I think it’s only rained twice since I left Budapest over a month ago. I guess I got so used to it being super sunny that I didn’t see the point in checking the weather forecast anymore. But early yesterday morning when I left Pula the air was hot and the sky was a blanket of clouds. Heading north through Croatian Istria, in the direction of Slovenia, the first crash of thunder sounded behind me like a gun firing, releasing adrenaline to start the race against me and the following storm.
Eventually I had to let it pass whilst I made myself a coffee in a bus shelter. I followed the storm and took comfort in the cool air and the lack of lightning it left behind. Climbing higher and higher I made way into the low lying clouds surrounding Pazin. I had to wait another three times for storms to pass over me.
Finally, and truly soaked I descended the long road toward Slovenia: every metre downhill so satisfying but at the same time ultimately demoralising, knowing that I will need to climb back up the same distance to reach Ljubljana. Crossing the border was a breeze, they barely glanced at my passport. Rumours of the border guards quizzing you at where you have stayed the whole time simply aren’t true.
First impressions of Slovenia: trees. Then hills and trees. I couldn’t work out where to go first or where to stay. I was looking for the road to Kosina – the biggest dot on the map nearby – there might be a shop there. Downhill a few kilometres through a valley, a sign passed: ‘Italia’. Wait, what? Oops. It was dark. I was tired. I made a few wrong turns into the wrong country. So I sat and ate my Croatian bread and drank my Slovenian water on an Italian field. Thunderstorms continued throughout the night.
The following morning I woke up at 6, the earliest that it starts to get light, to pack up and leave before being seen. Standard practice normally. But this morning when I got out my tent I could hardly stand from the wind! It was so miserable and cold I went back to bed. The worst thing was the wind was blowing from where I wanted to go (basically back the way I came) so I decided to just go to the nearest city, Trieste (in Italy), and get a hostel for the night.
Shoulda just stayed in my tent. The city is a mess. Cars are everywhere, doing as they please with no regard for traffic laws. There’s a horrible one way system and a motorway running right through the city. All signs saying ‘centro’ (centre) lead to the motorway that I was beginning to think that ‘centro’ actually means ‘motorway’ in Italian. I wasn’t ready for this sort of jump back to the ‘Western’ world. I’ve seen just five cyclists since I’ve been here and four of them were touring cyclists, looking as miserable as I was. If you manage to find the centre of Trieste on a bicycle, well done for living long enough to get there.
I left pretty sharpish. They don’t even have a hostel near the centre anyway! I cycled a few kilometres north to Castello di Miramare, and got a cheap hostel with a sea view for the night.