I've Been On This Road Before: Split To Beyond Sestanovac. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

December 12, 2013

I've Been On This Road Before: Split To Beyond Sestanovac.

I moved hostels because the "Goli & Bosi hostel, where I stayed the first two nights, doesn't have a kitchen and eating out in Split is expensive, at six Euros and upwards which is more than I'm prepared to pay; and, portions are so small, that, I remain hungry. On Sunday Is so Hungry after not having eaten much since arriving the day before, that I found a good family run restaurant that served Croatian specialities. I had a lamb and pea stew which when it came out on the table, I looked in horror at how small the little bowl of stew was. The only thing that filled me up was the delicious homemade bread that they served.

At the new hostel, I'm the only quest, it being the low season. I'm able to cook pasta; nice when I make the sauce myself; gently flying onions, pachuta, courgettes and tomatoes with red wine added, and grated hard Italian cheese added to taste at the end. And there's only the receptionist Susana to talk to, who warns me that'll it be really cold this time of year in Bosnia where I'm off to next.

You would think I'd be anxious to get back on the road after a few days off the bike and it such a nice morning. But I also like my rest, waiting until eight o'clock to rise. Then I have this local muesli which is all grain and takes quite a bit of chewing and consequently much time to eat. I won't be buying it again. And I just make it down the stairs with the panniers for ten o'clock check-out.

I cycle out of the old town to the main highway and follow signs for Dubrovnik. There isn't much place on the road for cyclists. And there are many a hazard like recessed storm drains on the inside that I've to look out for and ride wide of, at the same time be careful of the close passing traffic, some of which blow their horn in a way, clearly saying, what the hell are you cycling on the road for. I'm thinking there must be a quiet alternative street along the coast out of the city. So I soon turn off along a side street leading to a street going down towards the coast. Downhill is a good description, as the getting out of the city went downhill from then, because the street I turn onto down near the coast swings around and back uphill again. And as it's hilly, I turn left then right on little streets leading up hills towards high-rise-blocks. I'm going round in circles, so eventually, after wasting much time, I make my way back to the highway.

I cycle underneath a gang-tree-sign with a right turn for Zagreb and Dubrovnik straight on. I then continue for quite a bit, getting confused, having not seen any more signs; because, now the highway is northbound and I definitely want to go south. Soon I am in a neighbourhood I recognize from the day I rode into the city. A neighbourhood back near the city-centre. I've gone round in a circle and the only way to break the circle is to turn right at the next traffic-lights, which I do, descending a steep street down to more lights at another highway, where I turn right again, thus southbound.

This road is like a motorway, but there are bus-stops which would say otherwise. There's only a bike-width shoulder, but the surface is good and I bowl along rapidly, making progress at last. There's then a Konzum hypermarket on the right, my side, and as it's gone eleven thirty, I decide to stop for lunch and buy whatever food I need for the day.

At the hot food counter, I ask by pointing for two whitish rapped things the size and shape of saugages, which when I sit to eat on a bench beyond the check-out, find are savoury minced pork mixed with rice, rapped and tied in cabbage leave; more than enough for lunch, so I keep a tub of green veg and potatoes also from the hot food counter for the evening.

A few kilometres further, there's a turn off for a satellite town, beyond which the road narrows to a single-carriage way. The traffic is accordingly less, but still a steady flow of close passing cars, as the road onwards is tight along the coast with vertical mountainside on the inside. It is continuous suburbs with apartments and bill-boards advertising apartments with a sea view and campsites every few kilometres, as the road winds its way along around headlands and in round bays. The type of road I've been on before in other places. The type of road that would be scenic if it wasn't for all the urban clutter.

I am glad to reach Ormis on the inside of a bay with a gap in the mountain. This is where the turn off is I planned on taking. The road leaves the coastal highway and passes in through the gap into a valley with a small lagoon on the right and begins to climb steadily. Ahead I can see the road zig-zag in wide strides up the mountainside, which says the gradient isn't seriously steep.

And so it is a gentle climb for five kilometres to the village of gata. As it is a warm and sunny afternoon, I keep going until after four, making up for the slow start; making it to a where I camp in a pine-plantation beyond the small town of Sestanovac. With my customary look at the map at the end of the day, I am satisfied with the progress I've made today. Tomorrow I'll see a new country as I'm only thirty-five kilometre from the border.

The climb ahead of me.
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A closer look.
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A look back into the valley.
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A village post-office and shop on the road along the top.
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Today's ride: 59 km (37 miles)
Total: 8,432 km (5,236 miles)

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