2013.06.06 Thursday, Split
A day of no cycling other than a short ride to catch the ferry to Split. A calm, sunny morning, perfect for two hours on a car ferry sailing through coastal islands.
Split is busy port city with an old town and the Roman palace of Diocletian, built around 300 AD, more of a fort than a palace as it housed many buildings and people. Split was full of tourists and souvenir shops, not much charm. It does have a pleasant palm tree lined walk along the waterfront and a large park on a hill overlooking the town, quiet and cool after the buzz of tourists in the centre.
2013.06.07 Friday, Šibenik
A 90 km ride north on the coast road in perfect weather. Not as steep as the two days out of Dubrovnik, although a headwind made up for the lack of punishing grades. Once out of the traffic and sprawl of Split it was a scenic ride of coast, islands and small vacation towns.
Šibenik is lovely. It is said to be the oldest settlement on the coast, although it was never a Roman city. It has a unique stone church completed 600 years ago and lovingly restored. It has an old town on the side of a hill with narrow alleys and lots of charm. It isn’t overrun by tourists.
It rained today after I arrived in town. A heavy thundershower. It cut my sightseeing short in the evening, but I treated myself to a meal at a very good restaurant.
2013.06.08 Saturday, Šibenik
I decided to spend another day here. Looking ahead, I will have two or three extra days before I meet Inge. This is a good place to spend one of them.
I had a leisurely breakfast, walked some of the old town, visited the church and tried to visit the fort at the high part of the old town but it is closed for renovation. Spent the afternoon in Krka National Park, a short bus ride from town. It is famous for its lakes and waterfalls. The main waterfall site is a short boat trip from the bus stop and there is a trail with much boardwalk to see the falls and cross the river. Good to be in nature after so much time in cities.
Tomorrow is my last day touring Croatia. I will ride 70 km to Zadar and start a long train journey to Budapest. It begins with a two hour leg to Knin where I catch the overnight train for Zagreb at 23:40, arriving at 06:30. Finally, a 10:00 train to Budapest arriving 16:45. I have a bed on the the overnight train. I wonder how much sleep I’ll get.
I bought the ticket today in the small station in Šibenik. The woman looked at me as if I was making no sense and asked ‘Why Zadar?’ You can make the trip from Šibenik; no need to go to Zadar. I explained I was travelling by bicycle and wanted to ride to Zadar. She looked more puzzled, but arranged the ticket. It took half an hour, much of it in a phone conversation, likely about the reservation for a bed. It was cheap, about $100, but I fear the service and comfort may match the price. The ticket is hand-written. I think there will be extra charges for the bike at the stations. Another adventure.
Croatia is beautiful and full of history. The people are generally friendly but not as happy or as easy-going as in Turkey, Greece or Italy. Although the country is rapidly becoming modern, you can feel you are in Eastern Europe. Tito’s rule, the disintegration of Yugoslavia, and the war for independence in the ’90s have all left marks. The people have been through a lot. Next month Croatia becomes a member of the EU which will bring more change. Sometimes it is good to live in dull Canada.