Montenegro and Barc - two great experiences.

If Budva reflects the pace of Montenegro, then this tiny nation of 600,000 is going to boom. New buildings, a growing inflow of foreign investment and a government looking to boost economy though commercial and tax benefits, are signs of willingness to build this country and seize future growth. 

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From majestic mountains to the deep blue hues of the Adriatic Sea, the Montenegro coastline is appealing.  

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Tourism is rising, but the only real set back - that is from Budva - is no shuttle service to the Dubrovnik airport. No bus service is available to the airport and 100€ for a one way taxi ride is a bit steep for one person.  

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Spent a relaxing day walking the streets, buying a new power bank and talking to people. I had a great talk with Barc. 

Dont let size mislead you, this man has a big heart too!!! 

Dont let size mislead you, this man has a big heart too!!! 

MEET BARC

Involved in property development, Barc is a man with a history. He lost both his parents at the age of three and at 17 he joined the army, developing a solid career within security and international peace-keeping. We talked about life, values and change. What I learned from Barc today: • Life is a journey and one cannot forecast the storms or destinations. One has to accept the road map even though, in retrospect, we may have wished a different route. • Values are often tested by circumstances outside our control. The more we mature, the more we understand the impact of our personal values on the quality of life we want to live. • Change is not a closed book. Despite the pain, we must embrace and accept change. Use all experiences, whether positive or negative, as a “game-changer parameter” to become a better person. Thank you Barc for an inspiring conversation and a reflective, caring attitude that made my day richer. 

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No Buddha in Budva

Oct. 17: Leave the small quiet village of Molunat and paddle the last two hours of the Croatian coastline.

Molunat is a gem. A small village not far from the Dubrovnik airport, it offers the beauty of the Adriatic for a nice price.  

Molunat is a gem. A small village not far from the Dubrovnik airport, it offers the beauty of the Adriatic for a nice price.  

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I cross the largest passage ever, three km from land for 12 km. A bit of angst when setting out, but paddling with another person helps. The weather is calm and stable. 

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A little fortress now manned by Montenegro's military. 

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A small little bay, RT Veslo, caught our eye. Perfect lunch spot. Doesn't get better.  After a short break, we paddle towards Budva and find a perfect place at Jaz Beach. 

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Set up tent as darkness settles in.  

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Oct. 18: Colder as I slip out of my sleeping bag. Quick to get on the fleece and get warm. A quick coffee and the sun surfacing above the neighboring mountain helps too. 

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Arriving in Budva, we checked in with the police. Got our Montenegro in-checking clearance. Bit of a process as we should have done this in an earlier city along the way. The police were nice and helped us out. 

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We asked a diving shop about storing our kayaks with them. Yes. Ok. Now to find our apartment room.  

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Found a room with a view for 12€ in Budva. I took it.    

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After nine days of paddling I will take a break. Here for two days   

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No victory in war.

Oct. 15: Early morning we paddle silently, leaving the island of Jakljan in the distance. Sorrow. War desolates and isolates people. No victory in war. Only defeat. I take the outside route around the island Sipan and also Lopud and Kolocep before reaching the fortress of Dubrovnik.

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Along the way, we see a cave and take some photos. In Dubrovnik, I stop, take some shots and down a hamburger to get a hit of protein. 

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Dubrovnik is a nice tourist trap. I avoid the inside wall and explore the outside. Happy about that!   

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We find a place to park our kayaks. No problem.  

We find a place to park our kayaks. No problem.  

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I meet two very colorful girls from Stoke. We take a photo.  They were so pleasant; I would love to spend an evening with these unique creatures. I am sure there would be lots of laughter. 

A short stop in Dubrovnik and then to Cavtat, a mere 12 km paddle. On way, we meet a fellow paddler Dino. He provides us with a wealth of information about the coastline. We try to find a place to stay at a nice outdoor bar, but it closes at 22:00 and we want to be in bed before that.

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A beach front property that belongs to Hotel Croatia catches me. Soon the tent is in place, beside some jet skis under the stars. 

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Keeping the kayaks above the tidal line is important. Even though sure they were safe, I was up during the night to check. 

 

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Oct. 16: The church bell wakes us at 06:00 and I head into town around 06:50. Though ready to paddle to Molunat, a morning coffee and croissant is a good option. The bakery is open and a chocolate croissant and coffee are soon in my hands.

