Packed up and ready to go, Jelena and I rode back to the sea organ to have the best hot chocolate in Zadar at Cafe Brazil. The cafe is staffed with hip young things, very friendly and bright. It’s perfectly located to hear the music of the organ and enjoy the sunshine with tables spilling out onto a grassy area shaded by big trees. And the hot chocolate was excellent. Bittersweet and rich, with sugar on the side if you prefer it sweeter, thick like eggnog or custard and topped with whipped cream. Absolutely decadent and a great way to start a day’s ride..
I headed NorthEast out of Zadar to reach the island of Pag, Croatia. Jelena’s suggestion was that I ride to the island, it’s beautiful and different from the mainland. At the far north tip at Lun there are olive trees that are over 1,000 years old, all twisted and knotty. From the centre of the island is a ferry back to the mainland.
Biking the Moon
Maps can’t convey what landscapes hold in store for the traveller. If my map had been accurate it would have said “landing on the moon” when I crossed the bridge to Pag Island. As far as I could see, the land was entirely made of creamy cracked clay and rocks. Nothing but the road broke the continuity. It was surreal and exciting. Except for the gravity, I could have been biking the moon.After the moonscape came the salt fields. On my left were the great flat watery squares of salt farms, if that’s the correct term. Through this area and the moonscape, the road rose only as much as I could push, and then relented each time I came close to walking the bicycle. I found that from Zadar to Pag Island there were not many villages, so by about 2pm I was thirsty and hungry without any relief in sight. Finally I found a store tucked behind a lone restaurant, bought oranges and apples and refilled my water. Fruit and water are the two things I crave the most while riding.
I camped on an empty lot of land just out of Pag Island. I asked at the house next door, which turned out to be a convent, and an entirely non-English-speaking convent at that. Again, if only I could speak German, or French, or some other language. Between them the nuns seemed to speak every language but English. Anyway, I think they said it was ok to camp on the land, and no one disturbed me. I passed out before the sun had even set. Something about the afternoon ride wiped me out, it could have been the great wind I faced most of the way. They call it Buda, which to me has the opposite connotation to a big strong wind that makes riding difficult!