The Spoked Traveller | Melanie Chambers
Trails and advice cycling around the world as solo female cyclist and adventurer
mountain bike, adventure travel, cycling travel, bike tours, outdoor, solo travel, female mountain biking, badass female cycling, female travellers, women travel, adventurous
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Author: Melanie Chambers

Ok, that is an ominous title, but yes, myself and a Welsh girl I met were certainly stuck on a mountain rock face in Croatía's Paklenica National Park (southern end of the Velebit massif above town of Starigrad). Long story short, and I will provide details, but we took a wrong turn and started climbing the rock climbing trail --not the hiking trail. We climbed three rock faces, teetered on rock ledges, up hand width crevices and flat rock using only wire rope attached to the rock. It was the third one, when Emma's legs were shaking, that she decided to call the police. "Mel, I can't do it. I can't go any farther." I looked down, at the rock face and rope --attached to the rock we just climbed. I thought to myself, well we certainly can't go back. So, there we were, on a rock ledge facing the ocean. Stuck. The conversation played out something like this:

I am staying at an agroturism place off a gazillion side roads about 17 kilometers from Sibenik; closest pub is three kilometers down the road--horror.  Wonderful people. I emailed one of the daughters, Ivana, months before I came. I was so excited to finally meet her after so many emails, we hugged when we first met! They even have a dog named Stella--fate! I arrived, tired from driving for about five hours to a glass of wine and homemade cookies. Oh, and a flower on my plate. My room is in the background. Birds chirping, water flowing...ahh.

  In Zagreb, Croatia's capital, I came across a museum so potent, it made me cry, laugh and think --more than any other museum I have ever visited. Now, to be fair, I am not a museum type person. For one, I don't like to walk slow. But, this one is different. It is called the Museum of Broken Relationships . It began as a travelling exhibit and now has a permanent home in Zagreb. Each exhibit is a memento or piece of memorabilia, of sorts, from someone's relationship. Accompanying each item is a poignant explanation of its significance. Some ended in grief, others, it's

Ok, arrived very late and here is what I know about this city. It is a mixture of Paris cafes (they are everywhere), and Slavic charm and history. Oddly enough, some cafes only serve drinks--absolutely no food. Hmm. And, it seems that everyone smokes. Saw a pregnant woman puffing away. Another thing: everyone speaks English. (everyone as in anyone I stopped for directions).        

So, it was my Spanish room mate's last night. So, for lunch we went to a restaurant called Barcelona! You must make reservations (only open for lunch) because the chef gets fresh seafood from the market daily and needs to know how many to feed! That is fresh. The place feels like a kitchen.         Our anti pasti consisted of octopus, squid, fish of all kinds in vinegar etc...         Then---pasta for the main. Full?  Ah yeah, bloated woman ovah-here.      

Sold first story to Toronto Star about kids in Italy. Will post in June! Yippeee. Here is how pizza is done -- Italian style. No stuffed crusts here, man. Oven cooked and thin. I am researching...

America has Western ghost towns; Sardinia has abandoned mining villages. On the southern west coast, La Costa Delle Miniere (Coast of the Mines) is a stream of some two dozen abandoned mines; it's creepy. Giant stone buildings built into the stone – rocks chipping away year after year. Rusted metal conveyors bent and misshapen. On my bike trip we encountered them daily. South of the town of Buggeru, the abandoned mines cover about 3,500 kilometers and 85 different municipalities-- many coastal; it's a UNESCO heritage site.