To Split: the end of the road - Balkan Dreams - CycleBlaze

October 11, 2020

To Split: the end of the road

Today’s ride

Today’s ride hardly counts, but if we’d had our druthers it would have been even less than the measly 18 flag miles we covered.  Our first choice was to leave the island out the other side to the island of Čiovo and then bike out to its end at Slatine and catch the passenger ferry to Split; but that line has already shut down until next spring.  It’s a very quiet, relaxing way to travel by bike between Trogir and Split, and the way we went two years ago.  If you come this way by bike, you should definitely check to see if it’s operating.

You can of course bike the whole way, which we did when we were first here in 2001.  We didn’t care for the ride then - too busy, not at all bike friendly - and so we weren’t looking forward to today’s ride either.  At least it’s Sunday morning though, which should help keep traffic down; and above all, it’s windy but not raining - something we weren’t sure would be the case until we checked the weather this morning. 

In the end though, the ride was fine and the middle part of it was very pleasant, biking beside the sea through small neighborhoods.  I’m sure we didn’t find this route last time, not having a GPS available to show us all the alternatives available.  We stopped at a bakery along this stretch to pick up pastries and then enjoyed them on a seaside bench, watching shore birds swoop above the whitecaps. 

In Trogir, before the day trippers arrive to clutter up the scene.
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For most of the ride we bike beneath this long, sheer ridge that rises 2,000 feet above the sea. Beautiful, but most of the time your view is cluttered in the foreground by roadside developments.
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For about four miles in the middle of the ride we bikes alongside the sea on quiet streets filled more with pedestrians than vehicles.
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It felt wonderful to sit here in the sun and enjoy a relaxed lunch. Croatia is such a beautiful place!
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Video sound track: End of the Road, by Kim Waters

We arrived at our hotel in Split in the early afternoon.  We’re staying in a somewhat nicer place this time than the only other time we’ve overnighted here.  In fact, Rachael remembers our lodging in Split as the single worst place we have stayed ever.  Her memory of it is so sour that it has dominated her memory of the city itself.  She’s not particularly looking forward to our three night stay here, actually.

We first arrived in Split in September, 2001, about a week after 9/11.  We arrived about 7 in the morning by ferry from Ancona on a crowded ship.  When we disembarked we were greeted by a phalanx of people offering up their sobes (rooms to let) to arriving passengers.  A bit groggy, without any real plan other than to stay here for two nights before moving on, a bit disoriented by our first introduction to what felt then like an exotic foreign culture, we accepted the offer from one of these hawkers and followed him up into the city to the room he was offering.

It was a complete disaster.  I don’t remember it very clearly now, but we both remember it as the only time we have just left a prepaid room early because we weren’t comfortable staying there.  We left early the next morning and biked to Trogir to spend that second night there instead before returning to Split the next day for the ferry to Hvar.

Our lodging this time is quite different.  We’re staying in Hotel Peristil, a beautiful old place within the walls of the Diocletian Palace (more about that later).  The hotel is built against the outer wall  of the palace, a bit of the stone from it exposed within our room for extra atmosphere.  We think we’ll be able to bear staying here for the next three nights.

Inside the Diocletian Palace, facing the Silver Gate. That’s our hotel just to its right.
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Yes, this will do. Hey, there are our suitcases!
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The view from our room in Hotel Peristil - the tier of arches above the Silver Gate.
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The end of the road

The end of our Croatian road, anyway.  Barring any last minute bad news, there’s still much more to come: in Italy, and then hopefully in Greece.  We feel very confident that we’ll be able to enter Italy, especially because Italy just updated their entrance requirements.  Like many countries, Italy maintains a ‘red list’ of other nations they either prohibit entry from or place added constraints on.  Until last Thursday, Italy required evidence of a negative Covid test within 72 hours of entering the country from Croatia.  Now though, enters is permitted without qualification as long as you have been in no other red listed country in the last 14 days.

Not that we were opposed to getting retested.  We had tests scheduled for tomorrow morning, but have cancelled them.  It saves us about $300, as well as the disruption and inconvenience of getting ourselves to a testing facility on a day that promises heavy rain and thunderstorms.

We have three nights here and will do some exploration of Split as weather permits, but we’re done with the bikes for now.  Italy, here we come!

The Marco Polo, the ship we’ll take to Ancona in three days. It’s in port now for this evening’s sailing.
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It is strange to think back now to our state of mind two months ago when we were trying to decide whether to come here or not, and even if it would be possible.  Could we get tests in time?  Did we have all the adequate documentation?  Would the airlines let us board?  Would we get turned back at the border somewhere?  Would we get sick on the airplane?  Would we be able to enter Greece afterwards for our flight home?

What I don’t recall us thinking about at all was what the actual experience of being here would be like.  We were looking forward to being here in the off season this time because it was too hot and crowded when we were here in late August and early September two years ago.  That was about it though, because we were too focused on managing the transition.

Now that we’re here though and reflect back on the last eight weeks, we have feelings of wonder and gratitude.  We’re so grateful that the Croatians let us in, and for the once in a lifetime opportunity to experience their country when there are so few tourists afoot and the roads are emptier.  And, we have a real sense of wonder at how diverse and beautiful the country is.  It’s amazing to let the mind fast forward through the different towns and regions we’ve explored here, all in a fairly small geographical area.

In case you’re inclined to come here yourself someday, here’s  the collection of all of our rides on this tour:

Our tour of Croatia: August 21-October 14, 2020
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Yes, some celebration is in order: 1,500 miles, 70,000’, eight incredible weeks. Živjeli!
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Jen GrumbyČestitamo!

And sigurna putovanja!

Thanks for taking us along for this great tour.

Looking forward to reading about your experience in Italy!
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2 weeks ago
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Ride stats today: 18 miles, 500’; for the tour: 1,522 miles, 73,400’

Today's ride: 18 miles (29 km)
Total: 1,522 miles (2,449 km)

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