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Wednesday, 24 September 2008

DIA 325-327 - The Quiet Islands

Dubrovnik - Drace - Sucuraj - Stari Grad Dt = 12674 Km

Croatia has a coastline littered with islands. Yachts sail tranquilly between these islands, and mountains reach skyward. Cycling is common here, but there is friction between cars and bikes because the roads are narrow. When there are no cars, the scenery and the peace are enchanting. We ride through vineyards and olive groves, up to the top of mountains, then whistling down to the sea, then up again. The average tourist is middle-aged: You need to have earned some money before coming on a civilised retreat such as this. Most people do not dive into the bushes as the sun sets and camp, like we do...

Today we are on the island of Hvar, said to be the greenest of Croatia's 1000 or so islands. It stretches at right angles from the coast. Last night we slept in an olive grove and there were no clouds so we could star gaze. Perfect. The islands are large - Hvar is more than 80kms long. It is an island for people who crave serenity on their holidays. There is little to do but stare meditatively at the turquoise sea (it is too cold to swim) or kill yourself cycling up and down mountains. Most people choose the former option, but we have met more fellow cyclists here than anywhere else on the trip....although they are not such long haul travellers!

The only downside of the Dalmatian coast is the rain. When the sun comes out and warms the pine needles up in the mountains enough to produce a heady aroma, and fluffy clouds scud across the sky and wrap themselves around the higher coastal mountains, and the sea twinkles far far below, it is paradise on earth. When it rains, it is cold, and it is hard to keep things dry, and the squeak-squeak of a bike chain washed free of grease reminds you of the unhappiness of your beloved steed. Today it is fine and we are in heaven.

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