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Chapter 3: The Riders of the Zodiac.

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I was missing a productive day and it finally came! It was a technical touristic day, so sleep a bit more than usual was allowed. And then the plan was to take the bikes and keep cycling to Trogir and have lunch there. Trogir is in Dalmatia, the most visited region in Croatia, just above Split, which is the second largest city in the country. From Split, it's only 28 kilome- ters there, which we did on a quiet, flat pedal session in exactly 1 hour and 20 minutes. A beautiful and very charming place. You can visit the entire islet in just a few hours, since Trogir is located on an islet connected to themainland by a bridge. Its historical features are strong, the first evidence of the existence of Trogir dating back to 2000 BC, and from then on the small walled city has had a complex history and been in many different hands. Around 300 BC, it was the turn of the Greeks from the island of Vis to settle on there, which at the time was called Tragyrion (Isle of Goats), a remainder of that time is an altar to the goddess Hera that was found near the cathedral. Then it was the turn of the Romans in the first century, who held control and filled the city with white marble, just as they did in Zadar and most of the Old Towns they passed through. The city prospered at the hands of the Romans and reached the Middle Ages under the protection of the Byzantine troops, another ingredient in the famous mélange of ruling influences which shaped Europe. In the 12th century, it was attacked by Saracens, destroyed and abandoned. A few years later, Trogir was reborn under the command of the kings of Hungary. Then, their domain passed into the hands of Venetians, until finally, in 1997, with so much history to tell, it was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. WOW! We were once again standing before a pile of history, who could have known that the place where me and Nhande- recó were now ambling through had once been the site of much pain and happiness, art and destruction? And awed as we were, we slowly pedaled among narrow alleyways and old houses, all of it encircled by the gorgeous blue of the Adriatic sea.

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The day started very cloudy and with a two hour boat trip, from Split to the "famous" island of Hvar. We put the bikes inside, climbed up to lobby and sat there waiting for the trip to start... We said goodbye with many sighs and one final glance at THAT ASS, and went back to our lonely dream roads along the Adriatic. We docked at the port of Stari Grad, already on the island, the weather grew darker, light rain started to fall but quickly stopped, but the cloudy weather and that chill remained throughout the day. And since we were on Hvar island, wehad to visit the village of Hvar, which was in the opposite direction of the continent, look it up in the map and you'll understand.

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And night was falling and we were on the lookout for a place for spend the night, and it wasn't that hard, we soon found a dead end path, very well hidden and which couldn't be seen from the road, and we set up camp right there, but not before Bruno was startled by and complained about some spiders he had seen up in the tree branches. With the camp set up and the bikes resting, it was time for dinner, we even started up a "pre-sleep" fire to warm ourselves up a little. And the night was stupidly beautiful - and cold -, very starry and perfect for a beautiful night's sleep and rest to go back to cycling the next day to God knows where. And the nightfall was followed by crickets that chirped freely outside.

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Talk about a productive day! 6.30 AM, already up, with the tent and the grass all wet from the night dew, a fucking chill in the air and nothing to eat. We made coffee with powdered milk just to warm our bodies and then hit the road towards Sucuraj to catch the boat to Drvenik. A super nice, super calm biking session, especially in the part when we started to descend towards our final destination and we could see the whole continent from there, the beautiful mountains that appeared little by little as the sun got warmer and the clouds dissipated. We cycled 27 kms in 1h20 and we were soon already at sea level and with signs of life in the small village, as well as some Asian tourists, they just pop up out of nowhere, unbelievable...

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On our way out of the town of Drvenik, going up towards the road that led into Bosnia, we saw many, but I do mean manytangerines trees on the sidewalk, most of them already so ripe that they just fell off the trees by themselves. I filled a whole bag with "mexericas" - bergamots, tangerines, Ponkan oranges, whatever you want to call them -, tied it to the back of my bicycle, and we left loaded with tasty, orange-colored balls, dessert for three whole days! There were also lots of pomegranates along the way.


