Rowing like crazy in the middle of the Senj channel, carried by mild sirocco wind pushing me from the back. (As predicted by Nebojša's correct forecast Meteo-info), I noticed propellers at the wind power plant stopping one by one. Was that really quiet before the storm? I carried on faster with Dino Alberini's voice in my head. He said to me:“If the storm hits, and it will, even if you are 500m away from the shore, turn away and rush back down the wind. I'm telling you, seriously.!
Dino is not a kind of guy who'd joke about things like that, so I took him seriously. In the end, Nebojsa also predicted the storm, but so did everyone else we met on the way and had a chat with. I was rushing towards Senj which was lying hidden at the foot of Vratnik, waiting for another gust of wind. Only fort of Nehaj stood boldly on top of a small hill, where it's been standing proudly for centuries, defying all storms and enemies. I am still very far away from those safe 500 meters.
First day of our second letter of Welcome, apart from going over the channel to Senj, we spent on Krk. I've been spending my summers on this island for over 30 years. And despite that (shame on me) I had no idea about some of its hidden treasures. After the start from Malinska where Tourist Board's very own director Nediljko Vicetic came to see us off, I was riding on newly paved asphalt cycle track towards Krk. This track is a brilliant move by island's tourist boards and a huge improvement on security of cyclists.I was in Malinska the day before and I saw a group of about ten cyclists drinking their beer, probably after a very satisfying day. Every bike there was worth more than most of cars that are being sold at our car shows. Mister Nediljko is always full of admiration for cycle-tourists saying they are very good consumers. I turned off the cycling „motorway“ onto the pedestrian track towards Kosici. On a wonderfully abundant field I came across a site with remains of an old Franciscan castle completely overgrown with ivy. A bit further there were remains of an old church of St. Sofia. I met up with Marijana who told me about all the myths and legends of this wonderful place. I could have stayed and listened to her stories all day, but I'd have to stay for weeks to hear and explore everything. And this is all on an island I've spent decades on! Oh my word, what other amazing things will I experience on this adventure?!?!
At the end of this impressive descend towards Stara Baska, near a bauxite mine (which I also had no idea existed) I had father and son Ivnik waiting for me. I've known Zeljko since last millennium (that really sounds like a long time ago now) when I accompanied him on his megathriatlon: cycling from Rome to Porto San Giorgia, kayaking over the Adriatic sea to Split and then running from Split to Zagreb. I have to say that I was very impressed with this man, and still am! And not just because he could just go out there and do something huge, but because he couldn't but he did it anyway. Zeljko unfortunately suffered from very bad case of sea sickness and he just couldn't recover from it. He was suffering in agony but he never once thought of quitting. If times ever get hard for me on this trip, I will remember him, Zeljko will be my inspiration to carry on.
A proof that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree is Ivnik junior, who pressed on in vigorous tempo hiking from Stara Baska to Baska. And that was a sight to be seen, so incredibly beautiful. A plateau connecting (or, separating, rather)Baska and Stara Baska, known as mrgari, with flower shaped dry walls which serve to separate sheep. Another thing I had no idea about. A view from the top goes over Mala and Velika Kapela and Velebit from one side, and onto neighbouring islands of Rab, Goli, Cres from the other side, and with Kvarner and Ucka from the third side. Magnificent and inspiring!
We met a lady from the Tourist board, called Anabela, at Baška and had a great lunch at the Forza restaurant, with worried Dino and some other people from the beginning of the blog. Because of the expected storm we had to hurry up so I didn't get to see all the interesting canyons from Baska to the bay Vela Luka, nor could I check out this place, which serves many voyager as a shelter from storms. In the end I reached to safety of harbor at Senj, happily and just in time. My reception under the „Welcome“ arch, which is always carefully put up by Cedo, was brilliant. There was a spokesperson of the city government, Vlatka from the Tourist board and a team of cyclists from BK Crikvenica and Senj, who helped us determine our tomorrow's section towards Bijele and Samarske stijene cliffs. The storm didn't hit until the evening. While we were enjoying ourselves in great company and amazing dinner of scampi and fish, with compliments of mister Zeljko, the owner of a beautiful and delicious tavern "Lavlji dvor" we were , but by bit, getting hits of storm and lightning. Even though it sounded pretty bad, I was completely cool. While I was vigorously rowing towards Senj, I had promised myself that I would gladly get wet, and frozen on the bike, just as long as I got safely to the shore. Now I'm ready for anything.