Confrontation and Coincidence in Cres

The next morning our host was somewhat less friendly than the night before and reticent about letting me use a spoon and bowl for breakfast.  We couldn’t figure out what was going on, but it turned out later that he had thought we’d only rented the rooms for the nights, whereas we had thought we’d rented use of the kitchen and living room as well as described in the advert.  

Tensions increased and in the end the guys each separately had an argument with the guy and left after the first night.  I stayed on, but it was clear both the owner and I were playing the avoidance game, and I think we used the fewest words possible to say goodbye when I left the next morning.

On the first day in Cres Terry and I went to the tourist information centre to ask about the ferry to Zadar.  It turned out that during winter it only sails once a week, on a Friday, taking 8 hours.  It was Wednesday then, so we were happy to wait.  It would take another day to cycle to the port at the other end of the island.  
Cres marina.
As we turned around to leave, Terry and I were approached by a guy asking if we were cycle tourists.  It turned out he was the French guy who had stayed with Vinco, our host in Krsan, the night before we did and was also cycling south through Croatia.  We chatted over coffee and it turned out that Martin was touring ulta light, he only had two moderate sized bags on his bike.  He was free camping where possible with only a hammock and a tarpaulin.  He’d found a lovely spot to sleep near Cres under the verandah of an old church in the bush.  Terry and Enzo stayed with him there the night after fighting with the bed and breakfast host and I joined them the next morning.
Freedom camping site.
After meeting up near the church, the guys decided to go visit some tiny seaside villages on the way to Mali Losinj where the ferry would depart from.  I decided to go straight to Mali Losinj because it was a 40km journey and I only had four hours of daylight left.  I was not interested in risking cycling in the dark again, especially now that I had no front light whatsoever.  We agreed to meet up in Mali Losinj either that night or the next day, and I headed off down the hill.

The islands of Cres and Losinj are joined so that they are pretty much one island, but they are quite different to each other.  Cres is more mountainous and has fewer people while Losinj is much more touristy and populated.  This was reflected in the roads.  In Cres they were of variable quality but mostly very quiet.  The closer I got to Mali Losinj the better the roads became but the more traffic I came across.  

I stopped in Osor, a small town that used to control trade due to being situated at the narrow joining point of the two islands.  I’d hoped to find a restaurant or café to buy a hearty pasta dish for lunch, but nowhere was open except an empty over-priced restaurant.  I asked the café in the main square if they were selling food, but it turned out they were only selling drinks at that time of the day, so instead I planted myself down on a ledge and ate a picnic lunch.
Osor had many stone buildings and statues.
Hopping back on my bike after befriend some kittens and their mother (Croatia is FULL of cats), I sped on towards Mali Losinj.  In Nerezine I stopped at a café to use the toilet and wifi and decided to book an AirBnB place for the night.  After the crazy guy in Cres I felt the need for some happy, friendly people.  I figured I’d cancel if I found the campsite to be open when I arrived.

I was in a better mood to appreciate the views from my bike this day, and stopped to take a few photos along the way.  I realised that what I had thought must clumps of purple flowers from a distance was actually piles of stones.  I assume these had been cleared from the surrounding land to make way for planting.  The landscape was beautiful in a dry and coarse kind of way.  Full of white limestone formed into dry stone walls, so abundant it almost seemed that they were constructed simply as a means to use the huge amount of rock available.  Apparently sheep farming had been very common on these hills but in recent years great numbers of farmers have left the land and so I saw very few sheep in the area.  This change is causing problems due to encroaching plants changing the habitat for other plants and animals and through reducing the food available for the local Griffin vulture.  So much so that conservationists are having to set out meat to feed the vultures now.  We had seen some circling in the distance earlier that day.
Cres town.
View from the hills on Losinj.
I arrived in Mali Losinj about 4.30, just as the light was beginning to fade.  Fortunately Croatia gets a high score when it comes to free public wifi, so I was able to check my account and see that my booking for the night had been accepted, so I made my was to the house which was right in the centre of town.  A fantastic location for a good price.  I greeted Barbara, the host, and she helped me carry my bags up the stairs.  She made us a coffee and we had a little chat before I showered and went to dinner.  After eating rice cakes and cheese for breakfast and lunch I was keen for a hot meal.  Barbara had recommended an Italian place up the road, so I went and relaxed over some very tasty mushroom gnocchi, crepes, and a glass of wine for less than £7.


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