I don’t mind admitting the last few days have been quite tricky. It’s not so much the cycling, which whilst demanding is still very enjoyable, it’s more the thought of what is yet to come. I’m slightly anxious about the route to Istanbul, through Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, then into Greece and Turkey. I know it will be fine, as loads of people have cycled it and I keep reading blogs about how great it is, however I won’t be 100% happy until I’m there and pedalling it. In fact I can’t wait to get to Albania etc and lay my fears to rest. I’ve just made it to Dubrovnik and am going to have a day off to do some prep work, and have a rest, before the ride to Istanbul which will take another 12 to 14 days. Getting out of your comfort zone is a great thing, but can be challenging when a bit of fear sets in, and you have too much time pedalling to dwell on risks that aren’t going to materialise! I think this is one of the challenges of cycling solo; if you’re pedalling with someone else you have a companion to mull things over with, and to share responsibilities on route, risks, food, accommodation, money etc. Anyway, as I get closer to Montenegro I’m getting happier about what is yet to come, and am looking forward to more adventures.
Routes and stats for last day of August, and 1st day of September below. It seems amazing it’s September already, however thinking back it does feel like a long time ago that I set off from my house in Norwich.
- 31 August: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/883920188
- 01 September: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/886002223
–> 31 August – to Trogir
102km pedalled today, and it’s definitely getting warmer again; it’s especially hot where the road cuts through a canyon, or an artificial cut through with rock on either side, and no breeze – can get sweltering!
Breakfast on a Croatian beach, as the sun comes up, is definitely something I can recommend, with a few early morning swimmers getting the day off to a good start, and people readying their boats. Very peaceful and beautiful. I consumed the dinner I’d bought from Lidyl, but not eaten due to Nordsee camping offering better fare; ham, cheese, baguette and fruit set me up nicely for the ride ahead.
I rode off towards Split after bidding Nordsee Autocamp a fond farewell, looking forward to seeing what the coast had to offer today; it just seems to get better, even if it is almost constantly hilly.
My first stop was in Sibenik, a moderately sized and old town about 20km away, where I paused for a wander about, and to buy a new charging cable for my iPhone; I ended up buying two just in case, as they only cost a fiver each, which is about a third of the UK cost. Sibenik proved a picturesque town, full of German, Austrian and Italian tourists, as well a narrow streets, charming bars and restaurants, and medieval looking buildings; not sure how old they actually are.
As it was already really hot, it would have been rude not to stop for an ice-cream too. I think ice-creams are going to replace my tarte du jour feature, at least for a bit.
Re-energised thanks to the well-timed Gelato I cycled onwards, staying on the coast road despite what looked like a short cut inland; would have involved a mega climb so I avoided it. The scenery on the coastline is better than it is inland in any case, with clear turquoise water, yachts sailing slowly about (not a lot of wind), small towns and villages, and beaches with lots of folk enjoying a swim.
After a few more hills I made it to the aptly named Marina, where there were lots of Sunsail yachts moored; think it must be the start/end point for flotilla holidays. I stopped for another ice-cream, then at a market to get a few supplies; Croatia is so much cheaper than France and Italy!
My destination for the day was a campsite next to Trogir, a largish town with more old medieval buildings, which I forgot to take photos of. The ride down the coast had been wonderful, and I was glad to see it isn’t as yet overly spoilt; there are lots of small towns, and apartments to rent, but no massive hotels and not a lot of building activity I could see. Hope it stays that way. I turned right to the peninsula next to Trogir, and made it to Rozac camping. The campsite was pretty full but they had small spot where I could pitch my tent. I set up and promptly fell asleep in my hammock for two hours; so comfy, how did I manage without one?!
After watching the sun go down (it’s getting dark earlier) I had dinner at the campsite restaurant, choosing to enjoy another mixed grill rather than bread and cheese; might not be such opportunities in the wilds of Macedonia.
Oh, and I had one of those moments today, when I forgot my towel when taking a shower; realised halfway through. Thankfully, although small, a buff also makes quite a good towel!
On to Split tomorrow, and another webcam opportunity, then the road to Dubrovnik.
Well done to my boss (TLK) on starting his own UK mini cycle tour; hope the weather improves for you!
–> 01 September – Split and Podaca; touring month 5 begins
I didn’t have the best night’s sleep, as my camping spot was next to a road with speed bumps, and consequently quite noisy. It was a nice view of the sea to wake up to though, and I’d been comfy, even if I was a little grumpy due to lack of shuteye.
