December 12. Osp. A little village in stone nestled underneath a gigantic rocky cirque. The paradise of Slovenian climbing. The perfect wild camping spot; the crag a 10-minute walk away under cloudless skies, friendly temperatures and a six kilometre cycle to replenish the water and food. Everything came together, we put our difficult winter behind us and finally used our eight kilos of climbing gear that had lain dormant in the depths of the panniers. We’d stay for ten days. Meanwhile, a third adventurer had the time to consolidate his equipment, pack his bike and find a flight to Venice, joining us on the 21st of December. From there, Sylvain took a train for Trieste whilst we climbed the hill separating Italy from Slovenia to greet him. Three on the road. With our need for the open road coming back strong accompanying the better than usual weather, we head for the Istrian Peninsula. Piran, the Slovenian Venice, calls us. An unseasonably zealous security guard dislodges us from our beach bivouac at 2300.
No worries. Awakened to splendid skies, we lose our memory of the night before in the colourful streets of Piran. 1300. Four hours of light to get to the border. Objective of the day: Croatia. The road rises, falls, we get lost, find ourselves again. No sunset over the sea tonight. No worries. This Kingdom of the wild boar is ours. An abundance of dead wood brings us welcome warmth.
December 24. Alarm clock frozen, Sylvain gets straight to work. A few branches in the right places and we’re warmed up again. On the road, we advance at relaxed pace. We buy supplies, take some photos, stop for coffee. Thirty kilometres. Just enough to find an ideal location for a polite dinner party. A rocky terrace overlooking the fjord Limska Draga. The sun gives us a rather grandiose show. Potatoes and mushrooms cook in the embers, mulled wine is on the stove, time passes and stars light the sky. We gift ourselves an extra day to admire the precipice. This small corner of the world is amazing but the nights are very humid. This is the only excuse needed to seek another paradise lost. 27 kilometres go by, and Rovinj opens it’s arms. Despite its apparent success in summer, all campsites in this pretty tourist town are closed.
No worries. We find a hostel for a warm shower. Our Christmas present. We search for a new bivouac with a view. At the Forest Park Punta Corrente, also known as Zlatni rt, we receive a warm welcome. Aisles of cypress trees, colourful boats fishing the shallow waters of the Adriatic and rock glowing in light of the sunset. Our eyes are drawn to a small shaded terrace in front of the sea, set back from the crags. Climbing in every direction, temperatures hovering around 20 degrees, it was hard to leave. After four days climbing and lounging in the sun, envy for a new view of this country returns. Serious talks begin. Ambition, it binds us to an achievable goal. Brseč, on the opposite coast. Seventy kilometres. Departure is two hours later than planned. Good start. To make it more difficult the hills pile up on one another and we’ve got nothing to eat for lunch.
No worries. A short detour later and we’ve found pizza for tuppence. Darkness approaches. Mulled wine is now a firmly established tradition, so we add a glass bottle to our panniers just before arriving at our planned destination. Once, twice and three times we’re disappointed. It’s not possible to camp here. Night falls. The last option it is, the Chapelle Sv Magdalena. After a steep rocky trail, a field dominates over the sea. Isolated, flat, littered with dead trees in addition to a drystone wall enclosure to build a fire. Idyllic and ideal, no change there. Tired, we get to bed before the mulled wine this time.
No worries. we’ll drink it tomorrow. Tomorrow is Today. December 31st. The town of Cres, on the island of the same name. Plans change. Instead of following the coast, we’ll island hop. After seeing the landscape, we don’t regret our choice. That’s how we find ourselves, eating pancakes and drinking wine by the fire as we prepare to celebrate the New Year.