Route and stats for 02 September below:
Nothing for the 03 September as had a day off in Dubrovnik, a fine city!
–> 02 September – to Dubrovnik, with a brief stint in Bosnia Herzegovina
My legs felt tired this morning, for the first time in a while, so it must be rest day time. I decided that once I got to Dubrovnik I’d have a day off, for sightseeing purposes, but mainly just some R&R before the stretch to Istanbul. I still had 121km to pedal today, so I left Uvula Borovic in good time, riding over the hills to Ploce. I passed some beautiful lakes as the road curved inland to go around a river estuary; nice change of scenery.
Then, wonder of wonders, I had a flat section for at least 10km, through a flood plain, before a long climb over to Bosnia and Herzegovina. A lot more farming activity was evident on the flood plain, with lots of roadside stalls selling fruit, veg, Fig jam and olive oil.
I had to get my passport out again at the border crossing, however they weren’t particularly interested in me or Smaug. I was only in Bosnia and Herzegovina for about 10km, passing through the town of Neum before the border crossing back into Croatia, via another arduous climb; it’d be easier if it wasn’t so hot again. The border guard going back into Croatia were a lot friendlier, waving me through and interested in where I was pedalling to; not sure if it was professional or personal curiosity. I rejoined route 8 heading South towards Dubrovnik.
There were islands to my right as I rode down the coast, past Ston, then up a long climb at the top of which was a small market. There were a couple of cycle tourers taking a break there, so I paused for an ice cream and cold drink too. They turned out to be from Slovenia, and were on their way back there after cycling to Montenegro. They confirmed there were more hills to come, and we all agreed the heat was a little too much; more people saying it’s hotter than it should be for the time of year. I passed several cycle tourers going the other way today; good wave/hello count!
Continuing down the coast I passed through Trsteno, where there are two enormous Plane Trees, both about 450 years old and providing some lovely shade. After sweating profusely I finally made it to the outskirts of Dubrovnik, and stopped for another cold drink; I chatted to two mad Austrians and a couple of motor-cyclists – I met the latter again at the campsite later on.
I had to cross the bridge then pedal up another big hill, before looping back around the harbour and on to Camping Solitudo, on the peninsula to the North West of Dubrovnik. The campsite is conveniently situated for visiting the city, being only 4km away, and whilst not brilliant was perfectly adequate for my needs; had free wifi, trees for my hammock, and the bathrooms were good, so I could forgive the litter and hard pitches.
To put it bluntly I was knackered when I arrived, and after setting up fell asleep in my hammock for 2 hours; after an ice-cream. I decided I’d stay at the campsite for two nights, rather than try to find a hostel in Dubrovnik for tomorrow night, which would be more expensive, crowded, and more hassle than worth. So tomorrow would be a rest day, with a bit of sightseeing for good measure.
–> 03 September – rest day and sightseeing in Dubrovnik
I still ended up cycling about 10km today, however it’s amazing how much easier it is to go up hills without all my luggage on the bike. I think I was due a rest day, it having been two weeks since my last one in Marseille; seems like longer ago than two weeks, having seen so much since. I very happy with my progress though, and pleased that it’s less than 1,000 miles to go to Istanbul.
My planned lie in failed, despite several beers the previous evening; I’m just hard-coded to get up and out of my tent by 07.00, or earlier. It’ll be interesting to see if I can keep this routine when I get back the UK; without the sleeping in the tent bit too often though. It would be handy to have some time before work to do a bit of writing, or just do something different instead of rushing straight to the office; maybe a run.
After a few chores I pedalled the 4km to Dubrovnik Old Town, over the hill, and spent a few hours looking around. It’s an amazing walled city, with so much history, and loads of fantastic architecture to gawk at; there were crowds of other tourists also doing a lot of gawking. I can see why it was chosen as the location for King’s Landing, for the TV adaptation of the Game of Thrones books; very fitting. If you want a bit of history check Wikipedia – might have been founded by the Greeks, was allied Ancona (Italian city) versus the domination of Venice in the Adriatic, part of the Ottoman Empire for ages, had famous merchant fleet, and was put under siege and shelled by the Serbians and Montenegrins in 1991. I wonder if the Croatians get on with Serbs and Montenegrins now, as the shelling looked pretty destructive from the maps I saw, despite the city having been demilitarised and listed as a UNESCO work heritage site. I took a lot of photos.
I found a bookshop and managed to buy a map that will get me as far as Greece, which is a relief. I could have probably managed with my Garmin device and my phone, but they could always break or run out of power, and I prefer a paper map in many ways; good confidence boost to have one. I probably don’t need one once I’m in Greece, as I’ll just follow the coast, roughly, all the way into Turkey and on to Istanbul. Post bookshop I continued my meanderings, with an ice-cream stop for refreshment purposes.
I am developing a theory about Irish pubs/bars; I think they must be magic, with a way of insinuating themselves into a street in any given city and appearing quite in place, and not strange. It’s a bit odd when you think about it; why are there Irish bars/pubs nearly everywhere? I think they can probably move about if they want to, but no-one will think it odd or even recall it being there, or having moved, because they’re magic…obviously.
Having done enough sightseeing, and in need of some serious R&R, I retreated to the campsite after lunch, and had a very pleasant siesta in my hammock. The rest of the day was occupied by reading my book, route planning, acquiring a VISA for Turkey, a visit to the beach near the campsite, eating, and contemplating the route ahead; but not too much, as that just leads to increased nerves and over thinking things.
Tomorrow it’s back on the road to Montenegro. Blog posts might get a bit intermittent prior to Istanbul, depending on Wifi, campsites, and opportunities to charge my laptop. I can’t use my phone in some of the countries I’m passing through, as it’ll cost far too much, however I’ll try and Tweet my location whenever possible.
Have a good weekend everyone 🙂 (and good luck with the house move Norman and Sheila)
P.S. Sorry for any spelling/grammar errors – had to rewrite this twice due to crashes (Wifi cut out)