Day 38. 76km. Jelsa – Ploče

Posted: October 20, 2014 in Cycling
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Peanut butter and salami on dark German bread, watching our tents dry on the traffic barriers while waiting for the ferry. We were quite the attraction for the Taiwanese tourists that descended from their coach.
AND, I used my universal sink plug. Yay!

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The sunrise this morning was orgasmic. We had a panoramic view over the water with the mountains of neighbouring islands silhouetted on the horizon. I just stood there in silence, listening to the water lap on the rocks, and watching the birds traverse overhead.

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We (Julia, James and I) traversed Hvar island – a long finger pointing back towards the mainland. A spectacular island and an amazing coastline towards Ploče.

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It started getting dark and Julia pushed on to catch the ferry to Korčula Island. James and me now find ourselves camping in front of a lovely lake in someone’s private back yard with 2 French cyclists. James is the master Chef. Together we made a new concoction from things that we had. It involved pasta, packet mux (he’s from New Zealand), apples, ginger, salami, together with a tossed salad.

Tomorrow on to Mostar.

I’ll upload the map when I have wifi. :-)


As I rolled down the hill I saw him waving. This meeting has been weeks in coming. I stopped the bike, took off my safari hat (which looks like a cycling helmet), and exclaimed: “James Lambie, I presume!”

James is a bit of a slacker. This hill wasn't even 7%.

James is a bit of a slacker. This hill wasn’t even 7%.

From solo cycling to 3 cyclists and a dog, cycling on a spectacular island in the beautiful sun. Well, cycling was done a little bit. Fixing a flat tyre, lounging in a cafe in Hvar and chatting to some Taiwanese people. Some late selection of our wild camping spot resulted in another spectacular location. Me happy!

Sunset from our wild camping spot

Sunset from our wild camping spot

James’ story is a bit like mine. Been living in Europe (for him the UK) for years, and has decided to return home (for him NZ) by bike. Julia, from Albania, is cycling from Italy where she lives, to Greece, with her dog Chappi. Drahtesel is a featherweight compared to her beast. Julia lugs her fully loaded bike with a dog trailer up the hills, zig-zagging up to the top. We are the group of 3.

The group of 3. Matthew, James and Julia.

The group of 3. Matthew, James and Julia.

Rather than heading to the ferry at the end of the island, we cycled to Hvar town up a spectacular mountain road and back along another spectacular road. It is so nice to share these amazing places with kindred spirits. Passing around a bend, and hearing a gasp before I can gasp. Everyone stopping for photos in the same place. Sharing the impressions over dinner. And witty humour in a beautiful New Zealand accent. :-) Didn’t see any sheep today.

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Someone switched on the colour switch – like when Dorothy clicked her red shoes in the Wizard of Oz. The water is turquoise and warm, the villages are beautiful nestled in little coves, and lonely islands dot the coastline. Cycling the coast road to Split is like heaven on earth.

My 2999km from Eindhoven swim.

My 2999km from Eindhoven swim.

The coastal road from Šibenik quickly lost its traffic. It was sunny, the road was flat, following the coast, and the light was beautiful. Every bend revealed a new bay or village. I laughed with joy over and over. I am really doing this! Yes!!!

The Dalmation Coast

The Dalmation Coast

The Dalmation Coast

The Dalmation Coast

I found an ideal little place for a swim at the 2999km mark from Eindhoven. The water was so clear, and the flying fish were active.

My little swim

My little swim

3000km from Eindhoven

3000km from Eindhoven

I am sitting in a cute little square in Split, in the middle of the beautiful old town. Another labyrinth of tiny alley ways and squares. Later this evening I’m taking the ferry to Hvar island, where I will be meeting up with James Lambie. We will cycle this beautiful (and hilly) island together, with an Albanian cyclist who is with him. Looking forward to it!

Split

Split

Split

Split

Sunset in Split

Sunset in Split


Warning. Repeat. Repeat. Croatian scree slope bike paths (like Istria). Beautiful coast with lakes and islands. Searching for the peaceful cycling road. Oh. And an amazing sunset in a beautiful town – Šibenik.

Yes. Clever me - I think..

Yes. Clever me – I think..

My cycling shorts were almost dry after the kind owner of my room in Zadar decided, while I was away, that they shouldn’t dry over the seat in my room. She kindly hung them up on her balcony and then in the entrance to the apartment. Today, in Šibenik, I have an apartment where I am the king and master. I’m not drying my cycling shorts, though (and no one else is either)..

The apartment took some finding, after speaking to 3 different (and helpful) people in English and German. And navigating the pedestrian zone in Šibenik.

Drahtesel in Šibenik

Drahtesel in Šibenik

The coast here is fantastic. On the coast there are always hilly islands just out to shore.

The coast

The coast

This makes for amazing sunsets. This one is Šibenik, I swear (and not Zadar). :-)

Sunset in Šibenik

Sunset in Šibenik

I spent quite some time on the main road from Zadar to Split, but, did find some quiet roads. One was even a bike path – I should have been worried (after Istria). It soon became gravel with slippery scree – ideal for falling off Drahtesel.

