Don Quixote from Podbilo

Thursday 2011/04/14

If Patagonia is known as the South American Switzerland, because of its lakes and mountains with little towns surrounding them, then Croatia should be called the European Patagonia, judging by everything we've seen on route from Senj to Begovo Razdolje. We witnessed 3 seasonal changes in one day, three climate zones, and I had changed my clothes so many times I was beginning to feel like a model at the Cro-a-Porter fashion event.

Don Kihot iz Podbila

The only difference is that models look a lot better than I do at the moment, and that my catwalk was forest roads and pathways, with amazing mother nature as my celebrated designer. The start of the day was very idyllic. Storm had cleared the air and blew the clouds away, so the morning in Senj looked amazing. Bright blue skies, darker blue sea, with waves slowly rolling to the shore, and sun shining on Senj and the fort Nehaj. The only trace that something did happen last night was snow speckled Ucka and Velebit. An impression of a lovely spring day disappears as soon as you step outside. Even though the wind had stopped, a cold breeze made me put on my wind jacket and long pants. 14 kilometers on, while cycling up hill towards Krivi Put, my problems with clothes reappeared, making me feel too hot one minute and too cold the next. Apart from that the ascent itself was magnificent. As I was now pretty high up, the view was that more amazing. Senj looked like it was at the palm of my hand, white cliffs of Krka, Goli and Rab, showing there's no signs of life from this side of the storm... Ucka, Kvarner, hill tops of Gorski Kotar and Slovenia... pure pleasure.

The plateau was seriously wind ridden, and we all had to, very quickly indeed, put on our thicker wind jackets. The cold wind was making us freeze to the bones. „This is nothing, it gets far worse“, said some curious van driver, who stopped for a chat, probably thinking how week and feeble we were to be shivering from a little breeze...

We were completely thrilled by the sight of the biggest Croatian wind power plant Vrataruša.

Only when you pass them by do you realize how huge they are. Even though I often hear negative things said about them, I must say I don't have anything against the pure wind energy. And there is something very surreal and romantic about these lonely towering sculptures which, standing on their one leg, catch the wind and create a quiet medley of murmuring sounds. This is certainly a far better, prettier and less harmful option than any thermal or hydroelectric power plant.

And then we passed by a village called Alan, and after getting to the top we started descending towards Dreznica. Everything changed in a moment. A bright, sunny day turned gloomy and grey, with Mediterranean shrubland and macchia changing into thick, dark woods, and temperature dropping massively. I was in my winter clothes within seconds, in complete disbelief, cycling though proper snowy hail. I was riding very slowly, getting seriously whipped all over my face with these tiny snowballs. This was just the beginning of an incredibly beautiful, though somewhat cold day, which I'm going to write more about as soon as I get a chance.