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Four trails - moderate difficulty - asphalt only, uphill and downhill
Mojstrana - Bled - Bohinjska Bistrica Track: 40 km + 450 / - 600 m
Bohinjska Bistrica - Bohinj Lake (road) Track:  31  km +/-  150 m
Bohinjska Bistrica - Bohinj Lake (bike lane) Track:  17  km +/-  160 m
Bohinjska Bistrica - Mojstrana Track:  46  km + 500 / -  360 m


Sometimes the whole universe is working on your behalf. This is what I felt when a business trip in Slovenia showed up for the end of May. The special thing about this is that during that time we had two bank holidays, so two off-days for us to explore and visit. Long story short is that we managed to book almost an entire week in Slovenia while combining work with pleasure.



The counter play to all our beautiful plans came from the weather forecast which apparently had a different agenda than ours. Despite the full week of rain we decided to go along with the plan as the business trip was already booked and all details have been arranged. We also thought that maybe our luck will not be all that bad.

On our way to Slovenia, the weather was excellent. On the second day, the sky started to be covered by rainy clouds but not a single drop. On the third day, when we actually started our holiday, it rained so much that we got hydrated for a whole year.




Our plan for the trip was to do a bike circuit around the Triglav National Park and to carry all the stuff we needed with us, tent, sleeping bags, etc. The trip was split over four days with about 1000m vertical relief per day and about 60-70 kilometers on asphalt roads. On paper, the plan didn't sound that hard but with a heavy bike and with steep ascents we were starting to have doubts. Of course, nothing is impossible but taking into consideration the rain + the road bike cassette on my MTB + my rage on the whole situation, I was slowly cracking.





Day 1: Mojstrana - Bled - Bohinjska Bistrica



Here we go. So, we reached our starting point, Kamne camping in Dovje village and it was raining hard. Even though they had a big empty parking lot in front of the camping the owner let us know we can't leave the car there and that we should park in the village center of Mojstrana. We left in that direction and thought that on our way we will decide what we shall do.


The situation looks similar to what we had during last year's holiday, it was raining all over central Europe, so no chance to dodge the conditions. In between two rain sessions, we decided we will go on as it is, but we will do the circuit in the opposite direction.

Our initial plan was to do the circuit counter-clockwise - in this way the first day was the hardest when theoretically we would be best rested. But to complete 70 kilometers on hard rain with 1000 meters vertical relief that stretched for only 10 kilometers was too hard for us so we changed direction from Mojstrana to Bled - Bohinj - where we would reassess the conditions and set future plans.

Our tour didn't include any touristic objectives along the way as we have already seen most of them in past visits. Worthwhile mentioning is that Bled is really nice to visit on a boat or SUP and so is the castle above the lake. The emblematic little island in the middle of the lake is worth the time and effort to check off your list of to-dos.

Back to our trip - we installed all our things on the bike, took a breath of air and set off. At this point, we were still not thinking that we might not be able to complete our initial plan. We set out during a hard rain session on a more than 10% incline ascent. Not a lot of time passes until I got off my bike and started pushing it uphill, the problem was that this was also hard. We didn't even complete 5 kilometers, now that is a fucked up start!

The track is really nice. It consists of an asphalt road, one and a half lanes wide, that twists and turns between trees going uphill at times pretty hard. On the road, we meet a group of elderly Brits that are more off of their bikes than on them. This only lifts up my spirit. You know, not necessarily that I have a better time but the other should suffer too. Just kidding and laughing at my past misery.



It wasn't easy to climb this hill but when the descent came I was thinking that my breaks might not be enough, but obviously, they were.

Meanwhile, the rain gave us two more showers and enveloped the forest road in a thin mist. We found it extremely beautiful and for no specific reason I was very happy.



After that, it started pouring. We were fortunate enough to find a house where we took shelter until the rain calmed out.



Eventually, we reached Bled where the weather seemed to look somewhat better. Clouds, sun and dry asphalt. The people there wearing shorts and flip-flops were looking at us funny with all-out rain layers, completely soaked and with water drops on our glasses.


We stopped to eat on the lake shore and to feed the sparrows... peace and quiet.. until the sky turned black and the lightning and thunder destroyed our peace. It was clear that we brought the rain.


We left in a hurry but not before we encircled the lake on its bike lane and made our way to Bohinj on the national road.




No need to explain the details but it rained on us hard. On our way, we made two stops because we just couldn't see where we were going and we were also afraid for the traffic, which even though is hats off civilized, I am sure drivers had a hard time seeing us on the road. We stopped in the middle of nowhere, under a tunnel on a side road that was in a puddle of mud and the second time under a semi-abandoned building. We were disillusioned as with such conditions it was hard to enjoy the route and the sights.

