Yesterday I made the hilly, sweaty bike ride from the Camping Kate campground in Mlini to the main bus station in Dubrovnik. In an attempt to avoid the relentless, baking heat I left camp before 7am + arrived at the bus station approximately 3.5 hours before my bus.
While I did manage to accomplish my goal of avoiding a ride in the hellish sunshine there was no skipping out on the humidity. I very gloriously arrived at the bus station dripping sweat. Literally, there was sweat dripping from the tip of my nose, from the ends of my eyelashes + all along the edge of my chin. It was disgusting. So I strapped my bike to a nearby fence + made my way to a smokey but air conditioned cafe. Oh, the things I have been willing to sacrifice for a blast of cold air. Sorry lungs…
**side note: this was written over two weeks ago as I sat at a cafe in Zagreb, then I got restless + wandered off…forgetting to finish it off, so just float back in time with me!**
Around Croatia [+ all of the Balkans?], I’ve come to expect cafes or “caffe bars” to have nothing more than beverages. You can get coffee, orange juice + a beer from the same counter, but no food. In a way, this is weird to me + my stomach hasn’t quite adjusted. My blood stream tho…it’s gotten used to the pumping caffeine sans calories.
Eventually, my body stopped producing new sweat + I hopped off to the bathroom to swap out my sweaty cycling clothes for my not-yet-too-sweaty traveling clothes. The only real difference was the current level of moisture content. My “traveling clothes” stayed quite dry until it was time to wrangle Jackalope into his bike bag for the 7-hour bus ride north to Zagreb. Practice makes perfect — I can now get him shoved away in roughly 7 minutes.
As I waited for the bus to arrive I attempted to cool myself with ice cream + iced tea. My phone attempted to speed charge on an overloaded power strip + Jackalope’s black bike bag soaked up all the sunshine outside. Ah, nomadic bike life?
At first, I felt a bit like I was tempting fate when I walked away from Jackalope, even though I was “keep an eye” on him from afar. Then I tried to move him. Ha. No one would try to steal that heap of awkward metal. Besides, if they succeeded to get away with a bike in a bag they probably deserved the bike.
Just before noon, my bus-venture started…with the realization that this bus did *not* have a bathroom on board. I had been holding out for the bus bathroom because the bus station was charging about $0.50USD to get into the restrooms. What can I say, I’m stubbornly cheap. The look on my face when the bus driver said “no toilet” must have given away the angst of my bladder as he waved me off toward the cash machine that would grant me access to a tiny restroom. Oh, Europe + your random pay-to-pee facilities.
My trip to Zagreb was relatively uneventful. So uneventful, actually, that I managed to fall asleep while listening to my audiobook…three times. Maybe Audible should add an “are you still listening” check like Netflix has. Or, maybe I should stop curling up into an awkward ball of “comfort” on buses. We’ll see which happens first.
This capital city of Croatia was not even on my radar when I planned my cycling route through the country. I am forever telling myself I’m not a “city person”. Then I wander around cities like Zagreb, Zurich or Vienna only to fall in love with the hustle, bustle + beauty.
Last night I fell asleep to the rumble of thunder, flashes of lightning + constant smash of rain against the pavement. Glorious sounds, rolling through the open windows of my AirBnB room. Ah. Rain. Finally, a break in the relentless heat + humidity of the Balkans. I’ve always loved storms + this one came at the perfect time — breaking the heat wave + waiting until I had squeezed my bike into a tiny elevator before ripping the sky apart.
This morning I woke up wrapped in a blanket for the first time in weeks. Ah…the feeling of something other than sweltering heat! The smell of someone else’s breakfast lured me out of bed + into the old down streets of the cobblestone city. When I left the apartment I actually contemplated going back for a long sleeve as a chilly breeze swirled through the nearly empty city streets. A chill, what is this even?! Instead, I continued on, excited to see what this city had to offer to the world before everyone woke up.
…the only photo I took while in Croatia. hm.
As I roamed the cobblestone + brick laid streets I only saw a few people headed off to work. Locals, residents…people who “back home me” could relate to. I came upon a big “local market” where people were setting up tables with colorful displays of flowers, fruits + vegetables. Many elderly couples were pulling trollies around to fill with produce, then prop up against a cafe table while they sipped coffees + chattered.
Eventually, I let my caffeine craving veins lead me to the Argentina Cafe. I found an empty seat, ordered up a cappuccino + pulled out a book. As the sun slowly crept over the stone buildings I sipped up foamed milk + just smiled.
I felt…happy. Simply happy.
It felt like everything was falling into place. I was in a city that made me grin. I had a bus ticket that would shuttle me back to the mountains of Switzerland, then a plane ticket back to the States. Along the way I had plans to hike mountains, climb rocks + cycling trails. Once I arrived in the States I would jump into a week full of family shenanigans before settling back into mountain living in Colorado. If I’m lucky I might even end up with gainful employment before the mountain tops are covered with snow.
Until then, I’m perfectly happy, simply happy, to roam around the mountains in my backyard with Max, float around mountain lakes in our new kayaks + drag Robb off for weekend adventures in a tent.
Life. It’s a beautiful mess.