Although tired I had a long way to go today if I wanted to keep to my rolling 200 miles every 3 days target, so I pedalled off from Trogir in good time, deftly making my way through queueing traffic, whilst being careful not to catch any cars with my panniers. I cycled 127km in 7 hours and 11 minutes, with just over 1,000m in climbing, so not bad going.
I paused for a break in Split, after only about 30km, riding down to the waterfront to look for the webcam, and to enjoy an ice-cream, which I think I’m getting addicted to; strange as don’t really eat them in the UK, however I guess it’s the right climate for such things here.
After waving hello to GCHQ Norwich, and accidentally withdrawing 100 Kuna rather than 1,000 from an ATM, d’oh, I continued on passing through various small towns, and some great scenery.
By the time I reached Makarska I was feeling very hot, and pretty tired, so turned off the main road and down into the town for a break. It proved to be a good choice for a pause, with a lovely quayside, lots of expensive boats, and a choice of ice-cream vendors. I reckon it’s a bit of a pricey tourist town, but very pleasant-looking.
A park provided a good spot for a sit down in the shade for 30 minutes, to cool off and re-hydrate. Several backpackers were doing the same; a popular spot. I’ve started seeing more backpackers in the last few days, with a lot of people hitch-hiking, or attempting to flag down a lift by the roadside. Hitch hiking seems to be a popular and accepted method of travel in Croatia; I even spotted a sign for an official hitch-hiking waiting spot today! In general hitching a lift is far more common in mainland Europe compared with the UK.
After a welcome rest I pedalled on to Dreverik, then Podaca, over a few final hills before reaching a campsite for the night; Uvala Borova camping near Gradac.
Uvala Borova proved to be a much quieter campsite, with lots of space and right next to the sea, so a swim was possible again. I pitched my tent and slung my hammock, then relaxed, easing tired legs over dinner and a few beers from the small campsite market. As usual everyone was really friendly, and although I didn’t have any long conversations, lots of people said hello, and the campsite dog decided to keep me company for a bit; may have been the smell of salami.
It as good to have a chat with my brother Will, Louisa and their kids via FaceTime, even if the connection was a bit intermittent. Seb, my nephew, tried to tell me his new joke, about bees, however I kept missing the punchline; he wanted to make me laugh and fall out of my hammock, although that might have been more of his mother’s idea!
I did a bit more route research reading up on Albania etc, and stumbled upon the blog of a couple of other cycle tourers who’ve just make it to Albania: http://longhaultrekkers.com/ . I might try to meet up with them if we follow the same route; they’re head of me but travelling more slowly, with a dog in tow; email sent.
On to Dubrovnik tomorrow, then probably a rest day; need to do some shopping and have a day off the bike, plus Dubrovnik will be a good place to visit. Wasn’t it the setting for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones?
All the best as you travel on. The other issue about travelling solo is that there is no conversation to take your mind off worries. You have come an amazing way; one day/hour at a time and focussing on the present sometimes helps me when my mind races a bit. LIking the ice creams – some size! E
Being a solo traveller myself, I know exactly how uncertainties can play on the mind, uninterrupted by anyone else. On my route to Istanbul last year, the issue of wild dogs in Serbia and Bulgaria caused me some concern……in the end, I had only one dog that lazily chased me off its territory….and I returned home with two unused red pepper sprays. Bon courage!
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Thanks Frank, that’s exactly it. I know I don’t need to be anxious, but things to play on the mind. Thanks for the confidence boost! How long did it take you to cycle to Istanbul, roughly? Trying to work out how long it’ll take me to cycle home; reckon about 6 weeks.
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It’s about 3000km, which for me (and you) is about a four week trek, with a few stops along the way. I did a dog’s leg down towards the SW of Turkey, taking in Gallipoli, Troy and Bursa (where you can get a ferry directly into Istanbul) and increased my mileage to 4000km, taking 6 weeks, with 5 days in Istanbul. If you don’t mind the flatness and predictability of the Danube, following the river to Germany is easy. But I found after three days, I needed hills and contours. Places worth stopping over in: Sofia (Bulgaria), Belgrade (Serbia), Budapest (Hungary), Vienna, Nuremberg and Cologne. I had a couple of nights in each.
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In what condition are the coastal roads that you are using? Also, how are you finding the Croatian drivers – courteous or thoughtless like a significant minority in the UK? And as for the roads, you seem to be on some fairly major ones, is that fair? Is the surface as good on the minor roads – or in fact if you are on the coast is there only the major road option to choose from most of the time?