We reached Bohinj and Camp Danica that evening and in a short time, the rain had stopped also.










Details: Mojstrana - Bled - Bohinj

  • Distance: 40 km
  • Total Time: 4h 42 min
  • Pedaling Time: 2 h 42 min
  • Vertical relief: +444 / -604 m
  • Min/Max altitude:  477 - 848 m
  • Max Speed: 43 km/h
  • Average Speed:  14.7 km/h

GPS Track - Wikiloc



Day 2: Bohinjska Bistrica - Bohinjsko Jezera



The next day we learned our lesson: the weather forecast said storms and heavy rain were expected between 12 and 16. After yesterday we believe it without a doubt so we plan accordingly. We have two possibilities: we either pack our stuff and move out back to the car in Dovje or we leave the tent and all our gear in place and attempt a short track until the rain breaks out. Obviously, we chose option number two.



FYI: This was the moment when we realized we were not going to do the Triglav circuit as planned for this holiday.

We packed only the rain layers and some snacks in our small shopping backpacks and set out on our track to lake Bohinj.



The road is all asphalt and takes you through different small touristic villages along the way.



For the moment the weather was visually improving despite the forecast.



We almost forgot how beautiful Slovenia and this area in particular are. There were many stops for photos.




This track is very easy, with close to no vertical relief (+/- 150 m), just perfect for a relaxing day. Also worth mentioning there is a pedestrian path that goes all along the lake.

You can reach the Southern part of the lake on asphalt. Everything seems in harmony... people rock climbing, running, walking, rowing.




From the Southern side, a footpath goes on the other bank that is closed to bike access. We took a small peak to see how it looked like but at times the landscape is pretty rough. Since it is very populated and narrow I can see why it is pedestrian only.



As such, we returned to the Northern side of the lake on the same road and from here we did a circuit back to the camping.



A small ascent took us to more Slovenian villages that were visually appealing and in line with the surrounding landscape. On the below GPS track you can see two points of interest, a mini-market with a well and a great restaurant.



A few words about the restaurant: it is a nice place with a great view of the valley below and with gigantic meals (mind how much you order here). A normal pizza here is not your common 32 cm diameter, but something closer to 45 cm - more in the direction of a family pizza. We had no idea about this so we ordered a pizza and a large portion of fries with grilled cheese. Of course, we couldn't eat it all but we had enough food now for dinner and breakfast combined. All in all, we paid 25 euros for the food and two beers and two coffees.



Details:  Bohinjska Bistrica - Bohinjsko Jezero

  • Distance: 31  km
  • Time: 5 h
  • Pedaling Time: 2 h 19 min
  • Vertical relief: +/- 160 m
  • Min/Max altitude: 514 - 639 m
  • Max Speed: 32 km/h
  • Average Speed: 11 km/h

GPS Track - Wikiloc


Since the track was short we reached the camping ground early in the day. Also since we still had a lot of daytime left and we had lots of energy we set out to explore where the bike lane from behind the camping would end up.



We were surprised to see what we found. The route takes you on a tour to the lake and back again with excellent markings and info panels.




Basically, we did the previous track once again but this time on the inside of the asphalt road.



Only a small part has no bike lane, but it is under construction, and we followed the same road back.

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As soon as spring struck we were aching to get our feet out and moving. We had discussions about hiking with our friends but they soon led to via ferrata. We only did Pietrele Negre track from Vartop, in Romania, but now we were looking at something more accessible and not too far away, the two routes located at Vadu Crisului: Peretele Zanelor (B level) and Casa Zmeului (C level).




Short video about the two tracks.

Via Ferrata - Vadul Crisului, Romania (2018) - Vimeo



Where is this?

From Timisoara we went in the direction of Oradea with our final destination, the small village of Vadu Crisului. Here we left the cars next to the Sports Gym, where you can find a big parking lot. Next to the gym you can find Roua Muntilor Guesthouse that also features a restaurant where you can grab a bite to eat or a drink.



 Entrance fee? There is no entrance fee or any admission fee for the tracks.

Lets start!
We decided to spend the weekend there and pretty fast a few friends decided to tag along for the trip.

The general plan was to do the easier via ferrata on Saturday and the harder one on Sunday, while filling the extra time left with different activities we could do in the area.

We arrived at about 10 AM in Vadu Crisului. Since two of our friends were lacking ferrata equipment we went and rented it locally. The price includes the equipment and a guide to accompany you during the tracks. The costs weren't that transparent from the start and this led to some extra money, but all in all it was OK. The price was 80 lei per equipment per person for each track, guide included. This means that if you do two tracks in one day you pay 160 lei per person. We thought that you only pay 80 lei per equipment per day since nobody asked for a guide and thus the confusion. In any case our friends were delighted with the service and the overall experience so they didn't mind.

