My first night in my tent in the mountains of Velebit was quite cold and uncomfortable. Early in the morning I quickly disassembled my tent, so the park rangers wouldn’t catch me. Afterwards I moved with my bike to a bench with a view over the mountains, trees and limestone rocks. The sun was rising and I was watching the Schäfchenwolken (clouds in the shape of sheep) change to blues and pinks, while I warmed my fingers on my coffee pot. Svejerni Velebit – what a tranquil place!
After breakfast I packed the bike and headed deeper in the national park. On gravel roads I cycled past an endless variety of amber shades mixed with the greens of pines.
One of my worries was that I did not bring enough food to the national park, as I thought my route would pass Krasno, a bigger town with a Supermarket. I did have rice and oats not much else to go with it though. I was hoping that some of the mountain lodges had food. So when I saw another mountain hut, with a fire, I stopped and asked the man, if there is any food. Little did I know, that he was indeed a guest himself. He didn’t speak any English, but made me understand, there is no food. I studied the map disappointed. Then he asked me if I wanted some Strudel and Fanta. I thankfully took his invitation and warmed myself by the fire. We tried to speak to each other, him in Croatian and sign language, me in German, English and sign language – sometimes we showed each other photos – if nothing worked, we just smiled. He then continued offering me a banana, some chocolate and coffee. Before I left he wrapped some strudel, the bananas and the chocolate in a plastic bag and gave it to me. I thanked him a lot and went on my way, but not before taking a selfie.
Around midday I found another mountain hut with a spring, where I was able to refill my water bottles. Big pines were towering over the lodge. There was a fire place too – How wonderful it must be, to spend some time with friends here, I thought.
I continued cycling and the vegetation changed – Big limestone rocks, were covered with thick layers of moss in lush greens. I wandered in between those rocks and thought, how wonderful it would be to camp here. However, it was too early in the day and the freezing temperatures, the night before put me off. So I continued cycling until I came to an opening, overlooking the limestone mountains, I laughed out loud in disbelief.
The road was leading towards those mountains, I was getting closer and closer until they were towering in front of me. I considered camping there, but again I continued.
The landscape was magnificent, the limestone peaks surrounding me otherworldly. Velebit almost conveyed the feeling of being somewhere else – maybe Canada or America?
I carried on and tried to find a suitable camp spot. Then the road was leading me downhill, where another mountain hut was located. When I arrived there, I asked what the sleeping situation is like, asked for beer and food. The host said the hut is full, however I might be able to sleep with a mattress on the floor. As 5 degree were predicted and additionally the host had spotted a mama bear and two cubs, I decided to sleep in the mountain hut. I had a beer and chatted to some Croatians, which were leading a mountain climbing group for kids. We drank Medica, a traditional Croatian honey Schnaps, which instantly went to my head. At around 10pm I retreated to my mattress, I felt like a kid on an excursion, sharing a big room, with many others while sleeping. What a Croatian experience I thought and went to sleep.
So long – dovidenja from Ravni Dabar!
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