The flat profile of the last 10 miles suggested a nice easy run in. No such luck - 2 miles from home the road ran out. Turn round & add at least 5 extra miles. Grin & bear the dirt track. Happily the satnav got me to the hostel easily - it's located in the maze of the old town. Not that there was anyone @ reception. An old guy poked his head in at some point - waved the reservation at him & he scuttled off - '1 moment' Eventually someone did appear - whether old guy had anything to do with it is anybodies guess. Shower & then explore & eat. Clearly Stari Grad does get tourists - lots of choice - too much. Opted for take away & sitting on the harbour wall watching the world go by.
While Hvar is very unspoiled, this means there are very few places of any size & what there was either didn't have shops or the owners couldn't be arsed. Equally the road through the island was largely along the (hilly) spine avoiding the coast. For these reasons Jelsa loomed large on the radar (map) - get supplies & have a swim. As it happened with only being 6 miles from home supplies weren't deemed necessary. Very pleasant place, statue of a donkey?? and plenty of swimming options. Just as a decision was made the sun went in. Stubborn streak - sod it.
Another hurried cycle to Dvernik - 18 miles in 2 hours & again massively misjudged the effort needed. Another 40 mins to kill - early lunch looking out over the beach. All this hurrying & not even half way. The plan was to get to Hvar early & enjoy a more leisurely cycle on the island. The roads were very quiet BUT you know you are in trouble when knackered tractors & butterflies are overtaking you - the pro-cycling fan boys that were on the ferry I can live with. I'm sure they gave me a head start & they just sailed past.
Hate cycling to deadlines... in fact all deadlines. Anyway with 2 different ferries to catch, if I didn't want to be kicking my heels for hours waiting I had to make the 9am ferry from Trpanj - 13 miles and a very hefty climb away. Another 7am start gave me 2 hours which averaged out at just over 6mph not much more than walking pace. At the top of the 6 mile climb things weren't looking so good. Was banking on lots speedy downhill. Quick stop at the communist war memorial & then belt it to the port. Got there with 40mins to spare.
1 June 2017
For all the early start & pit stop in Ston it was still a case of the final 18 miles to Trstenik in 2pm heat. & a 6 mile climb into the bargain. Love these cycle trips. Thankfully the last 10 proved relatively easy & the dodgy road concerns were unfounded. The concern about finding the apartment didn't. Rolled into 'town' no signs or evidence of it existing at all. Ended up asking in the shop & she pointed me towards 3 old men drinking beer. They new enough English & new of the owner, called him & all was sorted. As it happened though, the oldest guy (who looked like a farmer - according to the owner) was a notorious smuggler & loves to single out tourists to palm off overpriced wares. Not a chance. Headed to the beach for a cooling swim & was greated with the sight of a dolphin messing around not 10m away from me. Went camera shy when I got out.
Much as the coast road up from Dubrovnik took in some gorgeous scenery, it did suffer from pretty heavy traffic to the point where bike helmet was used! Lorries were consistently trying to get as close as possible or so it seemed. Conversely the 2 French cars that went past gave ludicrous amounts of space. It came as something of a relief when the turn for Ston came up. The looming mountains ahead tempered that a little. They like their walled cities in these parts - Ston boasting a pretty epic version. The big selling point is the absence of hoardes. On arrival all of this was to be discovered but the high point of the walls looking out over the town and surroundings was impossible to be ignored. Left Ston sweatier but having avoided cycling in the worst of the heat - just hiked up a wall instead.
Cracked on nice & early to avoid the worst of the heat. That was the plan at least & some pretty evil hills aside managed to make Dubrovnik in decent time. A few hairy photo stops were necessary to catch views of the old town and Lokrum Island. Bridge & Slano were familiar from the flight in.
31 May 2017
Short cycle from the airport & accommodation was easily located. No-one around though. Eventually a little old lady wandered down & we eventually established I had a reservation. She phoned someone who I was assured would be here in a moment - I think. Good job I git a dollop of cash as when he did arrive cards weren't an option. My change would come when his wife got back... Suggested that I wander into the town centre - 10 mins walk apparently. Could pick up breakie stuff. By now the sun was just setting & all was very quiet. Had a pleasant walk along the front & an ice cream to help me back up the hill
Left a strangely sunny Manchester airport (sometimes it is!) Throughout the flight across there was the feeling that the interesting views were all on the opposite side. Not so on the descent. Grandstand aerial views of the azure Adriatic coast & then to top it off Dubrovnik old town with somewhat concerning mountains behind. Equally disturbing queues for immigration & then to the small matter of my bike & whether it was all present & correct. A little messing, greasy hands wiped & all seemed ok. We shall see...