A peaceful road

A peaceful road

A Croatian bike path

A Croatian bike path

Another Croatian bike path - I turned back

Another Croatian bike path – I turned back

I’m getting nearer to James Lambie who is cycling to New Zealand. Maybe our paths will cross tomorrow. Maybe not. We are heading off to Bosnia soon. Our plans are still being cooked up.

Day 34. 79km. Novalja – Zadar

Posted: October 16, 2014 in Cycling
Tags: , , ,

The weather was meant to be a repeat of yesterday, and I was planning to have a R&R day in Novalja. I looked out the window and the sun was shining. Today was a cycle day. I’m writing this sitting in the main square in Zadar with guitar music playing in the background, people dining, and others strolling past the art stands.

Sunset in Zadar

Sunset in Zadar

I know what to expect on my way forward, being in contact with James Lambie – a guy who is cycling from Europe (England, I think) to New Zealand. Our routes are quite similar, and he is two days ahead of me. I now know which parts have steep climbs, when to watch out for ferry times, and even where to buy cheese. Having been told to buy a particular type of cheese at a particular cheese shop on the way to Pag, I got a Facebook message from James exactly as I stood in front of the cheese shop. The universe is saying something.. (Or is that too cheesy?)

The cheese shop

The cheese shop

Pag island became a bit less bleak today, but remained beautiful.

Pag island

Pag island

It seems that each of these Croatian islands has a town with the same name as the island. At least this is the case for Cres, Rab and Pag. All of these towns are cute. Here is Pag.

Pag town

Pag town

Pag town

Pag town

I sat in Zadar on the waterfront watching the sun go down. Opposite are beautiful mountainous islands which slowly fade to a silhouette as the sky turns deeper shades of blue. The water is calm, plied by a few fishing boats.

Sunset in Zadar

Sunset in Zadar


I enjoyed today. The islands are beautiful. Pag island is bleak. The mountains on the mainland loom over the coast shrouded in cloud. And it bucketed down.

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I made it to the ferry! I feel happy moving forward. The departure in the dark and the rumble of thunder waiting for the boat increased the excitement.

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A lunch break in Rab town.

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Just about to continue, a toilet break turned into a torrential downpour viewing. Drahtesel got a good clean.

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The rain stayed my friend for the rest of the day. Sometimes it abated and sometimes it poured down. At one point in the mountains, already wet, I stopped in a bus stop shelter.

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Enough rain. I stopped moderately early in Novalja on Pag island.

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My booking.com host didn’t show up and is apparently in Zagreb. I am now in a hostel with lovely friendly staff and am drinking a warm tea as my room is being prepared.They’re playing Seal ‘Crazy’. I like that song, and it goes with my mood. I’m warm and happy.

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Today didn’t go as it was supposed to. Suboptimal weather, suboptimal ferry timetables, and late ferries meaning I missed a connection. In summary, I am 20km from where I started today, and am trying to practise my life philosophy and am ‘letting it go’.

The late ferry from Merag to Valbiska

The late ferry from Merag to Valbiska

I left this morning in the dark. It had just stopped raining. I left not knowing where I would cycle to. I didn’t think I would end up where I am.

The weather

The weather

The weather forecast was crap (rain, thunderstorms), and so my plan of cycling further on Cres, catching the ferry from Mali Lošinj at the bottom of the island wasn’t looking very appealing. I wasn’t taking in much of the scenery as I cycled along. I had several options, and with each minute I changed my mind.
– Cycle to Rijeka and then down the coast. This is a very busy road, not recommended for cyclists.
– Catch the boat to Rab island. The boat leaves from Valbiska at 1820. I was at Valbiska before 9am. I didn’t want to wait all day for the boat, or cycle aimlessly around Krk island.
– Catch the boat to Cres, and cycle to the southern tip of the Cres island. The ‘ferry’ from Mali Lošinj only takes people and no bikes, I was told. So, cycling to the tip of the island meant also cycling back (which would take 2 days).
– Catch the ferry to Cres, cycle around Cres for the day, catch the same ferry back at 1730 in time for the 1820 ferry to Rab.

I almost cycled to Rijeka. Just minutes before the ferry left to Cres, I jumped on it. I love Cres island, and wanted to see more of it.

A philosophy of being happy is as follows: don’t get angry at what is – being angry doesn’t change anything. All you can control is your reaction to what is. The ferry times meant that I was going to lose today in terms of moving forward. My ferry back from Cres was delayed, and I missed my connection ferry to Rab. I am trying not to be angry, and am observing myself trying not to be angry. An interesting exercise. I find myself in a hotel room 2km from the ferry to Rab. Tomorrow is (unexpectedly) an early boat to Rab. I will be on that boat Inshallah.

I cycled to the lake in the middle of Cres island. It fascinated me – what is a big lake doing there in the middle of such a thin, mountainous island? It was hard to photograph due to the trees, but I had a go.

Lake in Cres island

Lake in Cres island

Despite being cloudy, it was warm cycling up all those hills. Here is today’s ‘hot and sweaty’ selfie. :-)

Hot and sweaty

Hot and sweaty

Tomorrow Rab and Pag islands. I’ve heard they are beautiful! :-)