Dalmatia

2009/10/16: To Ston 57km


Travelling north from Dubrovnik, we saw signs that said “arboretum”, so to satisfy my botanical curiosity we went to the Trsteno Arboretum. We spent several relaxed hours exploring the fabulous grounds of an old family villa, which are now managed by the Croatian Academy of Sciences. Besides formal gardens, a fountain, and labelled native and exotic trees, there was a serene stone pavilion overlooking the Adriatic. An outbuilding held an old wooden olive oil press.

Olive Oil Press
Cillian & Margo

Further along, we met an Irish lad named Cillian, who was a bit of an accidental bike traveller, having left Ireland planning a only two week excursion. He’d been on the road several months, building up his gear as his requirements grew and as his plans expanded. We chatted with him at length, and sent our remaining anti-malarial medications south with him.

A little later, we met Knut, a Norwegian who’d left North Cape (northernmost Norway) and was headed to Capetown, South Africa, planning to join the Tour d”Afrique in Cairo. He was close to our vintage, but moving faster averaging 120km per day. He’d ridden the breadth of Asia the year before with The Silk Roads.

We arrived in Ston after a sociable low-mileage day, walked the newly restored walls in the evening, and ate an enormous platter of mussels and shrimps.

2009/10/17: To Sucuraj, Hvar 83km
We’d been planning to ride out along the Peljesac Peninsula as part of our route up the Dalmatian Coast, but had rethought our plans after meeting Knut. He’s deemed it a tough ride;coming from an extremely fit Norwegian we took his appraisal seriously. Instead, we rode north to catch the ferry to Hvar at Drvenik. The road passes through Bosnia and Herzegovina for nine kilometres. The Croatians haven’t bothered with border facilities, but the Bosnians have. All they did was wave us through, so we didn’t collect another passport stamp. The only comment we’re able to make about Bosnia is that they have excellent cherry strudel.

We arrived at Drvenik at 2:30, but there wasn’t a ferry till 5:00 on Sundays. This meant several relaxed cups of coffee in a wireless hotspot. Wireless is literally everywhere here! We arrived on Hvar in the dark, and soon found we had wireless in the tiny apartment we stayed in –possibly a shared town network.

2009/10/18: To Stari Grad, Hvar, and Ferry to Rijeka 64km
The ride along the spine Hvar was pretty. Olive trees were strategically protected from strong winds by stone walls. In higher places forest and vineyards gave way to open heathland of juniper, sage, blueberries, and heather. In places we’d see a man standing by the road, shotgun in hand, looking out over the heath and whistling. Memories of my father led me to recognize that they were whistling commands to well-trained bird dogs who were working through the heather for upland game such as pheasants.

After a wait in the ferry port at Stari Grad, we boarded the vessel Marko Polo bound for Rijeka. We were really pleased to be charged a modest fee for the bikes and to be given safe and sensible place to secure them — a place where suitcases wouldn’t be carelessly flung at them like on Greek ferries.

M

6 responses to “Dalmatia

  1. I'm very interested in your impressions of the Dalmatian coast. I visited there in 1969 when Tito was still in power. And Dubrovnic was indeed beautiful. But I have never since run into such nasty people. My impression was a country of nasty drunks with wife beating the major sport. Clear antipathy to foreigners – including anyone not living on your block. I couldn't believe it was so bad, but a trip to Zagreb the next year confirmed this impression. Perhaps things have changed for the better?

  2. Art:
    We have not seen any of the behaviour you describe. We have not seen any drunks since Eastern Stans or perhaps Azerbaijan. The worst Drunks were in less Muslim Stans (Kazakh and Kyrgyz). The Dalmatian coast is so heavily dependent on tourism, such behaviour is unlikely in public.
    Last night we did find here in Slovenia concerns about “Arabs,
    Muslims, Roma, etc.” Interestingly enough the same guy felt Socialism under Tito was the better option than what he considered the American capitalism of the EU.

    Chris

  3. Booze was cheaper before.

  4. Barry, I remember the beer back then. 8% alcohol with a strong metallic taste. If they laced it with mercury, that would explain the behavior too.

  5. The hard stuff

    grant

  6. Pingback: Index for Bangkok to Paris 2009 « candmwanderings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s