Wild Dog Adventure Riding

Riding: Plan, Report and Racing => Ride Reports => Global Reports => Topic started by: White Rhino on June 29, 2013, 07:53:30 am

Title: A taste of Croatia
Post by: White Rhino on June 29, 2013, 07:53:30 am

Sometime back in 2010 after having read some of the cool ride reports on this forum of Ivan’s explorations in Croatia …. here …
http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=39205.0 (http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=39205.0) - Dalmatia - Southern Croatia in pics...... &
http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=90813.0 (http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=90813.0) - Snow tour in Croatia (African in the snow) - worth a look - a lovely selection of pics), there was very little left to convince me that Croatia was a country that would be high on the list of desirables, and one day our plans would take on an adventure of this country that was once under siege by the Bosnians and the Slovenians that left the world horrified with tales of merciless and senseless killings.

A touch of luck
As luck would have it, some of our non-biking friends got pretty entrenched in planning a boat excursion from Split to Dubrovnik and back via the Croatian islands, taking in the bluest of oceans. Our own holiday plans were focused on Norway, and the beautiful Fjord ridden landscape that also calls for two wheel exploring.

Intrigued by the possibilities of sharing a holiday with some our more reprobate friends, I thought it appropriate to contact Ivan “Croatia” on Wilddog , to see if we could tag on some adventure riding in Croatia with him. Before long Ivan and his wife Debbie, who handled all the travel arrangements, my wife (Margie) and I were chatting on Skype about the wonders of Croatia using two wheels. Ivan told us he has bikes for the occasion and would chaperone us around as much as we like. Before we knew it we were redirecting our original holiday plans from Norway to a beautiful place that was once part of the mighty Yugoslavia.

Our plan would route us through Paris for a few days followed by four days of riding in Croatia before the drinking crew arrived and all semblance of normality would disappear. What made this occasion extra special was the fact that Margie & I had enjoyed 25 years of marriage. We would celebrate this grand occasion with captivating memories.

Departure - Paris
We departed May 10 – a little before the European peak season. A little earlier than I would like, but there are advantages to going early in the season. The risk ultimately being the weather. Paris is the perfect City to dial up the romance at any time of the year. Amongst the obvious places like Momatre, Champs-Elysées  and the Eifel, we found ourselves enjoying an afternoon at an old railway station that had been transformed into a dancing studio playing all kinds of music from years gone by, getting the enthusiasts that dress up especially for the occasion, spinning and jiving in all flavours of latino and similar dances. Heaps of energy and dancing talent across the ages, awakened us to realise just how much fun and sexy classy dancing can be. We wined and dined at some rather special places taking in all the best that French cuisine had to offer.

Eifel – One amazing sculpture
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P18_zps5d346e90.jpg)

(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P13_zpsda6f66a4.jpg)


What's Paris without Artists in the street – this dud could crank a piano
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P15_zps7ef43e76.jpg)

Paris brings out the romance – a couple deeply engaged
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P16_zps28a5d729.jpg)

Fantastic Seafood at Bofinger – Exceeds anything I’ve ever experienced
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P10_zpse6f8958b.jpg)

Margie & I enjoying the moment
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P12_zpsa6dee4fb.jpg)

Quite liked this scoot
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P14_zpsf756a73a.jpg)

Unusual building – narrows to a wedge
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P11_zps45fe5fcc.jpg)

Artists always catch my attention – one of the better styles
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P19_zpsaa516353.jpg)

Croatia - here we come
With the city of romance behind us we head off to Croatia – Split, via Zagreb. Split is a stunning coastal city in the Southern half of Croatia. On our decent towards Split I studied the landscape from my window seat and got pretty excited about the geological structures of the Croatian mountains. Some months before this moment, I connected with Jan “Staal”, who had visited Croatia and done some technical riding with Ivan. His words “Those 660XT are perfect for the terrain …. The longest stretch of straight road is 2.4km”. It all made sense seeing these bold mountains. The country was formed predominantly from ancient volcanic activity. Put simply …. biking paradise.

