Before I broke camp this morning in Duna Verde, I reserved a bed at the one and only hostel in Trieste for Friday. Hostel space can be hard to come by on weekends; this way I don’t have to worry about it.
That does mean I have to be in Trieste by Friday. When I left Venice, a road sign indicated that Trieste was 144 km away. Given that I cycled 50 km yesterday, and 85 km today, you’d think I should be just outside of Trieste. However, that’s not how cycling math works. Following back roads (or smaller) results in a circuitous path, and I’m still roughly 60 km outside of Trieste. For the moment I’m glad for the trade; another day primarily on packed gravel tracks or cycle lanes making for pleasant cycling alongside small vineyards.
Today I could see, off in the distance, the towering mountains that form the northern border of Italy, still snow-capped. Tomorrow I’ll reach the edge of them, before next turning to follow EV9 deep into the mountains. Here on the Adriatic the weather is wonderful. Light rain this morning turned to a warm, cloudless day.
I stopped to chat twice today with two different cyclists headed the other way, a study in contrasts. I cycle light, with top-of-the-line gear pared down to the bare necessities. Tocan had cycled here from South Africa, on a beat-up, single-speed bicycle. He stopped me to ask what town was ahead. He carried his gear in a duffle bag strapped to the back of his bicycle, with more gear piled high, draped over the back rack and handlebars. He spoke only broken English, but was very excited to meet an American, where blacks are treated equally, and would broke no exception to that rule, justifying everything with the presence of black politicians. He said he cycled by God’s grace, and continued on. It wasn’t until later that I realized I hadn’t see any method of navigation.
An hour later I saw Mark cycling ahead of me, and he flagged me down to talk. Mark lives in the UK, and is on week six of his tour. He started in the UK, passed through Hungary, and is now headed towards France, where he plans on picking fruit to earn money before continuing on to home via Portugal. Mark cycles with an expensive rig, but carries far more gear than I do, front and rear panniers packed with yet more gear in a trunk in back. We talked for almost an hour, trading information as to our respective roads ahead before heading our separate ways.
I had hoped to get closer to Trieste today, but the jump to the next campground would have added 30 km, and the 82 km today was more that I should have bit off. I stopped in a campground in Aquilila. The camp host told me there were two other Americans there, and gave me the site next to them.
On the way into town I had passed old Roman ruins. After setting up camp I cycled back to them, and then wandered into town for dinner and whatever else might appear. They recently renovated an old basilica and church, and then went full-on tourist. There’s a gift shop, and separate tickets for different parts of the “attraction.” However, the old Romain mosaics and restored murals were spectacular.
A light rain now falls on the roof of the campground shelter. The forecast for tomorrow resembles that for today, so the ride tomorrow (enhanced by tips from Mark) should be uneventful. Besides, I gave to make it to Trieste tomorrow – the hostel reservation in Trieste is non-refundable!
I realized today that Vienna adds yet another city to my indomitable Jet Set first player status