We would also want to make it clear that our timings for the two tracks are extra long as we did them with 4 absolute beginners in via ferratas. If you have any experience we are sure you can complete them much faster.

Romania uses a different difficulty scale than what is commonly used in the Italian Dolomites. Our grading is from A (easy) to E (extremely difficult). If we are to do a cross between the two scales an A would be equivalent to a 2B in the Dolomites and a C would correspond to a 3B.

For both tracks you have a common starting point and that is the Sport Gym in Vadu Crisului. From the gym you need to go alongside the rail way track, on the left bank of the Crisul Repede river - the path is very well signaled and marked.



Via Ferrata Peretele Zanelor 




We decided to go on the easier via ferrata as our first choice in the morning, to get the blood pumping gradually.

To reach the rock wall and the via ferrata you need to climb a few hundred meters straight from the rail road. Once you reach the wall you will start climbing vertically on cables, metal pegs, ladders all the way to the top, with only a few spots for relaxing. We go on and take the lead as the others remain slightly behind with the guide that explains what they need to do and how to approach the terrain. The guys get accustomed to the whole process fast and everybody reaches the end of the track in no time.



On the track we have ample time to take photos as the difficulty is low. This is a great place to introduce someone to via ferratas. The low difficulty, the good grip on the rock and the excellent cable and pegs all make for a great experience.




We reach to top of the cliff and we take a group photo. We've missed this type of activity and our friends really liked it.



For the descent you follow a wide footpath through the forest - don't worry, you wont go down on the via ferrata. Everything went according to plan but what shall we do for the rest of the day as it was only 12 PM, we finished with the track and our appetite was only growing? We didn't discuss it too much as everybody seemed eager to do the next track as well. We took a small lunch break and headed out to Casa Zmeului.




Hiking statsTime: 1 hour and 30 min
Distance: 2 kilometers
Vertical relief: +/- 110 meters
VF length:  150 meters

Route: Railway + Via Ferrata + Blue Circle Markings
VF Difficulty: B international grading (UIAA)
Gear: Standard Via Ferrata gear
Water: at the guesthouse / in the village



GPS track: Wikiloc




Via Ferrata Casa Zmeului


For Casa Zmeului we changed the layout a bit, the guide went first followed by our friends and we stayed in the back. This was better for our friends who sometimes struggle to find the best grips on the rock.

The track is more demanding and you can feel that from the start where you have a 100 meter vertical wall. There were sections on which we spent more time but since we were not in a hurry it was fine. We personally enjoyed it a lot and overall we can't say it was too difficult - only two zones gave us a harder time.

A little piece of advice for one of the zones: when climbing an oblique wall pay special attention to your balance not to fall. Karina just changed her cable section when she realized she lost her balance and fell a bit against the wall. She pumped her muscles somewhat when getting her balance back but next she used the extra carbiner to rest in her harness for a couple of moments. It is not very complicated, you just need to pay closer attention.

If we are on the subject it is good to keep an extra carabiner attached to your harness. On difficult sectors where you get pumped a lot it is recommended to take a brake and relax from time to time. Obviously you shouldn't use the via ferrata kit for this.



As we mentioned this track has two challenging parts, the above one we talked about which is right at the start and one closer to the end just before the suspended bridge where you need to put some muscle into it.




The highlight of the track, our main reason for wishing to come to this area, is the 25 meter long suspended bridge. We can't figure out why most people are terrified by this sector because it is really easy and offers a spectacular view. We simply see it as the reward at the end :)





Karina liked it a lot, she'd repeat the track simply to go on the bridge again!



Hiking stats

    Time: 2 hours and 30 min (including breaks)
    Distance: : 2 km
    Vertical relief: +/- 150 meters
    VF length:  215 meters
    Route: Railway + Via Ferrata + Blue Circle Markings
    VF Difficulty: C international grading (UIAA)
    Gear: Standard Via Ferrata gear
    Water: at the guesthouse / in the village









    As a final remark we would simply like to give a big thumbs up to the guys that created and worked very hard on these tracks so that we can enjoy them. Spectacular job! Also, a round of cheers to the guys at www.viaferrataromania.wordpress.com - who create detailed information about all tracks in Romania.



    Extra activities
    There are a lot of activities you can do in the area to fill up your day, but since there are plenty of caves we decided to go on a small hike to visit one. We chose Vadu Crisului cave, one of the biggest in the area, that should keep you busy for 30 minutes - 1 hour and also keep you  chill at about 14 degrees Celsius. There was no guide when we visited but the ticket man was a great and warm person that explained different aspect about the cave system. And for only 10 lei per person we really encourage you to visit it.