Once landed we glide through customs. We are welcomed by a charming Croatian gal that could double as Demmi Moore with a name too difficult to pronounce. We were whisked off to meet Ivan and Debbie at their - Ala Carte Shop – a mere 20 min ride. The irritating parts of travel are often the pickups and hotel drop offs and knowing what to do when leaving the terminal. Debbie had taken care of all of those hassles for us. We then checked in to a very clean and comfortable hotel that’s was recently built and Ivan delivers our commuter …


Our chauffeur – gorgeous Demmi
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P23_zps668f3a93.jpg)

Try not to laugh  … Our commuting transport
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P21_zpsfd1ef252.jpg)

The bay … across lies the city of Split
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P22_zpsd5763e2d.jpg)

We have a good chuckle about our wheels - Not convinced that we will both fit. Anyway we freshen up and make our way to a seaside restaurant that Demmi hailed as her favourite. We nearly wipe out on the scoot, the steering took a bit of getting used to. I took one in the ribs.

Once at the restaurant, we could see why Demmi was in love with the place, the waiter was a replica of Ronaldo - the football icon.  Anyway, besides the chirpy waiter, the food was something special – I had an octopus starter that was juicy, tender and just so scrumptious - the Greeks don't even make it that well. We were equally delighted by the quality of the wine - at that point we knew we were in for a treat - we cheers to the start of a great holiday.


First taste of Croatian cuisine … Octopus delight
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P32_zps0ee6eb57.jpg)

Fab wine – chardonnay
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P31_zpsa447e5cd.jpg)

In reflection
In reflection, there are a few things that the Croatian’s seem to have perfected: Coffee – it’s rich and creamy and always of an exceptionally high quality. You can have a “Coffee with milk” anywhere and you will inevitably enjoy it – never mediocre. Ice-cream – They’ve followed the Italian Gelato recipe – always a treat. Food – We ate great meals everywhere – never an average meal - always delighted with the flavours. Wines – They had some very interesting wines - even the average wines were very easy drinking. And the bread is to die for. I’ve never had such fresh bread that’s crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside – you can’t stop yourself from having a few slices with each meal – no matter where you go – it’s fresh.

Something about the Croatian people, they are mostly tall and slender – or better described as athletic. They are a very outdoorsy nation. They cycle and walk a lot. Adidas seems to have found a profitable home in Croatia, as most people are seen walking around wearing tracksuit type outfits – many with the three white-stripe branding. Track shoes and sunglasses seem to be the accompanying wear  – everybody looks like they’re heading to the Olympics.

1st Adventure ride

Our first adventure ride takes us in an easterly direction back towards Zagreb but over the spectacular mountains using very little tar, which is exactly what we wanted to experience. The dirt roads are very different to those found in SA, mainly because they don’t seem to have “fine” sand. This has clear advantages – very little dust and none of those sand monsters that gobble up front tyres. But you can expect more of the marbly type roads that can make you nervous cause your tyres drift a lot and cornering has its moments. Margie was somewhat apprehensive in the beginning, but after an hour or so, she settled down and started to relax and enjoy the scenery.



Views from above – spectacular
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P401_zpsb2b13530.jpg)

It also took me an hour or so to get comfortable with the Yamaha 660XT, compared to the larger bore engines that I’m more familiar with. Having a large single bore is very different to a multiple piston motor. The motor vibrates at lower revs. But after I got in sync with the motor we were eating up the dirt roads with ease.

Nothing  around for miles
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P402_zpsd1166d78.jpg)

Our fearless leader with his fireman’s shades
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P403_zpsc70abbdc.jpg)

Some of the countryside
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P404_zpsfc1173d9.jpg)


We find ourselves changing elevation very often so the roads are permanently curved and you concentrate all the time working the bike through the hillside. I catch myself smiling a lot.

We circled many lakes, dams and crossed the odd river and finally ended up at the source of one of the River Cetina. What a spectacular route with the culmination of reaching this water-filled hole that oozed the clearest and bluest of water from hundreds of metres below. It looked so pure and perfect you felt the urge to rip off your gear and plunge right in. The freezing water temperature quelled any urge do so.

