Leaving Trbovlje this morning, I had 4 more km of the gorge, and heavy traffic. After that I spent almost the entirety of the day on single track gravel, or small one-lane paved roads until the border to Croatia, often with waterfalls beside me.
I spent several hours last night examining maps, spread out on the floor. This morning I decided I’d try to get to Zagreb today (roughly 100 km) with the expectation I’d fail, with a number of campgrounds and hostels in the last 40 km to Zagreb to fall back on.
I pushed to have lunch in Sevnica at the associated castle and made good time. The castle undergoes renovation, and I could only tour the castle with the guide. Given that the castle is a bit out of the way, I was the only member of a tour. The tour guide brought along a new guide, and went into great detail about everything, wandering back and forth through the castle – a personal tour for over an hour.
The tour guide asked why I had come to Sevnica, and was surprised to find I was cycling through. If I’d paid closer attention to the news I would have remembered Sevnica is the home city of the current First Lady. Because of that, Sevnica saw a number of American tourists last year. This year not so much. The castle now has its own line of “First Lady” goods. Given that the guide told me they’d sent everything to the First Lady but hadn’t heard back, I suspect that line is not approved.
From there 65 km remained. I passed by a castle on the top of a peak, paying close attention to my progress.
I ran into only one issue, when construction of a flood control area wiped out the back roads I was following. I routed and rerouted myself trying not to reverse my path. Eventually the road ended in a barrier. Fortunately, bicycle. Passing the barrier brought me back to roads leading to Croatia.
At 4 pm I arrived at the Croatian border with 25 km to go; plenty of time to reach Zagreb and find a hostel. Then I was refused entry to Croatia.
I didn’t expect I could cross the border at a motorway (as I can’t cycle on a motorway to get there in the first place), so I’d selected a slightly smaller highway. The guards were polite but insistent that the border crossing was for EU members only. They directed me back 5 km to the nearest international train station. After further questioning, they said once my passport was stamped there I could cycle through. Back I went.
A the train station a very helpful guard said that he couldn’t stamp my passport unless I boarded the train. And that I’d just missed the train to Zagreb by 5 minutes. Then next train would be at 8 pm, and then 30 minutes to Zagreb, arriving after dark. He reassured me that Zagreb was quite safe and I would have no problems.
I took some time to ponder. I’d passed a hostel 5 km further back, and a campground another 5 km. Then I’d be doing all of this again in the morning. I enabled my cell plan for just this contingency. I reserved a bed in a Zagreb hostel – the hostel that Sam recommended a couple of nights ago in Ljubljana. Given how late I’ll arrive in Zagreb, I’ll spend a couple of nights there. While I checked availability at the hostel for two nights, I reserved only one. I could not like the hostel, but more importantly they’ll make more money if I make the second nights reservation at the hostel.