    In order to reach the cave we chose to hike to it for about 30 minutes time. The track is really easy and goes through the forest, close to the river.

    If you are wondering, the ruined building next to the cave used to be an old hotel, built at the start of the century, but now abandoned, like most old building unfortunately.

    In close proximity to the entrance of the cave you also have the Vadu Crisului waterfall.




    Hike details

    • Vertical Relief: +/- 100 m
    • Time: 2 h 30 min (approach + cave visiting)
    • Distance: 5 km 
    • Route:  from the camping follow the river on the right bank side.









    Where do I sleep?If you plan to sleep indoors there are a few guesthouses in the area. If camping is your thing than you have 3 options available: Cascada Crisului camping, La Rulote camping or wild camping next to the river. We wouldn't recommend wild camping as you don't have any sanitary facilities.

    We chose Cascada Crisului camping and it was great. The price is more than decent at 20 lei per night per person and the place is cute. Soft grass everywhere, a large place where you can eat even if it rains, hot water showers, paved parking and the whole place was really clean. They also have small huts for rent for 60 lei per night and you also get access to the shared, indoor kitchen. If you want to contact them here is their website: www.pensiuneacascadacrisului.ro



    What do I eat?There are a few guesthouses in the area but we didn't eat at any of them. The only place where have been for a coffee was Roua Muntilor and we saw they also serve food.
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    Easy cycling - asphalt, dirt road, uphill and downhill
    Istria - Pula track: 80 km +/- 550m
    Istria - Porec track:  50  km +/-  400 m






    As a Romanian, it is hardly unlikely for you not to have a small internal giggle when you hear about the city of Pula or about the national currency of Botswana, the Pula. If you don't understand the reference here then I warmly invite you to visit Romania and you should have a clear picture afterward, but in the meantime let's just say it involves some degree of cursing. We did not make it to Botswana this time, but we have focused on Istria, a cozy peninsula in Croatia.



    Even though we really liked the I Love Pula t-shirts that were for sale as souvenirs, this is not the reason why we chose to visit Istria. All in all the peninsula is a great travel destination packed with lots of history and culture but the focus of our story is on two bicycle tracks we planned for the start of spring.




    Long story short is that this year's Easter holiday came with a bonus day off so we planned to visit some more distant lands than usual.

    We chose Croatia for a few different reasons: it is a Catholic country and this year's Easter was on different dates. Another was regarding the climate: our goal was to have the best chances of good weather as we possibly could and for it to be warm. The main reason was that Croatia during the off-season is simply great - the hills and the rugged coastline make for a great bicycle track!

    Even if we had a long drive it was worth it even for only four days. Yeah, yeah, we know... out of the four days you lose two on the road but even so you still have two full days time for visiting, relaxing, cycling and anything else you want.

    Istria per say is one of the best regions in Croatia. The seaside towns are really coquettish and interesting to visit even more during the off-season when they are not packed tight of tourists from all over the world.

    Our initial plan was slightly different as we planned to have a two-day bike trip. This changed when we found a map with local bike tracks.

    Our initial plan was to travel from Timisoara to Labin, where we booked a room for the first and last night, and from there we would head on to Pula, spend the night there and return to the car the next day. The itinerary for day one was: Labin - Sveta Marina - Valtura Medulin - Pula and then the next one was: Pula - Rovinj - Pazin - Labin. The plan wasn't bad but we found some local maps that made us change the plan slightly.

    When we reached Labin we went to our accommodation, located in a small village close to town. I'll let you know more details about it in the section below and I'll continue with the story for now. Since we reached our destination in the evening we got our bikes our and wondered off to Labin.


    After a few kilometers, we reached a challenging slope that goes to the heart of the city. For me personally, it was hard and I ended up all pumped at the top. I was really disappointed with my psychical condition at that point and I noticed for the first time the effect of my lack of sustained sports activities in the last few months.

    After I came to my senses I started visiting the old and lovely medieval town. What we found was a pleasant surprise that helped me forget about the "hard" ascent. After this, we went back for some well deserved shut eye in preparation for the next two days of cycling.








    Here is a short video about our trip.
    Bike Tour - Istria - Croatia (2018) - Vimeo




    Circuit number one: South side of Istria

    We had an early morning start, had a quiet breakfast after which we packed everything and left for Pula. We left the car in the parking lot of the apartment we have booked for that night and started our bike circuit.

    We did a small city tour but nothing too important as we had enough time in the evening for such things. We started anticlockwise on our tour. In theory, we had to go through Donji Kamenjak i Medulinski Arhipelag and through Premantura until the small peninsula's south limit after which to come back through Medulin - Vodnjan - Fazana - Pula. Let's just say we got somewhat lost and missed the road to Prematura so we decided to skip the small peninsula altogether.

