerous way possible throughout the day I didn't really appreciate the feeling of being about to be mauled by the bear at any second.
I can appreciate that having someone else set the pace at a lower speed than you would like to be riding must be very frustrating but since I have the navigation unit that's just the way it is most of the time. Since we were going to stay on the same road for 30+ kilometres I just gave him a minor bollocking and set the bear loose on green pastures for a while before reeling him back in.
We ride the rest of the way to Villa Nico and settle in our room before changing in to swim trunks and jumping in the water which was just across the road.
I'm not going to deny that I felt a sense of achievement travelling overland from Sweden and in just four days being able to take a swim in the Mediterranean.
The first thing that happened when we get back to the room is that the AC packs in. I can take the lack of cool air but I gives out an incredibly annoying beeping sound continuously.
The poor guy in reception looks almost panic stricken when we tell him about the problem but he promises to get the thing to shut up before we're back from supper.
We head out to a restaurant by the marina that is packed to the rafters.
Even so we still manage to get a table, we just don't manage to get any service.
The perk of it taking an eon to get the food is that by that time we managed to get a table outside.
I didn't ride 2000kms to eat in a bunker.
The food wasn't really worth the long wait but it was definitely good.
After that it is bedtime in a non tempered room.
I felt like a chicken spinning on a rotisserie but it probably helped me acclimatise at least a little bit.
Friday 14.8.2015 Countries:7 389km Total:2109km
We see the first sign of rainclouds in the distance riding into the park and just as we hit the first patch of gravel the sky opens up.
The surface of the road is in a terrible state with patches of gravel in between asphalt, still perfectly rideable but the road up to Plocno is so bad it's almost unrideable and the signs are so rotten we can't really see where we're supposed to go.
But without a doubt the biggest problem was that the dirt road is so dry that it doesn't absorb any of the water so the rain is flooding the surface which is making this bit of riding a bit to adventurous for my taste.
Thanks to the monsoon-like raining my mood had already gone into auto destruct mode so this ride was doing absolutely nothing for me.
I tagged along until the bear had dirtied up himself and the bike enough to be satisfied, due to the lack of directions we had absolutely no idea how far it was to go and even if we had managed to get there we probably wouldn't have seen much due to the weather.
Trying to find our way out of the park was when the real troubles began.
Garmin doesn't have any maps for Bosnia so I had loaded up some from openstreetmaps.
Admittedly the Garmin maps aren't perfect either but man this was a real mess.
Every road, dirt track, logging lane and bridal path was "routable road R-419" which meant that the routing was something like "you're riding on R-419, take the next right on to R-419 and then a left on to R-419" asf.
Not really that helpful which meant we eventually had to disregard the GPS altogether and choose the bridal path that seemed to be the main bridal path.
Despite the rain which eventually stopped when we got to a lower altitude it was well worth getting a bit lost, the road out of the park towards Sarajevo was the best ride of the trip thus far.
We notice a high police presence when we get to bigger roads but the only radar control we see all day was one lonely officer in Croatia, the Bosnian rozzers seem to be more interested in leaning against their vehicles looking cool than doing any actual policing which is fine by me.
The last 40kms into Sarajevo is painfully slow, probably because it's a Friday night.
About 50kms before we get to Sarajevo we already begin to notice the bullet holes in the buildings and I have to admit that I was actively looking for them.
I hope that I after this trip have something else to remember about this region than just the horrible atrocities of the war.
We arrive at the hotel rather late which meant that if we were to head of in the morning we wouldn't get to see the town at all.
The place gave a really good impression and was pretty cheap (€60/night split two ways for a four star hotel) so we decided to spend one of our rest days here.
Until now we haven't really done anything except sleep, eat and ride so it was probably needed.
Saturday 15.8.2015 0km
Since we had been allowed to park the bikes in the staff parking garage with practically nothing else in it this would most likely be the best maintenance spot we where going to get on this trip.
We also needed to get laundry done so we decided to commit the morning towards ground service.
We tighten and lube the chain on my bike and switch out the rear brake pads for the new ones I bought at Louis in Germany.
Bears bike is in need of no more TLC then a little chain lube so we where quickly done.
Some time today the bear starts to get paranoid about his gf:s transfer from Skopje airport to the hotel in Pristina so even though I was of the opinion that I already had that sorted he made me reconfirm the already confirmed transfer.
I believe the owner of the hotel also thought this was already sorted because his reply was so over explicit that it was like he was trying to explain something to a small child.
This and the extremely frequent use of the phrase "the lady" made me extremely amused and the bear convinced and content.
The fact that we were in need of a rest day was pretty obvious since we didn't even get around to leaving the hotel until 4PM in the afternoon.
No real harm done though since we really don't have any major excursions planned except a visit to the Latin bridge where archduke Franz Ferdinand got shot and the old town.
After a walk of about ten kilometres (no wonder the hotel was cheap) we get to the city centre, as we walked one could not really help thinking about the war and it was never more present in the mind as when we walked along sniper alley.
I really can't say what I was expecting but I did think that they would have preserved a bridge of so grand historical importance but no, brand new paving and ugly railings along the whole thing.
We head directly for old town with buildings and alleys so beautiful they make you completely forget that you're walking around in what is in practice an enormous tourist trap.
With rainclouds coming in we seek refuge in a café for some local pastries and coffee.
The coffee they served at breakfast was really bad, it tasted like it was made from used dishwater.
Bad coffee will always trump no coffee but it was truly undrinkable so I went up to my room and got some instant coffee instead which rules out the water quality as the source of the foulness.
The coffee at the café wasn't as bad as at the hotel but bad enough for me to conclude that Bosnian coffee is the worst coffee I've ever had anywhere in the world thus far.
We stroll around some more until we've worked up enough appetite for a lonely planet tip, the To be [or not] to be restaurant and their famous Chili Chocolate Beef.
Admittedly it was pretty naïve to think that this would be a grand culinary experience but it was at least worth trying (once).
I would probably say the same about the Slivovitz we had for dessert, it smelt like tequila but tasted more like a bad schnapps. Bear thought it reminded him of the Brennivin we had on Iceland.
I manage the unthinkable and persuade the bear to take a cab back to the hotel (we got ripped off in Budapest a couple of years ago and it seems that it's not just elephants who never forget) since it probably would have taken us a couple of hours to walk back and the waitress have already recommended a company.
The bear even haggles down the meter by 0.1BAM (~¢5) and got us the fair for about €5. I see a bright cab-riding future ahead.
Back at the hotel we fold up our laundry and start preparing for tomorrows departure.
You see a lot of weird stuff when travelling but I definitely didn't expect to find the Swedish actress Christina Lindberg on a distribution box in Sarajevo.