Croatia – Getting To Know The Road

Two weeks of cycling, and we are slowly beginning to feel the road. Over 750km have we traveled, and our initial confusion and nervousness are vanishing while we are entering a new stage of life. We are more motivated than ever to jump on our saddles in the morning and see where the road leads us to.

Almost two weeks after we entered Croatia, we are still in Croatia. The south turned out to be too mountainous for us, our bikes, and our carry-ons. Instead of going all the way down to the coast, we decided to head east to Serbia. The border isn’t far, maybe two more days and we will be in Novi Sad, one of Serbia’s biggest cities. We almost can’t believe that this will be our third border crossing.

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Although the weather wasn’t great for cycling at times, we enjoyed our time in Croatia. After going up some damn steep mountains, we paused to soak up an amazing panoramic view. Whenever we greet someone (in Croatian, of course), we are always greeted back (also in Croatian, of course). We also liked that we never had to book extra breakfast when staying at hotels as it was always included in the price.

What surprised us most about Croatia was the fact that lots of people cycle. Every day we meet a dozen people on their bikes, people aged between 10 and 80. On the other hand, there are not always bike paths. Depending on the općina (community) there are bike paths connecting one town with the next, but sometimes they just don’t exist or they will promptly end as soon as we’re out of town.

What we didn’t like so much about Croatia was the food, and we are still experimenting with how we can live a healthy lifestyle when we’re on the road. The supermarkets don’t always offer high quality products like we’re used to from Germany, and the same goes for local bakeries. Lots of wheat, fat, and sugar. We noticed that for a day’s ride we need more than just toast with butter and jam in the morning. This is why we’re now carrying apples, bananas, nuts, dark chocolate, and bread – real bread with a crispy crust und a hearty crumb. We are also considering to replace our water with juice or protein drinks. Got any suggestions for us? Let us know in the comments!

Apart from all the adventure, awesome scenery, and people we meet, life does get tough sometimes. We have had a lot of arguments since the beginning about how fast or slow we want to ride: While Jan loves to go fast, Gratsi often could not keep up with this. Jan would get frustrated riding behind Gratsi while Gratsi would have to paddle every second to keep up with Jan’s tempo. We are trying out different things now to find out how both of us can ride at a speed that won’t make us feel either cold or exhausted on our bikes: moving some weight from Gratsi’s to Jan’s bike, stretching more, riding shorter distances (not more than 80km per day), changing our foods and drinks (see above), …

Lastly, here is the story of an acquaintance we made in Zagreb: We were headed out of Zagreb in the morning, and we had to stop at one of the traffic lights in the suburbs. Suddenly, a man in his early 60s who was also riding a bike joined us. Pointing at our bikes, he asked us (in German!) how many kilometers we had already travelled. “300”, we said. “300 what? 300,000?” he asked. “No, only 300.” “Ah, ok”, he said, “I have gone 120,000km, and this is my eighth bicycle.” So, we are definitely not the only ones who go long-distance on two wheels…

Jan & Gratsi

P.S. Check out our route map to see where we are!

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