09 October 2013

Climbing Raspadalica + BONUS Dinner in Slovenia!

While climbing in Rovinj, we met a couple from Austria who had been climbing in the region for a few weeks. The guy was smoking (not smoking hot, smoking a cigarette you saucy minx [although, yes, I must admit he was rather attractive, minus the whole smoking thing]) while he was belaying, but given that EVERY european climber smokes while crushing 5.11's, we decided to talk to him anyway.

He recommended a few places in the area, told us the crags to avoid, and was generally quite helpful. Armed with his beta, we set off confidently the next morning (Tuesday) for Raspadalica, Croatia. Internationally renown as a top paragliding destination, Raspadalica is just a tiny campground on the top of some bluffs overlooking the town of Buzet. To the north you can see Slovenia.

For a world class paragliding spot, Raspadalica was damn hard to find! In keeping with Croatian tradition, we became tragically lost en route to the crag, although we were proud to make it to the turnoff to Buzet with very little trouble (it helped that it was an "end destination" on our map, so all the signs pointed us there).

Following our guidebook's directions, we drove through the countryside, passing many tiny towns, often consisting of just one home, but clearly marked on the map. I wish I had taken more photos of the countryside. It was gorgeous. Like this, but with roads:

Sarah walking in the countryside

We thought we were on the right-ish path when we crossed the railroad tracks (as indicated in the guidebook), then turned 90 degrees to the left and faced a large hill to climb. "This makes sense, we're going to a bluff," we thought, and I downshifted our under-powered and over-loaded Chevy Spark into 1st and geared up the hill, narrowly fitting between a 500-year-old barn on one side and 1,000-year-old stone wall on the other. Up we climbed for only about a minute... before almost driving into someone's living room.


Our little road was not a road at all. It was a driveway.

Not only that, we were now parallel to the owner's kitchen window.

Seeing the colorful car of Americans, the stout Croatian woman ambled speedily towards us. She spoke not a lick of English; we greeted her with the only Croatian word we knew: "Bog." Hello. We then proceeded to have, I am not exaggerating, a 5-minute conversation using gestures. We 'told' her we were climbers. At one point we handed her our climbing book. She had no idea what we were saying, but kept giving directions anyway. Ed, next to me in the front seat, kept nodding and saying "okay, okay," even though, again, we had no idea what she was saying. Eventually, I harangued our guide book back from her, and we thanked her in the only other Croatian word we knew, "Hvala". Thank you. And we were on the road again.

The woman was so kind and clearly wanted to help us so, so much. I really regret not getting her picture, and a picture of her lovely home complete with golden retriever and a kitten sitting in the window. Here's what I found on the interwebs to barely maybe do it justice - This was the sort of place that people run away to:

Countryside home

Okay, so if you are still with me, good on you! Thanks for reading. I mean, people ask how the trip was, I can't just show pictures all the time!!!

So, back down the hill we went. We did eventually find the climbing area after driving up what can only be described as a "remote" road. Surprisingly well maintained, this road was kind of like a rally course. I definitely had the most fun I've EVER had driving while on this trip. Sarah and Linnea didn't even get (too) carsick AND both agreed I would drive their car should they ever get into rally racing, so, I'll count that as a win.

We finally found the Raspadalica campground and parked our car and walked to the bluffs. We were met with sprawling views of Buzet. The photos do not do it justice.

The bluffs


Old town Buzet. Like all Croatian cities = a church on a hill surrounded by red roofs.

We quickly roped up and started finding routes in the guidebook. Sarah put up a 5c and I warmed up on a 5a. The ratings are different in Europe, so a 5c is roughly equivalent to a 10a, and a 5a = 5.8. The climbing was decent in my opinion, although certainly on the "new" and "in-need-of-cleaning" side. Let's just say we climbed over our fair share of bushes.

Sarah warming up - watch out for that bush!

Happy after the first lead of the day

Can you see the climber through the trees?

It wasn't long before the paragliders came out to play, floating silently above our heads as we concentrated on the routes in front of us. I don't think Sarah even knew there was a paraglider above her when I took this photo!

Sarah + Paraglider = LOVE
Not a bad place to float around

As you can see, the weather was fantastic - sunny and clear although quite humid - and it just plain tuckered out Ed and Linnea, who both found comfortable places to take a load off. There were also butterflies EVERYWHERE. If you've never run through a field of butterflies, I highly recommend it.

I love this photo of Linnea, so peaceful. Ed looks quite peaceful too.

Butterfly Chaco

Monkeying around

We climbed the afternoon away and sent most of the routes within our climbing abilities. With the sun hot on our backs at 4pm, we threw in the towel and headed north, TO SLOVENIA! On the way out of town we finally got a look at where we had been climbing. Not bad, eh?

Raspadalica Bluffs

Why Slovenia you ask? Because it was close and I like passport stamps, OKAY? Plus Grandpa Max needed another stamp in his mini-passport. And, seeing as we got a stamp for leaving Croatia and one for entering Slovenia, that little dinner across the border earned me FOUR new stamps!

We dined in Koper, Slovenia, a lovely seaside town much like Rovinj, only in a different country where they have different money and speak a different language. The novelty of that will never wear off on me.



AMAZING water feature! Looks like a daffodil. 

Not a bad sunset.

Looking the other way.

Grandpa ordered the wine. The pizza was for me.

1 comment:

Matt Q said...

I think you might want to have a talk with Grandpa Max about his 'habits'...