Friday, April 24, 2015

The Adriatic Sea

Days 9, 10 and 11 (yes, I am counting) where spent riding down the Adriatica Sea stopping on a couple of Croatian Islands for the night then inland to Sarajevo.

Day 9 say some haze in the sky but warmer, mid 60s to mid 70s all day.  A bit of time on the motorways but most of the day spent riding on secondary and lesser roads.  First real border crossing since entering the UK was a non-event- just waved through as the Croatian guard couldn't be bothered to have his phone conversation interrupted.  I do not expect this to be the norm.  The coastal road along this northern part of the Adriatic is motorcycle nirvana.  Very little traffic, highly engineered roads with great sight lines and tight but constant radius corners.  And the views out over the islands are stunning.  The only downside is that with a village in every cove and even though there may be only a building or two slowing down some is required.  Gives one time to think and realize that travelers have been passing this community for a millennium or more.  I do expect this to be the norm for the rest of the trip.

It's not quite tourist season yet on Pag Island but everyone is busy getting ready.  New signs and fresh coats of paint on the walls everywhere. 

Dinner was very fresh fish.

And the sunset on the walk back to the hotel worth the trip on its own.

I am the only guest in this very nice hotel and had way more than enough food placed on my table at breakfast.  Not sure if that says more about how Croatians feel about breakfast or about North Americans.

Day 10 was spent riding down from Pag to Hvar.  

Little more haze in the sky temperatures barely into the70's and then only briefly.  Followed the route as laid out on the GPS.  Figuring out what the actually speed limit at any one point is an interesting exercise in logical deduction usually resulting in"this feels about right". Part of the problem is that there are few signs and the GPS insists on dropping the speed if there is a single house anywhere near close to the road.  The other problem is that there is not a heck of a lot of traffic to help figure things out.  I have been told that as with most things down here on the Balkan Peninsula any speeding fines would negotiable.

I've now ridden this same part of Croatia a couple of times and for the most part there are few signs of the wars that happened back in the 90's. Except for the area East of Zadar where the violence passed back and forth several times with eventually the Croats kicking out the Serbs. There are whole villages (presumably Serbian) that are nothing but shells. As you leave a Croat village the sign indicating mileage to the next town(s) occasionally will have black spray paint covering the name of one or more of these ghost towns up ahead. I understand things are less subtle in Bosnia & Herzegovina where I will be tomorrow.

On the morning of day 11 heading out of Hvar was cloudy cool and windy, heavy rain and cold in the afternoon.  Had pulled on mot of my layers and rain gear by the time I got into Sarajevo.  Once again my desire to visit Mostar has been thwarted due to the heavy rain and ferry schedule so I will be coming back here.

As much as I really like the town of Hvar, especially in the off season when there is nobody there, i might not have opted for that detour except for another chance to ride that road.  The Island of Hvar is about 50-miles long and no more than a mile or two wide.  There is one road that runs the length of it and as it happens the ferry I need to catch was at the other end of the island from where I was.  Out at the western end where there is a lot more traffic the road is wide, well engineered and carefully maintained.  As one rides East the state of the road changes - this is not necessarily a bad thing.  Over its entire length the road follows the contours of the island, slithering around landforms like a snake on the hunt.  As the modern road improvements disappear one finds themselves on top of a road surface elevated from the surround terrain by a foot or so,  built up on a bed of the fractured rock that litters the ground.  Almost everything old on the island seems to built from this rock.  The road is no longer very wide and the Island's landforms are now more resistant to its path of travel forcing more severe twists and turns.  Sometimes down close to the water closely adhering to the whims of the coastline, sometimes up high on top of the spine reminiscent of the wind swept Scottish Highlands.  

Arriving at the ferry I learned that the timetable printed 2-years ago and pasted to the ticket office window takes precedence over the timetable published on the website...

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