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DAY 13 – Draguć to Krk

Choosing to take the country roads that flirt with the highway was one of the best decisions we took when planning the route for today. Incredible scenery, no traffic, a bit twisty and hilly but, at the speeds we enjoy, an absolute delight to be on. Warm, dry and, through countryside that would make Constable weep, we passed a fair few happy miles in chatty mood spotting various things to point out to each other.

Twisty gave way to straight and we headed for the island of Krk – joined to the mainland by a bridge high above the waters of the Adriatic below. Once on the island it was a short hop to our first campsite of the trip. Tumbling down a gentle slope to the twinkly waters, covered in pine and olive trees, our pitch was the pick of the bunch – right at the waters edge with a view that’s just too good to be true and mere mortals shouldn’t be allowed to gaze upon it lest they become all silly and giggly – which is what we did. And then it rained so we got in the tent and became even sillier and gigglier playing Sleeping Bag Puppet Choreography (there’s a video somewhere).

Played Scrabble and Annie cheated magnificently. But nowhere as magnificently as me so I won. We do carry a dictionary but it is 35 years old and the same one we used on the original trip so hasn’t got half the useful words like LOL or Chav, WiFi, Internet, Gen Z, Millenial or Faves (the last particularly galling as I had it plotted on a Triple Word Score joined with Wreck that would have given me Wrecks and Faves both as a Triple Word Score but Cheaty Annie wouldn’t accept it as the dictionary didn’t have Faves in. Still won.).

Drifted off to sleep listening the gentle swish swash of the waves and the persistent and annoyingly hard rain on the tent. Let’s hope it’s dry in the morning.

DAY 14 – Krk to Pag

Another day, another three letter island to hop over to. Pag is famed for the Ancient Olive Trees of Lun – all reputedly over 1000 years old. It’s something we had read about early in the planning stages for this back in October last year and we were really looking forward to it.

This was our first pack up from spending the night in the tent so all a bit different but the muscle memory of the routine soon kicked in and we calmly got ourselves together in the early morning sunshine. The rain had gone, the skies were clear and we were grateful for it being dry. There is nothing like packing a soggy tent and packing damp sleeping bags and clothes into hastily crammed panniers to dampen the spirit. Instead, we were able to take our time and remember the mantras: Use it. Clean it. Put it back. Ride, Rest. Go Again. Stay Upright. Otherwise the world will explode. Today, the world did not explode and we were able to quietly depart and make our way off the island and onto the Coastal Highway that hugs the coast south and, under normal conditions, would be a joy to be on.

Looking back at my handwritten journal it says: “Day 14. Very (exceedingly strong expletive beginning with F here) Windy” And by jings, was it ever. A seriously amazing ride with scenery that unfolded with every turn from the high, snow tinged, mountains to our left to the blue, blue waters of the Adriatic to our right. The road climbs and then drops to follow the shore line for a while before climbing again, all the while twisting and turning with every cove and inlet.

However, purple prose aside, it was still chuffing windy and the white capped waves told us it was at least a force 6 gusting 7 and even 8 at times. A motorbike can be very aerodynamic.  Sporty, racy numbers that have you hunched over the handlebars with your bum stuck up in the air with thick, fat, juicy tyres gripping the road are designed to be so. Long range Paris Dakar based designs like ours are not. It’s a sit-up-and-beg stance, much like Miss Jean Brodie on her Pashley, that catches the wind in the same way a sail does. Add the fully laden tank bag, rear saddle bag and sleeping roll to the rear and you almost become a full on galleon, a four masted schooner with the full top set and foresails billowing. But, unlike a sailing ship, you can’t take in a few sails and put a couple of reefs in.

You just have to accept the weather helm and bring the ship back on course when you can. Also, our tyres are skinny affairs with a tread designed for both tarmac and gravel/mud so there really is not very much rubber at all making contact with the road. Consequently, when you get hit by a 35mph gust of wind sideways on, it can carry you a fair distance towards one side of the road or the other. Today we had offshore winds. Cascading down the mountain side and barrelling across the road and out to sea and doing its level best to take us with it. Mountains to the left, Sea to our right. It forces you take up a position bang slap on the centre line to give you enough room to allow for the inevitable drift and shift in location the gust causes. One second you’re on the centre line, the next, the crash barrier seems very close.

It gave us time and opportunity to inspect and understand the design of crash barriers in more detail than is probably sensible. We noticed that the space in between the bottom of the crash barrier and the road was plenty big enough to prevent a toasty Audi from passing through it but not quite big enough to catch a sliding bike and body which gave us not great comfort but it certainly aided the concentration. An alternative design is used on especially winding, windy and exposed stretches. Continual crash barriers give way to carefully positioned concrete blocks which are spaced about a small cars length apart. Block, Nothing, Block, Nothing, Block. Blocks we liked. It was the Nothings that had us vexed. A motorbike is not as long as a small car so in the Nothings there was literally nothing to stop us sliding straight through. Lovely scenery, though. We must go back and see it sometime.

