A quick stop in Koper

I carefully mapped my way form the B&B out of Trieste now knowing there were so many one-way roads, and after another breakfast of bread, jam, coffee and yoghurt I headed down the monster hill.  My careful planning didn’t account for roadworks however, but luckily I was able to walk my bike around the edges.  I reached the bottom, missed a one-way and got honked at on a very short one way road, and then managed to get onto the main road.  

Cycling out of Trieste wasn’t as nice as cycling in.  The roads were busy and the route I had decided upon took me through a tunnel that wasn’t marked on my map.  I did eventually get out of the city and the roads were quieter.  I followed the road signs to Muggia and stopped for a drink at a cafĂ© in the little colourful town centre.
In the town square in Muggia.
From Muggia I followed the coast road around to Ankaran, and into Slovenia which was a very pleasant ride.  After missing the turn-off to Koper and backtracking for 10 minutes, I reached the road that seemed to be the most direct route to Koper according to my map.  Only catch was is was a one-way street.  Since it was in a rural area where people were busy picking olives, I decided to be cheeky and consider the road rules not to apply to bicycles, it was a very long way on a very busy road otherwise!  A little way along the road it became two-way again and I followed a newly built cycle path through the industrial area, till it stopped abruptly, unfinished.  
About to cross the border from Italy into Slovenia.
I cycled past some big cruise ships in the harbour and came upon a very touristy area about 4pm.  It was not very busy but I can imagine it would be packed in summer.  There was a cute little park with a fountain and some creative seating.  Koper is also known as Capodistria by the Italians, meaning the head of Istria.  Istria is the name of the peninsula from Trieste to Rijeka, and while currently Croatian, has a strong Italian influence from the Romans, Venetians and modern Italy.  This is reflected in the language and the food, with most people speak Italian as well as Croatian and with the number of pasta and pizza places in the towns.
Koper on a misty day.
Adriana, my couchsurfing host in Koper, came to meet me with a couple of her friends.  They were very friendly and helpful in getting my bike up the hill to their place. It turned out they lived across the city and up a hill will a number of flights of stairs, so we unloaded the bike at the bottom and took up the bags and bike separately.  I forget it doesn’t actually weigh that much when unloaded.

Adriana was an Erasmus exchange student from Slovakia who was studying for a semester in Slovenia.  She was in her second year at university undertaking a European Studies degree.  She and her friends lived in a student flat where they had crammed three people into a room, and six to a flat.  What a mission for 6 girls to all get showered in the morning!  They were kind enough to let me do some laundry in the shared laundry room and hang it out the back, though it was still damp in the morning, the weather was good enough for me to hang it out to dry on my bike.  

It turned out it was Adriana’s birthday the following day, and her friends had baked a cake for her in secret, so when she went to have a shower that evening they ducked across to the flat next door and brought back the cake topped with a tea light, and opened a bottle of bubbly.  Adriana was attacked with the camera when she finished her shower and forced to blow out her candle while her hair was still in a towel.  She took the surprise very well and we had a lovely night.  One of her friends played me some Youtube videos of New Zealand and I was quite impressed with how beautiful a place it seemed.  To back up my point that most of us just live in ordinary looking places I got out Google Streetview and showed them my old house and a few parts of Wellington and Whangarei.  Adriana showed me the town where she grew up and it was interesting to see that it was kind of modern and normal looking to me, but still had touches of the old world about it.

I slept on their very comfortable couch in the living room that night and headed on the next morning with the help of Adriana and her friends to get my gear and bike down the flight of steps again.


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