George Johnston: June 17th

There wasn’t much on the road from Zadar to Sibenik; lots of rental villas, a few villages with marinas, and campgrounds. Motorcyclists were the main crowd on the road. I found a luxury hostel in Sibenik with a swimming pool, comfortable five been dorm with bath, and a self catering kitchen by the pool. I passed a fortress on the way through the city and out maneuvered the GPS when I was a block from the hostel and it wanted me to go past it on a one way street and circle back when going strait through an alley was much shorter. The Scala Hostel had an upscale restaurant and very nice dorms and singles. They was a garage across for the bike. I check in and went for a swim. I then cook a light supper from supplies I brought. It was a very pleasant stay for 17 euros.

The ride to Split was relatively flat and smooth with a tailwind so I made good time. I passed a well named city, Marina, which had more boat than houses, and attractive city, Trogir along the way which would be worth a visit for someone on a more leisurely schedule. It had a restaurant in an old water mill and I was hoping to find some buckwheat flour, but the mill wasn’t functioningm any more. I bypassed Split which I had previously visited and went straight to the Decathalon sports store. I got a powerful rechargeable bike headlight, a pair of walking sandals that were lighter and sturdier than the Walmart ones I brought, and a light rain jacket that zipped into it own pocket, also to replace a bulkier Wamart one I brought. I found a nice room to rent about 10 km on the road to Dubrovnik in the town of Dugi Rat. With that name I just couldn’t pass it up. The GPS put me on the shortest road to the room, which happened to pass over a high hill on narrow winding streets through a neighborhood of apartment blocks. I did pass a clothing donation bin, so I passed on my old sandals and jacket there. I got to the address of my room and there was a grocery there. They showed me that the villa was behind the grocery. My room was on the fourth floor, and had a nice sea view, but that used up the last of the energy left from the easier day’s ride. I got burek pastry with cheese and a big piece of chocolate cake for dinner from the grocery.

The next day was a hillier ride with only one significant city on the route, Makarska. In the evening the road passed south of Metkovic to which I had previously biked from Mostar, and into a few km of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I stopped in Opuzen at a pizzaria to eat and get wifi. I found a room online in Neum, Bosnia for 20 euros a night, well under Croatian prices, so I booked in for two nights there to rest. It was dark by then so I got out my new light and it did a great job of lighting the road and and I had no problems, though it was near midnight when I arrived. The guest house had a guest kitchen. My room shared a bath with one other, occupied by a couple from Finland who were driving their car. The language spoken was the same as the Croatian. I charged groceries on my credit card and didn’t leave the villa other than that, so I didn’t have to worry about Bosnian money.

After a days rest I continued to Dubrovnik. I bypassed the center again as I had also toured it before. I met an interesting South African biking by the city. He had a similar load, but a mountain bike with many more gears. He was heading for Istanbul. I got some nice pictures of the old town from the high road over town, but it was a difficult ride. I noticed my front tire was showing some wear so I started taking it slow and easy as I was within range of Montenegro with no problems if the tire held out. It did and I made it into Herceg Novi, the first town across the border. The GPS address was nowhere near the Villa I was seeking, but the host texted me the coordinates which got me close.

It turned out the odd numbers were on a one ways street and the even numbers were on an alley on the hillside. I got a top floor room again, but the sea view here was worthwhile. It the best room I’ve had except for the hotel in Portugal. It’s a studio with every thing but a microwave so I cook with pots and pans. It’s only 26 euros a night so I booked four days, so I could get my tire repaired, relax, and see the sights. The new light was great again on a more winding road. It’s an enjoyable town. I toured the old city and found a Serbian phrase book and dictionary there. There’s a new shopping center with excellent prices on groceries and household supplies, but not quite up to a Tesco or Carrefour in selection. Across the road was a new electronics store where I found a small rechargeable speaker for my iPod so I can listen to my :Teach Yourself Serbian” lessons more easily. The next Decathlon I will pass is in Belgrade, but I went to a small bike shop here and they had just the size tire I needed in their store room. The old tire is still ok riding around town, but I’ll put the new one on today to be ready to hit the road tomorrow.

I’ll bike to Kotor and Budvar tomorrow, and to the capital, Podgorica in a day or two. It’s pleasant and inexpensive here and I’m getting back up to speed on my Slavic languages, so there’s no need to rush.

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