Categories
Uncategorized

Venice to Dubrovnik – 6th to 24th Oct

Thursday 6th October

Punta Sabbioni to La Salute di Livenza

Distance: 66.19 km

Average: 14.01 kmh

Top Speed: 30.88 kmh

Total Distance: 8557.26 km

We had quite a bit of rain last night but the tent was lovely and snug.  We wanted to get the Venice blog and photos uploaded and the bikes cleaned so it was a bit of a late start.  Nearly 12pm in fact.  We needed to retrace our steps to Jesolo so nothing new to report there.  Then we cycled along the beaches of Lido di Jesola.

p1150964 p1150965 p1150966 p1150968 p1150969 p1150971

10km with 60m of clean,flat yellow sand to our right and then beautiful calm seas.   To our left one hotel after another.  It must be hell here in the summer but today it was just superb. We happily cycle along a footpath where bikes are actually prohibited and pass the occasional sun worshipper.  It’s 27 degrees today so we go down for a paddle. I’ve never paddled before in the Adriatic!   

p1150972 p1150973 p1150974 p1150975 p1150976 p1150979

The water is warm and very clear – clear enough to spot some monster jellyfish!   The beaches were clearly packed with umbrellas, seats, footpaths and other tourist paraphernalia but it’s all being cleared away for the winter months.  The summer is finished,  winter is coming.  

After the Lido it’s back to a cyclepath and we follow the Revedoti canal  into Caorle.  The land here is incredibly flat, in fact reminiscent of the Dutch dykes.  Caorle is a pretty fishing town with some interesting boats in the harbour.  

p1150980 p1150981 p1150982 p1150984

We were hoping the tourist office here could give us some new cycle maps but they don’t have any.  We need to be careful heading along this coast for Trieste because there are many river estuaries where the bridge is many kilometers from the sea!  After Caorle we head to Sindacale.  We have our provisions and water we just need a site to camp.  Unfortunately we’re on a main road but we turn onto a quiet lane but there’s too many houses.  But Daz spots a man in his garden and asks if we can camp on the edge of his field.  Super!  A great spot and no need to try and stay hidden.  Bacon and egg butties again for tea, makes a change from pasta!!

p1150985 p1150987 p1150990

Friday 7th October

La Salute di Livenza to Spilja

Distance: 77.81 km

Average: 14.96 kmh

Top Speed: 37.63 kmh

Total Distance: 8635.07 km

After a very comfortable night we wake up and discover our MSR is wet with condensation.   Oh dear, lulled into a false sense of security by 2 dry nights.

p1150991 p1150992

 Sadly our route to Trieste is along SS14 and it’s quite a busy road with a significant proportion of drivers not bothering to give us any room.  It’s a shock after spending 2 weeks on bike paths or quiet lanes.  The countryside continues to be flat with many waterways.  

p1150994 p1150995 p1150996

 We stop by a river in a village square for our lunch and notice several tandems and other touring bikes.  It turns out to be guided group of partially sighted and blind people on a 2 day bike excursion.  

p1150998 p1150999 p1160001 p1160002

 

In the afternoon the only exciting event is our Lidl’s stop.  We’ve just done our shop when we spot 2 touring cyclists and they come over for a chat.  They’re bikepackers from Ankara, Turkey.  We’re so intrigued by how little they’re carrying and how it’s fitted on the bike.  They say they only cycle 4 hours a day and do 80+ in a day.  That’s 10 hours for us!!! They’re funny because they say they’re up at 6am but might not get started until 12pm.  Apparently it’s not just the packing that takes time, it’s the Turkish breakfast (must Google that).  Then Michael a guy from Leicester rocks up.  

p1160003 p1160004 p1160005 p1160007 p1160009 p1160010 p1160011 p1160012

He’s also a bikepacker, well a bikepacker in training.  He’s done an extensive European tour but now he’s heading home!  After a good chat we finally drag ourselves away.  

p1160013 p1160015 p1160016 p1160017

The wind has picked up and so it’s a tough few hours before we find a site for the night.  

p1160018 p1160019

Saturday 8th October

Spilja to Crnotice via Trieste

Distance: 47.49 km

Average: 9.04 kmh

Top Speed: 41.65 kmh

Total Distance: 8682.56 km

Last night it was really windy and this morning it’s really overcast and cold.  We cycle along the coast road, climbing first then descending into Trieste.  There are some fabulous views of the Gulf of Trieste and there’s Miramare Castle, surrounded by a flourishing park full of precious botanic species, and has a charming panoramic view, given its location on a cliff high above the sea. It stands on the peak of the rocky promontory of Grignano in the Gulf of Trieste.

p1160020 p1160021 p1160022 p1160023 p1160024 p1160025 p1160026 p1160030 p1160031 p1160032 p1160034

As we near Trieste we watch a canoe club training and have a job keeping up with them.

p1160035 p1160037 p1160038 p1160039 p1160040

In Trieste we visit McDonald’s – WiFi and power required!   We have a look around the town and walk along the harbour.

Trieste – To discover the secret of a happy life head to Trieste, the Italian port tucked inside the Slovenian border. The Triestini embrace life with a passion that is palpable and infectious, if the chatter at evening aperitivo is anything to go by. And at the merest hint of sunshine, Triestini are off to the nearby seaside, Barcola, even in November, and even though it’s a concrete strip.

p1160042 p1160043 p1160044 p1160045 p1160046 p1160048 p1160049 p1160050 p1160051 p1160052 p1160053 p1160054


This unsquashable humour is no doubt born of being a frontier city, variously owned or occupied by the Romans, Habsburgs, Mussolini’s regime, Germans and Allied Forces, only finally returning to Italy in 1954. The consequence is a glorious jumble of architectural and ethnic influences. In the space of 15 minutes, I came across Serbian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox and Helvetic Evangelist churches, while the city’s synagogue is one of the largest in Europe.

