Biking from Plitvice Lakes to Udbina

When I was finished walking around the Plitvice Lakes, Croatia, it was time to get back on the bike and head in the general direction of Dubrovnik which is where I needed to take a ferry to Italy to make it to the wedding.

Luckily, the road I biked earlier was headed in that exact direction.  The actual day was quite rainy when I left the national park of Plitvice, but after getting my wet soggy bike back from the room they let me stash it in, I somehow was ready to hit the road again.  It’s been a few years now since the ride, but it was a great one.  I only made it to Udbina that day which is about 40 km.  I passed through the town of Bjelopolje which was even tinier than Udbina which I was told is 200 people.

But back to the bike riding, when I left Plitvice it ws rainy, and about 20 km into the ride the sun came out.  I can remember clear as day the look of coming out of the mountains with trees everywhere and making into some really nice rolling hills/flatlands and seeing the steam beginning to rise from the ground where the rain had been.  It was amazing, and that along with the fact that I was biking along quite nicely at probably about 30km/hr at a constant clip at times made it really enjoyable.

As this is not the most populated part of Croatia, it was even nicer once I finally arrived at Udbina.  The turn off for the town takes you up a small hill, and right before it on the left hand side there was a restaurant.  As this was the first sign of civilization for a while, I went inside and had a nice coffee.  I remember asking the person there named Marko if he knew of any hotel rooms in Udbina, and his answer in Croatia was something to the effect of probably not. But I made an attempt anyways.

After leaving the restaurant and getting back on the bike, I made it up the short hill into the center of the village, and saw a bar with some people in it.  So, guess what, I left my bike with all saddle bags and all my gear, and headed in to see what I could see.  It was one of those situations where the locals gave me some stares as if to say “What the heck are you doing here??”  And up at the bar there were several guys drinking beer, and I joined in on the fun.  THere happened to be some type of election happening soon in the area, as I remember all kinds of posters big and small all over teh walls.  I asked the guy next to me who spoke English if he knew of any hotels in the town.  He pretty much laughed and told me there for sure werne’t any there.  I was a bit to scared to ask the hot Croatian girl who was tending the bar if she had any extra room.  But the guy told me that maybe the restaurant I was at earlier might have a room in the back for the night.  He said that sometimes he sees large trucks parked there and potentially the drivers were spending the night.

So after a short beer, I headed back down to Marko, and somehow communicated that I wanted to spend the night, and somehow he understood.  He then took me to a detached building that sure enough had a room with 4 beds in it and a window, and that is where I spent the night.   There was even a shower down the hall, and it had SUPER hot water.  Up to this point, this was the most interesting place I had ever spent the night in my life.  I can remember when I went back to see Marko after leaving the bar, there were several men in army unifor in the restaurant now, and they kinda creeped me out.  And that was my night in Udbina, pretty uneventful, and actually worked out quite nice.

Marko made me up some awesome bacon and eggs in the morning and then I was off on the bike to Gracac.

Karlovac to Plitvice Lakes by Bike Day 2

The second official day of biking on this bike trip was from Karlovac to Plitvice.  In some ways, this could be considered my first official day getting into the real country of Croatia, and it was a great day of biking indeed.  I started out by leaving relatively early in the morning from the hotel in Karlovac, and was stocked up with some food and drink from the local supermarket.(The supermarket excursion was a super big trip in and of itself.  It seemed to be filled with communist era grandmas working the cashier stands etc… but great fun to check out none the less.  And there I was rolling around in my biking gear and saddle bags testing out what would fit inside)

Once on the saddle, my first task was to find the highway or road that was to take me all the way to my daily destination.  This didn’t turn out all too hard.  Actually, the road was a recently constructed new “highway” and that it was indeed.  It was nicely paved, and a treat to ride on.  But the best part of all was the bike lane was well marked most of the way, and that just made me feel great as I was still starting off this bike journey in Croatia, and all was still new.

I made a great pit stop on during the day’s bike ride at a side of the road restaurant.  This restaurant was one with a huge spit fire grill going presumably all the time.  The day I was there, they were in the middle of roasting a nice lamb, the entire lamb as well.  This was quite a treat to sit at one of the tables outside, right next to my bike, and  a few hundred feet off the road and to be able to watch the local Croatian guy cook up the lamb, that was going around and around.  I actually went up to him and asked him a few questions, and took some video with my video camera since this was all new to me.

If you are not in any hurry during your Croatian bike trip, I highly suggest getting off the coastal routes for a few days, and make your way up into the mountain towns and see what you can see.  A restaurant like this is always a super big treat, but especially after you have been bike riding for several hours during the morning, and you want to just kick back and relax for about an hour or so mid-day.

I ended up ordering fried trout and french fries, which was really tasty, and then got back onto my bike for the rest of the ride to the campground before the Plitvice Lakes.  This part of the ride took me through the town of Slunj, which is right off the highway, actually you bike right through the town if you are headed in the direction I was.  And, the best part is that there are all kinds of waterfalls in Slunj, some really big beautiful waterfalls that you can even see from the highway.  I didn’t stop in this town, as it was about 3:00pm when I was travelling through and there was actually quite a bit of hustle and bustle going on.  School kids were walking home from school, and some large trucks were making all types of noise, so I just kept on bike riding right through.

Eventually, towards the end of the afternoon, I did make it to the campground I was searching for.  I rode on in, and found the reception/administration part, and purchased one night’s stay by tent, and then off to the showers I roamed.  The campground itself was really really big, I guess it could accomodate a few thousand campers if it was in the middle of the summer during peak seasons.  One thing though, this campground was not filled with private campsites like I was used to being from the United States.  It was more like open fields where you picked a spot on the grass to setup your tent.  Either way, it was just fine, I set my bike up next to a tree, pitched the tent, and then off to the showers.