The Rab-Lun ferry: a public service announcement - Balkan Dreams - CycleBlaze

September 30, 2020

The Rab-Lun ferry: a public service announcement

There are three ferry options for getting from Rab to the island of Pag, our next destination.  One involves reversing the route we took last time: biking down to the southern tip of Rab and catching the ferry to the mainland (the ferry we biked out to yesterday); biking about ten miles on the mainland coast, climbing about a thousand feet up a shoulder of Velebit; catching a second ferry to Pag island; and, from there, it’s another fifteen miles to Pag town, our final destination.  A complete day, but manageable if you plan carefully.

There is also a fast catamaran that runs between Rab town and Novalija.  It runs infrequently - only a few days a week- and less so if at all this late in the year.  And, they allegedly don’t accept bicycles.  So, that’s not an option.

And, there’s a third possibility: another catamaran, that runs between Rab town and Lun at the northern tip of Pag.  This would be perfect, but our reference (Croatiaferries.com) states that this one doesn’t take bicycles either.  I also researched this ferry two years ago since it’s the obvious best choice, and was sorry to see that bicycles were prohibited.

Three routes to Pag.
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Wrong, wrong, wrong.
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When we arrived in Rab, the agent that checked us in asked if we would be leaving town on the ferry to Lun.  Surprised, I asked if it took bicycles and she asserted that it did.  She later followed up to confirm this for us.  Learning this, I dug deeper and found the schedule posted by the carrier; and she’s right!  Croatiaferries.com is incorrect here.

Clear enough, but even clearer if you translate it. It says the boat has capacity for up to seven bicycles. Also, that it’s been in operation for 57 years.
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Still, trust but verify.  Yesterday morning I decided to meet the morning arrival from Lun, to validate that bicycles are allowed and see if we’d need a reservation.  The boat is scheduled to arrive at 8, so a bit after 7:30 I walked to the point at the end of the harbor to watch for it to appear across the water.  

Stairs lead up to the crown of old town, where its famous churches with their striking campaniles stand tall.
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The main street through old town: narrow, passing through one arch after another until you reach the sea at the tip of the peninsula, is especially atmospheric this morning when the street is nearly empty and the stones glisten from a bit of a shower last night.
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Narrow alleys branch off the main street. To the right, they lead to staircases up the ridge. To the left, they open to archway views of the harbor.
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In Rab. If we ever come back again, I’d do it in the off-season like this, in either autumn or spring. In summer the place is allegedly packed with tourists.
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In old Rab town. Like Cres, Rab’s history goes back to the Liburnians; but these historical cities date from the Venetian Republic.
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In old Rab town. It’s amazing how many arches you pass under on this short walk.
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Another side alley, opening to the harbor.
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Morning on the harbor, Rab.
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Jen GrumbyThat's some nice light and calm water!

Wish I was out there in a kayak.
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyIt does look like a great place to kayak here. I’m keeping a mental catalog of great things here that we didn’t make time for.
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3 weeks ago
I was starting to worry about whether it’s actually running today, but here comes the Maslina now. The denuded northern point of Pag is behind it.
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It’s such a tiny craft! Hard to imagine it supports up to seven bicycles. I ask the captain though, and he confirms we can ride tomorrow. No reservation needed, just show up at noon.
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Neither of us is quite feeling up to par this morning.  Rachael has a headache again (she’s suspecting that it might be due to the cleaning fluids apparently in extensive use now); and my digestion is off, presumably from a delicious but too rich serving of lamb last night.  We decide to skip our planned morning walk through upper old town and just hang out in the room until time to leave for the ferry.

So, no photo gallery of the old town. If you want to see it, come and look for yourselves.

We arrive at the waterfront at 11:40, to be on the safe side.  The boat is in harbor and even has a lone passenger sitting inside already, but no one else is in sight.  We sit on a bench and wait.  While we wait, the skipper of a water taxi walks up and offers his services.  So, it sounds like you’d have options even if the ferry itself wasn’t running.  We have an extended conversation about Croatia’s economy, his three kids who are considering leaving because they can’t make a living, Trump and other autocrats, the usual.  Finally he breaks off as a woman walks up, soliciting a ride across to the other side of the harbor.

On the waterfront, Rab town.
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The view along the harbor. The man in the white tee is the water taxi driver who solicited us while we waited.
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At 12, a church bell chimes with a surprisingly weak, tinny sound.  Our captain finally appears across the square, checking his watch and briskly walking our way.   three minutes later, the boat is loaded and we’re pulling away from the promenade.

It’s an interesting experience boarding the catamaran.  There’s no ramp or opening gap on the side of the boat.  Two crewmen help us lift the bikes and panniers over the side and to step across the gap of open water.  Fortunately there are no mishaps - nothing left behind, nothing in the drink - and we settle in with our four or five fellow passengers for the four nautical mile ride across the strait.

In imagining this ride, I really didn’t think of anything other than of how convenient it would be. It’s only once we’re in motion that it registers that we’re going to get to see old town and it’s surroundings from the water.  It’s a brilliant ride, worthwhile even if you weren’t trying to get anywhere.

We succeed in de-boarding in Lun without mishap also, and repack for our ride down-island.  But that’s a story for a different post.

Old Rab, from the sea side. We really should come back to take a look at those four Venetian campaniles some year.
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Definitely Venetian.
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Looking back at old Rab town and the ridge beyond. If you zoom in, you can see the telecommunications tower on the top of the ridge at Kamenjak, where we hiked two days ago.
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Rounding the northern tip of Pag Island.
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Entering the harbor at Lun.
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In Lun harbor. In addition to five passengers and two bikes, the cargo for this sailing included floral arrangements for a wedding or some other event.
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Scott FenwickJust a quick note to say that Pat and I used Jadrolinija catamarans (quite large ships really) for travel on the southern Croatian islands with our Bike Fridays. Although their website indicated no bicycles, I asked the Jadrolinija line customer service in advance of our travels and they indicated that it would be fine but I also stated that the bikes would be in travel bags. Our travel was in a low season and we had no issues with them accepting our baggage. Adding cats to the logistical planning provides many more travel options but there is always a risk that some cranky crew member might turn you away.
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3 weeks ago