Split and Dalmatia

Despite sensible advice to the contrary I had slept at the prow of the ferry. While I successfully avoided getting wet from spray I did experience what it is like to sleep in a wind tunnel. Turns out it adds less to the words sleep.

However whatever tired irritability I had was soon cast away as I watched the watery dawn illuminate the numerous islands of Croatia's coast. 

Inevitable Titanic impressions were resisted

Before long we were pulling into Split, glorious retirement home of the tough to pronounce Roman emperor Diocletian.

Never having been to Cape Town I am a poor candidate to make any comparisons but to my eye Split  seemed like a micro-version

Split is an eminently likable place. The broad pedestrianized sea front held a healthy crowd without sagging under the weight of tourists. However it is behind the promenade that Split's beguiling secret lies.

Diocletian's Palace lives and breathes having been taken over by the local populace some centuries after the old cabbage farmer's death. It provided a walled safe haven from the waves of barbarians which rolled over the region in the final years of Empire.

The result is intoxicating. Part rat warren, part ruin, part museum. A place where washing lines hang between elegant Roman arches.

A most pleasant morning was spent getting lost in the narrow street and sipping coffee to combat the lack of sleep aboard the ferry.

Exiting Split was a seat was less pleasant. The only road south was a three lane motorway masquerading as an A road. It was a baptism of fire in Balkan road cycling. With nerves still jangling the route eventually settled down into a coastal roads which show cased Croatia's coast wonderfully.

The Balkan heatwave which would accompany me for the next few weeks was in effect from the start

Kamp Sirena was a lovely haven looking out over the sea, boasting friendly staff and a great restaurant, complete with local band. It was even cheap enough for me to justify an extra days rest after the dash across Italy.

Slightly disconcerting was the gale force winds which rose that evening, bending the trees to improbable angles and causing me to scurry off and check my guy ropes lest the tent go spinning off towards Brac.

I did not envy the family in this tent as the trees creaked overhead.

After a days lazing on the beach, updating this blog and generally not doing a great deal I was off early the following day and soon bumped into this imposing peloton of cycle tourists.

Not a group of cycling criminals just the days heat blurring my camera.

These twelve crazy Italians had cycled from Rome and kindly invited me to ride with them. I was pleased to find myself keeping up easily enough but I soon grew concerned at the honks from passing cars. This pelotons habit of cycling three abreast was looking liable to get me killed.

Bidding them adios I began the hard climb away from the coast road just after Makarska heading for the border. The towering mountains offered me some distracting precipices to peer over as the heat of the afternoon spiraled and I crawled away from the coast and into the grey heights.

Arrivederci Croatia, a Bosnian detour awaited. 


  1. Great read, stunning pics, especially the heat haze effect. Mum x

  2. Great blog Tom - re earlier blog with few photos not a problem as your descriptions are so vivid re scenery and situations - keep it up - glad you are enjoying the Balkans sounds and looks great - cant wait for the photos and blog of the naturist camp !! xxx Dad
    hoping this comment works my ipad seems to object to making a comment! so am using your( my) computer to do this one.