After Dubrovnik we cycled on some of the countless islands off the Croatian coast. We assumed (luckily mostly correctly) that there would be less traffic than on the coastal road. The Southern islands are rather barren and full of thorny bushes whereas the islands in the North are much greener. Right now we are on the island of Krk where a fair number of trees grow and we had the first rain in over two weeks.
While cycling we often smelled pine trees, rosemary and sometimes even mint, though we were never able to actually find the latter. We passed olive tree groves and unruly looking grape vines. On the Northern islands of Cres and Krk we found wild blackberries. They seem to grow a lot smaller than the ones we know at home and taste a bit sharp. Moreover the berries are quite firm and not very juicy.
Most of the roads on the islands were very good but admittedly we mostly chose main roads. The gradients took some getting used to. Until now we have cycled quite bit of difference in altitude and it should get a bit more flat now that we plan to cycle the Istrian peninsula. Mostly the steepness was doable with our lighter load but the heat made us suffer nonetheless. For the first two weeks we had perfectly sunny but really hot weather. Even at night temperatures didn’t cool much and we were very happy to have brought a new tent which we could use only the inner tent of. Often we thought back to our time in South East Asia when it didn’t seem to cool down for months and we sought refuge in the monastery with their blessed ventilators.
Our bicycle transport bags proved quite useful. It was not easy to plan a route incorporating many islands and finding all the necessary ferry connections, especially ferries which would accept our bicycles. Safe bets were the car ferries, but those mainly connected the bigger cities with nearby islands. The connections between the islands were mostly served by smaller passenger ferries which sometimes took bicycles and sometimes not. Once we were relying on one which ended up rejecting our bicycles. Promptly we booked some extra luggage and packed up our bicycles in the transport bags.
A link with useful information of the ferries: www.croatiaferries.com
En route we visited some smaller and bigger towns. Dubrovnik was impressive with its imposing city wall around its centre, as was the ocean organ in Zadar which is being “played” by waves. The only visible parts of the instrument are a few holes in the pavements whereas you cannot miss the sounds, always different due to the incoming waves. Another city we enjoyed visiting was Sibenik, a smaller town on the coast with few other tourists. It stretches along the waterfront and up a steep hill where an old fortress overlooks the city.
What all those cities have in common is the yellowish stone with which buildings and roads are built. It is a variety of limestone and makes for an earthy atmosphere. But beware of slipping!
Close to Sibenik we visited the National Park Krka. The river of the same name forms some beautiful waterfalls and a unique river environment one can walk through on bridges.
Right now we are looking forward to tomorrow. Croatia lends itself not only to exploring the towns and islands but also the underwater world. Thanks to our scuba diving training we are able to explore a very different side of Croatia. Tomorrow will be the second time in Croatia that we have the opportunity to go diving for the day and we hope for another on the Istrian peninsula. It is both nice to be doing something else than cycling every once in a while and also it is pleasantly cool the deeper you go.
After that we will return to the mainland for the last part of our tour on the Istrian peninsula and hopefully we will be able to cycle all the way to Venice.