As part of a bike tour across Europe following the EuroVelo 8 cycling route, Cat wrote regular posts of her journey. This update is all about flexible schedules!
Flexible Bike Touring Schedules
By Catherine Small
One of the beautiful things about traveling solo is that you don’t have to follow anyone else’s schedule. You don’t have to feel competition. And you only ‘cheat’ if you break rules you decide are worth sticking to. It means there is a built-in flexible schedule.
So when I woke up this morning for the second time to a dripping tent and aching legs, when I growled audibly and swore at the mountains I had to climb, questioning my motives for doing it at all, and when the prospect of cycling 100km out of my way to see the ancient gnarly olive trees no longer appealed to me at all, I reminded myself that it didn’t matter.
Most probably those olive trees will still be there if I come back, and there are many, many things in this world to see, far more than I’ll ever have time to fit into a lifetime.
Related: Cycling across Europe
When travelling I try to take the approach that if I stress myself out about everything I miss I’ll never enjoy what I see. So I decided to instead ride across to the ferry, get a coffee, catch up on writing, and continue on my way.
Now the landscape turned into that part of one of the old Star Wars movies where they’re among desolate rocky hills, goats and sheep scattered about, stepping with impossible agility.
Here there were rough walls made with stones clearly gathered from the grass as if someone had just used a big, strong rake, and piled them up like autumn leaves. At high points I could see out to the coast on each side. The scenery on Pag is unique, and quite different from what I’d seen so far on the mainland.
Cheese tasting in Pag
Apart from Lun’s olive groves, Pag is also renowned for it’s aged sheep’s milk cheese. Many little stalls along the road and signs pointing to houses advertise “Paksi Sir” with pictures of cheese wheels. These were mostly closed from what I could see, being the off-season.
Just outside of the town of Kolan, I came across the Gligora cheese factory, tasting room and shop. I stopped in at the shop and chatted a while with the very friendly assistant, and tried a number of excellent cheeses.
The tasting room is open during tourist season and in the off-season a day’s notice is all you need to visit. Tours are run for 9 euros where they take you all through the factory and finish with a tasting platter and wine. To me that sounds like a fun thing to do and good value for money. These also just require a day’s notice. I walked out with a good-sized truffle-infused chunk of aged sheep’s milk cheese for 32 kunas (about $8 AUD) and a smile.
My decision to skip Lun worked in my favour as I arrived at the village of Jablanac around 1pm. Jelena had told me about a cottage called Planinarski dom Jablanac where shelter is freely available. Over a beer at Lux, a local kobona (translation: pub and/or restaurant, place for social gathering and hospitality) I asked the hostess for directions to the cottage.
It’s located up a steep set of stairs, just before the first bar as you roll down the last slope to reach the little bay and village. So I unloaded my bike and left my bags at the cottage to spend the afternoon exploring another hidden treasure that Jelena shared.
Zavranitca is an inlet a kilometre to the south of Jablanac. Just in front of of the stairs leading up to Planinarski dom Jablanac, leading off the road as it begins to climb behind the village, is a white gravel pathway that takes you winding around the cliffs, through little tunnels and over stone archways until you come down to a secluded and tranquil waterway where a German military ship from the Second World War was sunk by the Allies.
The water is such a clear blue-green that parts of the skeletal remains of the vessel can be seen quite clearly. Another benefit of traveling in the off-season is that the ticket office that usually charges entry past a certain point was closed and I had the place to myself, for free.
I left my bicycle at the top of some steps and walked the entire way around until I reached a bench at the very farthest point of the bay. All I could hear was the buzz of bees and the gently lapping ripples of the water on little white stones. I took full advantage of the seclusion and went for a dip in clear blue ocean. Icy and totally refreshing – my first swim in the Mediterranean.
A quick wander around Jablanac revealed that the only supermarket was closed, and there wasn’t so much as a bakery open, and all I had left were two oranges. It is a very tiny, sleepy village, especially when no tourists are around. No matter, it provided the perfect excuse to treat myself to an early dinner back at Lux.
Spicy little sausages (cevapi) with grilled onion and red capsicum relish, and a crunchy salad of shaved cabbage, washed down with beer, eaten in the sun on the balcony. Totally worth it!
More from Cat's bike tour:
- 3 months cycling Eurovelo 8
- Balkans Eurovelo 8 Route
- Biking the Kotor mountain road
- Bicycle touring Risan
- Biking to Kotor
- Camping outside Dubrovnik
- Balkan Wilderness Camping