There’s a big Regatta here tomorrow so all the racing yachts are preparing their kit or out on the water running through some drills.

p1160055 p1160056 p1160057 p1160058 p1160059 p1160060 p1160061 p1160062

There are some lovely buildings and we can see the castle overlooking the town.  We should really go up to the old town but time is pressing. Finally we decide to head off but struggle to find a way out of town.  We have decided to cross over the Istria Peninsular rather than following the coast as it will save us about 4 days, but first we need to find a way. But once we do find our way we climb for about 20km.  At one point we meet 2 horse riders – well when the horses spot us we’re still a good 50m away and have parked up.  But the horses really aren’t keen and they refuse to walk on and then when pushed too hard they get really skittish and they turn away and try and bolt.  They slip on the wet tarmac and at one point a horse slips so badly that he looks as if he’ll fall.  It’s all very stressful, we’re worried either the horses or riders will get hurt! They really hate our trikes and I wish we’d stood up to show them who we were!  The riders take them back up hill before a real disaster occurs.  We head on until we hit the Slovenian border at Socerb.

p1160063 p1160065 p1160067 p1160068 p1160069 p1160070

We push on because we don’t have enough water for the night even though we’re both hurting from the steep climb and chilled in the cold wind.  We stop in a village and get our water bottles and reservoir filled, the guy even offers Daz a beer.  Excellent now we have enough to cook dinner, have a cup of tea and have our bucket wash which is proving less entertaining on these cold nights!  It’s hard enough getting Daz to wash on warm nights let alone cold ones!!

p1160071 p1160072 p1160073 p1160074

Sunday 9th October

Crnotice to Rijelka

Distance: 65.87 km

Average: 9.9 kmh

Top Speed: 56.59 kmh

Total Distance: 8748.43 km

 

Last night it rained and was really windy but by the time we get up there are blue skies although it’s still windy.  We head off and it’s more climbing.  

p1160075 p1160076

We reach the Croatian border which is actually manned and we have to show our passports.  

p1160077 p1160078 p1160079

p1160080 p1160081 p1160082 p1160083

 

This whole area seems rather remote and unpopulated;  we only see a few cars but no people and the hills are rough scrubland – no animals or crops! We pass through a couple of villages and there’s nothing to see; no cafes, shops, restaurants or people.  

p1160084 p1160085 p1160086 p1160087 p1160088 p1160090

We keep hoping to find a shop at least!  After 20km of cycling uphill we get our kettle out in a little hamlet called Vodnice, (752m above sea level from Trieste!!) we refill our water at an outside tap and have a cup of tea. Well we have two, the first tasted foul, we think fuel contamination,  but the second was fine.  Some more climbing; we’ve now been climbing for around 8 hours.  We pass through some lovely deciduous woodland and then we’re just about to hammer down our first decent hill in hours when we spot some horses.  A man is sat side-on the leading horse with 3 behind.  They seem to be tacked up as pack horses.  

p1160092 p1160093 p1160094 p1160095 p1160096 p1160097

When the lead horse spots us he refuses to move forward and the guy has to dismount and lead them passed us.  Finally we get to Male Mona and the road starts to descend at last.  We stop here and read a monument. During the second world war the small villages we can see dotted around the hills were destroyed in retaliation for attacks on the German forces after the Italian army capitulated.

p1160098

We carry on, descending now towards the coast, long downhills all the way yippeee.   Once we near the coast we spot a bakery that’s open.  We haven’t seen any shops today, let alone one that’s open and as it’s Sunday and we think everything else will be closed so we have a buying frenzy.  Our shopping was premature, there’s plenty of open supermarkets but we’ve spent our allowance now!! We stop to eat our food on a hillside overlooking a football stadium.  

p1160099 p1160100

Down below there’s a match and we watch the two female teams for a while.  Then we’re off on the final push to Rijelke, then it’ll be time to find a camping spot.  However, I spot a large fire station and decide to see if they’ll find somewhere for us to pitch our tent.  We’ve heard several stories of the fire brigade or police helping bike tourers!  So we give it a go.  

p1160101 p1160102 p1160103 p1160104

We ask if we can put our tent up… they say no. But how about an apartment in their training facility on the other side of town?  Yes please!! What then follows is amazing, we get a blue light escort through the town, including on an urban motorway and a long tunnel which we’re pretty sure prohibits bikes!  

p1160105 p1160106 p1160107

At times it’s quite possibly one of the scariest, unpleasant riding experiences to date as we have cars trying to overtake on both sides, our blue light escort is causing a bottle neck.  The tunnel is uber scary and seems never-ending and trying to keep up with a car is impossible but we (well me) almost die trying!  It’s a really tough way to finish the day.  But the effort is well worth it.  We are so pleased when we arrive and they show us our lovely ensuite apartment with kitchen… more tea vicar!

p1160108 p1160109 p1160111 p1160112 p1160113 p1160114

Monday 10th October

Rijelka Fire station

Well it’s been a super comfortable night. We had our first shower in 4 days.  Everything is charged, Daz got to watch Croatia v Finland on the telly.  All is grand except the weather.  It’s pouring with rain.  We check the forecast and discover it could last all day.  Daz goes to see the boss and they’re happy for us to stay until the afternoon and if it’s still raining they’ll check with the Chief if we can stay another night.  In the afternoon the rain has stopped and we feel uncomfortable asking for another night so we pack up and prepare our bikes for the off.  Neither of us are keen to leave, I’m full of cold and feeling generally pretty lousy.  We hand the key over but chief of the watch comes to speak to us.  Initially he starts asking who at the other station told us we could stay.  He wants a description of who we spoke to.  We both assume we shouldn’t have been allowed to stay and then he says, ‘yup, OK I’ll ring the chief but you can stay another night’.  I could have cried with relief.  He checks the forecast and the weather is due to improve.  He then tells us about the Croatian coast and the bizarre wind patterns further south.   After a nice chat we return to our room.  We’re practically dancing with joy and high 5ing each other.  Around 5pm we venture out for food and we’re almost blown over by the wind.

p1160116 p1160118

Thank God we’re neither cycling nor camping in these conditions – back to our cosy room and ‘George Clark’s amazing spaces’ with Croatian subtitles – this is sooo good!