 Four hours later, we arrive at our destination. Bit short tour but good to rest. In the 22 km stretch, there was only one place to stop. Paddling in rough weather would have not been an option. The coastline is rocky and impossible to access land. Weather is a major factor in decision making. 

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MY SADDEST DAY: CROATIA SAVE THE JAKLJAN & REPAIR THE BAD

Paddling into a beautiful cove, I thought I had found the perfect spot on Jakljan, an uninhabited islet in Croatia, part of the Elaphiti Islands archipelago off the coast of southern Dalmatia. I had found the most beautiful place, but war and bitterness had desolated its beauty. Today was to be the saddest day of my journey. 

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This cove was a beautiful summer camp for needy, homeless and sick Croatian children. A gorgeous scenic summer camp built in 1974 comprising small, tasteful white bungalows with orange tiled roofs, this vacation hideaway brought happiness into the lives of countless kids.

But the island has a history. In May 1945 over 100 soldiers from Germany and Croatia were killed by Tito's Yugoslavs without trial on the island's shore and buried in a mass grave. This was not discovered until 2013.  

The Croatian War of Independence,  fought from 1991 to 1995 which declared independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, left its toll on this little island. It was closed and the caring and good spirit of kindness left the island. 

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Today the small bungalows and beach that once brought a smile and peace to children, has become a dumpground. 

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People have ruined the premises. No laughing kids. No peace. No harmony with nature. 

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Littered beaches.  Unkept property. Ping pong tables shattered. Bungalows filled with beer cans, reeking with the smell of urine and in disarray, could be cleaned and put into order. 

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Who can repair the bad? It is up to the people of Croatia and Dubrovnik to bring back the happiness. Think of the Red Cross making this little cove to be a place of delight once again. 

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Think of this still quiet cove filled with the spirit of caring and kindness again. Do you want this to happen? I most certainly do. Give peace a chance Croatia and Dubrovnik. Repair the bad and make Jakljan an island of purpose and not a plantation of fig trees for commercial gain  - of which it is doing right now!!!!

Please post this blog to all friends in Croatia.  

Breathtaking. Boundless beauty. Best ever.

Oct. 12: Paddled from Ruskamen beach towards Podgora. Weather was good. Calm and easy. 

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Stopped at the Macic Restaurant for a morning coffee.  

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The scenery is breathtaking. So beautiful.  

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Majestic mountains and clear blue water. Croatia is a pearl.  As beautiful as the Med but much, much cheaper. Food is good and you get a great portion for reasonable money.  

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Paddled further and took a 30 min stop at Beach Gama. No currents or wind to deal with.  

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Finally we reach Podgora and set up tent. Later Trygve and I find a small restaurant and enjoy the sunset and a good meal. No more tin can cold food - at least tonight. 

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Oct. 13: Today we paddle a breathtaking 50 km. Every muscle is sore, but a great day along the Croatian coastline.  

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Leaving Podgora, a  beautiful village in an area called Igrana appears as we round a corner. 

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Paddle 1.5 hours and take a coffee in Drvenik, a silent village out of a postcard. The waiter worked for the Norwegian, Bergen-based shipping company called Seatrans. 

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This coastline is great. The water is clear. The people are super. And the food is great.  We paddle all the way to Komarna. Find a nice beach and pitch our tent. 

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Our tent is just at the bend. Hiked up to the crest to see the sunset. Peaceful. The way our world should be. That is, if we take care of each other.  

Peace. Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Blue skies. Blue water. Blue Croatia.

After a heavy rain the night before, I wake up to quiet waters and blue sky. Have a small breakfast and catch up with my personal diary. I also make several emails to confirm the Piece Prize program in Montenegro and Tirana, Albania. 

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My brother-in-law arrives at 12:00 and invites me for lunch. We have chicken, chips and a salad.

We pack the kayaks while Pedrig, the owner of the small apartment where we stayed, looks on. 

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Pedrig and his sister run a nice apartment complex catering to Scandinavian and European tourists.  

Pedrig and his sister run a nice apartment complex catering to Scandinavian and European tourists.  

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Just over 14:00, we head east down the Croatian coast. The water is calm. Conditions are top. We cover around 23 km before spotting a suitable location at beach Ruskamin, just east of Omis, to put up our tent. We ask the owner of Bikini Bar if we can pitch the tent beside his property. He says yes and then invites us to eat homemade cured ham and fresh fruit from his garden. He is in good spirits. Business was great during the summer season and now he has closed shop for the year, but somehow he still likes the bar. 

