Slovenia and Croatia: Days 17 and 18 – Hvar

Cycled Trogir to Split
Ferry Split to Stari Grad
Cycled Stari Grad to Hvar

Dates: 1st and 2nd June 2008

We got up early to ride to Split in an effort to beat traffic, but we needn’t have worried as it was Sunday and even the multilane highway we entered Split on was pretty empty. It was an OK ride and our fastest average speed for any section of the trip. In Split we ran into a Dutch guy who was planning to reach Indonesia sometime before December, and had cycled 4400km in 6 weeks. He was wondering what the roads were like for cycling between Darwin and Sydney, so I told him a little about the difficulties with distances and water.

We met an English couple, Pat and Ron, on the ferry. They were a bit older and doing a similar thing to us. We went together for the ride to Milna where we camped, and they were much more our pace than Matt and Vanessa had been.

Hvar is a long thin island with a 77km road from Hvar at one end to Sucaraj at the other. Stari Grad is less than 20km from Hvar, on the other side of the island. The road to Hvar is good for cycling. You have to ride over a big hill (as with all Croatian islands), but there isn’t much traffic. There is a kilometre or so long tunnel at the top which is well lit and worth it for skipping the worst of the hill. It’s very steep getting out of Hvar, but only for a short distance.

The town of Hvar itself is very cool. It’s very touristy but nice and lively. There’s also an awesome castle with fantastic views of the surrounding islands and of Hvar.

View of Hvar from the castle

View of Hvar from the castle

The Milna campground was about 5km from Hvar and wasn’t great quality, but was cheap at 100 kune/night. It was in a nice place next to the sea, but the ground was rock hard, resulting in lots of bent pegs and a partially erected tent. There was a very good campground nearer Hvar, but it was more than twice the price.

We still didn’t want to ride the mainland coast road, so we opted to ferry out of Stari Grad, leaving us a day to hire a scooter and travel to the other end of the island.

Millerine and I travelling by scooter

Millerine and I travelling by scooter

Hvar is probably the most scenic of the islands, with an excellent town and castle. Well worth the visit, but cycling the length of it would be fun.

Slovenia and Croatia: Days 15 and 16 – Trogir and Split

Bus Zadar to Trogir
Bus Trogir to Split and back

Dates: 30th and 31st May 2008

We left the campground early as we were obliged to do, and spent a while riding around Zadar. It’s a nice town with a bustling lifestyle, and seems to have a life of its own apart from the tourism. We saw some roman columns and some markets before leaving. It seemed a nice enough town to stay in for a couple of days.

We caught a bus from Zadar to Trogir near Split as we wanted to avoid the busy mainland coastal road. It is up to the driver of each bus service to decide if they’ll take a bike, and they seem generally reluctant to do so. There is a train but it takes a long time with multiple changes and the services are apparently not particularly reliable. The bus drivers are difficult to communicate with, making the process of getting a bike on a bus a pain in the arse, and it’s also more expensive than trains. Avoid taking bikes on the bus in Croatia if you can, although I would also be reluctant to ride the coastal road. We would have fared better if we had been more prepared with better maps and details of all the possible ferry routes.

Trogir is a lovely small town that we stayed in for two nights. It has a small walled old town with a small fortress, and many, many scooters. We camped a few kilometres away from the old town on an island you could access by bridge. The ground was ridiculously hard and I bent the pegs trying to put them in. There were a few beaches which were recommended to us by the tourist info, but they were uninspiring gravel beaches.

The town of Trogir

The town of Trogir

The next day we caught the bus to Split for a day trip. It has a beautiful roman palace in the centre, but apart from that felt like quite a soulless city.

We met an English man doing an England to New Zealand trip who looked set for life. His Burley Nomad trailer was piled up with gear, and was quite colourful with flags from places he’d been to. He claimed to get quite a bit of attention when on the road. Not sure I’d want to pull that weight though. Also he used foot straps rather than cleats, which is unusual for a long distance cyclist.