 

Tuesday 11th October

Rijelka to Senj

Distance: 65.99 km

Average: 11.35 kmh

Top Speed: 50.41 kmh

Total Distance: 8814.42 km

Today we wake up to blue skies and complete calm.  We can’t believe the weather can be so different.   We thank our wonderful firemen hosts and head off.

p1160119 p1160120

We follow the coast road and it’s very scenic looking out onto the Adriatic.   We stop in a layby for a quick chat with 2 Swedish motor cycle tourers.

p1160122 p1160123 p1160124 p1160125 p1160126 p1160127

Then we continue until Klenovica where we stop for food.  After lunch and coffees we head off.  We’ve been making good progress,  many car drivers are waving and tooting their horns and all is well in the world.  And then we hit the weather system the fireman told us about.  It’s gusting from all directions but predominantly it’s a head wind that’s practically bringing us to a standstill.  Our heads ache from the constant wind and we’re starting to get cold.  We struggle on like this for about an hour and then everything changes and it’s a tailwind.

p1160128 p1160129 p1160130 p1160131 p1160132 p1160134 p1160135 p1160136 p1160137 p1160138 p1160139

The wind then fluctuates for the next 15km into Senj, one second we’re hammering along with an incredible tail wind that even pushes us uphill, and the next we grind to almost a standstill.  It’s exhilarating and unpleasant at the same time, with the wind even pushing us into the road.  Thank God we’re not on the tandem.   In Senj we spot loads of camper vans down by the sea.  We assume they’re wild camping since all the campsites we’ve seen along the coast have been closed.  We cycle down to investigate and get accosted twice by people offering us accommodation.   At the campsite we discover it’s open – there goes our plan to camp here for free.  We have the usual dilemma – pay for camping or persevere and find a wild campsite.   It’s always tough; we’re constantly struggling to keep to a budget but a campsite with showers is hard (actually impossible as it turns out) to ignore.

p1160140 p1160141 p1160142 p1160143

Wednesday 12th October

Senj to a spot 7km south of Karlobag

Distance: 74.52 km

Average: 10.64 kmh

Top Speed: 56.30 kmh

Total Distance: 8888.94 km

 

It’s a beautiful morning and the early morning sunshine over the sea and Islands is a delightful view for breakfast.   

p1160145 p1160146 p1160147 p1160148

After a quick shop we cycle through the pretty town of Senj which has a castle overlooking the small fishing harbour.  

p1160149 p1160150 p1160151 p1160152 p1160153 p1160154 p1160155 p1160156 p1160157 p1160158

Bizarrely about 5km outside Senj the weird winds cease and we have relative calm as we enter the National Park Paklinica We stop in the next fishing village, Sv Juraj, by the harbour for tea and biscuits.  I manage to get free boiling water from a cafe so no need to break out the cooking stove – result.  We’re also adopted by the village dog, I think he wants to join Daz on his bike.  

p1160159 p1160160 p1160161 p1160162 p1160164 p1160165 p1160166 p1160167 p1160169 p1160171 p1160172 p1160174 p1160175 p1160176 p1160177 p1160178 p1160179

Earlier as we were leaving Senj we stopped to speak to 2 German hitchhikers and they have just been dropped off in this village.  They plan to head inland and the hills for a 9 day hike – carrying all their food, very adventurous!  From here we head off, chased by our adopted dog and climb for about 30km.  We stop at a beautiful viewpoint to have our lunch.

p1160180 p1160182 p1160183 p1160184 p1160185 p1160186 p1160189 p1160190 p1160191 p1160192 p1160194 p1160195

 The afternoon consists of more climbing and a layby photography session with 2 lovely Austrian ladies.  The whole day is one of blue skies and glorious views of the Adriatic and the nearby islands but I’m sure my trusted cameraman has captured the incredible views.  We did spot a couple of praying mantis too but the one we photographed was a beige colour not the vivid green.  I saw a vivid green one but too late to stop and actually I probably ran it over.  

p1160187 p1160188

After a really tough day we make Karlobag.  The descent into this town is 8km of exhilarating downhill racing – Daz again is the winner; pipping me by 1kmph!   

p1160196 p1160206

Karlobag was our target for the day.   We get water and milk but there’re no campsites here.  We’re accosted in the same manner as yesterday with offers of a room but at 25€ we decline.  

p1160207 p1160209 p1160210 p1160211 p1160212 p1160213 p1160214 p1160215

Instead we head out of town in search of a wildcamping site and discover it’s a sheer rockwall on our left and a sheer drop to the sea on our right.  After 10km, with the light fading fast, we find a spot on a gravel road near a bend in the road.  Sadly there’s nothing to hide behind so it’s not the least discrete spot we’ve ever chosen but once it is dark (soon!) nobody should see us.  We have our gear sorted in our usual efficient manner and by the time our dinner is ready (7pm), it’s dark except for a near full moon in a cloudless sky.  Doing this is not something I ever imagined but it’s an amazing experience – now the stars are just coming out too!  Amazing, we sit on our comfy bikes, sipping tea and trying to name some of the constellations in the dark.

p1160217 p1160218

 

Thursday 13th October

A spot 7km south of Karlobag to Islam Latinski

Distance: 69.80 km

Average: 11.51 kmh

Top Speed: 42.94 kmh

Total Distance: 8958.74 km

 

Fortunately despite our conspicuous camping site we’re left undisturbed.  

p1160219 p1160220 p1160222 p1160223 p1160225

 The weather is overcast but the terrain today is less arduous.  The sea is incredibly clear and turquoise blue in some bays.  It looks so inviting.  We stop in a little village for our tea break and in Starigrad for lunch.  Today we’re passed by a convoy of classic cars whilst yesterday we were overtaken by 2 porche convoys.  Just before Rovanjska we see zones of buoys in the water and we’re busy trying to decide their function, then we see a sign and realise that the buoys are connected to mussel lines.

p1160227 p1160229 p1160230 p1160231 p1160232 p1160233 p1160235 p1160237 p1160238

 After a long climb out of Rovanjska we cross an impressive bridge over an inlet to Novigrad lake from the Adriatic.   The drop is humongous and there are bungee jumping signs and a jumping platform.  

p1160239 p1160240

Sadly it’s closed (thank God!).  We were going to push on for Zadar but instead we stop at a truckers’ cafe, have some chips and fill our 10L reservoir with hot water.  3km later we find a field to camp in and once the tent is up we have a hot bucket wash – luxury indeed!

