Friday, August 5, 2016

Biking through Istria, Croatia

Biking Croatia 

Our bike trip commenced in Pula, after a fun few days with our friends Anne and Ale.  The sailing was so fun, and we were looking forward to a new kind of adventure biking through Istria.  

The train station was quaint and not very busy.  We got a few funny looks with our little clown bikes.

We took the train from Pula to Hum, the smallest town in the world.  I liked the name because of being attached to all things voice-related.  However, I was quickly corrected in my pronunciation.  It is actually /hum/ and not the same as the word "hum".

We were surprised at how steep the riding was, as the train ride was fairly flat.  It was hot and we drank all of our water.  Luckily we didn't have far to go.

We contacted our Airbnb host, Franko.  He was very nice and met us at the house, which was quaint and wonderful.  He treated us to homemade brandy; we had walnut and mistletoe tastings. That took the edge of the hill climb.

Hum, as we found, was at the very top of a hill overlooking a big valley.  Our home for the night had a great balcony with the beautiful view.  The entire town was all just a nice walk from our place.

It turns out Franko used to be the mayor of Hum, and his daughter Dores owns a little gift shop just steps away from our place. We went down and bought some chocolate, cheese and more brandy.  

Gift shop of Dores
Display outside her shop
We walked through the town and worked up an appetite for dinner

Medieval Church (12th century)

Mike enjoying the view (and the wine)

Grapes growing outside the Hum cemetery
We left Hum the next morning and made our way to Motovun, another medieval town on top of a hill.  We are getting the feeling that our ride is not going to be an easy one.  Luckily we are strong and good at climbing.

How you say?

This town was our lunch spot.  I'd like to buy it a vowel.

We arrived right at noon and the clock tower rang for us.  It was loud!  There were grapevines all over on our ride.  Really beautiful.  It's reminding me a lot of Italy.

This lake was our reward for the afternoon ride.  Gorgeous!

Mike checking our route
We discovered a great app called  It allows you to download maps over wifi and then you can use them without wifi or cell service, which was incredible on this journey.  We stopped to check the route a lot.

Truffle Days!

Just below Motovun

Istria converted the old train track into bike trails, and you can actually bike all throughout Istria.  We were excited to find it and happy for its existence.  It meant our climb was a little less steep than riding up the road to the top of Motovun.

We found the old train track bike path

Trying to look enthused about the climb
Old train tunnel with motion sensor lights

The view from the top was worth the ride up.  It was a good sense of accomplishment after a pretty challenging ride.  There were roads that were so steep that we actually had to get off and push our bikes up the hill.

We spent a few nights in Motovun.  Our friends Anne and Ale rented a motorcycle in Pula and met us in Motovun for truffle hunting and dinner.  We have a separate blog post for that. 

We left Motovun and headed to a little town called Brtonigla. To get there, we need to go up through this town.  Mike called it Gorgonzola but it was actually called Grožnjan, a really quaint artists town full of music and art and festivals.  We will definitely come back here.  

Grožnjan in the distance

Even our camera is sweating
Almost there!

View from the top.  You can see the Adriatic Sea (upper left)

Poster for a music festival

We were treated to a downhill ride to Rovinj.  We decided we would stay here next time we do the bike trip.

Well, it wasn't all downhill after all.

We had some really interesting paths today; we biked through fields, we pushed our bikes up steep, rocky hills, we did some actual mountain biking on the clown bikes and we found our way to Rovinj. The trip through Istria challenged me, but every day I had such a huge sense of accomplishment that it didn't matter how hard it was.  It was beautiful every day and I am now an enthusiastic adventure biker.  I still can't believe the bikes handled the terrain so well.

Sunrise at the ferry
View of Pula from the water

If you have the opportunity to go to Croatia, go.  It is beautiful.  It is inexpensive.  It reminded me a lot of Italy.  I actually spoke a lot of Italian in Croatia once I realized that was an option.  The attitudes shifted very positively when I did.

Next stop, Mainz, GE to see our niece!


First Mate Kate

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