    We visited the oldest rock quarry in Istria, intensely used during the Roman Empire and stood amazed at all the stone walls precisely cut and carved. Besides the sea, rock is a resource Croatians have in great amounts.


    From here our direction was Medulin and we had a small off-road section - it happens when you are off on an adventure :). In any case, nothing extreme, just a few bumps and rocks. We are sure you can avoid it and find a decent road as there is nothing special about it.



    In Medulin, we fell in love with the clear blue color of the sea. Even from the shoreline your gaze can pierce all the way to the depths of the sea and combined with the clear blue sky made for a fantastic sight, one to be stored in our box of memories.




    I was never a big fan of the seaside and I never really could understand the summer fever nor did I actually want to partake to it but I can see the beauty of a rocky landscape calmly sculpted by a still sea without the tourist rush. There is a lot of beauty behind this wast open mass of water.




    From Medulin, we start going inland - through the peninsula's villages.



    Obviously, the view is not that eye-catching since the seaside in no longer in sight but the light traffic and the clear and sunny day make for a great experience overall. It was a great idea to come here!

    On our way, we encounter different sights and signs of art. We take a shoot, we laugh and we leave - just like tourist do :)



    We reach Fazana by the time we start feeling tired. This is a small seaside town - really nice with beautiful narrow streets paved with rock and old, but colorful buildings. It is worth your time to walk its streets.



    And finally - Pula! We visited the antique amphitheater and walked through the old city streets, after which we grabbed a beer and left for some well-deserved shut-eye. Our personal impression on Pula is that it is worth visiting for a few hours but there isn't a lot to do or see here. All in all, there isn't a lot of wow, but that is only our opinion.




    Track technical details

    Waypoints: Pula - Medulin - Liznjan - Sisan - Valtura - Marcana - Vodnjan - Fazana - Stinjan - Pula

    Details: The road is 95% asphalt and 5% dirt. There are no dedicated bike lanes but you mostly follow secondary roads that have low traffic. Furthermore, the drivers are accustomed to cyclists and keep a decent distance when overtaking.

    Description: The first part of the track is a continues up and down with small elevation differences, just perfect for a warm-up. The last two-thirds are almost a continues uphill climb and add up to the most majority of the vertical relief.
    The last part is the cherry on top - a continues downhill in between hills for a heroic end.






    Stats:

    • Distance: 77 km
    • Time: 8 h 10 min
    • Time on the move: 5 h 20 min
    • Vertical relief: +/- 550 m
    • Min - Max altitude: 5 - 214 m
    • Max speed: 50 km/h
    • Average speed: 14.5 km/h




    Circuit number two: West side of Istria
    For our second circuit, we started from the north side of Porec in order to also pass through the small town. We left the visiting part for the end of the day as we wanted to allocate a bit more time to it as Porec is really a beautiful town.




    We parked the car in a public parking lot in the middle of a residential area. It wasn't the best options as later we saw the large parking lots destined for tourist right next to the seaside. As we didn't do enough research about the town we chose the first free parking area we saw :)



    From Porec, we went south, anti-clockwise, in the direction of Vrsar. Another coastline gem that you shouldn't miss on your journey. It is a typical old town, with narrow streets and buildings all cramped together and colored in vivid hues. What a joy!




    From Vrsar, we start moving inland going in a constant uphill - downhill variation. As we move closer and closer to rural settlements the touristic rush fades in, making way to large groups of cyclists. Even the smallest villages have a nice design and a good vibe.
    We stop to rest in the old center of the small village of Sveti Lovrec. We have lunch under the branches of the old tree located in front of the church and then we stop for a coffee further down the road. We continue downhill back to Porec.



    In Porec, we spend a few hours wandering its narrow streets after which we decide to pack our bikes and to go by car to Rovinj and visit this town as well. We didn't go by bike because it was starting to get late in the day and we didn't want to make it back during the night. Furthermore, in order to reach Rovinj from Porec, you need to descend through a deep valley and to climb it all over again and then to repeat this for the trip back (a vertical relief of a few hundred meters).




    We heard a lot of good things about Rovinj so we were curious to see it for ourselves. Totally worth it! We wondered the streets for hours, managed to pick up our tourist's prize - the almighty fridge magnet; drank a coffee on the seaside and managed to fill up our camera's memory card.








    Good weather, nice places... what a great holiday! Croatia + bike = best deal!

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    A three-day circuit around the High Tatra Mountains in Slovakia and Poland. Moderate effort - 200 km - uphill and downhill - asphalt only.








    Tatra Tour details
    • Total distance: 203 km
    • Total time: 3 days (24h moving time) 
    • Vertical relief: +/- 3000 m 
    • Altitude height: 600 - 1300 m
    • Max speed: 53 km/h
    • Average speed: 8.23 km/h
    • Surface: asphalt
    • Equipment: MTB + panniers
    • Time frame: June 2017



    The below map displays the camping grounds we slept in and the places where we had lunch.






