This part of the Croatian coast has developed towns like Split, full of fancy bars and coffee shops interspersed with much more down to earth, basic resort towns with little beaches and very basic restaurants. At the end of the day I crossed into the tiny 20 km stretch of the coast that belongs to Bosnia Herzegovina and stayed the night in Neum.
Neum is a bit sad, they built a large resort complex but nobody came and most of it is empty, with just a few old people ballroom dancing to very loud Abba on a balcony and a few tourists wandering around disconsolately.
I always enjoy a good coastal ride, there is something particularly inspiring about having the sea on one side of you and the land on the other as you spin down the road and the miles flew by comparatively easily today with lovely views as I went.
Split is a major tourist hub nowadays and the evening was spent in the bar discussing the joys of Brighton, amongst other things.
The day started grimly, getting away late and labouring up and down main roads in the rain with legs that felt like lead today. However, the day massively improved when I emerged from a tunnel at the edge of the Dinaric Alps into bright sunshine and an absolutely gorgeous swooping descent along the edge of the mountain range down onto the Croatian coastal plain. Absolutely stunning.
In the lovely town of Zadar I chatted at the bar with a chap from Michigan discussing cycling in Michigan, the oddities of American bridges and American and European bar culture.
Sharp, winding climbs and descents through Slovenian and, after crossing the border, Croatian villages on small back roads today. In the villages people were busy chopping and storing wood for the coming winter.
In the small town of Slunj football was again the focus, watching Croatia beat Slovakia in another European qualifier in a smoky bar full, unsurprisingly, of Croatian supporters.
A pleasant morning was spent riding down gravel paths by the river. This part of Austria is much less twee than the Alpine holiday land earlier with rugged farms, industrial facilities and small towns.
In the afternoon I turned away from the river and over the mountain pass that straddles the Austrian/Slovenian border, crossing into Slovenia in the mountain top tunnel. I descended into Ljubljana through small towns and villages. There were many cyclists on the roads, perhaps inspired by the exploits of Slovenian riders Roglic and Pojacar in the Vuelta which is ongoing at the moment and which Roglic currently leads.
Drinks were in the Cutty Sark where the Macedonia v Israel European footballer qualifier was on the tv and discussions of the annoying name change of their country and the delights of Govistar and Skopje were discussed with a couple of (North) Macedonians.
A few short miles to warm the legs and it was onto the Grossglockner, the highest road in Austria. It is what those who can actually climb would probably call a tempo climb, really long and a pretty consistent 10-12% gradient all the way. The views of course are beautiful. At the top I rode the extra cobbled climb up the Edelweißspitze because you do don't you?
On the way down my route planner sent me off the main road down what at first seemed like an interesting little road through a village but turned into an unrideable path so I ended up carrying the bike down the frigging mountain for a while rather than enjoying the descent, which was somewhat annoying.
German and Austrian bars in general, and the b2 Bar and Cafe in Spittal an der Drau in particular, are full of 90s music, dyed blondes and smoking, it's like going back in time. Or a night out in Bromley.
As I travel South through Bavaria and into Austria the twee dial is turned from 9 to 11. If the Bavarians like kitsch the Austrians like super kitsch. The alpine chalets would have looked better in the sunshine rather than the relentless rain that poured down for the entire 108 miles.
Since the town I found myself in was quiet, the bar was empty and I was heading over the Grossglockner Pass in the morning I passed on drinking alone and got an early night.