p1160242 p1160243 p1160244

 

Friday 14th October

 

Islam Latinski to Biograd na Moru

Distance: 52.56 km

Average: 11.20 kmh

Top Speed: 45.96 kmh

Total Distance: 9011.30 km

 

After an undisturbed night (apart from some rain) we pack up and head into Zadar.  Apparently Zadar is Europe’s best destination 2016 according to the TripAdvisor posters liberally pasted everywhere.   We cycle around the harbour and see some fabulously expensive launches.  We cycle past the seagate, one of 2 entrances within the city walls, the other being the landgate.  We also visited the sea organ, the Monument to the Sun, the Forum, cathedral, and the Captain’s tower.

p1160245 p1160246 p1160247 p1160248 p1160249 p1160250 p1160251 p1160252 p1160253 p1160254 p1160255 p1160256 p1160257 p1160258 p1160259 p1160260 p1160261 p1160262 p1160263 p1160265 p1160266 p1160267 p1160268 p1160269 p1160270

Walking around Zadar’s historic centre. If there is a breeze, start at the sea organ, an art installation consisting of a series of pipes cut into the promenade. Soft, meditative chords become a slightly alarming cacophony of groans when the waves are choppy. The same artist also created the Monument to the Sun, a large disc of solar-powered cells that becomes a multicoloured disco ball as the sun sets.
More classical sights include the Roman forum, of which only a few columns and an altar remain. Stones from here were used to build the neighbouring rotunda of 9th-century St Donat’s Church and are clearly visible.
Zadar’s 12th-century cathedral has three beautiful portals that would not look out of place in Tuscany, and a bell-tower to climb. Close to an impressive city gate, the church of St Simeon contains a beautifully crafted silver reliquary. More can be seen in the excellent Gold and Silver of Zadar exhibition at St Mary’s church.
For a memorable experience, take a short trip with the gnarled boatmen who have been rowing residents across the harbour for more than 800 years. The women at the town market look like they may have been selling their salty, speciality Pag cheese for almost as long.
After a nice walk around the town and chatting to several British couples ( a cruiseship sailing from Southampton moored here this morning so there are loads of English voices!)  we take shelter in a cafe whilst we wait for the drizzle to blow over.  We then head out of town.  A couple of shopping chores are required; replen breakfast cereal, shower gel, bread, biscuits (my favourite cranberry cookies!) and fuel for our Trangia.  Two frustrating hours later we’ve tried numerous shops, hardware and DIY stores, and petrol stations but no fuel.  We decide we’ll just have to hope our current supply will last until Split. But then we try in a pharmacy, as they sometimes sell rubbing alcohol, well, Daz comes dancing out with a big grin and 3 bottles! A bit more expensive than normal but at least we know where to get it next time.  We return to the D8, heading south.  We’d heard horror stories about this road, the Adriatic highway, but for us it’s been totally fine and the traffic relatively light (after all the tourist season is over), that is until the road in to Zadar this morning and leaving Zadar this afternoon.  If there’s no oncoming traffic, passing vehicles will give us room.  But if there’s oncoming traffic they all like to see how a 3 way squeeze feels.  Well for them I’m sure it feels fine but for us it’s really unpleasant – coaches and buses are definitely the worst offenders.  In addition to the traffic there’s an unpleasant headwind.  We stop at Sv Filip i Jakov to watch some kitesurfers. The strong wind is letting them get some jumps and tricks in.  

p1160271 p1160272 p1160273

We arrive in Biograd, and decide to find a campsite to stay in as tomorrow’s forecast is thunderstorms.  

p1160274 p1160275 p1160276 p1160278

 Having passed a few open ones further back on the road our luck is out.  They are all closed here. But as we cycle along the forest beach front we decide to set up our tent in a large camping site.  The site is actually closed but the pitches, electricity boxes, toilets and showers are not fenced off.    As we have just set up a man comes over, we think he may work here. He asks if we are sleeping here in a mix of Croatian and German.  We manage to have a stilted conversation but the upshot is he will speak to the ‘chief’ and wanders off.  We don’t see him again!  We both use the showers, but no hot water arghhhhh.   After a belated lunch/dinner of brie and crisp rolls and a mug of tea it’s dark.  We take a walk along the beach looking out across to the lights of Pasman, one of the many islands down the Croatian coast.

 

Saturday 15th October

Biograd na Moru

Last night when we went to bed it was sooo hot in the tent that I left the door open.  So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that at midnight I discover i’m covered in mossie bites.  I try to find the insect repellant but Daz has moved it.  We discover our tent is home to about 20 mossies and spend the next 30 minutes trying to kill them.  We’re awake at 8am.  There’re some intermittent light showers but nothing like the forecast.

We doze and read and finally surface about 11.30am.  We have breakfast and see the guy who spoke to us last night about camping here – it seems that he’s OK about us being here.  We head into town and see several windsurfers and a kitesurfer out on the water; it looks like there’s plenty of wind for them. There’s also a venue preparing for a wedding reception.   We find a launderette – laundry on.  Daz tries to get a haircut but they’re too busy with hair styling for the wedding.  There’s torrential rain in the afternoon with the promised thunderstorm.

p1160281 p1160282

Luckily we comfortably ensconced in a restaurant; real food!  Tuna steak, kale and potatoes for me, a rump steak and chips for Daz!  

p1160279

p1160280

OMG it tastes sooo good.   The tent is OK when we get back, a couple of wet spots inside from splashback on the outer floor, but considering the flooding that went through the campsite we are very happy.  Later we play backgammon on the beach in the dark!!

p1160283 p1160284

 

Sunday 16th October

Biograd na Moru to Rogoznicka

Distance: 84.35 km

Average: 14.35 kmh

Top Speed: 51.56 kmh

Total Distance: 9095.65 km

We’ve both slept badly last night (the wedding was very loud and went on into the early hours) so neither of us is keen to start the day and now Daz is full of cold ( passed on by me!).  But on the plus side we have blue skies, a tail wind and a temperature of 27 degrees.   So a lovely day!

p1160287

We stop in Vodice, at the harbour, to have our lunch.  There’s a war memorial there to the 2nd WW, the Croatian resistance.