All good things must come to an end and we dropped off the highway down to catch the ferry to Pag. It’s about the same distance as the Isle of Wight is from the mainland. However, the Isle of Wight Ferry costs around £80-90 for two bikes and two people. The ferry to Pag for both us was €13.54. Bargain. We arrived just as one sailing left so parked up and went for a coffee. We were joined by an Austrian couple on their bike which turned out to be the up to date modern version of ours. This is genuinely quite a rare picture:

Three bikes of the same Model: BMW GS. To the Right, a BMW R100 GS Mk 1 from 1990 (mine), In the Middle, a BMW R100GS Mk 2 from 1992 (Annie’s) and, To the Left a BMW R1250 GS from 2023. The modern ones have evolved directly from our originals. It’s probably true to say that the success of the variant has been, in part, influenced and inspired by folks like us who have done long distance, extended touring and travelling on them. Indeed, when BMW heard what we about to do, they offered to help us get the bikes prepared which we are hugely grateful for – they wrote about it here:


We owe them a big thank you!

The ferries here are mighty efficient and we rolled off and headed up the hill and turned northwards to go and find The Ancient Olive Trees of Lun. Pag is a long skinny island that runs almost northwest southeast. The sticky out bit at the top is where the Ancient Olive Trees are so we headed that way, full of anticipation. After all, this was one of the highlights of the trip and we were really looking forward to talking with them to find out about how the climate was affecting these majestic old trees.

It was shut.

Not a single soul anywhere to be seen. A scattering of tourists looking as bemused as we were. Right at the top is the tiny town of Tovrnele. Shut. We went in search of the reception area for the olive gardens. Shut. Big sign offering guided tours in electric vehicles and a Souvenir Shop. All shut. So we took ourselves on a tour and rode around the gardens where the trees are truly impressive and, in season, I’m sure are worthy of more time than we decided to give them. Old they ar

e but what surprised us, is how few of them seemed to be tended, even outside the official Gardens of Lun, the trees beyond seemed to be pretty much ignored.

DAY 15 Pag to Rogoznica

Now, Pag is a beautiful island and I’m sure there is lots to do and see here in the season but Mid April seems to be the time when not much is open but there is a lot of work going on to get it ready. We feel a little like we are seeing a theatre production behind the scenes a few days before opening. The inner workings of the tourist machine that will swing into gear in the first weeks of May and then be non-stop until the tourists leave towards the end of September. The scene is being set and carefully staged.

We have places to be and miles to make so we head off down the coastal highway once again – stunning scenery and marginally less wind but still enough to catch the sails and move you seawards.

Crossing the bridge from Pag to the mainland we head for Zadar and spot a sign for an olive oil tasting room. So we head there.

Greeted by a smiling lady who, when we explained who we were and what we wanted to ask her, explained it was her husband, Mate, who could do that but we were welcome and come and have a taste of her oils. We asked her name, Snyeźana, she said.

“Ah, Snyeźana,”
“No. Snyeźana.”
“NO. Snyeźana”
I tried the emphasis a little differently “Snyeź ana?”
“No, No, NO. Snyeźana”
I honestly couldn’t hear how I was getting it so wrong so I tried this:
“Schneeze Arna” the first part delivered is if stifling an actual sneeze with a very small snort to kick off with.
“Yes, Schneeze Arna – you say it very good. You can call me Nana.”

And so, I’m sorry to say, that she is forever in our heads as Sneezy Anna. Her oils were excellent, though and more than made up for my appalling pronunciation and cloth ears as to the subtlety of the lilting Croatian language which has a sing song appeal similar to a chainsaw.

She had a number of varieties I was familiar with – both Croatian and Italian but one was very definitely new: Levantinka. Lovely and fruity, grassy and just the right hit of pepper and bitterness. After the name debacle we couldn’t not buy some. Oiled up we moved on – the questions we emailed later but are still waiting a response. Perhaps Nana explained how I butchered her name – just tried it in Google translate to see how it is pronounced and Google says “Shanay-a-zanna” which is not what Nana said to my ears, but it actually translates to ‘Snowy’. Nice.

The road onwards was every bit as beautiful as anticipated and my fingers really wouldn’t do it justice. One day, you’ll just have to come and ride or drive it for yourselves.

Just watch the Nothings.

DAY 16/17 – Rogoznica

Decided we needed a weekend to regroup. So we are having one. Tomorrow is Monday and off to Dubrovnik. Sunday lunch is calling followed by a snooze in the sun.

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