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We stay for a while then I get my toothbrush and smother it with blue toothpaste. I am not allowed to leave without taking a picture to support his local soccer club. Just loving Croatia. 

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One tent, two men

Oct.8: Now down to one tent, I share the space with Jon Fredrik. We get up early to paddle. It will be a long, hard day of some 48 km. 

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The morning is fantastic. Glass surface as we skim over the sea. The only ripples are those from the hull of the kayaks. We don't talk. Just paddle and enjoy the golden silence. 

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We stop for lunch in Rogoznica: bread, cheese, mayo and water. An hour later we are back heading towards Trogir. 

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We see Trogir in the distance. It looks closer than it seems. Seemingly, we paddle forever. Finally we make it and dock our kayaks at a marina. I find a small apartment for 30€ and the hot soothing shower feels heavenly. 

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We think about food and find a small restaurant. It's quaint. Good Croatian cuisine. On the way back, some guys were dancing on a boat. I stopped to talk and soon we were invited onboard. Hah. After a couple lectures on peace, I begin to wonder if they will remember a word I said tomorrow. Nice group of guys from Düsseldorf, with definitely a nice group of headaches tomorrow. 

Oct. 9: After a nice breakfast with our host, we head east to Split, Stobrec to be exact.  

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Smooth kayaking- we covered some 25 km in 3 hours.  

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Beautiful properties and breathtaking scenery. This is just as good, if not better, than the Med. 

Stobrec is a quaint little harbour away from the hustle and bustle of Split. A good place to relax and rest.  

Stobrec is a quaint little harbour away from the hustle and bustle of Split. A good place to relax and rest.  

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Oct. 10: Today at 06:25, I said goodbye to my paddling buddy Jon Fredrik. I went back to bed and later spent the day preparing two videos from the Piece Prize event last week in Zagreb.  

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Paddling the coast of Croatia has been less troublesome than warned. We have encountered no currents along the coast and the waters are more or less calm. The Bora winds are always looming, causing some anxiety, but the biggest problem is actually getting to shore. The islands are mostly outlined with sharp, edgy-formed rocks. It is impossible to lift the kayak out of the water without damage. If the wind blows up and you need a safe haven, well you can just about forget it, that is, if you don't judge your distances correctly. Two nights ago we wanted to stop paddling at 17:30 and ended up finding a seven meter open shoreline at 19:00, just enough time to get the tent up before darkness set in. 

Croatia. Capsizing & and a beautiful Czech family.

Oct.5:   Thursday I said goodbye to Tatjana and her father-in-law. They run a nice B&B in Polvjana, Croatia. They stored my kayak and also drove me back and forth to Zadar two times. They are good people. 

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Sharing. The last part of my journey is about sharing. Endre left on Tuesday and Jon Fredrik came. I look forward to paddling with him. 

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We paddle hard to Petrcane. Here we stop and have coffee and meet a nice guy who with his wife are going to have a child. We talked about responsibility and addictions. And how important it is to have direction in life. He wants to move ahead and I am sure he will be a good father. 

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Zadar is our goal. We make it just about through but end up pitching out tent close to the center. Was fun. I talked to a group of Croatias who were smoking weed. A group of 7 ranging from 15 - 51. Talked about peace, life and Norway.  

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I talked to two girls from Spain. They walked by our tent and we talked about working in Germany and the Piece Prize and helping others. 

I talked to two girls from Spain. They walked by our tent and we talked about working in Germany and the Piece Prize and helping others. 

All tucked in.  

All tucked in.  

Oct. 6: Up early and ready to move. The day looked promising and we were anxious to paddle.  

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Paddled to "Sveti Filip I Jakov" and tried to avoid the rain and wind by having lunch. 

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Talked to the owner, Danilo, about cancer and the journey of life and love. Interesting. 

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The wind picked as we entered the bay outside a small village called Pakostane. A huge gust of wind around 40 knots capsized me and I got into the kayak and paddled to shore. While putting up the tent another huge gust of wind took my tent for a thirty meter flight. Needless to say it is totally ruined. Now sleeping in the other tent. Sharing. Hah. 

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THE HIGHLIGHT

The highlight of this day was meeting the wonderful Hlousek family from the Czech Republic. They saw us tackling the crazy winds and ran after the tent. Later they invited us into their RV and made us tea and toast with cheese and ham. Krystof was an amazing translator. We were really impressed with him and his wonderful family. 