The source of the River Cetina

(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P405_zpse01610ed.jpg)

Croatia has many natural springs that bring the clearest and purest of water to the surface.
Some of the countryside. Orthodox Christianity is a big part of Croatia – unlike some of the neighbouring countries. Croatia seems to be fairly close in many cultural aspects to the Western European countries.

Ancient Roman bridge - leaving their mark all over Europe
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P406_zpsfded1343.jpg)

Ivan is a very accomplished rider, you can see the pictures of him and his two wheelers scattered all over his walls some dating back where the white in the pictures have turned yellow. It was a pleasure following him, he knew what kind of terrain Margie and I should be exposed to without placing any unnecessary risk on us.

We stopped in a little village (Rumin) for lunch. Another spectacular meal was presented to us with fish and chips. The chips are made properly – similar to the Greek style of preparation.

Food – the simple things in life are great!
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P407_zps0244d6b4.jpg)

... end of part 1 .....
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: J-dog on June 29, 2013, 08:05:24 am
 :sip:

love the pic of the two parisian lovers. simply beautiful capture.
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: BMWPE on June 29, 2013, 08:13:35 am
awesome report  :thumleft:
keep it coming
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: White Rhino on June 29, 2013, 09:44:08 am
.... Part 2

In a nearby quarry there were some limpet mines from the recent wars. Quite explosive views I thought
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P418_zpse26b4e98.jpg)

Croatia has a fair amount of poor people – it's more evident as you travel inland, mostly as a result of the hardships of past socialist rule as well as the recent wars that have left deep scars. But, there’s no abject poverty. You don’t see beggars on the streets nor do you see any tramps lying about. They all seem to have a task to perform and do so with purpose and pride. We saw many farm labourers, mostly families looking after their own crops. Many of the people are subsistence farmers – the mothers, fathers and children can be seen working the land. Things are well kept and you don’t see litter lying around.

After lunch we visit another fantastic water source near Ruda. This river powers four hydro stations as it meanders towards the Adriatic.

Something spiritual about water that oozes from below
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P408_zps026abe35.jpg)

With high quality and constant flow - water purification plants are not necessary
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P419_zpsd9d96ad1.jpg)


There are many abandoned houses
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P410_zpsf4fc2e4e.jpg)

We make our way further to an old village where there is an old mill, still milling in exactly the same manner in which it did over 600 years ago. The same equipment using precisely the same techniques. All passed down the line from generation to generation. The mill is powered by the same water source that we saw earlier.


The might of the water drives the mill
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P421_zps7922ed20.jpg)

An original mill stone dating back over 600 years – it’s still in use
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P422_zps3ee5f956.jpg)

Function and form
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P412_zps46ac5924.jpg)

This fellow was telling Ivan how he used to fly Migs and other Jets in his day – he waxed lyrically. Must have been the 660’s that got him excited.

Could this guy talk – Ivan’s heard this story a million time but he indulges him
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P411_zpscc360dbe.jpg)

We head back to the hotel, and wrap up the day indulging in some of the local beer. Like most European countries, beer is of a very high standard and it slides down the hatch effortless.

We learn about Ivan’s past in SA
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P414_zpsc797c954.jpg)


He tells us all about his time in SA. I find out just how small this world really is. His father owned the butcher shop in Park Town North where I grew up and where my parents used buy their meat from. I'd been in that shop many times and remember my dad talking fondly about the butcher on a several occasions. Ivan shares his successes and tribulations in SA and what finally got him to look at Croatia. A very interesting story.


Local beer
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P431_zps39c7743a.jpg)


Earlier in the day I confide with Ivan that it’s our 25th anniversary and that I would like to get some Champers for us to celebrate as a surprise. He tactfully makes a call to Debbie who makes the necessary arrangements. This is what was waiting for us in our room … Margie’s surprise look was a pearla.