    Accommodation



    For obvious reasons, we chose to sleep by tent in campings. One of the first places that came to mind was Mara Camping, located on the banks of Liptovska Lake, a facility we had visited in the past and to which we will certainly return in the future. It has a lot of facilities, it is clean and it comes for a decent price. This was the starting point of our trip and here is where we would sleep again on the 4th night. In front of the camping, you can find a big parking lot where you can leave the car for free for the duration of the trip.






    Day 1: Liptovský Trnovec (Slovakia) - Tatranská Lomnica (Slovakia)

    The road

    We already knew a good part of the road as we did multiple trips in the area. We left the flatlands  close to Mara Camping behind and set out in the direction of Liptovsky Hradok on the road close to the highway.


    From here we started our slow ascent to Strbske Pleso, a mild slope with a length of 30 kilometers that gave you little neutral zones.


    You will only ride on asphalt and even though we took this trip in late June we can say the road was pretty clear and that the drivers keep a decent safety distance from cyclists.


    Until mid-day we fully took advantage of the side shade and after we stopped for lunch and to relax, what else can you do on holiday?


    The ascent reaches its maxim height close to Strbske Pleso and from here it is downhill  all the way! Woooohoooo! We really were lucky to have excellent weather on the first day!


    We visited this area so many times that we are starting to feel light at home in the High Tatra mountains.



    Accommodation


    For the second night, we chose to sleep in Slovakia at Rijo Camping located in Stara Lesna, Vysoké Tatry. The price was lower but so was the quality of the facilities offered.

    This is a small camping but it can accommodate tents and campers. They have a small shop and a restaurant that serves a few types of food. The terrace has a solid roof so regardless of the weather conditions you can eat outside. At the reception, you can buy maps, and other souvenirs and the total price for two persons, one tent and two bikes was 14 euro/night.


    Food

    As we usually travel on a budget we chose to eat our breakfasts and dinners from what we can cook ourselves, as such we usually do some shopping before camping for the night (for the evening and morning food). During the day, since we anyway need a break at some point, we stopped for lunch at facilities we could find on the side of the road.


    For the first stay, we stopped at Koliba Permonik - the facility is not on the main road, but it is not hard to find, but what is hard, is to actually leave it. It is a small, chic and rustic place where the food is absolutely delicious.





    Day 1 track details
    • Total distance: 71.82 km
    • Total duration: 7h 40 m
    • Vertical relief: +849 /- 584 m 
    • Altitude height: 603 - 1309 m
    • Surface: asphalt
    • Equipment: MTB + panniers
    • Period: 25 June 2017

    GPS Track








      Day 2: Tatranská Lomnica (Slovakia) - Zakopane (Poland)

      The road


      The next day our track included lots of ups and downs. It is a lot more relaxing to alternate the ascents and descents if possible, rather than to go half a day only up. It would also have helped Karina to correctly adjust her sit from the get-go instead of starting to get knee pains on the second day.

       
      We only stick to asphalt roads as riding with panniers on off-road is a big no-no. Not to mention the fact that Karina's panniers are more of a joke rather than the real thing, but its ok, we move on :) Route 66 baby!




      Just before we reached the day's highest altitude point we leave Slovakia behind and enter Poland. The change was somewhat dramatic. Out of the blue, the road got more narrow and the drivers participating were not that biker-friendly.


      Taking into account that we were in a hill area with lots of turns and forests at times our hearts stood still because of some close call overtakes by our fellow drivers. After the first 30 minutes, we started having mixt feelings in regards to polish people but we will endure one day!


      Just one last hill to climb and then its downhill all the way to Zakopane - Poland's largest mountain and ski resort. The resort looks really appealing and it is well organized. lots of houses, hotels, huts, and restaurants made entirely out of wood with intricate details and sculptures. We are starting to lose our baring from all this looking left and right.

      The traffic is still awful but the resort looks interesting. We get disappointed when we reach the camping ground but other than this we had a great time and good weather so with our batteries on low we hit the sack.



      Accommodation


      On our third night (the second while on the bike trip) we camped in the wonderful resort of Zakopane, Poland. The camping ground was something thrown out of horror movies, dirty, without illumination and pretty creepy in general. There was a sort of sheltered place where you could eat but it was pretty dirty and the bathrooms were straight out of Chernobyl. The price per night for two adults, a tent and two bikes was 12 euros. We survived the night but clearly, we can't recommend the place. Kind reminder, avoid going to Camping nr 97 Pod Krokwia.


