Last week I was fortunate enough to be sent to Croatia as a roving mechanic for several days. Everybody at the office told me how wonderful Croatia is, but of course I was a bit skeptical. After arriving at 11pm during a rain storm, all I wanted to
do was get inside and go to sleep. The next day I went down to check out my work area.
Not a bad spot! The weather was great for the rest of my stay there. The leader house is in a tiny village just outside of the Dubrovnik airport.
There’s nothing better than having my own huge garage to work in. There were tunes crankin’ the whole time! My job was to go through all of the bikes in this region and do whatever they needed. There aren’t any bike shops in the area, which is why they send mechanics to work on them. What a tough life!
Everybody in the region is great, here’s Ingo (the guy who did my phone interview) and one of the owners of the leader house, Matto.
John is hilarious and was a great trouble maker during my time there.
The house is actually three stories, Backroads occupies the top two.
Here is a little of what they do downstairs. Homemade wine, half a dozen different brandies, dried meats just to name a few.
The house was destroyed during a war with Montenegro about 30 years ago, and was completely rebuilt. It’s been in the family for about 500 years.
When the weather is good everybody dries their laundry outside.
My visit also happened to coincide with the annual grape harvest at their vineyard. Together with the family and two co-leaders, we clipped about 700 kilograms of grapes.
The family grows a variety of grapes together in their vineyard, and they don’t fret too much over the individual strains, since it’s all for their own consumption (and for their guests!)
The day’s haul, ready to be processed. The grapes hanging up above were also cut down, but not for wine production. They get eaten!
Those clippers are all we used for the harvesting. It felt great to be done!
John demonstrates the best way to crush the grapes and separate the stems using this hand cranked contraption. The stems come out on the right, and the good stuff falls through to the bottom.
Nikkei made us some special ‘Croatian Coffee’ on a break. It’s like Turkish coffee, only slightly sweeter.
That stuff will get you going!
Here’s Erin B, surveying the ‘fruits’ of our labor. She is with Greg, a fellow long distance bicycle adventurer who is also out in the region leading trips.
That night, everybody ate (delicious local food), drank (homemade wine and brandy) and was very merry.
More to come, but what a place!