How cool was this …
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P415_zps7b47cc29.jpg)

25 years! You get less for murder
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P416_zps194e47a1.jpg)

... end of Part 2 ...
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: Welsh on June 29, 2013, 09:47:54 am
How did she put up with you for 25 years ::) ::)
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: White Rhino on June 29, 2013, 10:05:01 am
How did she put up with you for 25 years ::) ::)
:imaposer: The good looks, what else?
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: ZAR on June 29, 2013, 10:31:30 am
 :happy1:
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: Knucklhead on June 29, 2013, 10:43:58 am
 :thumleft:
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: Welsh on June 30, 2013, 05:47:01 am
Morning Rhino 8)
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: White Rhino on June 30, 2013, 05:58:09 am

Part 3 ...

The early morning view from our hotel room. Planes darting in all directions.

(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P417_zpsd2705916.jpg)

Today our tour guide armed with his zoot glasses takes us in a northerly direction towards the town of Zadar. We are off to see the famous Krka falls (pronounced Kirka). Today would be tar and following the coastline mostly. The road conditions are magnificent meandering through mountainous terrain. It’s a lot like travelling in the southern and western Cape coastal roads. It seems like the folds of the earth were exaggerated in Croatia.
Coffee and ice-cream stop. Did I mention how marvellous they are - so rich and creamy - Like a double espresso with a cuppachino topping.

(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P504_zpsfb6326e1.jpg)

You can’t help being impressed by the gazillion boats that are berthed along the coast line. The calm and deep blue Adriatic sea interposed with over a thousand scenic islands producing thousands of miles of clean coastline makes for the perfect shelter for the toys for sea lovers. There is a obscene pile of money floating on the Croatian coastline.

Across the bay …. Money to play
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P531_zpsefe00206.jpg)

Marina's are dotted all the way up the coastline. Looks like yachting paradise.

A little island packed with holiday homes. From above it looks like a fish.
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P505_zpsa3937e2a.jpg)

Ivan takes us to one of his struggling clients … a Russian that owns a bank!
This is his Croatian getaway boat, packed with all the right stuff … 4 KTM dirt bikes, Jet bikes, Scuba kit, compressors etc. etc. We were invited on board, sans shoes, but weren’t allowed below because the mistress was still in bed.

This boat is a wet dream, all chrome, wood and class…

(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P506_zpsc6bb5d8b.jpg)


Sorry sir – no shoes …
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P508_zps79f1b199.jpg)

Some of these chrome bits cost more than a whole bike!
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P541_zps74151156.jpg)
 
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P542_zps3e1f8508.jpg)

The combination of wood and chrome just makes it
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P543_zps040ad5bd.jpg)


(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P544_zpsc41ccf4d.jpg)

The deck hands work hard keeping the madam and master happy
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P507_zps18b438da.jpg)


Ivan looks after the Russian's two wheeler toys. What a life. My mind races back home to where our roots lie and become acutely aware of the contrast of our lives. Ivan’s life story met with the most unusual twist of fate. He too is a native South African, as is Debbie and his two daughters. But now they are Croatians!

Little did they realise just how much their lives would change when they received a very unique letter back at home in Johannesburg,  originating from some distant relatives, inviting them to pay a visit. A visit that would change their lives forever. They bonded with their newly acquainted and distant family, linked by common great grandparents. The story goes that Ivan’s grandfather packed his bags back in the 1920’s and headed off to South Africa, never to return. Two whole generations later, the family in Croatia trace their relatives to South Africa using a tracing agency, sending them a “hello we’re here” letter and enticing them over. Well, five holidays later, Ivan and family take the plunge and head to Croatia permanently. That’s a challenge of huge proportion … learning a new and tough language. Foreign schooling for the children – tackling  Matric in a tough new language under a totally different education system – WOW!. Add to that, starting a new business and settling in with the locals – exercising a very different culture. Debbie tells just how tough it was, but that it’s been worth the challenge.