      Food

      On the second day, we stopped to eat in Slovakia because that is where our hunger hit. We stopped in Zdiar, at Penzion Kamkik, where the food and the view make you not want to leave. Excellent place, warm recommendations!





      Day 2 track details

      • Total distance: 53.19 km
      • Total duration: 8 h 2 m
      • Vertical relief: +979 /- 889 m 
      • Altitude height: 791 - 1155 m
      • Surface: asphalt
      • Equipment: MTB + panniers
      • Period: 26 June 2017

      GPS Track






      Day 3: Zakopane (Polonia) -  Liptovský Trnovec (Slovacia)


      The road


      The last day of cycling is a special one as we are celebrating US, the two of us to be more exact, with all our joy, heartbeats, sweat and fun! And what a fine day it was!


      Right after breakfast, we left Poland behind in the direction of Slovakia, but before we left we admired the local architecture of Zakopane for a few more minutes. I think that these guys have some pretty fantastic wood artists. Some of the houses are upright fabulous if you don't take into account the massive quantity of wood and inherently trees that have been used for them.


      On our last day we had ups and downs but not that many as the previous day and as a side note, the road is asphalt all the way. Furthermore, we even have a few sections of bicycle tracks :)


      Just our luck as we also find a section of the road under construction where the asphalt layer is renewed and we need to zig-zag between heavy machinery. It is admirable how fast and organized Slovakians work. Everything is planned and..
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      As we simply fell in love with Cortina d'Ampezzo we thought it would be a great idea to do a via ferrata track that would give us a fantastic view over the whole valley and that would end up on Col de Rosa peak at 2166 meters altitude.Our plan was also in line with the weather forecast that announced rain and possible thunder storm in the second part of the day.




      Hiking stats
      Time: 6.5 hours
      Distance: 9.5 kilometers
      Vertical relief: +/- 1000 meters
      Routes: 408
      VF: Etorre Bovero
      VF Difficulty: 3B (Smith and Fletcher)
      Gear: Standard Via Ferrata gear
      Guide: The Dolomites - James Rushforth

      GPS Route: GPS Track

      Where is this?
      We had an early morning start (luckily the night temparature got above 0 degrees Celsius) and by 9:20 AM we were at the starting point. The footpath begins next to the main gate of Olympia Camping, located 2 kilometers north of Cortina.


      Entrance fee?
      There is no entrance fee for this hike.

      Let’s start!
      The first part features a wide and paved footpath through the forest. This is an ideal place for jogging or for walking your dog. As a side note, we found it amazing to see that some tracks have special signs that indicate if it is suitable for dogs and there are even guides with all local dog friendly hikes.



      After 1 kilometers we start our ascent on path 408, the intersection is very visible and the chances to miss it are slim.

      The ascent is relentless and our energy levels are going downstream either because the temperatures are higher today compared to past days or we are simply tired. The footpath is very visible and the markings are pretty common.



      After many short breaks we pass by some forgotten ruins that look abandoned since WWI and that offer little to no indication of what their purpose used to be. We reach Passo Posporcora from where the path tilts to the right and the slope gets steeper as we approach the starting point of the via ferrata.



      After only 1 hour and 40 minutes ascent time we were pretty tired and we were ready to encounter the starting point of the truly spectacular part of the hike. We reached the cliffs but not the ferrata. Shortly we find the first cable... finally!



      We equipped our gear in vain as the first cable sector is short and followed by another part where we need to scramble without cables. Only now the actual fun begins!




      Looking at the stone wall we think that this should be relatively easy as there are many griping points. Up, up we slowly ascend and reach another couple that was in front of us. Karina was looking at the young lady in front as she was hesitating in her approach and was thinking that they will make us loose a lot of time on this section. We give them some lead distance and the I start climbing. It wasn't really easy as I had to use the cable a lot of the time due to grips being spread apart. Karina was up next and after three attempts she got pumped up. A queue was starting to form behind her so since there was room for maneuver she stepped aside to let them pass. She hates making other people wait and she prefers to wait for others.



      This was our first via ferrata with a difficulty rating of 3B (on the Smith\Fletcher scale) and for Karina it was a real challenge due to her right wrist condition - an inflammation that reduced her mobility by about 70% and came with a lot of pain.


      Side note: If you lack via ferrata (or rock climbing) experience it might be advisable to start of with something lighter. As a note for Karina: remember to avoid difficult ferratas in combination with arm problems.

      The ferrata is about 600 meters long, has a vertical relief of more than 300 meters and can be demanding at times but it offers some great view points and a good dose of adrenaline to those that seek it.



      Of course not the whole ferrata is equally as hard. There are section where you can run, sections with great photography potential and sections that offer great view points.



      We had cloudy day which reduced our visibility somewhat but still we had a good view over Cortina and the whole valley.



