We spent a day relaxing in the old coastal town of Zadar which dates back to the 9th century BC. As with all towns of this age, it has had a chequered past. Most recently it was completely destroyed (only three buildings were salvageable) by the Allies in World War II, after it had been taken over by the Italians and then the Germans. The town was rebuilt by 1990, just in time for it to be become one of the many targets of Slobodan Milosevic’s Yugoslavs Peoples Army in 1991. The town again sustained damage to buildings and its UNESCO sites. All of this is in the past now. The town has been fully restored to its previous state and looks fabulous.
There are hundreds of tiny cobbled stoned alleys in which to get lost, the sea front is completely free of tourism propaganda resulting in a great space to relax and watch the boats come and go.
After our day of sitting in the sun watching the world pass us by, it was time to get on the bikes again. As soon as we started it began to rain. And boy oh boy did it rain! Within half an hour the streets were completely flooded so we pulled off to the side of the road and sat under a motorway bridge for an hour or so. It looked like it was easing off a little, but this was just to tease us out of our hiding place.
The rain continued to come down in sheets and after 30km we gave up and decided to seek accommodation for the day in the town of Biograd. We found our accommodation, but after a while we wished we had continued cycling. The owner and proprietor of the guest house we were staying at was a little old lady and would not leave us alone. She kept talking to us in an odd mix of German and Croatian. For over an hour she hovered around while we were standing there soaking wet and cold desperate to take a shower and get some dry clothes on. We virtually had to push her out the door and close the door in her face to get some peace!
The rain continued unabated for a couple more hours. At one point it was so heavy that I was able to fill a litre bottle of water in about twenty seconds. But that’s what happens here, when it rains, it rains hard for a long time. When it eventually stopped, we sneaked out of the guest house – without being spotted by the crazy lady – and went into town to have a look around. There wasn’t much to look at to be honest. It wasn’t the sort of place we would have stopped if it hadn’t been for the rain.
The next morning, despite our best efforts to pack up and leave without being harassed, we failed. I have the feeling you have to get up really early in the morning to get anything past this woman! After another half an hour of listening to her jabber away (she still didn’t get the idea that I didn’t understand one word she said) we escaped. I can now understand how Frank Morris and his two compatriots felt when they managed to get off Alcatraz Island!
Our next stop was another historic town called Sibenik. This place seemed to be devoid of accommodation. We cycled around town for over an hour trying to find something, getting a bit desperate, when, finally, we were approached by someone in the street asking if we were looking for accommodation. After getting the price down to something reasonable, we were able to unpack and see what this new little town had to offer. Again the old part of the town is a nice little place with all sorts of nooks and crannies to wonder around in with plenty of stone cathedrals and ancient fortifications to admire.
The following day we cycled 60km to Trogir, yet another historical town. The road followed the coast the whole way and the sights were absolutely fantastic. The picturesque views of the blue/green water and hundreds of little tranquil bays sometimes made it difficult to cycle in a straight line!
It would have been very easy to stop and stare out to sea for the rest of the day. With the temperature just sneaking into the thirties all we wanted to do was to get off the bikes and go jump into the sea. Just outside Trogir, we found a cheap campsite, right on the Adriatic coast. We pitched our tent and then ran off to go for a refreshing swim in the sea. After our cool down, we managed to get into town, have a look around and watch the sunset behind the islands. All in all it was a great day and a route that we would highly recommend (at least on a hot sunny Sunday in October)!
Heading to Split from Trogir was every bit as bad as the previous day was good. It was a nasty narrow, fast road into the city. We managed to end up on the motorway (with no hard shoulder) for about 10km. Every pedal stroke was torture. I guess there is a very good reason why cyclists prefer the scenic route and avoid the major cities. It took about two mental hours to cover the 30km into Split and it felt like an entire day had been spent on those roads. When we managed to escape death on the motorway and found our way to the old town, we couldn’t find accommodation anywhere! People were quoting us prices for a night that we would normally spend in a week. I was just about to sit down again and let someone take pity on me and fix our problems, when a lady approached us and asked us if we needed accommodation. We were very happy to accept, as her guest house was right in the middle of the old town about a thirty second walk to the palm tree fronted sea front. Couldn’t have worked out any better in the end…