It’s the morning after I missed the bottle in tremendous fashion peeing instead all over my tent floor.
No matter. I’m in a new moment in life. Still with Pablo and Ilze from thecrazytravel.com we leave Bosnia and Herzegovina and pedal into Croatia. Punches of joy in the air as we arrive to the historic and visually stunning medieval town of Dubrovnik. Famous for it’s part in securing Croatia’s independence.
That night our accommodation is in the form of two benches, at the side of the road, under the stars, overlooking night time Dubrovnik.
With only two benches, Pablo sleeps on the concrete pavement beside us. I am aware of the heavy existence of sexism in the world of bicycle touring. In my life back home I would speak up for equal rights. But here; now. In this situation. With roles reversed. I keep hush.
We drift off to sleep under the stars, our last thoughts hoping it doesn’t rain. We have a sheet of tarpaulin beside us if it does. But we hope it won’t. The night remains dry and we awake to the ocean, an island and Dubrovnik, an incredible scene of beauty! I may have woke up on a bench but I am feeling immensely lucky and privileged.
Pablo, Ilze and I are all very excited about leaving Dubrovnik. We have a Warm Showers host arranged for tonight with a space to camp and the promise of a shower! Luxury for the cycle tourer! A few km from Dubrovnik, the three of us are sitting on a pavement, each tapped into an unlocked Wi-Fi and tweeting our shower day excitements!
The route today is a happy one, following a little road up into the mountains allowing us magnificent views of the sea. I see my first snake of the trip. I don’t scream. It’s dead at the side of the road. I pedal on, remembering my disappointment at seeing my first kangaroo in Australia. It had been dead at the side of the road too.
After some more climbing we arrive at our Warm Showers camp. There’s a couple of Canadian girls already there. It’s discussed a few hours later how our host greeted us in his underwear. It’s news to me. I hadn’t even noticed!
I put up my tent in a time fit for the Guinness Book of Records. Shower time! The ‘shower’ turns out to be a hose at the front of the house and I could feel disappointment. But it’s four days since my last shower and nothing is ruining this moment for me. It’s the middle of October as I stand in my bikini at the side of the mountain top road and with a view of trees and sea below, I hold the hose above me. The water is freezing. Thankfully, my body becomes numb quickly and it’s not freezing anymore. Sometimes a moment such as this hits you and you realise how far removed you are from the life you left back home. Sticking soap down my bikini at the side of the road, in daylight, simply because it’s shower day is one of these moments. Back home you just wouldn’t!
I stand naked in the driveway praying a car doesn’t pass as I dress. I’m the last to cook dinner. I grab my stove in a hurry too hungry to think of closing my panniers. The dinner is bad. A laughing host points out that my jar of pasta sauce is actually for spreading on sandwiches. I have no choice but to eat it. Our host very kindly offers us wine but we need our own cups. I run to my panniers to get my ‘huge’ mug. Shining the torch into a pannier bag out jumps a rat! I jump back scared I’m going to die. I need the mug for my wine. I’m frozen with the possibility of more rats in the bag. No way am I putting my hand back in there. I’m Scottish though and alcohol is in my heritage. I retrieve my mug with great bravery! By the time I get back, glasses have been found and are already filled. Wasted effort risking rat bite for mug of wine!
After a few wines and chats about politics, consumerism and bad cycling practices, we all make our way up the 500m climb in darkness to our Warm Showers camping spot. Good night world!
Thanks for joining the journey! Love WBG xxx
Ishbel, creator of World Bike Girl, has spent her life on bicycles, from road racing, to velodrome sprinting to cycling the world. She has pedalled across 20 countries solo and promotes commuting by bicycle. Much to the dismay of her friends, she is an avid wearer of socks and sandals.