      The via ferrata ends shortly before the top and the last section is just hopping from rock to rock until reaching the peak Col de Rosa.


      On the mountain top we meet the two couples we encountered during our climb and ended up talking more than a hour with a great man: 72 years old, hiking alone, still active with the American Army as a consultant, from Czech republic but living in Germany / UK and constantly spending time out in the Alps / Dolomites. We really liked the man and were happy to spend time with him on the peak and during our descent.





      Speaking of the descent, it isn't the most pleasant one: rocks, gravel, steep slope, a perfect combination to stress out your knees during the 4.7 kilometers long track.



      The bottom line is that the ferrata is not the easiest in the world but the view is totally worth it so if you feel up for it go on and try it out, you won't regret it! Another good side is that this hike is a circuit and the descent doesn't feature any ferratas. Try to approach it on good weather without rain as the rock is somewhat slippery at times.



      Where do I sleep?For this holiday the best option for us was to establish a base camp in Cortina d'Ampezzo. We chose  Camping Rocchetta and it proved to be one of the cleanest, tidiest and best-looking camping grounds where we have ever been (the only close contender would be Kamne Camping in Slovenia). The prices fluctuate based on the season but are between 20 and 35 euros per night (2 persons, one small tent and one car).

      When we will return to the area we are positive we will choose to stay here again. For your info, the camping is open all year round.

      What do I eat? You will have to pack lunch as there are no huts in this area. Also once you reach the via ferrata there are no water sources so plan accordingly.











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      An easy hike on a wide footpath that takes us to Sorapis Lake - one the most renowned natural lakes in the Dolomites.





      A few days ago Karina decided to do some acrobatics and in the process managed to reinvigorate her wrist pain and inflammation which ended up with her having limited use of it for the next couple of days. As such we decided to ditch some ferratas and to go on this hike, which was planned from the start but was sent to the back of the list because of all the other great things you can do in the area.

      The footpath was about to take us to one of those sapphire - blue lakes, so emblematic for the Dolomites.




      Hike details


      • Time: 4 hours ( 6 h 40 min with breaks)
      • Distance: 15 km  (circuit)
      • Vertical relief: ~ +/- 900 m 
      • Markings: hike path no. 215




      Where is this?
      The hike starts from Passo Tre Croci, located at about 10-11 kilometers away from Cortina d'Ampezzo and should take you about 2 hours to reach the lake. Even though it was a Thursday in September we encountered a lot of tourists on route to the lake. You will also find a chalet with a restaurant at the lake so you can enjoy a cold beer and something to eat when you reach your destination.



      Entrance fee?There is no entrance fee or any special tax you need to pay for the tracks.

      Let's start!The hike is easy all the way and it features a wide and well-marked path. For the whole duration, you are accompanied by the majestic sights of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

      For a more dramatic view, Monte Cristallo had its peak shrouded in clouds while everything else was clear.



      To our back, we can see the Tre Cime mountain group and we cherish the memories of that fantastic hike. You can check the details of it in our article here.



      After a lot of ups and downs, we reach the lake. Sorapis is located at 1923 meters altitude and it really has a stunning color.




      We take some shots and we relax for a bit but what else could we do here? It is 11 AM and the day is still long so we decided to go up the gravel path until we reached the saddle between Punta Nera and Punta Sorapis at approximately 2300 meters alt. Here we saw the grand glacier that seemed to be responsible for the lake.




      With such a view you can only wish to relax for a time and that is exactly what we have done. Since Karina had also brought her book she sat down for a good alpine read next to the glacier.




      The descent through the gravel footpath was extremely unpleasant but it was something we knew from the get-go so we didn't mind it so much.




      The hike to Sorapis is suitable for all but if you seek some thrills and adventure than you also came to the right place. There are a couple of via ferratas in the area - one right above the lake - that you could combine to do a two-three days circuit. As far as we have researched it the circuit looks really interesting with 2600 - 3200 m peaks all around. We definitely will want to include it next time we visit the area.




      Where do I sleep?
      For this holiday the best option for us was to establish a base camp in Cortina d'Ampezzo. We chose  Camping Rocchetta and it proved to be one of the cleanest, tidiest and best-looking camping grounds where we have ever been (the only close contender would be Kamne Camping in Slovenia). The prices fluctuate based on the season but are between 20 and 35 euros per night (2 persons, one small tent and one car).

      When we will return to the area we are positive we will choose to stay here again. For your info, the camping is open all year round.


      What do I eat?Food and drinks are not really a problem on this hike as it is pretty short and you can grab something at the lake at Rifugio Alfonso Vandelli.

      Other close destinations?For more details about the surrounding area, accommodation facilities, prices, and other details we invite you to check out these articles also.








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