Today they have a stunning business that’s constantly growing, a bunch of happy children that all enjoy the Croatian lifestyle with all its benefits.  We are privileged to get a little peek into their world and are envious of their adventure lifestyle. They own an adventure and travel business – Croatia ala carte. Debbie handles the travel arrangements, bookings, boat cruises, connections and the like, while Ivan handles the adventure activities which include Adventure riding, dirt bike riding, white water rafting, sight seeing, boat cruises, hiking, cycling, mountain biking and kayaking and I don’t now what else. He’s got all the toys, safety kit and the kindred spirit of adventure to make any occasion feel unique and fun.

Debbie also took time to show us around Split and stuff us with local delights as well as key facts about the history of Split and the interesting cultural aspects of Croatia and the traits of the people. We found it fascinating to learn about this part of Europe – you begin to appreciate the diversity of mankind and the challenges they once faced to sustain and eek out an existence. I must say, I found myself being drawn deeper and deeper into the heart of Croatia. I was not hard to see why they packed up and carved a new life over there.

Their business is pretty well supported by South Africans. Word of mouth like this ride report, gets them new clientele. And they find that many of their clients go back each year. I will be one of those that will go back, there’s so much to see and do, you can’t possibly cover enough in one visit.

Back to the present, we tear ourselves away from the billionaire’s yacht and snake our way up the coastline towards the Krka nature park, that’s home to some famous water falls. We stop en route for a bite at the little town of Sibenik on the water’s edge. We mistakenly eat a popular winter dish that was a little too rich for a hot spring day – tasty but should really be eaten in the winter time.

Note The views from the restaurant
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P509_zps5e640f40.jpg)

(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P512_zps25180091.jpg)

Having a name like Ivan in Croatia is akin to John. Nevertheless John is proud to see his name up there.
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P511_zpsbf4cbfd1.jpg)

Loving life
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P513_zpse05104fe.jpg)

This building still bears the scars of the most recent shelling by the Serbians and the Bosnians in the early 1990’s. The complexity of land ownership is such that restorations are not always possible. Some family members each own a part of a building and depending upon their financial situation may not be able to afford the renovations necessary, so the result is quite often that the building has to remain in that state.

(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P510_zps60f76a24.jpg)

We arrive at the famed park, and we were not disappointed. The setting is amazing. The falls are spectacular. There’s something that stirs within when one sees these fundamental natural elements that form the essence of life, much like we get mesmerised by fire and the ocean. Waterfalls remind us of a key energy source of our beautiful planet.

The lower section of the amazing falls
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P514_zps0de7e47a.jpg)

Lunch gave me extra strength
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P518_zps17516057.jpg)

Some more falling water
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P519_zps9e675c8d.jpg)

(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P520_zps9b5f91eb.jpg)

(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P521_zpsf5bb17b3.jpg)

The wash bay – for laundry … looks more like a Jacuzzi
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P522_zps4e9ac700.jpg)

Just in case you hadn’t seen enough water …
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P523_zps66e2f199.jpg)

We learn how the locals cook their meat, breads and potatoes. They have a dome under which the food is placed. A ring gets place on top of the dome and filled with coals that are allowed the dish to cook slowly. A variation on the stolen Greek lamb (Kleftico).

(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P5501_zps4b0bcbc3.jpg)

That night we are invited by Ivan and Debbie to join their family and some of their friends who, by some coincidence happen to be South African. We head to the very old Town of Trogir.

The Island of Tragir.
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P524_zps4083744d.jpg)

We dine at a quaint little restaurant in the old castle on Tragir. I don’t need to tell you, but the food and the company was fantastic.
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P525_zpsf6075d33.jpg)

James and Ramon are two other huge biking enthusiasts that are preparing for a three day trip to the north of Croatia with Ivan. Their trip is packed with adventure - I can't help feeling envious. It's also Ivan's birthday, so he's treated himself to a holiday of adventure with the boys - what a boytjie.

