It dawns the day when in essence our trip starts, at least as long as our travels on bike are concerned. We’ve had breakfast, packed up our stuff and headed for the garage. There, after paying (13 euro for 24hr) the congenial owner who, despite not knowing English, tried hard to explain to us how to reach autostrada we got the bike ready and we headed off.
Destination was Rijeka, seeing though the route on the map we decided to stop over to Trieste. Leaving behind us Venice we followed the road sign for Treviso (not paying heed to the first one for Trieste because it goes from superstrada) so as to reach autostrada and after we headed towards Udine - Trieste. Along this route we had a nice view towards green pastures and fields as well as many small dense forests, faraway in the distance Alps seemed imposing.
After almost 150km we headed off for Trieste and following the seaside route after 15km reached the main square. The city was almost dormant apparently because it was Sunday. Even though we had time only for a quick cup of coffee we liked a lot both the main square and the harbor. Leaving Trieste we went on towards Slovenia.
Entering Slovenia we had to move towards Croatia, the signaling was bad in most places and not very helpful there we needed for the first time the assistance of the gps. Even though we did only a few km in Slovenia we took a sampling of the nature and the great scenic roads on offer. After a while we pass the borders and we are yet again, like a year before, in Croatia. In total it took us 120km from Trieste to reach Rijeka.
Rijeka is situated in the bay of Kvaerner in Adriatic Sea. It has a population of approximately 140.000 and is the 3rd biggest city of Croatia. The economy of the city is depended on maritime transport, shipyards and tourism. It's harbor connects it with the other big harbors of the country (Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik) as well as with Albania, Italy, Greece. Here is situated the national theater of Croatia, built in 1765, as well as the university of Rijeka which was founded on 1632. A river runs through the city, Rjecina, which flows out to the Adriatic. This river with its small boats and bridges gives a nice touch to the town atmosphere.
Rijeka was one of the destinations where we had not booked in advance a hotel room. In our first attempt we got unlucky as the price was a bit out of budget but the receptionist was not hesitant to direct us to a more budget hotel and even called ahead to check room availability!!
After we unsaddled the bike and transferred our luggage to the room, we decided to head for the town center for sightseeing and lunch, as we were quite hungry already. Hotel owner provided us with a city map as well as info about the highlights of the city. So after a short walk we reached the main thoroughfare. Here we saw the town clock in baroque style made in 1876. We sat for lunch shortly afterwards, all shops were closed and pedestrian few as it was Sunday.
During our stay in Rijeka (and afterwards in Zagreb) we did not exchange currency. We used everywhere Euros with Croats not only accepting it readily but making sure we know the current rate (1 euro = 7.2 Kuna) and what was the corresponding euro amount of the change in Kuna.
After a short break at the hotel, we rode again the bike to go to Trsat (about 10 min away) is the city's castle. There we came across a very nice place full of cafeterias where both Croats and tourists were enjoying a quiet evening coffee. After parking, we decided to visit first the Church of Our Lady of Trsat. This church is a place of pilgrimage as it houses a miraculous image of Madonna that is believed to be crafted by St.Lucas and was gifted to the church in the 14th century. Inside there was a pious atmosphere with people praying, there were also pictures from the visit of Pope St.Paul II, a statue of whom was outside.
Afterwards we followed the tiled path towards the castle, which was built in the 13th century but was heavily renovated and remodeled during the 19th century when it became private property. The forecourt has retained the original layout. The castle enjoys a panoramic vista of the city.
After a long walk inside and around it we stopped for a coffee in the courtyard, enjoying the view before we returned to the hotel.
* Hotel Continental: The imposing facade bears witness that this was once the biggest and most luxurious of the area, time has left it's mark though and lack of proper maintance has transformed it to an ordinary one. The helpful staff, the cleanliness and the view of the river as well as the hearty breakfast buffet left us with a good overall impression. Price: 70euro/duble bed.