“Troll country” is mountainous desolation strewn with grey stones, where I imagine monstrous mythical creatures the color of the rock live in caves and war with each other. A grey sky and misty horizon added to the sense of being stuck in a monochrome film; silver grey, stone grey and storm grey. It’s not every day you go biking with trolls hiding all around you. Have you adventured through “troll country” in Croatia?
Today, I started just before the sun was up and began to ride through “troll country” until I reached civilization in Senj, Croatia, and had a proper sandwich with coffee for breakfast. After breakfast the mountains softened into big hills, with the road sweeping around them like a roller-coaster. I’ve been reading Anne Pastoe’s account of cycling the ancient Roman roads, which were laid with the weary pedestrian traveller, horse or other beast of burden in mind. Climbs are gradual and once height is gained, each descent is judiciously rationed out only when absolutely necessary. This road wasn’t ancient or Roman, and for every grueling uphill climb, there was a wasteful swinging descent. I was trying to keep a keep smiling attitude, but I did feel resentful every time I’d fly down a hill seeing the next climb ahead, which as far as I could tell would have been easily avoided by the planners.
I overshot my turnoff and ended up riding around the bay near Rijeka, Croatia, reminiscent of Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. I had to laugh at myself as I climbed back up the last hill to Hreljen, Croatia, a climb which I would have avoided if I’d had a closer look at my map. What’s the point of worrying about one extra climb in a journey spanning many months and countries? I reached the village just before 4pm, bought myself a beer and sat in the sun, feeling accomplished and exhausted after riding over 100km that day. My Warm Showers host Zeljko picked me up at 5pm, loaded my stuff in the back of his car and drove us home to share an excellent vegetarian dinner prefaced by the obligatory shot of rakija. He had many suggestions and secrets to share. He’s travelled through every inch of Croatia and much of Europe, with beautiful photos to show for it. Warm Showers again proves to be a community of wonderful people.