On Brač - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

September 1, 2018

On Brač

You got to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive

E-lim-i-nate the negative,

Latch on to the affirmative,

Don’t mess with Mister In-Between. 

        -  Johnny Mercer

Brač (pronounced something like Braahch, not Brack) is a larger, squarish island, large enough and with enough of a road network to support a longer stay than the two nights we allowed for.  A shame, because based on today’s ride (unfortunately cut much shorter than planned) it looks like it has some of the best cycling around.  It would be a fine place to stay for four or five days, maybe based in Supetar which is more centrally located than our room at the extreme southwest end in Milna; and certainly later in the season when the temperatures drop.  I’ll bet it’s really lovely in October.

We arrived in Milna a bit before nine last night, on the catamaran from Korcula.  Along the way the ferry also stops at Hvar, another of the better known Dalmatian destinations.  Like Korcula, Hvar Town is famously beautiful and brings in the crowds.  We aren’t stopping here this time though because we were here on our first visit to Croatia and wanted to  see something different this time; but I did enjoy refreshing my memory by getting a look at it from the stern of our catamaran.

Hvar Town, from the back deck of our catamaran
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This morning we got up early again, planning about a forty mile ride to the north side of the island and hoping to return before it got too hot and humid.  When we left our room at a bit before 7, it was already 75 degrees out.  The heat wasn’t really that bad though, because today’s weather is more comfortable - partly cloudy, and with a mild breeze.  Fairly comfortable, really.

Milna, our port town, is surrounded by ridges.  The ride begins with a two mile, 600’ climb over the ridge, where it intersects the ring road that circles the western end of the island.  Today we turn left and follow the road counterclockwise, and tomorrow we’ll ride it the other direction on our way to Supetar, the port on the north side of the island where we’ll catch the ferry to Split.

As things turned out today, we didn’t see much of the island. We stopped after about eight miles, and stared at Rachael’s swollen left forearm for a bit.  It’s pretty badly swollen, alright -it looks like she’s wearing a one-sleeved fat suit.  It looks like this because of something I forgot to mention yesterday - she got stung again!  This happened during our lunch stop at the Korcula Hotel de la Ville, but it really could have happened anywhere here - bees hover around literally every daytime outdoor meal, and they seem to favor Rachael.  She’s done some reading on this, wondering why she’s such a magnet.  Among other helpful suggestions, she’s advised to not smell like a flower, and to not sweat.  Hmm - that last one is especially tough, cycling in hot, humid Dalmatia.

After her awful reaction to her wasp sting in Canada, we were advised to bring along benedryl, which we did this time.  She applied a benedryl ointment yesterday, which helped some.  Not enough though - the itching is driving her mad, and now the swelling has gotten much worse since we started biking.  And, she’s tired, feeling low energy, and is more than a bit dispirited.

So, we turn back to Milna, and head immediately to the pharmacy.  She is prescribed an antihistamine and instructed to ice it.  Happily, this looks like it will be effective.  Two hours later, the swelling has gone down significantly, the itching has stopped, and she’s comfortably catching up on her sleep.  It’s turned out to be a good time to have a two night stay.

Again? So unfair!
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We did get in at least some riding though, so I can report a bit on what it’s like.  From what little we’ve seen so far, this is a brilliant island for cycling - as long as you don’t mind hills.  It looks like roads here come in only two flavors - uphill, and downhill.  No room for Mister In-Between.  To accentuate the positive though, it’s all good - striking and varied landscape, beautiful villages, and even the occasional walker and donkey in the road.  Brač is really a much more interesting destination than I expected.

Milna’s harbor
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Milna
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The southwest corner is very dry, hilly, and stony. The hills are covered with ages-old stone walls and rubble of what I assume is crumbled stone cottages.
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At the top of the ridge above Milna. Across the strait to the north is the nearby island of Hvar.
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At the end of a dead end road to the coast is Bobavisca na Moru, the nearest coastal village to Milna. We could bike down there and check it out, but it looks great from up here.
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Bobavisca (not to be confused with its nearby neighbor on the harbor, Bobavisca na Moru).
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Arable land is at a premium here. This is the full extent of this tiny vineyard crammed between the rocks.
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Lozisca, near the north coast. I’m really surprised by how strikingly attractive the architecture here on Brač is.
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Not something I really expected to see here. I was far enough back in taking this shot that I wasn’t worried about him taking offence. I think I was wrong though - when we passed, we exchanged greetings (Dobra Dan), but then he shook his staff at me and said something in Croatian that seemed unflattering.
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Above Sutivan (we can see the tip of its church peeking above the ridge). Across the strait is Split.
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Sutivan, and another delicately beautiful Venetian bell tower.
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Heading back to Milna
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Passing through Lozisca again. There’s barely room for a single lane road through it, with a wall of buildings crowding on both sides. There is a stoplight at both ends of the village to enforce one way traffic.
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So while Rachael is napping, I’m catching up on the journal, the news, and the mail.  A couple of things worth commenting on came in today.  First, there’s this rather hostile submission from Ron Grumby, a known Hostile Actor:

Mister Grumby claims that ‘the ladies broke teeth trying to open a bottle of cider”. I read that as a complaint that we left the country again still in possession of the prized Grumby bottle opener. I would point out firstly, that in this photo at least both sets of teeth look intact, so I’d like better evidence of the claim than this before giving it any credence; and secondly, I would remind him that the missus had the bottle opener IN HER HANDS when we last met, but then regrettably handed it back again. We do promise to continue to take care of it though until we meet again. Evidence will be forthcoming.
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Ron GrumbyMrs. Grumby is occasionally absent minded...
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3 months ago

Also, new-to-CycleBlaze journalist David Alston requested to hear more about how we handle reading while on the road.  Do we carry a Kindle device, he asks?  There are two answers to this - Rachael’s, and mine.  Rachael is an avid reader, regularly churning through one or two novels per week.  She reads these through her iPad or her phone, using the Kindle application.  She purchases and downloads some of them from Amazon, but mostly she downloads them for free from the Portland Public Library.

My answer is similar, but less admirable.  I read exclusively on the iPad, and have several titles backlogged on Kindle.  Currently, I’m slowly working through the postumously published short story collection by William Trevor, one of my all time favorite authors.  Unfortunately, the honest answer is that I spend too little time reading books.  My spare time goes mostly into keeping current on this cursed journal and obsessively scrolling through news and political websites, keeping informed on the latest outrages from back on the home front.  I really need to just shut out what I can’t control anyway, read a good book, and wake up after the next election.

But enough about me.  Rachael is still sleeping it off, it’s too soon for dinner, so let’s go look around the harbor.

Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church
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Red dress and laundry
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Green doors and bicycle
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A surprise celebrity appearance on the Brač waterfront
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Ron GrumbyThere it is!!!!!!!
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonErr, was. Who knows where it might turn up next?
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3 months ago
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Ride stats today: 17 miles, 2,000’; for the tour: 151 miles, 13,100’

Today's ride: 17 miles (27 km)
Total: 151 miles (243 km)

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