p1160290 p1160291 p1160295 p1160296 p1160297 p1160298 p1160299

Leaving Vodice we stop and chat to 4 Canadian bike tourers.  They started in Venice and are also heading to Athens.

p1160303 p1160304 p1160306 p1160307 p1160310 p1160311

We see them several more times but only because they stop for coffee and to look at viewpoints whilst we just keep on pedalling.  Finally after an excellent mileage day we stop in a garage and get water and a couple of kms later we find a camping spot.

p1160312 p1160318 p1160320 p1160324 p1160325 p1160326 p1160327 p1160328 p1160329

Today we see many Praying Mantis on the edge of the road; out to sun themselves I think although they could have found a safer spot, the crunch under my tyres sounds awful!  We’ve also seen a large colourful lizard (sadly deceased).

p1160289 p1160316

We also pass a motorcycle that’s completely trashed.  The police are there and there’s obviously been a terrible accident.   We think the ambulance passed us; with blue lights going to the accident but without when returning!  Tonight the moon is full; it looks incredible!

p1160330 p1160336

 

Monday 17th October

Rogoznicko to Omis via Trogir and Split

Distance: 81.73 km

Average: 13.45 kmh

Top Speed: 50.99 kmh

Total Distance: 9177.38 km

p1160338 p1160340 p1160342

Today we have a lovely day; we visit Trogir and Split.  In Trogir we cycle into the centre, down narrow cobbled alleys and streets and there’s a beautiful cathedral and a bell tower.  We go up so we can enjoy the panoramic views of the Adriatic.   We also walk along the walls to a castle.  

p1160343 p1160344 p1160345 p1160347 p1160348 p1160349 p1160350 p1160351 p1160352 p1160353 p1160354 p1160355 p1160356 p1160357 p1160358 p1160359 p1160360 p1160361 p1160363 p1160364 p1160365 p1160366 p1160367 p1160369 p1160370 p1160371 p1160372 p1160373 p1160374 p1160375 p1160376 p1160377 p1160378 p1160379

 

Trogir’s best sight is the Cathedral of St Lawrence (Katedrala sv. Lovrijenac) on which building work started in 1213 on a site where a previous cathedral once stood; the main part of the cathedral was completed in 1250. The cathedral’s bell tower was built between the 14th and 16th centuries, and can be climbed to see fantastic views from the top. A must see within the cathedral is the Chapel of St John, built in 1468, and which is considered the best Renaissance sight in Dalmatia.

Part of the city walls, built between the 13th and 14th centuries, are visible today on the southern side of the city. In the middle of the city wall is the city gate, which was built in 1593.

A city loggia stands near the cathedral, constructed in the 14th or 15th centuries. Over the years, it has had a number of uses, including that of a court. Within the loggia is a relief by Ivan Mestrovic, depicting Petar Berislavic of Trogir who was a Croatian Ban (viceroy) and Bishop of Zagreb and who died in 1520 in a battle against the Turks.  The Cipiko Palaces, opposite the cathedral, were home to Trogir’s noble family in the 15th century.

 

Then it was on to Croatia’s second-largest city, Split (Spalato in Italian) which is a great place to see Dalmatian life as it’s really lived. Always buzzing, this exuberant city has just the right balance of tradition and modernity. Step inside Diocletian’s Palace (a Unesco World Heritage site and one of the world’s most impressive Roman monuments) and you’ll see dozens of bars, restaurants and shops thriving amid the atmospheric old walls where Split life has been humming along for thousands of years.
To top it off, Split has a unique setting. Its dramatic coastal mountains act as the perfect backdrop to the turquoise waters of the Adriatic and help divert attention from the dozens of shabby high-rise apartment blocks that fill its suburbs. It’s this thoroughly lived-in aspect of Split that means it will never be a fantasy land like Dubrovnik, but you could argue that it’s all the better for that.

p1160382 p1160385 p1160386 p1160388 p1160390 p1160391 p1160392 p1160393 p1160394 p1160395 p1160396 p1160397 p1160398 p1160399 p1160400 p1160401 p1160402 p1160403 p1160404 p1160405 p1160406 p1160409 p1160410 p1160412 p1160413 p1160414 p1160415 p1160416 p1160417 p1160418 p1160420 p1160421

It’s very beautiful and has also been used in filming of GoT . Daz came through here in 1994 and 1997, but both times wearing a flak jacket. He only saw the airport before being transported cross country to Bosnia whilst serving with the Household Cavalry. Once we’ve had a look around Split, dried our tent and done some bike maintenance we head out and bump into the Canadians again. We’d been watching for them all day.  They’ve just arrived and plan some island hopping but we’ll probably see them again further down the coast.  We leave Split and it’s so built up we doubt we’re going to find somewhere to camp.  We try all the campsites too but they’re all closed.  Finally just before Omis we camp at a campsite ; there’s no-one here but maybe later someone will come and ask for money.  

p1160423 p1160424 p1160425 p1160426

 

Tuesday 18th October

Omis to Drasnice

Distance: 55.63 km

Average: 10.61 kmh

Top Speed: 52.14 kmh

Total Distance: 9233.01 km

Before we went to bed last night the owners of the camp site came home and said hello and made sure we had everything we needed.  We slept well but in the morning we were woken early by traffic on the nearby main road.  We pack up and take a walk along the beach, it’s cloudy today after the last 2 days of sunshine.

p1160428 p1160429

As we are leaving we stop to pay, but the old lady waves us off and says it’s free (in Croatian).  We are overwhelmed by her generosity and wish her well.  We carry on cycling along the coast road, a little hillier than yesterday.  We descend to the sea again at Omis and marvel at the surrounding hills that make up the Cetina gorge and then cross the river of the same name.

p1160430 p1160431 p1160432 p1160433 p1160434 p1160435 p1160438 p1160440 p1160441 p1160442

We speak to a young man and ask him the weather forecast, it looks like rain all this afternoon!! We stop early on in the morning for a coffee treat and end up having 2 and taking nearly 2 hours whilst catching up on the Internet!!

