Archive for the ‘Croatia’ Category


I am sitting on the beach in Montenegro with the waves lapping on the pebbles. The lights from the town are shimmering on the water. The dishes are washed, cleaned in the beautiful warm sea-water. James and Willem are here with me, enjoying the beautiful evening.

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Clèment told us of his challenges. People can set him challenges on his blog, and, if he feels like it, we will take it up. Wearing a clown hat cycling for a day. Cycling 1000km without a map. Cycling naked for a couple of kilometres in the middle of the day. Living for zero euros for a month (by dumpster diving). I was really inspired by this. James and I have decided to try to not pay for our accommodation for the coming 3 days. A significant challenge given our relative luxurious way of travelling up to now. So, here we sit, on our free beach enjoying the beautiful view.

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Around and around in circles on the shiny marble streets in the old city in Dubrovnik. GoPro’s running, I followed James and he followed me. People put out bins, walked along with their bread under their arms, ambled down the streets. As time moved on the tourists came out, and leaving Dubrovnik, we weaved our way amongst the masses.

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Willem from Germany joined us, as we followed the coast on a side road, which offered beautiful views of Dubrovnik, and then of the blue blue sea from high above.

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The road approaching the Montenegro border was spectacular. An amazing drop followed by an equally steep climb.

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Tomorrow on the Kotor and up the ‘road of death’. At least, I think it is called that. An over 1000m climb ending in a spectacular view out over the bay. Looking forward to that!


Man, what a day! Blue skies, climbs, mountain landscapes, wild boar hunts, amazing coastal roads, swimming in the turquoise water and an evening in Dubrovnik with the greatest group of cyclists ever. Life doesn’t get much better than this!

The cross at the Bosnian Herzegovinan - Croatian border

The cross at the Bosnian Herzegovinan – Croatian border

Yesterday was powered by Choco Lips. Today was powered by Bumm. We splashed out on this ice-cream treat spending our last Bosnian currency before returning back into Croatia.

Bumm

Bumm

Our last day through Bosnia Herzegovina was on a Sunday (today), which is hunting day. We passed lots of cars that had pulled over, with people with guns and bright fluorescent jackets. Cycling along, we heard the distant barking of dogs (and remembered the canine blur that jumped out at us from the bushes yesterday), but discovered that these dogs were hunting dogs. They were tracking down wild boar.

Wild boars

Wild boars

Just over the border, and we were back on the coast. What an amazing coast! Blue sky, turquoise water, and jugged mountains rising out of the water off the coast. We found our own little beach, and just a few days after driving through the snow, we swam in the sea, and had lunch on the beach.

Dalmation coast

Dalmation coast

Sunning on the Dalmation coast

Sunning on the Dalmation coast

And, yes, I went swimming again

And, yes, I went swimming again

In Dubrovnik we met 3 really cool cyclists, two cycling down to Croatia and then back up in Italy, and one who is cycling from France to New Zealand (http://afleurdeselle.wordpress.com). Our evening whizzed by sharing stories and dreams. It is so cool spending time with other cyclists en route and enjoying life.

The 5 cyclists

The 5 cyclists

Clèment told of dumster diving – eating from the masses of food that is thrown away each and every day. It was a real eye-opener. There is a lot of waste in our society!


Isabella, persimmons and the search for the Snoopy snack bar. My first impressions of Bosnia – the country of happy, laid back people.

Buying persimmons in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Buying persimmons in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia always sounded adventurous – outside of the known, and into an unknown turbulent country on my doorstep. Leaving the Croatian coast – just 20km inland, and the feel of the place changed. This was no longer the main tourist drag, and it felt authentic and alive.

Bosnia is near

Bosnia is near

The border

The border

A stop on the side of the road to buy some persimmons introduced us to some lovely lovely people. A young girl, Isabella, was so very excited that we had stopped to buy some persimmons from her grandfather’s garden. She took some photos with us and sent them immediately to her friends. And, when we complimented her on her good english, she danced around in joy.

Me, Isabella and her grandfather

Me, Isabella and her grandfather

She loves her town, her country, and we had to taste the best kebabs in all of Bosnia Herzogevina in the next village – in the Snoopy Snack bar. Well, we had to try that. We left the (only vaguely) beaten track to find the snack bar – the source of nourishment of all the school kids from miles around.

The Snoopy Snack Bar

The Snoopy Snack Bar

Our points of contact with lovely, warm hearted people, Isabella and her grandparents, the guy serving us at Snoopy, and our hotel owner in Mostar, were separated by sprints along a busy main road plied by cars and trucks – all travelling fast, coughing out fumes, and creating a lot of noise pollution.

Mostar is a beautiful and eery place. Just opposite our hotel, the building is pocked with bullet holes from the war, just a decade ago. It is sad that such hatred and anger can ruin the lives and everything for the people here. Walking down the street in the old town, lit by yellow lights in the dark of the evening, we heard a mosque call for prayer, and saw 3 or 4 mosques lit up. On the top of the hill, high up, was a solitary cross, standing there silence in the distance. On the bridge was written ‘Do not forget, 1993’.

Mostar

Mostar

Mostar

Mostar

Aleksandra, my friend that we are visiting tomorrow in Banja Luka, advised that we should eat meat – ‘that is what they eat here’. Well, we did. It was massive. The cat (one of the many) was also interested.

Me and the cat

Me and the cat

Then back to our chaotic abode. Nourished and content.

Chaos

Chaos


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.


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.