The past week has been one of the most full, rich weeks of the tour in terms of people, publicity, and riding. I am sitting in a cyber cafe in Knin, Croatia right now feeling sun burn on my back as I type a quick update for our brand new website which has been created by my Uncle, David Pannone. He and my Aunt Betsy, (my Mother’s sister) have been providing tremendous support with planning, organization, and streamlining the efforts involved with seeking publicity. Needless to say, that effort is greatly appreciated.
Last Friday, I rode out of Ljubliana, Slovenia, with the goal of arriving in Zagreb. After 30 Km of driving rain, I came (easily) to the decision that I would take a train instead. So, an hour later, I was aboard a tram on my way back to Ljubliana’s train station where I would be able to find a train to Zagreb. At 7p.m. I arrived in Zagreb. After a few minutes of asking around, I was armed with a city map and directions to the nearest hostel, a Hostels International location about two blocks from the train station. As it turned out, the hostel was managed by the father of a friend who I was to meet a few days later, Matea. It was a great place to stay: receptionists were hilarious, free internet, and a wide range of guests who were from all over the place.
The purpose of my trip to Zagreb was a slide show which had been scheduled at the Ruđer Bošković Institute, Croatia’s largest scientific research organization. The presentation had been organized with help, first, from my friend Keith in Arkansas, and then with help from his friend Zoran who is Croatian, who contacted familiy members who are researchers at the Institute. Before I knew it, I was being introduced to people who were working on the very research that might one day get rid of epilepsy. Exciting. In Croatia, my contacts were Dora, Željko, Davor and Dora. Soon I met Željko’s wife Lada, as well as Dora’s employees (Dora is a researcher, and she employs other researchers working on doctoral degrees in Molecular Biology) Maja, Matea and Goga. The group of us had lunch together after the Seize the World slide show Ruđer Bošković, and I had the chance to spend some time seeing the city with Davor as well as with Maja and Matea. I am left to think that Zagreb is awesome!
A great city for science, and it has opportunities for riding bikes, with bicycle paths all over the place as well as large flower gardens and plazas everywhere. There are a couple of nice lakes with bike paths surrounding them as well. Or perhaps I should say roller blade paths. That seems to be the thing to do here. That said, I did not use the bike paths except when I entered and left the city. I either walked or rode the trams or buses on my various errands (i.e. run to the U.S. embassy to pick up seizure medication from a very enthusiastic and very curious duty officer). The United States has a brand new embassy which is very-well defended, first by distance which makes it tough to reach, then by a gofer field, then by ten-foot high wall, then by metal detectors, then by security guards (Croatian), then by guards holding hand-held metal detectors, and finally by thick glass which separates its visitors from the only American staffers who can be seen within. The duty officer, who was asking me questions as fast as I could answer them, handed my medicine to me under the inch-and-a-half opening underneath the inch-and-a-half-thick glass which separated us. After I left, I stopped at the bar next door – a quarter of a mile away, that is – to get a beer.
I enjoyed my time in Zagreb thoroughly. The family that hosted me there, showing me a bit of what life in Croatia is like, was great. Željko, Davor and Lada invited me to their house for lunch, and told me a great deal about life in Zagreb as well as Croatia. They gave me wine with sparkling water as well as turkey stuffed with ham and cheese – delicious. A great connection to have made. We are all now friends on facebook. And in real life.
I left a Zagreb that was much, much warmer than when I entered it. I would say about twenty degrees. I began to get sun burned after I passed Karlovac, a city about 70Km S of the city. A good thing to now be concerned more about heat than cold. A welcome change. So, summer seems to be arriving, and the cold leaving.
When I arrived in Plivice, I had the incredible good luck to meet with my Mother’s cousin Mike Sutton and his wife Barbara, as well as their nephew Larry, who is visiting Croatia from his temporary home in Germany where he is studying abroad. The four of us happened to all be in the same place at the same time. It was a great crossing of paths, and having dinner and breakfast with them was a highlight of the journey through Croatia. I was also happy to get a list of book recommendations from Mike: a list which involves titles from Hunter S. Thompson and Carlos Castaneda. Perhaps this will give me some insight into Mike’s views about the future of mankind. You will have to ask Mike about what those views are.
More updates are on the way, as always, but for now, get excited to see more photos of the landscape of Croatia in coming updates. It actually looks similar to Colorado out here in many ways. Only, really rocky (credit Mike with pointing that out). It is dry and hot where I am right now, inland away from the coast. Really hot actually. There are pine trees and scrubby bushes. There are big mountains with snow on top of them. And it is very beautiful. Soon I will reach Split, and the coast. I will likely take a boat to reach the islands, where I will do some riding from island to island (with help from boats of course) before returning to the mainland and making my way, eventually, to Greece, and then to Turkey. Thanks for reading, and for the comments!