The weather heads south tomorrow ... Margie decides it's time to let the boys play ... So i'ts Ivan and I and mother nature ... can't wait

... end of Part 3 ...
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: CHorse on June 30, 2013, 07:50:45 am
Stunning Rhino, great report and pics  :thumleft:

Congrats on the quarter century!
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: BLK on June 30, 2013, 09:45:42 am
Reports like this just stuff my mind up for the day!!I just want to go and see the world!

Thks for the well written report/photo's

Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: jorust on June 30, 2013, 12:06:49 pm
Awesome! Lovely photies. Sub!  :thumleft:
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: zawillow on June 30, 2013, 12:38:44 pm
Great photos, thanks for sharing
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: Tweets on June 30, 2013, 08:37:19 pm
Ooooooooooo. How I envy you globe trotters  ;)

Thanks for the pics of a far away land.  Clean water for sure!

Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: 1ougat on June 30, 2013, 09:06:09 pm
We did a 2 week sail in 2008 in Croatia ..... was really wonderful as you have seen.... bring back some memories .... :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: evansv on June 30, 2013, 09:11:58 pm
Stunning images!! I must admit that having a few local beers in the country one's visiting can be very good fun!! :thumleft:
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: Hondsekierie on June 30, 2013, 09:21:18 pm
Wow!!!  What a super read.  I might just visit John one of these days :biggrin:

(What happened to you guys this morning, thought we're heading to Beestekraal and then everyone behind me were gone)
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: 2StrokeDan on June 30, 2013, 09:34:09 pm
Baie baie geniet. Julle het omtrent n pad deur Europa ge-eet! :imaposer:
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: KTMRICK on June 30, 2013, 09:40:14 pm
Did Ivan own a plumbing business in JHB by any chance??
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: White Rhino on July 01, 2013, 04:53:41 am
1ougat - Nice one - A great way to see Croatia


Wow!!!  What a super read.  I might just visit John one of these days :biggrin:

(What happened to you guys this morning, thought we're heading to Beestekraal and then everyone behind me were gone)
Sorry Johan, got a bit mixed up at that point ... You were better off alone, the dust was a bit much.

Baie baie geniet. Julle het omtrent n pad deur Europa ge-eet! :imaposer:

:imaposer: My rating for a country goes up exponentially when the cuisine delights!


Did Ivan own a plumbing business in JHB by any chance??

LOL - Yes, he did - Just down the road from me in Northcliff - Small world.

Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: White Rhino on July 01, 2013, 07:21:39 am
Part 4 ...

The following day, the weather shifts. The clouds move in and the wind is boss. But that's not enough of a deterrent. Margie decides to give the riding a miss, so the glint in Ivan's eye tells me that he has plans in stall for us boys.

Winds of change
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P71_zpsc0416b37.jpg)

The umbrellas take cover
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P72_zps81775dd6.jpg)


So we saddle up and head out. His parting words were “Let me show you my back garden” – and chuckled, I had a nasty suspicion that we were in for some real adventure. Boy, was I in for a treat. We headed straight up the mountain that surrounds Split. Could be likened to heading up Table mountain. We charge about three quarters of the way up, mostly on single and double tracks, with rather long steep drop-offs to the right. Suffering from vertigo adds butterflies to my cornflakes but I try to maintain focus. Anyway up we go and all along the mountain heading in a Southerly direction. I must say, the XT660 was the perfect DS bike for that terrain. There were lots of loose stone of varying sizes that needed to be handled. There were some sections that were pretty steep and a heavy bike would increase the chances of sliding. Some drizzle had settled in, so I couldn't use my Drift camera without a waterproof housing – pity because this is exactly what you want to remember. We managed to take a few stills …

Butterflies and cornflakes for breakfast
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P602_zpsd974e6fe.jpg)

The views from above - stunning
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P73_zps1ee841d1.jpg)

The feel good moments
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P75_zps1959f376.jpg)

That quarry looked inviting
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P74_zps34f334c4.jpg)

I had a moment or two on the loose stuff, but managed to keep it together.
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P624_zpsbd2681c0.jpg)

(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P76_zps240e4ab9.jpg)

Right at the top ... you can just make out Split below
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P77_zps1c7781ba.jpg)


The return route took us around the back of the mountain along some barren marbly roads with some rocky obstacles on route. We turned on the taps and switched on enduro mode - I was smiling from ear to ear. We we all alone - and the mountain was ours. We don't need much to make us happy - this was pure Ecstasy.

