Our time to Split

Trip Start Mar 04, 2008
Trip End Oct 06, 2008

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Flag of Croatia  , Split,
Friday, May 2, 2008

Since we last checked in, we have crossed two borders and seen lots, but I'll try to keep it short!
Our train ride out of Tiranė was entertaining; aboard a train that was long past its time and had probably been rejected from all other tracks in Europe.  With our bikes "loaded" in the passenger cabin with us, we soon found out why this 100km distance was to take us over 3hrs by train.  Travelling at max speeds of 30kph, we passed through small villages where we dropped off passengers in the middle of the grass meadow, changed direction a couple of times, got one of the last ramaining glass windows on the train smashed by a rock thrown from the mighty anticipating hands of a young boy, and had to get off onto the glass covered grass between the tracks at our stop in Skhodėr because the door on the platform side of the station was stuck and the handle broke off in my hand when I tried to open it.
Crossing into Montenegro we were greeted by the friendly border guards who made us feel small by telling us of the French cycle-tourist who recently passed through on his 20,000km excursion all the way to Pakistan!  Montenegro is what Albania is working towards to be.  It has the beautiful nature, it has the friendly people, but in addition to that it has better roads (yay, pavement) with good grades, there are still many modest homes (but they aren't shacks that make you feel sorry for the people who live in them), and they have supermarkets (we were much pleased to get off our bread, cheese and chocolate spread diet), and they are already in the EU.  In my opinion (Ainaz's) Montenegro was the next favourite country we've visited so far besides Greece. Robin liked Albania.
A couple of pleasant riding days in Montenegro and we finally made it into Croatia and almost to Dubrovnik, a month after our original attempt!  Our first night in Croatia we decided to camp just outside of Dubrovnik, in the small town of Kupari, where we stumbled upon numerous war-torn, long abandoned, 5star resort hotels.  This was The Place just over a decade ago.  During the war these hotels were severly shelled and even used as trenches to fight back. After camping in the surrounding hills in between the trench walls, we took a day off to walk around in these abandoned ghost hotels. Words can't describe what we saw, but it was a great adventure to walk through all the nooks and crannies, all the 'forbidden' places, kitchen and service areas, mechanical rooms, elevator rooms.  Everything that was worth anything was already ripped out and taken, but every now and then we walked into a room that still had a chair in it, or saw the remains of the bunk beds where the service staff rested, or found a wall that still had the mahogany stained wood paneling and we could picture it clear, what it used to be.  Wow.
After that, the castle and old town of Dubrovnik, worming with tourists, didn't seem as interesting as it should have.  But we did spend a pleasant day in Dubrovnik at a private apartment suite where we were neighboured by a couple visiting from Vancouver and hosted by a Croatian who used to sail on the lumber ships between New Westminster and Japan for 11months 25 years ago!
This world is a small place.
We are now island hopping on the Croatian coast and making our way north.  The Island of Korčula made us both nostalgic of our own Gulf Islands.  We have just arrived by ferry into the big town of Split where we're glad to have found internet and hope to find some spare inner tubes!
We miss you all and think of all of you often; our friends and family and our Sunday night Samuri Sushi and Simpsons/Family Guy routine.

Bog bog,

Ainaz and Robin
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