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Oct. 7: When the wind died somewhat, we paddled out of Pakostane, winding our way along the islands toward Split. We stopped in Vodice for a burger - unknowingly a very good choice. We had planned to stop at 18:00 to tent, but the island we were following had jagged shores and no possible entry. We ended up paddling another 1.5 hours before finding a spot. Tired and exhausted. 

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RED HEARTS, BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS & A SILENT HERO IN ZAGREB!!!

Oct. 2:  Today I passed by a colorful church and stumbled into a very interesting museum called the Museum of Broken Relationships. Here, I was reminded that life is often full of disappointments. The museum comprises objects of memories that people have donated. Whether a key, a record, a dress or a shoe, each object has a story of rejection or an ending of love.  Very insightful and a place where one might feel a shared common experience with people who have suffered a broken relationship. 

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Oct. 3: Endre takes the plane home and Jon Frederik arrives. I spend the day gathering my thoughts about peace and prepare for a major day with The American International School of Zagreb. 

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Oct. 4: I start the day at 06:30. My host Paul - the director of The American International School of Zagreb - has an urgent matter to handle.  At 08:20 I meet and talk to the grade 11 & 12 classes about The Piece Prize and the power of small acts of kindness. After two more lectures, I - together with the 9th grade class - head into the center of Zagreb for a "Peace Attack." We hand out 200 red hearts to residents and tourists. What a great day. The school was so prepared and the students were energetic. 

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What a great bunch of young people (below) together with a group of random tourists. 

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SILENT HERO

Martina Hodinj (19)

Initiative and inspired, this are the two words that describe this young lady. She has started her volunteering career with 14 years, when she entered grade 9 where she joined the schools volunteering club. During these four years of volunteering, she has initiated and participated in numerous voluntary actions, events, humanitarian fairs which involved helping elderly and helpless people, homeless people, children from nursing homes, orphans, people with severe illnesses, migrants passing through Croatia, people affected by floods, and many more. But she has not only helped other people, she has also actively promoted volunteering in other schools and in the media. She says that she always goes happy to bed, because she knows that she has changed someone’s live.

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I am so proud of having met Martina (19). What a wonderful girl. She was the highlight of my day and makes this journey so significant for me. Thank you Martina. Keep strong!!!!! 

INTERCOSTAL RIB STRAIN!!!

Yesterday I started to feel this nudging ache on the lower side of my right rib cage. Towards the end of the paddling day, I winced every time my right-hand stroke hit the water. Visited the doctor and got a small needle with some deflammatory ingredient. Not too sure it helped. Breathing is ok, but certain movements send a razor sharp zap through my right rib cage. 

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Thus, no paddling today. Just can't be done. Decided to spend a 1/2 day on the beach.  And then, cleaned out the kayak and stored it at a B&B. Endre and I took the bus from Zadar to Zagreb.

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I am joining forces with the International School of Zagreb for a Peace Attack. In addition The Piece Prize has found a Silent Hero and will donate €1000 to help those who are isolated in this capital city. 

Over many generations people have made European countries their home, have helped build and found they can belong here. But we cannot take our diversity for granted. It is no use sharing a street or a suburb with people from different backgrounds if we do not know them. Loneliness is at epidemic levels, prejudice threatens to pull communities apart.

We cannot love our neighbour if we do not know our neighbour, understand them, their culture and identity. We all need to build friendships that cement our society together, crossing differences that can become barriers such as age, social background, ethnicity, sexuality, gender and faith - working for peace alongside all people of goodwill.

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Daily, I share with people that small acts of kindness make a difference. No, I cannot change the world. But yes, I can touch someone's heart there and then. That makes a difference. It really does.  

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Coffee with an elderly lady at a France boatlock.  

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Dinner with an Egyptian christian outside Avignon. 

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I listened to this girl's story (left) and wrote her a page of encouragement. 

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I chatted with this man for 2.5 hours on the way to the PO river.  

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Met this lovely Croatian couple and renewed our comittment to respect others and believe in the good.  

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These smiley people really encouraged me after a long hard challenge day. Thanks!!!!! 

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I got a great hug from this lady who made a super dish of pasta and clams.  

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Had a great talk about peace with these wonderful people who manage a super delicatessen store. Could have talked for hours, but had to move on.

Our acts of kindness can form the beginnings of a shift towards a more peaceful and compassionate culture.  

Dean Martin, Slavko & Maida

Sept. 29: Last night we paddled into a little village called Punat. There we found a nice B&B for 25€. The lady who rented rooms was a widow. Humble and gracious. I am so drawn to these type of people. Down to earth, good, trying to make ends meet.  A humble attitude is so contagious. Up early, we take a boat across the channel to the island of Rab. Bora winds of 30 knots made this voyage dangerous. Take the safe route. 

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Toni, the captain, was an operator - in more ways than one. He reminded me of Dean Martin. Just had that smile and style.  

A martini at 08:00 in the morning isn't a good idea. We stuck to water. 

A martini at 08:00 in the morning isn't a good idea. We stuck to water. 

Made it. Time for a picture with the Captain and his hired hand.  

Made it. Time for a picture with the Captain and his hired hand.  

Along the route we measure the wind at some 40 knots. Impossible to kayak. Made the safe choice, the right choice. He deposited us at Loper, Rab. We waited an hour for the wind to die. It didn't but we set off. 

After a challenging hour or two, we made it around a point to calmer waters. Whew!!! 

After a challenging hour or two, we made it around a point to calmer waters. Whew!!! 

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Paddled to a small village, Kampor, and met Valentina - a lovely waitress who had a big heart.  Just before sunset we found a place to tent. The night was silent and the morning came quick. 

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Sept. 30: Up at 07:00 paddling by 08:00.  Aiming to do around 40 km. Zadar in my sights for Sunday. 

The Adriatic is beautiful.   

The Adriatic is beautiful.   

First stop is Mandre. Find a store and buy cheese, ham and a baguette. Make a great sandwich and combine this with a good coffee.  

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For some reason, I was exhausted and fell asleep right there and then. Hah. Wow. Nice to dip into wonderland before 12:00.  

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The next leg was over 20 km. Stopped once to relax and consume water.  

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The mountains are majestic but cause amazing winds. After Zadar, they should be better.  

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Arriving in Polvjana, my ribs are sore. I can barely paddle. Each stroke sends an intense pain from my lower right hand rib cage up to my chest. Yesterday was a strenuous day paddling. Today I realize that I have muscular or rib problem. I could hardly paddle the last 10 km. Just gritted my teeth and moved forward. 

On the beach I met Slavko and his lovely wife Maida. They drove me to Pag in search of a pharmacy. Everything was closed and ended up in an emergency center. After a needle in the bum and a quick examination, I was discharged. The nice couple from Slovania drove us back to Polvjana. So generous and kind. Thank you. 

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Together we are better. Small acts of kindness do help. Just ask me!!! 

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Croatia is beautiful. Water. Mountain. Countryside.  

Force 8 winds

Sept 27: Paddled out of Opatija. The marina owner was interested and took some pictures. Beautiful village. Elite. Made our way to the island of Cres. 

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A two-hour crossing and we are here. No currents, just some nice sized waves to battle. Happy to get over. Stop and rest.  

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Paddled a further 10 km then stopped due to rough water. It was a good choice.  

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Waited an hour then paddled a bit further. Stopped. And then crossed to the island of KRK. There we met a group of lovely Germans who invited us on their boat for a meal. A great evening.  

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Random people gave us a great evening. Talked about the Piece project. Ate great pasta. Laughed and took some pics.  

They slept on the sailboat. We slept in the bush.  

They slept on the sailboat. We slept in the bush.  

Sept 28: Late start. The Bora winds are forming. 9 km and we hit wind gusts of about force 8. Make our way to KRK village. Take a long break. Discuss the next paddle. Decide too risky to continue. Eat lunch and have a long desert. 

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Decide to paddle a short 8 km to Punat. Find a boat which will take us to Rab tomorrow at 08:00. Hope the winds will settle, but it is still blowing. 

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Force 8 winds.  Need two people to tackle that!!! 

Teenagers in Trieste

Sept. 25: The last part of the journey will be hopefully duo paddling. Found a place to stay in Isola, Slovenia. People are warm and friendly. Sunday was pouring down and I used the day to make a video. See:  https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=q8OfA8bIlAU

Faustina was cared for by a loving foster family. She recognizes the influence they have had on her life. Truly we are better together. Humanity needs humanity. 

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Sept. 26: After spending the night in Trieste, I get up early to make final notes. Today, I will talk to 60 students at the International School of Trieste. 

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A nice welcome. I spent some time discussing the day with the school director, Carrie.  Lovely lady with a lot of responsibility on her shoulders.  

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I talk to a class of 6-7th grade students. I show them my route and we discuss where I sleep, what I eat, am I lonely and do I have children. If so, what do they think about all this?

 

 

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The next class is older and the lecture is different  Teenagers are great. Attentive, bright and thoughtful. Afterwards I eat lunch with the student council and answer a lot of questions. 

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The sessions go quick and then I am interviewed by a journalist. 

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We take a taxi back to Isola, and talk to another group of local journalists. When finished, Maja offers to drive us to a little village called Opatija. The currents around Pula are strong. We opt to lessen the long route of 140 km by driving 40 km. It's a good choice. It's a safe choice. 

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The km are ticking off. How will the Adriatic be? Will it treat us kind? Am enjoying having Endre, a super guy and an amazing paddle partner.  

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Otherwise, I miss home. And the crisp Norwegian autumn air. 

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HARDEST PADDLE - EVER

I have - to date - experienced the most energy-tapping paddle in my life. Crossing a bay of 20 km, facing strong currents, is a hard and tough paddle. To complicate matters, I tried two crossings.

Sept 22: After a great evening with new friends, Sergio and Irena, I got up early to get the calm conditions. Heavy dew. Everything soaked. Will have to dry at lunch. We leave "Brian," a small village that grows 20 times during the summer, and wonder what will be around the next corner. 

Keep the balance Endre!! 

Keep the balance Endre!! 

We head out through the waterways, finding routes and moving forward.  

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Paddling in silence collects my thoughts. Been thinking about all the people I have met. Most everyone has the same equation for life: they want security of employment to provide for basic needs,  they want to assist their children in every possible way to move in the right direction, and they have dreams; things they wish to do. People just want to make ends meet and find personal contentment. Many are not envious of those who have more, they find happiness in where they are, the people around them, and contributing to society. These provide a sense of meaning and worth. 

Entering Parco Naturela Val Grande

Entering Parco Naturela Val Grande

Take a long lunch break and dry out the wet gear.  Gear gets wet and smells. Airing is important, even for our body. :)

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Paddle silently beside some interesting thatched structures on our way through  Caorla Veneto. 

Paddle silently beside some interesting thatched structures on our way through  Caorla Veneto. 

Slowly and surely we make our way across Latina di Marano. By map it looks possible, but low tide conditions make this a jigsaw puzzle. Spotting a vacant beach, we go for it. Got to get that tent up before sunset. After 47 km, A safe haven is once again secured close to Portobuso.

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Sept 23: A CHALLENGING TEST OF ENDURANCE

Another heavy dew. Tents are soaked. Just pack the gear - sand and all- and will take everything out to dry at noon.

We decide to take the outer route. The sea is very calm and paddle a good 10 km without problem. In the distance is a tip of land. It's Slovenia. We go for it. After 900 meters, we encounter major currents. We progress steadily but not far. Seems like 5 strokes for every meter. I see a fisherman and head to his boat. I had problems holding on to the boat. Wow. Got to get out of this. Retreat and head to Grado Pineta.

It took us two hours from where we turned to reach Grado Pineta. That was a hard, hard paddle.  

It took us two hours from where we turned to reach Grado Pineta. That was a hard, hard paddle.  

After a hearty lunch and two hour break, we set out again. We will paddle across the bay. If it gets too hard we will retreat.  

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This lady knows how to make a nice meal.  

This lady knows how to make a nice meal.  

Retreat is not an option. The locals said this crossing was 12 km. By our calculations, it was actually 23 km. 4.5 hours later, I paddle into Izola, Slovenia.  

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Endre and I finally arrive. Though a challenging crossing, it was beautiful and picturesque. Happy to be on shore.  

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Accomplishment. Though life can be hard, small accomplishments provide a sense of satisfaction. I am thankful for each kilometer. Thankful for my children and the years of good memories. Yes, life is challenging and we sometimes just have to endure the rough roads. But that is life, part of our own individual journey.  

LOL.  And sometimes during our challenges we can fish.  

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SERGIO & IRENA TOUCHED MY LIFE

Paddled 40 km along the Canale Carson to a small village called Brian. 

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The Italians let us through the boat locks and everyone is happy. Especially me.  

We paddle a good 20 km to a city called Jesolo. There stopped to buy a power bank and eat lunch. Lovely city. Bought some great food and a local delicatessen.  The people were so nice and giving. So mich appreciated. 

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Great food. Lasagna. Chicken. Tomato styled beans. Brussels sprouts.   Very very good.  Kayaked a further 20 km and stopped at Brian. There, we met a lovely couple who ran a small local restaurant. Had a wonderful evening talking about life and peace. The meal was so delicious and good. This couple are so typical of many. Hard working. Good hearts. And seek to provide the best they can for their children. Their hospitality and generosity touched me. I wish them all the best in the next years. They deserve the best. 