(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P618_zpse463ad60.jpg)

The odd onlooker
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P607_zps59a03562.jpg)

A good ride always has some obstacles
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P603_zps0908ba09.jpg)


A couple of drenched riders, but the fun factor said up yours to the rain.
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P608_zps8a3d1121.jpg)

The rain we encountered did not dampen our childlike spirit. We had proper fun tearing up his back yard.


It was rather sad parking the bike for the last time this trip, but I knew that I would be back some day to explore this amazing country with Ivan the great.

I couldn't help thinking back to a couple of weeks before our departure. I'd invited a Croatian colleague named .... Ivan of course, an IT Developer, to come and tell us what Croatia's all about - he says "I don't know why you want to go there - it's terrible!". Well you should have seen the looks on my mate's faces they all wanted to cancel their holiday. What a twat! I later learned that he's from Zagreb and that he's never been to the coast. I suppose a bit like asking someone from Bloem about SA if they've never travelled - you're not likey to get a very good perspective.


Later that afternoon Debbie takes us to Split to enjoy some of the older parts of the city. There were some interesting facts about the impact of the Roman empire and particularly Marco Polo, the sea faring merchant that covered these waters. Marco is said to be Croatian, but the Venetians claim otherwise.

The promenade at the waterfront
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P609_zpsbfeb772c.jpg)

In the old city
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P611_zpsfeb568dc.jpg)

24 Hour sun clock ... not sure how this works at night!
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P613_zps56e0267a.jpg)

The narrowest road in the world ... Named:"Let me pass"
(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P612_zpsdf410924.jpg)

That evening we have dinner with Ivan, family and friends. We are treated to the famous lamb dish that's cooked in the traditional manner under the dome.
It's Lamb that's roasted and tender with baked potatoes that have soaked up the gravy ... Yumm!

(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P614_zps6b200051.jpg)

(http://i921.photobucket.com/albums/ad56/CapeEpic/Biking%20in%20Croatia%202013/P799_zpse9424516.jpg)

Some interesting facts about Croatia
The Dalmatian Coast Road in Croatia is arguably the most picturesque in the world (and let's not get into a big argument about it!). With views of the Adriatic Sea and islands to one side and picturesque fishing towns, mountains and classical architecture to the other, it's Europe's best kept secret. Even better, it's one of Europe's most affordable destinations.

Serious crime, by European standards, is non existent. Something we dream about. Interesting thing that was apparant was the absence of Black people. You'll find them dotted throughout Europe but virtually none in Croatia. It appears that Croatia does not feature as a destination for Africans or; entry into Croatia is more difficult. I think I saw 4 in my two week stay.

Croatia now joins the European Union after several years of wait. It does so without taking on the Euro, which I believe, is a good thing. Some of the more developing countries that adopted the Euro have suffered trying to adjust. There is fear amongst the locals that the EU will introduce new dynamics which could do harm over time. There is a fairly large divide on the motion to be part of the EU by the locals, but it’s going ahead. It appears that there are some significant benefits that Croatia will get from joining the EU, one of them being tax relief on imports from the other EU countries. This is carries huge value because Croatia is not an industrial country, so most of their goods are imported. I was astounded to learn that Croatia does not have much in the way of manufacturing and that its biggest industry, by a long shot, is Tourism.

The scale of tourism becomes evident when you traverse the coastline. The shipyards are packed with cruisers and sailing boats carting tourists. We prefer the pre or post peak seasons - things can get quite hectic during the peak seasons - July and August. Debbie says that the boats stack sometimes 20 deep in the harbours (linked to each other). That means you have to walk through several boats to get on or off.

Prices are comparable with costs in South Africa, so you don’t feel like you are being fleeced.