Later we lunch in a bus shelter, although there is a smell of something dead nearby which makes it a quick one!  Luckily the rain is holding off.  As we climb another hill we see two touring cyclists coming up behind us, we think maybe it’s the two French girls the Canadians told us about.  We pull into a layby and they stop beside us, their bikes are totally loaded.

p1160444

p1160446 p1160448 p1160449 p1160450 p1160452 p1160453 p1160455 p1160456

It is the French girls, and they haven’t been cycling too long, but are planning to be away for a year.  They are also heading for Greece and a “Helpex” job (the same idea as workaway which we use) and then will decide where to go after.

p1160457 p1160458 p1160459 p1160460 p1160462

We swop blog details and hope to see each other on the road later. They cycle off up the hill and we follow, but we soon catch up with them again as it starts to rain and they have to stop and pack their towels away that were out drying and put on rain gear.  It’s downhill now and our speed advantage means we don’t see them again.  At the bottom of the descent the light rain has stopped and we turn off for the center of Makarska, a large town and marina.

p1160463 p1160464 p1160466 p1160467 p1160469 p1160475

We cycle along the promenade and enjoy the views and some lovely statues.  Whilst sat on our bikes taking a moment a chap on a moped comes up and asks us if we want a room, we politely decline but enquire as to the price; 30 euros or 50 for two nights. About 10 minutes later as we are about to leave he comes back with a lower offer of 25 euros, but as much as we would like a room it would break our budget so we cycle on.  It starts to get gloomier and soon the rain starts, not too heavy but we stop and put our rain jackets on (poncho in Daz’s case) and continue climbing.  It’s nearly 5pm and we still need to get water when I realise I’ve got a flat front tyre, maybe that will explain the slow speed for the last 2 km’s!  There’s nowhere to pull in as it’s a cliff on our right and a hill on our left.

p1160476

Daz has his back against the guard rail as he fixes it, cars occasional hooting as they fly past. By the time we set off it’s getting to the point we need to find a camping spot ASAP, but first, at the top of a rise Daz pulls into a house to ask for water.  The lovely lady is more than happy to fill up our water.  Daz, remembering what the French girls told us earlier of their night camped in a lady’s garden, asks her if there is somewhere nearby to put a tent up. She immediately offer us her garden!  We are so happy, and we quickly get the tent set up in the dying light and light drizzle.  After cooking dinner in the shelter of her large BBQ structure, she pops down to make sure we are OK.  We chat and she mentions that we are not the first cyclists to avail themselves of her garden.  She wishes us goodnight.  Just as I am showering with the garden hose in the dark the rain starts to come down more heavily so I hurriedly finish and jump into the tent.  Daz takes one look outside and declines the shower… minger!!

p1160478 p1160479 p1160480 p1160481 p1160482 p1160483

 

In 13 nights we haven’t paid for our accommodation, with either wildcamping, free campsites, the fire station and now someone’s garden (except one night in a Senj campsite for 12€).  Croatia has been very kind to us indeed.

 

Wednesday 19th October

Drasnice to Reba

Distance: 62.46 km

Average: 10.79 kmh

Top Speed: 45.38 kmh

Total Distance: 9295.47 km

 

The heavy rain fell for sometime last night but we were lovely and snug and the tent is almost dry this morning.  We have breakfast and pack up and just as we’re finishing up our host comes out of the house.  It turns out we’ve been hosted by an international artist, Desa Marijeta, who has had exhibitions world wide; London, Paris and New York, before retiring to this beautiful spot on the coast.  She is absolutely delightful!  

p1160484 p1160485 p1160486 p1160487 p1160488

We plan to return one day and buy one of her paintings.  We head off.  It’s another day of blue skies and sunshine.   The views are stunning. Along the roadside there are many olive trees and it’s harvest time but the Croatians pick the olives by hand, no nets and no telescopic agitators,  what a hellish job that must be!  

p1160490 p1160491 p1160495 p1160496 p1160498 p1160499 p1160500 p1160503

In a layby toilet spot we are are met by a madly mewling black kitten.  He seems healthy and tick and flea free but he wolfs down the last of our anchovy fillets so he’s clearly starving.  And he’s a big purrer!  I hate to leave him in the layby, we assume he’s been dumped here recently.  Poor thing.  

p1160504

p1160505

Finally we find a supermarket and stuff ourselves silly, we were so hungry.  Then we continue, it’s a bit tough today, long uphills and then only short descents. We pass Bacina Lakes which are a frequent tourist destination. They abound with freshwater fish but there are also grey mullets, which made the Lakes their natural habitat after the tunnel drilling. The area is a true promised land for nature-lovers and anglers.  We realise my tire is going flat again, a failed puncture repair perhaps.  

p1160506 p1160507 p1160508 p1160509 p1160513

Finally we’re into Ploce.  After that we follow the river Neretva for some time, which is nice easy riding.  Along the roadside there are fruit stalls selling local produce.  We’ve already tried local pomegranate for lunch that Daz stole from a roadside orchard. We stop at one stall to take a closer look, the produce looks amazing.  

p1160514 p1160517 p1160518

We’re tempted but buy nothing but after another half a dozen stalls we stop to investigate the jarred produce.  There’s fig marmalade and slivovitch.  The stall owner is happy for us to taste everything but Daz tells him we don’t need a sample (I do!!).  We have a little barter and walk away with pear slivovitch and fig marmalade.   After the river valley we have to climb up and up to Raba.  

p1160520 p1160521

We have fabulous views over the Neretva Delta.  Close to the place where the Neretva merges with the Neretvan channel of the Adriatic sea, the river Neretva forms many armlets and creates a delta of a great area with particularly fertile lands, where a lot of fruit and vegetables are grown.

p1160526


The river Neretva is one of the longest and beautiful rivers of Croatia. It is particularly pleasant to visit the valley of the Neretva during summer months, when the heat of the shore retreats here, and the guests can relax in the cool of the valley of the Neretva river.

Those who come to the valley of the Neretva are amazed by the very clear drinking water of the river and the amazing natural landscapes along its green banks. The Neretva is a favoured spot for relaxing in natural surroundings, water activities — rowing, swimming — and for walking and cycling.