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And with that coast full of islands, with the weather, body and mind helping, we did a great and productive day, and in 4 hours of pedaling we were already in Dubrovnik, it was 74 kms in a single ride, without haste, just carried along by the flow of the Adriatic breeze. Before officially entering the city, still on the path, we passed the Dubrovnik bridge, a large suspension bridge, and from there it was possible to see the sea making headway into the continent and forming the city bay, a beautiful view of the sea with beautiful houses on the parallel hills, and beautiful ocean liners moored in the port ready to receive several elderly retirees waiting to spend their last breaths...

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And with everything already sorted out, it was time to a quick tour of Old Town, it didn't even take us long to come across an extremely beautiful place! Everything there seemed intact, there were no ruins, everything was perfectly preserved, it wasn't for nothing that major shows and films picked that city for filming, after being there - in loco - it was easy to see why.

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And to celebrate, nothing better than a beer straight from the bottle! As per tradition, Bruno and I bought two bottled beers and went out drinking from the bottle... Ugly and inelegant, you'll say, right? No! It was cool! We even toasted to our adventure while holding the bottles, right on the steps where the iconic "Shame, Shame, Shame" scene from Game of Thrones was shot, if you haven't watched the show and don't know what I'm talking about, fire it up on your computer and you'll soon know, if you don't want to watch it, it doesn't matter, it was cool all the same.

Shame. Shame. Shame.
Embarrassed Shame GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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And the day - my day - remained very special, in an extraordinarily special place, with special moments and special people. And since I was staying at the foot of King's Landing, let's go there for a visit. And the place itself was no different, beautiful! We climbed up to the fort, glimpsed the clear waters that bathed the shore all around us, paid 4 euros and entered the castle for a visit. We even staged an iconic - and comical - battle between Bruno and me in the same scenario where many of the battles in the HBO show took place.

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October 28, 1986, 30 years ago this skinny, stubbon hick who's writing to you was born. Who would imagine it, I became 30 in the city of Dubrov- nik, Croatia, lost along the Adriatic coast, in the middle of my adventure cycling through Europe, after thousands of kilometers traveled by my own legs and more than 12,000 kms away from my homeland... There I was, on a Friday morning, sitting at a humble kitchen table in a humble hostel, in a city with over four thousand years of history, conquered and explored by many. All those explorers are gone, but their marks and their history remained... And what a history, my friends, what a beauty, the Pearl of the Adriatic, as they call this land I was standing on for my thirtieth birthday, celebrating another year of life... Or was it one year less of life? I know the idea of life is limited, but what we do with it, what we create and go through during it, if it's well lived, that whole story, is immortal. Just like all the people who have passed through that place and are now gone, their stories and their marks remain there, and always will. I never liked to celebrate birthdays (mine, at least), although I'm convinced that this is indeed a date worthy of celebration, but that "Happy birthday, congratulations on another year of life" thing never really convinced me...

(...) One less year of life. I really like that Fernando Pessoa says the greatest certainty of humanity is death. He says that "Man is a postponed corpse", and so we are. One less day with each passing day, and people say "Congratula- tions, happy birthday. Another year of life", but if you think about it, what it really means is one less year of life. Of course, saying it like that makes itsound like something sad, depressive or negative, but on the contrary, maybe this is one of the most aggrandizing ideas in life, because from the moment we become aware that we have one less day with each passing day, that we are a postponed corpse, each day, each moment becomes an investment and has worth in itself. And thinking like that, with a more philosophical point of view, I see myself today as a person more aware that life is a limited engagement and that one day it will end, of course, being aware that not everything is roses, thankfully, otherwise life would be too boring. The pros and cons. And part of this process that I've been going through, that I try to make the most of, is knowledge, acquiring knowledge, that always cheered and embiggened me, despite the hard work. Pros and cons again. And when I think of a more scientific and physical side of things, in this infinite universe with billions of galaxies and each galaxy with billions of stars, in the end we're not all that important, and not being all that important makes me feel free to my construction and the construction of my story. Happy birthday, Lucas, and congratulations on one year less of life, less one year well lived. (...)

And let's finish this day talking with a local...


Quer saber como é pedalar e se aventurar pela Europa? Saiba todos os detalhes da aventura com o livro "Pelos Cantos da Europa", já a venda nas principais livrarias e plataformas digitais!

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