My meditation

After a great bout of teamwork this morning, by 9.30 we were about ready to drive, back north, back to where we came from. Usually in the northern hemisphere the weather gets nicer the further south you get. I believe this is usually true in Croatia as well, but this time of the year – springtime – is of course notoriously unreliable when it comes to weather. This is probably also true for Croatia. A few things were quite certain though, and that was that the next few days around Dubrovnik were going to be chilly, sometimes accompanied by rain, or at least a lot of wind. The Istrian peninsula, on the other hand, would be plagued by days of sun, and temperatures around 17 degrees centigrade.

Tough choice… (No it wasn’t, we wanted sun, and it is no secret that I want to find reptiles). I guess we will have to come back someday to see the beautiful city of Dubrovnik, and perhaps Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Albania. Another time. With more time. I really really need more time.

We drove north for a couple of kilometers, but I was still frustrated about missing the Biokovo NP entrance two days ago. I read wonderful things about driving up to the mountain peak over semi-dodgy roads. I love that kind of stuff. Driving mountain roads is my best meditation – me being as present in the now as I can possibly be.

This morning Heike smoothly navigated us up to the park entrance, which was closed. No signs. No barred road. No reason not to go?

The road up was 23 kilometers long, with over 1700 meter altitude gain. What I love so much about these kinds of mountain roads (besides views and awesome driving) is that you very quickly pass different ecosystems, from Mediterranean to Alpine. The scarce vegetation at sea level quickly became denser, and soon we drove up through a pine forest. After hairpinning up through the forest, we arrived on a rocky ledge, again with scarce vegetation, grassy with junipers. More hairpins. A plateau with rocky mountain meadows, and a very interesting but abandoned cattle herd village. Apparently the farmers from the coastal village used to bring their cattle and their families up here for summer grazing (the cattle, the families were probably doing other stuff). What remains a century later are the drywalls that mark the former location of what must have been at least 25 houses and dozens of animal pens. Soon after passing this village, there was no more green. Everything was grey and white. I had not expected to see snow in Croatia, but up here, there was plenty. The meadows were replaced by deciduous forest, mostly beech, especially located in small valleys and sinkholes. We soon were above the forests, driving along bare rocky cliffs. The road was alright, but up here, the snow had not melted, and ice sheets covered parts of the next couple of kilometers. I drove up with full attention. After about 20.5 kilometers, we arrived at the final series of hairpins that should take us up to the peak of Sveti Jure. After the first curve, the father in me tells me that driving up these completely iced-up hairpins is not the most responsible behavior. Without a second thought, I put the car in reverse and navigate it backwards over the same narrow road we arrived on, until I found a wide enough curve where I could turn the van around. A bit further down I found a wider curve that made an excellent temporary parking lot, where we made a coffee and had a quick bite. We didn’t make it to the top, but nevertheless it was an amazing ride. The views were excellent, and I even taught my son how yellow snow is made. Life’s good. Below are some pictures of the ride.

This is where we parked after turning around, we probably drove another 2 km up from here, behind the lower peak in front.

After this 2.5 hour adventure, we decided to take the Split-Zagreb highway back up. It’s a toll road that gets you around much faster than the narrow coastal roads. As we had already seen most of the coast on the way down, this option would save us some time. Three hours on the highway, took us back to the same mountain pass we took a while back, and we’re now back on the coast. Indeed, with much less wind it immediately feels much warmer here, and it’s sunny ☀️. We’ve found a campsite near Senj that just opened for the season today, and as we were early guests we have a prime location for the night. The next ten days or so, we will further explore Istria, hopefully accompanied by sun (and many herpetiles).

An hour ago from our camping spot.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

2 thoughts on “My meditation

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