The valley of the river Neretva, surrounded by mountains, is a unique natural phenomenon, the swampy area of the valley is rich in rare species of flora and fauna, and is an ornithological park with over 400 species of birds. The valley of the Neretva has been declared a national park and is protected by the state. Getting to know the natural riches of the valley of the river Neretva is best done while sailing along the banks in boats or trupicas — local boats made of a single tree trunk. The waters of the Neretva river are rich in fish, and are famous to and loved by connoisseurs — the Neretvan eel, local restaurants offer various fish dishes — “brudet”, “popara”, and other delicacies made of very fresh fish and frogs. (bleugh!!)   The valley of the Neretva is called the “valley of tangerines”, the soil of the valley is remarkably fertile and has a unique microclimate. A variety of fruit and vegetable grows here — potatoes, tomatoes, mustard, watermelons, tangerines, pomegranates and oranges. Every year, about 60,000 tonnes of tangerines are harvested in the valley of the Neretva.

p1160523 p1160524 p1160525 p1160527

Finally (I say finally because Daz filled up the 10L reservoir at the bottom of this long, hard climb and loaded it onto my trike) we see some rough ground off to our left.  There’s a fruit stall right next to the road but we find a spot about 80m away to set up camp.  Daz is inflating our mattresses when I warn him a man is walking over.  I’m expecting the worst but it’s the fruit stall owner with a bag of  for us.  More Croatian generosity! After dinner Daz repairs my punctured tyre again, he repaired the punctured inner tubes he’s been carrying at lunchtime.  

p1160528 p1160530 p1160531

 

Thursday 20th October

Reba to Neum

Distance: 14.75 km

Average: 10.07 kmh

Top Speed: 41.94 kmh

Total Distance: 9310.22 km

 

We wake up to rainshowers.  What follows is a day of dithering. We know that the forecast was rain today and tomorrow.   I suggest staying put but we don’t have much water or food.  Finally we head off and after 10km we cross into Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

p1160533 p1160534 p1160535 p1160536 p1160537 p1160538

So far it’s only been occasional light rain and we’ve managed to shelter from the really heavy down pours.  

p1160541 p1160542

Once we’ve crossed the border we’re in the town of Neum.  Once again we can’t decide what to do.  We stop for coffee and check the forecast again and decide to stay put because the weather looks grim until Saturday.   We find a campsite open and we settle in, we’ll probably be here 2 nights.  We end up sitting in reception trying to converse with one guy in German and the other in French.   It’s tough going so then we plan to shower and head into town.  I head off to shower and Daz reckons one of the guys took my parting as an opportunity to snort his coke that had been hidden under a newspaper when we barged in. In the shower we end up kneeling in the shower cubicle in the hope of coaxing out sufficient water pressure.  It’s not a huge success.  It’s fair to say the facilities here are basic indeed.  Thank God we’re the only ones here.  In town we find a cafe to sit and read before heading home for bed.  During the night the rains are heavy, and for some reason, at 8pm and 6am the local church plays recorded bells at an amazingly loud volume!!

p1160543

 

Friday 21st October

Neum

We’re going to stay put today; it’s as much about the weather as the hoped for Son dynamo delivery in Dubrovnik; we think it won’t arrive before Monday and we think it’s cheaper to stay here than spend extra days in Dubrovnik.

p1160546 p1160547 p1160548

We have a lie-in, reading and dozing then head into the town to have a look round.  Then we sit in a cafe and read, spend time on the internet and generally have a very lazy day.  It’s early afternoon when I realise one of the French girls has just walked past.  We chat to Marine and Anaïs and plan to meet them in Dubrovnik.

received_10154572381312889 received_10154572381317889

We spend most of the day in the cafe and only return to the campsite in the early evening.   The rain forecast for yesterday and today falls during the night!

 

Saturday 22nd October

Neum to Dubrovnik

Distance: 74.65km

Average: 11.62 kmh

Top Speed: 52.42 kmh

Total Distance: 9384.87 km

 

Today is our anniversary – a year since we left Marlborough on our tandem.  We’ve had an amazing year and hopefully the next will be just as good.  We head off out of Neum and we haven’t even done 3kms when I call for a coffee break.  We’re in a popular viewpoint and there are about 4 coaches parked up.  We chat to various people:  a couple from Holland, a guy from Wales and one from South Korea who thinks we should definitely cycle through Korea.  

p1160551 p1160552 p1160553 p1160555 p1160556 p1160557

We head off and we set a decent pace, a combination of decent winds (on Thursday when we called it a day the head wind was bringing our speed down to about 6kmh) and being rested.  We cross the border back into Croatia (Bosnia and Herzegovina is only about 10km wide along the Adriatic coast).  

p1160558 p1160559 p1160561 p1160563 p1160564 p1160566 p1160567 p1160568 p1160569 p1160570 p1160571

We stop in a layby for lunch and lay everything out to dry.  We’re just planning to pack-up when we spot a touring cyclist.  He’s from Germany, called Ben and is also heading to Greece.  We suggest he meets up with us and the French girls in Dubrovnik.  

p1160572 p1160574 p1160575 p1160576

We stop in Trsteno to admire an incredible plane-tree (Platanus orientalis) in the small square in the center of the village, which is over 500 years old and is a unique specimen of this kind of tree in continental Europe. The trunk is over 5 m wide with a height of 50-60m.  This village is also home to Arboretum Trsteno,  the oldest renaissance garden in Dalmatia. The exact date of its establishment is not known but it even existed in 1492 when an irrigation aqueduct was constructed

The arboretum Trsteno lies 18km Northwest to Dubrovnik. It developed out of a park surrounding the summer residence of the Gučetić-Gozze family. Family Gozze requested of ship captains to bring back all kind of seeds and plants from their travels. It is the oldest planned Renaissance park in Croatia (according to an inscription from 1502.) In 1948 it was declared a natural rarity and in 1962 registered as a protected natural monument that covers 255 000 square metres.   Arboretum Trsteno is also known as a major filming location of the 3rd and 4th season of Game of Thrones. Walk along the garden paths where Olena Tyrell and Varys plotted against Peter Baelish or sit in the lookout next to Olena and Margaery Tyrell to hear Sansa Stark’s story.

We’re only a couple of kilometres from Dubrovnik when we pass a wedding convoy.  This is about the 3rd we’ve seen today.  Everyone leaves a building (registry office?) and they get into their cars and they wait on the roadside until all the wedding guests are in their cars and in the convoy and then they drive off, sounding horns, waving flags and generally making a lot of noise.

p1160578 p1160581 p1160583 p1160584 p1160586 p1160587 p1160588 p1160589 p1160591 p1160592 p1160594 p1160595 p1160596 p1160598 p1160600 p1160601 p1160604

Finally we cycle into Dubrovnik,  with its sublime location, overlooking the calm blue waters of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik is one of the world’s most magnificent walled cities. Now a Unesco world heritage site and Croatia’s most up-market destination, it was once the capital of the wealthy sea-faring Republic of Ragusa (1358-1808).


During its Golden Age in the 16th century, it had one of the largest merchant naval fleets in the world, with consulates in more than 50 foreign ports. Brave sailors, hard-bargaining merchants and shrewd diplomats, the people of Dubrovnik became extremely rich, leading sophisticated lifestyles and valuing refinement and the arts.

p1160605 p1160606 p1160607 p1160608 p1160614 p1160615 p1160616 p1160617

We think that the campsite is the cheapest option after checking the internet and cycle up a huge hill only to be told it’s not 17€ for us both as the website led us to believe but 36€. He does offer to reduce it to 30€.  We’re appalled, this is the most expensive campsite we’ve ever visited.  The receptionist lets us use the WiFi and we find a nearby apartment which is cheaper and doesn’t involve cycling up a huge hill.  Fabulous,  a real bed and moving pictures (TV).  Happy cycling anniversary!

 

Sunday 23rd October

Dubrovnik

After a thoroughly fabulous night in a real bed with ensuite bathroom we head into the Old Town of Dubrovnik.   

p1160618 p1160619 p1160620 p1160621 p1160622 p1160623

The spectacular Stradun is a place where locals and visitors alike gather day and night to watch the world drift by. Undoubtedly one of Europe’s most picturesque pedestrian thoroughfares, the Stradun boasts many cafés and restaurants and is a good spot to rest weary feet after a day touring Dubrovnik. Measuring 300 meters in length and famous for its white limestone paving, the street dates back to 1468, although many of the surrounding buildings were built in the 17th century after the devastating earthquake of 1667, when most of Dubrovnik was heavily damaged. The Stradun’s unique homes are designed to enable residential living upstairs and business activities on the main level, and are notable for having their main doors and windows under the same arch.

We’re walking this street and realise there’s a food festival event here.  There are tables laden with food.  We buy one ticket (£5) and proceed to walk up and down stuffing ourselves with various tasty (and not so tasty) morsels.  

p1160624 p1160625 p1160626 p1160629 p1160630 p1160631 p1160632 p1160633 p1160635 p1160636 p1160637

At 12pm we meet our new cycling friends Marine, Anaïs and Ben (they’re all staying at the same hostel).  We walk around town and then eventually head to the city centre for food.  It’s great to hear their experiences and their plans for the coming months.  At around 3pm we go our separate ways, we may see them again on the road at some point.

p1160639 p1160640 p1160641 p1160643 p1160644 p1160646 p1160647 p1160648 p1160650 p1160652 p1160654 p1160656 p1160657 p1160659 p1160660 p1160661 p1160662 p1160663 p1160664

 We decide we’ve had enough sightseeing and wander back to our apartment.

 

Monday 24th October

Dubrovnik

Today we must leave this lovely apartment.   At 6am our Son dynamo was in Split.  Perhaps it’ll reach Dubrovnik today, otherwise we’ll need another bed for tonight.  Our Son dynamo stopped working about 2 days after we took possession of our trikes (1st September) .  After various attempts to get it fixed at bike shops, electronics shops and other random places we finally sent it back to Busch and Müller.  They found an electrical fault in the EWerk and the cache battery, replaced them at no cost and then posted them to Dubrovnik (they only charged us postage).  Busch and Müller have been incredibly helpful.  By comparison Vango, even after escalating our complaint, showed no interest in the poor performance of their tent.  Their repeated mantra – ‘it’s outside of our warranty period’.  I knew about the warranty but wanted their opinion on such a high price tag for a product that failed to perform for only 47 nights.  To be fair it had started to fail (broken poles, broken arches, holes is fabric) before this, but at 47 nights I wrote my first complaint.   They did offer us a set of replacement poles at 50% retail price.  Their customer service matches their product performance – shit!  Fortunately our MSR is performing incredibly well although we are still plagued by condensation on occasional nights (not every night – thank goodness).   Excellent news our parcel has arrived, sadly it’s in Split, 300km away.  Unfortunately B&M mistakenly used the Split address instead of the amended Dubrovnik address.  Fxxk Fxxk Fxxk.  We toy with a few options, getting a coach or hire car back to Split but B&M agree to recall it and send it to Crete.  Result, panic over but just a little bit annoying that we’ve deliberately been wasting time due to this parcel and could actually have been another 100 or so kilometres south of Dubrovnik – it’s time we can’t really afford to waste!!! Then an attempt to pick up our bank cards also fails.  This is proving to be a very BAD day!

 

The old city walls of Dubrovnik are one its best-known features. Built in the 10th century and modified in the 13th and 14th centuries, these formidable walls – as high as six meters and up to six meters thick-provided a solid defense against invaders. Totaling nearly two kilometers in length, Dubrovnik’s city walls make a great spot for a casual stroll and offer numerous excellent views over the Adriatic and inwards over the old city center. Other highlights include its two towers, the Minceta Tower and the Bokar Tower, along with two forts, the Lovrjenac Fort and the Revelin Fort. Access to the walls is through the main entrance on the left of Pile Gate (admission is charged and since we’re not feeling the love we decide to save this pleasure for another day!)

p1160665 p1160666 p1160667 p1160668 p1160669 p1160670 p1160672 p1160674 p1160675 p1160676 p1160677 p1160678 p1160679 p1160680 p1160681 p1160682 p1160683 p1160684

2 replies on “Venice to Dubrovnik – 6th to 24th Oct”

Hei Heul and Daz,
Love reading about your travels it Is amazing, beautiful scenery beautiful people, and you both looking fit and healthy. Looking forward to the next episode stay in touch xxx🙋🏼👍🏻🚲

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *