A Travellerspoint blog

From Split over Hvar Island to Mostar, and towards Dubrovnik

Continuing from Split over Hvar island, then back on the mainland and a side trip into Bosnia and Herzegovina to visit Mostar, before heading on towards Dubrovnik!

rain 13 °C
View Cycling south east on luzian's travel map.

From Split, I took another ferry out to Stari Grad on the island Hvar. My original plan was to cycle around Hvar a little bit, and then continue on another ferry out to Korčula Island, which connects at the other end to the Pelješac peninsula. So I could have avoided the main coastal road and its traffic for quite a long time. But getting on Hvar, I asked about the ferry to Korčula, which turned out to be a high speed Catamaran, on which they don't allow any vehicles - not even a small bicycle. So I changed my plan and cycled over Hvar island, which also has a ferry connection to the mainland on the other side.

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Jelsa on Hvar Island, and mountains on the mainland behind it.

A bit later in the day when I had some views over from Hvar to Korčula and Pelješac, I was actually glad I was on Hvar instead - the mountains over there are much higher and steeper! As it was a very cold day, and I didn't feel too well, I was also glad to have cycled on Hvar, because the distance to the ferry on the other end is shorter than the way across Korčula. By the time I was back on the mainland, it was night and freezing cold, so I was glad to find a private room in the first town back on the coast.

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Entering Bosnia and Herzegovina

The next day started cloudy and windy. I continued on the winding road along the coast, towards the estuary of the Neretva river. From there, I had decided to do a side trip into Bosnia and Herzegovina and follow the Neretva up to Mostar, with its famous old bridge. After passing lots of tangerine plantations with the local farmers just about to collect the tangerines (and tasting a few from a tree that had fallen over the road - very delicious!), I got to the last Croatian town before the border, Metković.

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Počitelj castle

As I was again trying to avoid the main road that goes up to Mostar, I tried a smaller border crossing on the left side of the river first, but was told that it's only an internal crossing for citizens of the two bordering countries. So I had to go back and continue on the main road on the right side of the river. There was quite a bit of traffic, but it wasn't too bad because the road is quite slow on it's winding parts, and wide enough to allow safe overtaking.

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Mostar - The Old Bridge at night

Some light rain started soon after the border, but nothing too serious yet. After passing Počitelj, a small town with a castle overlooking the valley from a cliff high above the river, and the ruins of Mogorjelo, an old Roman building dating back to the 1st century, I got to Mostar just when it was getting dark. The rain had gotten a bit stronger in the meantime, but still not too bad... heavy rain started in the evening when I was walking around Mostar!

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Mostar - The Old Bridge

Mostar itself has a very shaken history, having been part of the Ottoman Empire, then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and then part of Yugoslavia after World War I. Mostar was always very ethnically mixed, with Croats living alongside with Bosnian Muslims and Serbians. There are several Mosques and christian Churches around the city. The famous old bridge which gave the name to the city (Stari Most = Old Bridge) was built in 1566/1567 when Mostar was an important Ottoman trading city. The bridge was destroyed in 1993, with Mostar being first attacked by the Yugoslav army, and then in a long and hard conflict between the Croats and Muslims mostly living each on one side of the river, and destroying all bridges and most of the town. The bridge was rebuilt in 2003 exactly according to the original and is now back in new old beauty. The old town was also largely rebuilt, but around it there are still a lot of bombed buildings that look like just after the war.

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Mostar - destroyed building left from the war

On the next day, I continued back down to the Croatian coast. My original plan was to continue a bit further in Bosnia & Herzegovina through some mountains to Trebinje, and go back on the coast from Dubrovnik from there. But as it was still raining, I decided to continue back on the coast instead, because I didn't know if I would find any accommodation up in the mountains, and wouldn't want to risk a night in the tent after cycling in the rain for a full day. On this day, I actually did an extensive test of my rain equipment for the first time (I avoided most of the rain before [in Italy] by waiting until it stops...). Result of the test - well it's nice to have rain equipment, but after a while, you get wet anyway... from outside as well as from the sweat. After being completely soaked from a couple hours in the rain, I decided to call it a day and found a place to sleep in Opuzen, a small town back down on the Neretva estuary. By coincidence, when looking for a restaurant, I also found a physiotherapy and massage studio - the decision to get a professional sports massage for my tired legs was quickly made!

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Cycling on the Croatian coast on the way to Dubrovnik

On the next day, it was mostly sunny again and my legs felt almost like new - so no problems to cycle the last stretch along the beautiful coast towards Dubrovnik!

More pictures in the gallery, as usual!

Posted by luzian 11:52 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

From Zadar to Split

Continuing from Zadar along the coast to Split

sunny 15 °C
View Cycling south east on luzian's travel map.

On the next two days I cycled on from Zadar to Split, visiting Šibenik, Primošten and Trogir on the way. Always trying to avoid the "Magistrale" - the main road running all the way along the Croatian coast - I meant to go out from Zadar on Ugljan Island first. But the way from the hostel to the ferry station in Zadar took a bit longer than expected and I missed the ferry by just a minute or two (the ferry had just closed its doors and was about to leave...). So I continued on the mainland instead.

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Šibenik - Katedrala sv. Jakova

Still trying to avoid the traffic on the "Magistrale", I took some smaller roads out of Zadar, which went well first, but after a while I got kind of lost somewhere on a road that wasn't paved anymore, and suddenly turned back towards Zadar. So I found a path back to the "Magistrale" and continued there. Actually the traffic there wasn't nearly as bad as expected. This may be due to the fact that the "beach season" is over and not so many tourists (and people serving them etc.) are driving along the coast, and also because there's a relatively new motorway that follows the coast a bit further back in the mountains... I guess people doing longer distances are driving up there.

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Trogir - Castle

After the first day from Zadar, I got to Šibenik - a historic town famous for its Katedrala sv. Jakova (Cathedral of St. James), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the next day, I continued along the coastal road, which on this part is almost free of traffic because there's a road a bit further back in the country, which is actually shorter because the coast line is not quite straight around here. On the way to Split, there were two more interesting towns - Primošten, a small town built on a hill on a small peninsula, and Trogir, a historic city (and yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site) which is situated on a small island between the Croatian mainland and a larger island outside.

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Amazing sunset just before arriving in Split

Split is a nice city to visit, with a nice seafront promenade that must be very crowded in summer, but empty when I visited because it was quite cold, and a traffic free old town with small nestled streets around the city's trademark bell tower of the ancient cathedral of Saint Doimus. Great views on the center can be admired from nearby Marjan hill.

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Saint Doimus cathedral in Split at night

I was lucky with the weather again, a couple more cold but sunny days in Zadar and Plitvice, and partly sunny and partly cloudy (but relatively warm) on the way to Split. At night in Split, it started raining for the first time since I entered Croatia! Quite heavy rain in the middle of the night, but on the next day it was nice and sunny again (cloudy in the afternoon and evening).

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Split

More pictures in the gallery!

Posted by luzian 13:31 Archived in Croatia Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

Over the Islands to Zadar, and by bus to Plitvice Lakes

Cycling over some Islands and then by ferry to Zadar, from there a bus trip to the beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park,

sunny 12 °C
View Cycling south east on luzian's travel map.

From Istria, I continued over the Islands Cres and Lošinj - about 90km over these two long and hilly islands which are connected by a bridge in the middle. This involved some time constraints, as the ferry from Mali Lošiny at the southern end of the Islands to Zadar only runs twice a week (Monday + Friday at 16:00), so I had to make sure I get there on time or I would be stuck on the Island for four days. I got on Cres on Sunday afternoon, so I managed to cycle on a bit - but not that far, as it was already late afternoon (meaning around one hour before it got dark) when I arrived on the island. And also because the road was going steep uphill to the highest point of the island at around 450m where it already got dark. I found a beautiful camping spot for the night on top of the mountain, with views on the sea on both sides - over to Istria in the west, and over Krk Island in the east... it did get a bit cold during the night though as the top of the island is of course quite exposed to wind.

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Cres coast

The next day I continued early as I didn't know how many hills to expect. You may think that on a stretch of 90km along two islands, the road might follow the sea on one side or the other side.... but of course not, the road goes straight to the highest point, down to a village on the one side, then back up to the highest point and back down to another village on the other side, and so on. Well it wasn't actually all that bad, the island get less high towards the south - each climb was about 100m less than the one before - and luckily the wind favorable most time. And the there were nice views on both sides on the way. So it all worked out well and I got to Mali Lošinj with 3 hours to spare before the ferry was due to leave. So I went on to have a look at the neighbour town Veli Lošinj, before going back to the ferry on time. The day was very windy and cloudy, but no rain since I entered Croatia! Consider this lucky in November!

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Veli Lošinj

After cycling about 370km in the last 4 days from Trieste, with a combined altitude gain of at least 4000m (!), I decided to take a rest day doing nothing at all in Zadar. Zadar is a small but nice town with a traffic free centre, a church from the 9th century, and a unique feature at the sea front - the Sea Organ, where the waves blow air into Organ pipes making a continuing soundscape all day, which apparently can get very loud when it's windy and the sea gets rough! However on my rest day in Zadar, it was sunny and almost wind free, so the Organ only created a soft background sound - perfect to relax and enjoy the sun! I also met some very nice Croatian people through CouchSurfing (a travel community where you meet people from other countries) - my very first CouchSurfing experience.

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Zadar

On the next day I took a bus trip to the beautiful Plitvička Jezera (Plitvice Lakes) National Park - everybody told me it's a must to see it, and if you only visit one national park in Croatia, you should see this one. It was well worth the trip, the park is truly amazing with its unique cascading waterfalls, beautiful landscape and small wooden paths over the water. In this season it's not as green as on most pictures, but the autumn creates beautiful colours too. And luckily in this season it was almost empty - I only met four other visitors during the entire afternoon - while in the summer the park is usually totally overcrowded and you can apparently hardly move on the footbridges. I was also lucky with the weather - it was cold but sunny when I visited the park. Back by bus to Zadar, I spent another evening there and met my new Croatian friends again, before heading on towards Split on the next day...

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Plitvička Jezera

More pictures as usual in the gallery, or by clicking on the map.

Posted by luzian 12:13 Archived in Croatia Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

Venice - Trieste - Slovenia - Istria (Croatia)

Along the north adriatic coast to Trieste, then a short stretch in Slovenia, and then through Istria in Croatia.

sunny 18 °C
View Cycling south east on luzian's travel map.

From Venice, I continued along the North Adriatic coast, through some big but completely empty tourist resorts (Lido di Jesolo, Duna Verde, Caorle) that are probably very crowded in Summer. Lots of Hotels, Restaurants, Bars, Ice Cream cafes etc. but of course everything closed because there are no tourists.

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Foggy weather on the way from Venezia to Trieste

Other thank that, the part Venice to Trieste was flat and not too interesting, apart from the last stretch from Duino (with a nice castle on a high cliff above the sea) to Trieste, where I didn't take the main road along the coast but a smaller road that went a bit higher up through some small towns - one of them called Prosecco, so maybe that's where Prosecco comes from? During the two days from Venice to Trieste, it was cloudy, and in Trieste it started raining for two days - so I used them to sort out some problems (my camera memory card and USB memory stick got infected with some nasty viruses in the internet cafes) and get everything ready to continue to Croatia!

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Lost bus? This is Trieste, not Trafalgar Square...

After finding my way out of the busy roads of Trieste, I found a small and quiet but hilly road that goes to Slovenia. The border crossing was quick, in fact there wasn't even anybody at the border - probably since Slovenia is in the European Union, they just closed the smaller stations. The part of Slovenia that goes to the coast is very short, so after only about 20km I was already at the next border to Croatia (here at least with a passport check...).

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Typical small town on a hill in Istria

From there I coninued through the middle of Istria. My original plan is to cut directly towards Cres (pronounced "Tsres" island, so I headed towards Pazin, a town in the middle of Istria. But then I decided to also have a look at the coast of Istria, so I diverted to Rovinj at the coast and then down to Pula at the southern end of Istria, before making my way back up along the coast. towards Brestova, from where a ferry goes to Cres island. The three days in Istria were very nice - sunny weather, beautiful landscape with small towns and villages mostly built on top of some hills (usually an old stone church on top of a hill, and some houses built around it - Istria is also called the Toscana of Croatia), and then some nice towns along the coast, until Pula with a very impressive Roman Coliseum/Amphitheatre, which is still in very good condition and used for open air cinema and concerts during summer.

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Me in Rovinj, at the coast of Istria

But it was also very hilly - the main part of Istria seems to be at about 200m-300m above Sea level, but every now and then there's a steep valley down to almost Sea level only to go back up on the other side. So on a day of 80km cycling, with 4 or 5 of these climbs, it can easily add up to 1000m or more altitude difference. But I made good progress, continuing back up along the coast from Pula, and took a short ferry ride over to Cres Island on Sunday. The stretch up from Pula was on a road marked as "major national road", but it actually turned out to be a small road with almost no traffic - probably partly because it was Sunday (less trucks etc.), but mainly because there's a motorway further back in the country that probably takes most of the traffic...

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Pula amphitheatre

For more pictures, click the map or go to "more pictures" on the right to see the gallery.

Posted by luzian 13:22 Archived in Croatia Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

Venezia

Two days visiting Venice

sunny 15 °C
View Cycling south east on luzian's travel map.

Not much to say about Venice... lovely city! So just some images here...

I cycled on along the north Adriatic coast to Trieste by now, heading on to Slovenia and then Croatia very soon! More to follow sometime when I find internet again..................

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Posted by luzian 14:54 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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