Most holiday makers expect decent accommodation, good weather, blue oceans, good food, good service and some interesting places to see all at a reasonable cost. Croatia has that on one plate.

This is the end of the adventure part of my ride report - I hope you got some good insights. The next section will be extracts of our cruise from Split to Dubrovnik and back – quite spectacular, lots of fun I might add, with some stunning footage.

Croatia al a Carte - http://www.croatia-ala-carte.com (http://www.croatia-ala-carte.com)

Just a footnote about our hosts, Ivan and Debbie. We were made to feel really welcome and at home with them. They are fantastic people with huge hearts. They arranged our anniversary celebration, washed my riding gear with all the mud, stored our gear when we went on the cruise. Wined and dined with us. To top it, Ivan’s got a great sense of humour and kept us engaged all the time. Debbie’s knowledge of the Country is amazing and shared a lot with us. They invited us in their circle and were always accommodating. Anybody looking to enjoy an adventure holiday with a difference, have a chat with Ivan / Debbie – you'll thank me later.

... end of Riding part .... to follow - Boat cruise



Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: BMWPE on July 01, 2013, 08:53:26 pm
Great report  :thumleft: :thumleft:
Thank you
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: DikZol on July 02, 2013, 09:08:00 am
Great report!!!!!  What was the temperature like?  Seems cold and crisp
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: sheldyn on July 02, 2013, 11:42:24 am
Absolutely fantastic report!  Thank you for the effort!

I've added it to the MUST DO list.

Cheerz
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: White Rhino on July 02, 2013, 11:48:50 am
Great report!!!!!  What was the temperature like?  Seems cold and crisp

During May it was similar to our spring in the Highveld. Day temp from 12 Deg to 24 Deg - with off chance of rain.

I would consider going mid June or Sep
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: King Louis on July 02, 2013, 12:08:37 pm
thanks for sharing Rhino, appreciated. Wets my appetite big time for next year.....
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: cloudgazer on July 02, 2013, 12:26:35 pm
wow. awesome
 :thumleft:
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: Carrots on July 04, 2013, 06:20:00 am
Bliksem dis darem mooi daar. Dankie vir die deel.  :thumleft:
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: woody1 on July 04, 2013, 07:07:38 am
Thanks for sharing. But now I want to go as well  :ricky:
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: TheAnt on July 12, 2013, 09:11:46 am
 :thumright:
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: Alpine Al on July 16, 2013, 01:13:02 am
Awesome report , thanks Rhino. My wife and I toured Croatia a few years ago and I agree that it's got to be not only the best value but also best experience holliday Iv'e ever had abroad. The scenery is just breathtaking and you just want to spend days in every little cove of any island you sail past.
I never thought of touring by bike and we are definately going back. So, having read this your friend Ivan will be hearing from a few of us of the Durban BMW Club who have been planning a combined wheels and water tour. I noticed you didnt mention the Plietvietze Lakes (spelt something like that), inland of Zadar on the way to Zagreb. I was walking through the lakes and falls and said to my wife, Angela "  anyone who doesnt believe in God just needs to see this".  It was much like the lakes and falls you showed.
My observation is that, as soon as a country adopts the Euro, it suddenly becomes expensive for us.
I hope it doesnt as I personaly prefer Croatia to Spain, Greece, or even Italy of the Mediteranian Countries regardless of the currency.
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: White Rhino on July 16, 2013, 05:06:46 am
Agree Al. That's why I'll be back - there's so much to explore. We never went very far north of Split - there's amazing landscape all the way to the northern border. When you go send my regards to Ivan - he will look after you. :thumleft:
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: DavidMorrisXp on August 04, 2013, 05:47:07 pm
Really enjoyed those pics, so much nicer when they are taken by real people on a trip and not some tourist brochure
Title: Re: A taste of Croatia
Post by: Teapot on August 04, 2013, 07:10:48 pm
Very cool story. Thanks for sharing. 
I've always wanted to see Croatia.
:thumleft: