Mega trip 2014: Part 11, From Pula to Zürich via Italy

Last year I had very different beginning of May than now :) My staying in Croatia approached to its end. I thought – why should I take fast train and arrive in Zürich in just one day if I can use 5 days left from the winter vacation? This gave me an opportunity to move slowly, looking at the majestic places around.

Another reason for a longer road was to visit Italy, as I decided to get a deeper look at this country after visiting Venice.

Day 1, Pula – Buje – Koper – Muggia – Trieste – Padova

In the early morning a bus transported me and my bike from Pula to Buje. I spent my last kunas (Croatian currency) for suncream and, of course, pastries.

It was a pity to leave Croatia. So many good days spent there! I didn’t know when I’ll go there next time, but I tried to calm down and soon I started to think about what I have ahead, not before.

I followed for quite a long time so-called Parenzana, a former railroad, converted now into the bicycle road.

It doesn’t look like a railway anymore, but there are occasionally some nice 19th-century bridges and tunnels.

Quite soon I was able to see the next country – Slovenia and the Sečovlje Saltworks.

After crossing the border I noticed that Slovenia has better bicycle infrastructure than Croatia.

Slovenian seashore is quite short, around 30 km. I cycled most of it :) Very nice views in some places (and a lot of industry in others), and quite few beaches.

Perhaps the longest of Parenzana’s tunnels, somewhere before Izola.

Two-way bicycle road. Crappy bicycle infrastructure is sooooo similar everywhere, from subarctic Oulu to subtropical Portugal.

The opposite (good) example – a much needed bicycle road. And even properly separated from the motor traffic!

And a Copenhagen-inpired street, what a surprise!

It was quite hot there even in the beginning of May, so I don’t wonder why Koper area is famous for its vineyards.

Border with Italy. EU rocks!

Italian way of doing things :)

The beautiful town of Muggia.

Waiting for the ferry to Trieste.

I recommend the ferry to anybody who is cycling from Koper to Trieste or vice versa. Otherwise you would have to find your way through the hostile suburbs of Trieste, dominated by highways, their intersections and a lot of industry.

I definitely don’t like Trieste because it’s clogged by cars and mopeds. It used to be a nice place before, but things have changed. Last tram departed in 1970 and last trolley bus in 1975.

I tried however to put this aside for a while and just went to explore this grandiose city with Austro-Hungarian past.

Believe me or not, this is a bicycle lane :)

This guy left his delivery van far away from the pedestrian zone and moved further with the hand carriage. I wish I would see this more often in other cities as well!

Lovely Citta vechia (Old town) district.

Trieste had a history before Habsburg Empire as well.

Bicycles should be there instead.

Piazza Unità d’Italia – the largest seafront square in Europe.

Canal Grande, but not in Venice :)

After a good dinner and a coup of coffee (Trieste is said to be the coffee capital of Italy), I rushed to the train station.

Day distance: 67.5 km.

Day 2, Padova – Cittadella – Bassano del Grappa

Padova is a little bit too hectic city for me, but there are some things which I liked about it. The city is quite historic. It’s full of students. It has a good amount of cyclists. And I was happy that I met Matteo there (my host from Warmshowers website), who helped me to navigate through the busy streets of Padova.

The inner city has some kind of shared space for all – cars, cyclists, pedestrians. It works pretty well there due to big amount of non-motorized traffic. Car drivers have nothing else to do than adjust to the low speed and unpredictability of the flow. It would be much more pleasant not to have cars in the center at all, but the current solution provides at least some sense of safety, which is quite important.

One of the numerous departments of Padova University. Just to understand how old and famous the university is: Gallileo taught there in the late 1500s.

I decided to visit Padova once again, in spring or autumn, to see numerous museums and other tourist attractions. With this in mind I went further, straight to the North.

I’ve seen this before!

How they suppose people to ride here?

Padova would be a much greater cycling city if they would build a quality infrastructure. Even now, when the conditions for cycling are substandard, a lot of people are using bikes in Padova. It’s flat, it has very good weather and it’s home to 65 000 students. There are so many possibilities to increase amount of cycling people, but… It’s Italy, you know :)

After suburbs of Padova I more or less followed the bicycle road BI-4 Brenta (along the Brenta river).

Something unexpected :) Who knows, is it poisonous?

Cittadella town welcomes cyclists :)

The town is worth visiting anyway.

I didn’t know before that Italian restaurants are closed from 15 to 18. This is exactly the time of my lunch! I was so hungry in Cittadella, going from one pizzeria to another :( Finally I found a fruit shop and had these cherries for a lunch. It was unbelievable luxury to eat them in May (instead of July).

When I first looked at Northern Italy on the map, I was surprised how densely populated the area between Milano and Venice is. One of the goals of my trip was to find out how it looks like when so much people share so little space.

It turned out to be ok. Yes, there is too many industry and too many agriculture there. Rivers look baldly and numerous long trucks disperse from North Italy all around Europe. But towns and villages are still looking pretty and there is enough greenness around.

By the way, I had some stereotypes about Italian car drivers in my mind. It seems that at least in Northern Italy they have little to do with reality.

At some point the road ends, even if it continues on the map. It seems that Brenta river decided to rearrange shores a little bit :)

What a beauty! I spent a fair amount of time looking at the river and mountains before I met Maurizio – my Couchsurfing host. I can’t find words to describe how friendly he is and what a good time we had together! I will just say that the Friday night in Bassano del Grappa is splendid like a carnival. I recommend you to try it!

A sunset caught from Castello superiore di Marostica.

Day distance: 68 km.

***

Please feel free to leave a comment in any language.

Part 10 can be found here.



Leave a reply

*