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Endre from Norway is paddling with me know. Really great to have his motivation and knowledge onboard.  

 

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The day has been terrific. Super. Lovely scenery. Great weather. And most of all, happy experience with genuine people who make this world a better place. Thanks Sergio and Irena. 

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Goals, Gondolas & Garlic

Didn't take a gondola. And, didn't taste any garlic. Otherwise the day was great.  

Goals for the day? 

1. Get kayak for Endre.  

To make a long story short, we ended up in a factory and bought a great kayak called Marlin. Now, Endre is ready to paddle 

To make a long story short, we ended up in a factory and bought a great kayak called Marlin. Now, Endre is ready to paddle 

Goal 2: Get a ride to and from place of purchase.  

Tito was our silent hero. He picked us up and 09:00 and drove us to a factory. There we chose a kayak, paid and drove back to Venice. 

Tito was our silent hero. He picked us up and 09:00 and drove us to a factory. There we chose a kayak, paid and drove back to Venice. 

Goal 3:  Get back at 12:00 and get moving. We picked up our gear from the hotel and made our way to the storage place where the kayak was resting. Then we loaded the gear and set out. Hah. 17:00 hrs. Bit late. 

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Paddled out of Venice and said our silent goodbyes.  

A man in black came out and sprinkled the kayak with some water. 

A man in black came out and sprinkled the kayak with some water. 

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Water is good for those who thirst. 

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Goal 4: Get a grip on moving ahead to Trieste. 

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Goal 5: Pass through 47 bridges. ( Didn't make that goal - maybe 2 or 3 bridges.) 

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Goal 6: Complete my journey alive.  

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Will I Ever make it to Venice?

After two days of high winds and finding insane routes to avoid the sea, I leave Chioggia marina at 07:30. I was warm in the garage and felt rich when parked beside the Porsche. 

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I get through the boat lock and feel the kayak is going slow. Yes. Wind and current. It's going to be a tough 30 or so km.  

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After ten km my legs are killing me. I stop in Sant Antonio. Rest in a majestic church and then find the drug store for Ibrufen. 

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I head out again and try to avoid the shipping lane. In a kayak I can paddke in shallower waters. lots of boats and barges. 

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I make it to Venice around 14:30. A tedious and long paddle.I cross the Canale Della Giudecca! The waves were just as treacherous as the North Sea. I seek out smaller canals and eventually find the storage unit that I had previously arranged. I clean and dry out my stuff. 

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I grab a train and make my way to Treviso. Once again I am reunited with Faustina an exchange student we had in Norway some 7 years ago. 

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I got a good heartfelt hug and then Faustina and friends invited me out for supper.  Today, September 19, I try to locate a kayak for a group of friends who want to paddle with me. Finally somebody to share this journey. If any others want to join, let me know. 

Exhausted. Hungry. And AMAZED.

Sept 15. On the PO and moving rapidly. 83 km today.  

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Started in fog. Couldn't see much, so took it easy.  Thought about the great meal I had last night and the restaurant owner who let me pitch my tent on his property. Pumpkin ravioli. The first for me. 

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I paddled and knew there was a bridge. Couldn't see it and did not want to hit a cement structure. So waited by the edge of the river. Nice flowers.  

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The fog lifted, and I am off. I paddle a good couple hours and then stop at a village, Castelmassa,  to buy groceries. 

Couldn't resist a coffee and croissant. Plus a nice bathroom.  

Couldn't resist a coffee and croissant. Plus a nice bathroom.  

I went to Coop. Hah. Why doesn't Norway have this choice of cured meats. Wow!!!! Impressed.  

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Sept. 16.  After a severe thunderstorm and torrential rainfall through the night, I was glad to see the sunrise. 

Zocca. A nice steeple right across the river from my campsite. 

Zocca. A nice steeple right across the river from my campsite. 

Thinking a lot about direction.  Where I want to go. More philosophical than geography. We all want to move forward and in the right direction.  It doesn't matter about age. We all hit a crossroads in life and still want to make the right choices. 

Enchanted forest. Italy has a lot of them.   

Enchanted forest. Italy has a lot of them.   

I take a break and it looks something out of the Pirates of the Caribbean. 

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I find another safe spot to tent. 63 km behind me. Still haven't reached Venice. Miscalculated the mileage. But am amazed at the beautiful scenery. 

