Day 74 - Zadar to Split, Croatia
A day filled with spectacular scenery and scorching temperatures in Croatia.
Leaving Zadar early in the morning ( 6 am) to take advantage of the slightly cooler temperatures and staying on the coastal road, Grant made his way from Zadar in early morning traffic which was slow and sedate along the coast to Trogor -about 138 kilometres away- an island accessible by bridge from the mainland.
The plan was to catch the ferry from there to Split. Crazybikeguy arrived and waited for the ferry.While he hung around he was approached by quite a few drunkards asking for money and taking great notice of his bike and all his possessions which ruined the appreciation of the beautiful natural stone bridges and walls and buildings that he was surrounded by, making him feel uncomfortable and leaving him thinking this wasn't a great idea.
Grant decided he needed to find the ferry time table as he couldn't hang around indefinitely and on consulting one realized that he had a four hour wait, making his arrival into Split a night time one at 8 pm. It was also unbelievably hot, with the temperature having crept up to 39 degrees.He decided to cycle around the bay instead of waiting for the ferry....27 kilometres to the old town of Split, in addition to the 138 kilometres that he had already ridden on this day.
The scenery and coastal views along this part of the Croatian coast, were spectacular and made the 1000m climb along the way totally worth it. Grant hugged the coastal contour and rode between the mountain and the sea undulating up and down following the natural path of the land which offered the most magnificent vistas all along the way.The last part from Trogor to Split only involved 200m of climbing, which was a relief.
Travelling through forests and watching out for wild boars, as indicated by the numerous warning signs along the way, Crazybikeguy was in awe of the cobalt blue waters changing into emerald greens and azure blues as the light followed its natural arc across the sky. The added privilege of looking out from such high vantage points was just breathtaking.Harbours nestled in natural coves along the way with lots of boats sailing in the water made for picturesque settings and fantastic photographic opportunities.
Grant stopped at the oddest place for lunch...at huge intersection with two identical eateries on either side of the road, both with meat being cooked on outside fires on spits.There were guys chopping wood on the side of the road to keep the fires going for the spits.There were no houses around these two places - just the roads, the intersections and the restaurants!
During the day I had chatted to our lovely neighbour Judy and she had told me that Maureen and Peter, our next door neighbours were in Croatia on holiday as they spend some time in Europe in the summer. We concluded that Croatia was large and they were unlikely to cross paths with Grant on his travels.
Imagine my surprise when I received a Whatsapp from Maureen in the afternoon asking me if Grant was in Croatia as they were certain they had just ridden passed him and recognized the beard and the South African flag but were travelling on a road where it was impossible to turn around and follow him.
I messaged Grant and he said he was in fact close to where they said they were!
I sent them contact numbers and as it turns out they were both spending the night in Split and had checked into places for the night that were metres apart!
Serendipitous encounters are always the best, and they had a wonderful dinner together and walked around the old city in the evening to end off a chance encounter on the other side of the world.
Split is the second largest city in Croatia on the Dalmation Coast and is known not only for its beaches but also for its fortress- a Diocletian's palace at its very centre , erected by the Roman Emperor in the 4th Century....surrounded by more than 200 buildings which still stand in various states to this day.Within its majestic white stone walls its old town is nestled under courtyards are the Cathedral, shops, bars and restaurants.
The rugged Dalmatian mountains are the backdrop to this bustling tourist hub and many set sail from her into the azure Adriatic that laps its shores.
Although Grant spent a short amount of time here the spirit of the city and its place in history has been captured beautifully in his photos.
Our mission.Their future.