E = M³ | On the road in Istria

Text: Rüdiger Becker | Photos: Dominique Polk & Rüdiger Becker | www.bikenfly.de   It is early August. Rain kept pelting the streaky kitchen window like machine gun fire. The summer holidays were just around the corner and the weather seemed to have totally forgotten its good summer weather manners.

We are tied to set holiday periods and therefore have no choice in avoiding the weather or the beginning flow of tourists with their squeaking flip flops and bright yellow air mattresses. A completely new experience for us, normally we seek the peace of the off-season.
As central Europe is firmly in the clutches of a prolonged deep pressure zone with heavy rains, we checked for the last remaining sun symbols on various weather charts: the southeast Mediterranean - Istria. Hence, the weather dictated our trip destination. Agreed. But we had no intentions of making compromises in another matter: we were in urgent need of recreation!
Maths have never been my strong point, but let‘s throw the general rules of algebra overboard for the time being and apply my very personal equation:  

recreation = motorcycle, sometimes Mediterranean,
sometimes mainstream; in short: R=M³
Does this equation work?

We bear left after Rijeka. Left meaning, keep following the less populated eastern coastline. The coastal road with its high-grip asphalt takes us via Opatija and Lovran to Labin. The fantastic views over the Kvarner bay stop us from being completely engrossed in following the racing line. From Labin, we follow tiny roads across the Crna Punta peninsula. Fishing boats and modest private yachts rock to and fro gently in the tranquil harbor of Sveti Marina. Behind Ravni, we take a nondescript turn to the right. Narrow turns to tight, and tight turns into the width of a Zega case, maximum. These are the dimensions of the asphalt strip which twists its way up to the 475 meter high Brdo in wild turns and serpentines. Simply forget the idea of oncoming traffic. The rward for trusting in higher powers is a beautiful view over the islands Cres and Lošinj. Salty air from the sea fills our lungs while we enjoy twisting out way down to the coast.
We stay on a southern course. At Kavran we are suddenly confronted with gravel. This came in more than handy. Accelerating fearlessly along the wide gravel trail we left a trail of dust for kilometers along the deep blue Adriatic coast.

Pula, Istria‘s economic, cultural and unofficial political center, welcomes us with heavy traffic and stifling heat. We do exactly what our navigation system tells us to do, are directed through residential areas, port facilities and markets and finally come to a standstill in front of a wall 31 meters high: the amphitheater from Roman times - and Pula‘s landmark to this day.  The mighty backdrop in stone and its perfect elliptical shape stir our fantasies. Wild bears fighting condemned prisoners, belligerent gladiators circling each other to the shouts of the crowd, and the ringing of crossed swords penetrating the simmering air. With slight shudders, we leave this historical location behind us.

From Pula, we drive westwards, smack into the middle of mass tourism. There can be little doubt: Istria‘s west coast is one of the most popular holiday destinations of German and Italian holiday makers. Mediterranean and mainstream collide here and mingle in seconds. We work our way through the holiday traffic. Overtaking mobile homes and caravans turns into a serious competitive sport. It was only the attraction of of Rovinj‘s old town center that prevented us from fleeing instantly. The sun was setting. Nightfall surrounds the labyrinth of narrow streets in the old town center, giving it a magic aura. Cast-iron street lamps create a misty, subdued light effect. The numerous kitchens of the lovingly furnished restaurants fill the air with the spicy aroma of plentiful meals. Boisterous conversation of people enjoying their holidays adds life to the scenery. We drift through the Rovinj‘s streets in the old town, greedy for all the different impressions affecting our senses.
The following we wanted to experience a contrast to the bustle of the town, looking for peace and loneliness, and rode to the outback of the Croatian peninsula. And we came up trumps in the small mountain village of Motovun. We had a relaxing cruise with a sweeping view of the Mirna Valley through mountainous, sparsely populated landscape. Scattered farms, ravaged by wind, bore silent witness to the hard life of peasants in agriculture. Tourists with their pockets full of money seemed a far cry from here. On our way to Buzel, we were engulfed by dense oak forests. The small villages by the roadside appeared deserted. The only sign of human life encountered over many kilometers, was the cheerful wave of a hand from an oncoming, sun-bleached Fiat Panda. This soothing tunnel of silence accompanied us all the way to the east coast.

And what would a holiday in Croatia be without visiting one of the islands?
The belly of the ferry to Brestova swallowed us in an instant. An apple pie later, the Triumph and KTM followed the main road across the back of the island Cres, ready for twisting bends. Coarse, grainy asphalt fills our visors as we spend most of our time at an angled horizon. Istria‘s mainland to the right, the island of Krk to the left - gigantic masses of land, gently enveloped by the ruffled waves of the Adriatic Sea. Southern flair entices us to enjoy a capuccino in the port of Cres. Revived by the delectable shot of caffeine, we soon come across a tempting gravel side road. No prohibiting road signs in sight. For us that means: switching to the „enduro light“ mode - slight acceleration, standing on the footrests, and barreling along completely relaxed in second gear. Time to gather one‘s thoughts and do some mental arithmetic: we are riding motorcycles, multiply that with the breathtaking view over the Mediterranean as well as the mainstream character of this holiday location.
And on the other side of the equation, the feeling of absolute recreation...
The equation is solved!

Category: Adventure | Travel