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Sept 17. Thought I would reach Venice. Wrong. Looks closer on the map. Terrible winds on the sea. I took a much longer alternative route which meant portaging, paddling through a drainage system, in and out of a river. What a day!!!! 

The conditions were not easy. Wind everywhere. Frustrated. Possibly could have chosen a better  route, but no time to count unhatched eggs. Done is done and I am closer to Venice. 

The conditions were not easy. Wind everywhere. Frustrated. Possibly could have chosen a better  route, but no time to count unhatched eggs. Done is done and I am closer to Venice. 

This isn't a boat lock. But it was a tricky crossing. Hah. A local said it couldn't be done. So I left my kayak and walked the 44 minutes to see if it was possible. It was. So I did it!!!! Oh yeah, it smelled a bit.  

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I really wanted to reach Venice, but I got as far as Chiaggio Veneta. I stopped by a pleasure boat and asked if the boat lock would let me through. They said yes and then asked me if I was hungry. I said "YES". Before you knew it, I was at a table with a whole bunch of lovely Italian people. They were so gracious and supplied all sorts of food and even Prosecco. Wow!!!!

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Needless to say, I am tenting in this marina. Venice will come tomorrow.

Needless to say, I am tenting in this marina. Venice will come tomorrow.

These lovely people!! I felt a heart connection with them. I would have  loved to talk and share thoughts about life and experiences. He gave me a flag and a donation which I will keep for the rest of my life. That is the flag and not the donation. The lady gave me all sorts of good snacks and a beer and water. 

These lovely people!! I felt a heart connection with them. I would have  loved to talk and share thoughts about life and experiences. He gave me a flag and a donation which I will keep for the rest of my life. That is the flag and not the donation. The lady gave me all sorts of good snacks and a beer and water. 

Thank you AMAZING group of lovely Italians. Lots of love. 

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 Chioggia. A place I will always remember. Hospitality that melted my heart. Plus a full stomach. Thanks. :) Mark

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ITALIAN SUNRISE

Up early to catch the morning sunrise at Cadello - closest village to my tent. The PO is flowing and I get right out into the middle. What a ride. 

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Small places appear, but in seconds they disappear. 

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I stop at a small fishing cabin near Luzzara. No one is home. So I take a nap and eat a Mars bar. This river is famous for big catfish. Many small river shacks like this are along the river. Mostly by an inlet to avoid the strong current. 

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Paddle 20 km and then take another break.  This time I take a bath and soap myself well. Nice to smell good even if you are alone. The sun is shining and in no time I am dry.  I rinse my shorts in fresh water to get rid of the salt water. They are warm in the breeze, a natural dryer. I fold them and put them into the kayak. I paddle off. The winds pick up. I work hard for three hours. Muscles feel it and I decide to take a break. I see a restaurant and check it out. I meet the owner and decide to camp next to the restaurant. I pitch my tent. Unpack my gear. And decide, yes I will eat here tonight. The closest village is Mirasole, not too far from Ostiglia. 

A rest. A bath. Some sun.  

A rest. A bath. Some sun.  

I find an electrical outlet to charge my batteries. Then at 19:30 find a table. I take the pumpkin ravioli and a pizza. At  15€, I figure this is a good  deal. 

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Pizza was horrible. Haha. No. Great. I ate the whole thing.  

Pizza was horrible. Haha. No. Great. I ate the whole thing.  

Photographer Paul Strand took this picture in Luzzara. Taken in 1953, it's called The Family. 

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I started the day with a bit of anxiety. The PO is moving around 4.5 km per hour.  I look at the river. It looks swift. Attack your fears. I load my gear and head out. I decide to stick close to the shore but after a couple hours I realize that this is doable. Just don't get cocky. The hydro electric dam is behind me. And as far as I can see that was the last one. 

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I paddle from 08:40 to 12:30. Take a small break before paddling into Casalmaggiore. 

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In Casalmaggiore I meet Alessandro. Him and his lovely wife run an ice cream shop and bar. One of my power banks is ruined. So he drives me to shopping center to get a new one. I also need groceries. When it came time to pay for the food Alessandro stepped in and paid the whole bill. He said that special days like this don't happen everyday. I agree. Thank you so much Alessandro.  

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 I paddled another hour, notching up a total of 62 km. Found a nice beach and also a great group of Germans catfishing. Ate cold chili con carne. A banana. Bread and jam. Peanuts and a Mars bar. 

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