Nov 1 – Nov 13 (Zadar to Zagreb)

Before I start, I just realized that for some reason the last post isn’t showing up on the page like normal. If you missed it and want to read it, here is the link: Oct 17 -27 Venice to Zadar

Split

We took a bus from Zadar to Split on Nov 1 and we arrived at the Hurricane Hostel around 1PM.

In our last few days in Zadar we all figured out our plans for the winter and we decided that by the end of the week we’d all be splitting up for the time being.


William, Henry, Jelle and Ben would all take the ferry to Ancona on the 7th.

From there William and Jelle would go to rome for a week and then William is planning on traveling by train until January when he will meet his mom in Greece and fly home.

Jelle is going to take the ferry to Barcelona then ride home to the Netherlands for the winter.

Henry took trains from Ancona to La Rochelle where he is staying with a friend for a month before returning home to work for the winter.

Ben is continuing to travel by train and then he is going home and traveling the US for the winter to find good places to ski

My plan was to ride from Split to Tirana, Albania and then fly to Chiang Mai, Thailand and bike through SE Asia for the winter. I realized a few days into riding south that I couldn’t fly from Tirana due to Covid restrictions so I had to turn around and go to Zagreb for my flight.


Split was a great town to have our last days together in. We had great food at local places, we learned the history of the town, we got some good party nights in and the Hurricane Hostel proved to be a great home base for getting ready to leave.


Nov 7

We all had ferry tickets for November 7 to leave Split. My ferry left at 2 o’clock to Hvar and everyone else’s was at 8PM for Ancona.

I left the hostel after saying goodbye to everyone and I went to the ferry port to get ready. When I got there I found out my ferry didn’t take bikes, so I started riding the coastline with my sights set on Dubrovnik as the next big city stop.

Since I was leaving at 2 I didn’t really have much riding time. The sun sets here at 4:30 ish right now.

I got two good hours of riding in and ended up at an olive farm. When I got there my camp was already blocked off from the sun because there were mountains surrounding me, but I was able to watch the shade take over the mountains across the valley after I got my tent set up.

I checked my phone for the forecast right before bed and I noticed it was going to rain for the next two days. So I got ready to spend a day in my tent depending on how bad the rain was.


Nov 8

I woke up around 4 to very heavy rain and got myself mentally prepared for another day hanging out in the tent.

When I actually woke up at 7 the rain was very light, so I decided to get up and ride. Right as I finished packing up a farmer came up the hill and started yelling at me in Croatian. I did not know I was on an olive farm until then because I was on the level below the trees on the hill.

He ended up bringing up his daughter who spoke English and she told me that the neighbors had told them that I was stealing olives from them. Of course I was not so I explained what I was doing. Right then there moods switched from angry to friendly and they were insisting I stay another night. I told them I was leaving anyways and they said I was welcome back anytime I like.


My route for the day took me up and down the inland mountains. After 15 miles of riding mountains in the rain I was ready for a break. I stopped in a valley town and picked up some water and food at the grocery store.

As I was filling up my water bottles a man came up to me and offered me a coffee. I went with him into the restaurant across the street and he told me that he worked for a non profit trying to get foreign travelers to become familiar with the area I was in. He connected me with his WhatsApp and gave me some recommendations for places to go nearby.

I got to the restaurant he told me to go to and it was great. It was just a little place with a wood stove. Needless to say it was the perfect place to hide from the rain. I ordered what he recommended which was a plate of gnocchi and veal and it cost me 40 Kuna which is about $6. As I was waiting for my meal I looked at my phone and I had 30 huge WhatsApp notifications of places this guy was telling me about.

Sadly I wasn’t able to use his recommendations because I never made it to the area he was talking about.

I rode about 10 more miles after that meal and ended up camping a little hike up into the woods of a nature reserve. I set up some tarps on the trees and strung up my hammock.

I cooked some food from my hammock and went to bed at 8:30. Early because the sun sets so early.


Nov 9

I rode 1 km more in the inland area in the morning before bombing down a huge mountain down to the coast again. The view down the mountain was incredible. I could see for miles across and along the sea.

I rode the roads and trails along the coast until my first break 10 miles or so down the road. It was this crazy abandoned hospital for kids with scoliosis during the war. I spent a while walking through the building and the dorm houses around it. Then I sat by the beach for a while before continuing on.

The trail after that was really confusing. It’s definitely not meant for bikes holding bags like mine because it’s rough terrain and really narrow and if you fall you fall off a cliff into the rocky sea below.

This trail went on for 2 miles before turning into a paved trail going into Makarska. I was able to ride a good half of the trail, but spent the other half walking my bike through tight rocks and rough terrain.

By the end of the day I made it to Gradac where there was an empty campground. It was closed because I am traveling in the off season. The camp host left one toilet and one shower unlocked, maybe by accident or maybe for people like me, either way it made it a lot nicer to camp there.

Gradac was a pretty small village right on the shore. I read my book and watched the sun set over the sea and as it got lower and lower the silhouettes of the island mountains in the distance got more and more defined. It was beautiful.


Nov 10

I was reading about Covid rules to come into Thailand and it said that you have to have been in one country for 21 days and it had to be on their list of permitted countries. Albania was not on this list and I had been in Croatia for 21 days, which was on the list. So with the help of my dad we found a ticket out of Zagreb on the 24th of November.

Sunrise

So back to Split where I’d take a bus to Zagreb.

I decided I’d go for a day without a map and just guess my way for a little more entertainment.

I did most of the day by memory, but I got lost a few times and just rode back in the direction I was supposed to go and made it back to the road eventually.

Day one was ALL uphill. There were some crazy mountains I had to go up and lots of hills I had to walk up. The good thing about mountains though is that you can lay there at the top all weak and look at an incredible view while you recharge for the next ascent.

At one mountain top I was hungry and tired so I got my hammock out and laid in a tree and made a huge dish of pasta. I ended up using every drop of water I had but I got to a town soon enough. It was worth the water it was such tasty pasta.

I basically just took the same route back. I spent the whole time looking for wild camp spots but I couldn’t really find anything good. I decided to look at my map for the route to Split so I could try to find a good grove of trees or something on the satellite photo. When I looked at the map I realized I was right next to that nature reserve camp from two nights ago, so I just went back over to that spot and he camp set up 15 minutes later.

This time it was not raining so I didn’t have to put up my tarps. I went to bed after making a quick dinner.

I woke up a few times in the middle of the night and stared at a full sky of stars for a while. I was camped in the middle of the woods so they were beautiful.


Nov 11

I woke up at 7 and was on the road by 8. I took a different route from the nature reserve to Split than I had on my way there. This route involved way more mountains, but it was just as pretty. The trees are all turning orange and yellow now so you can see hills full of color as you’re going up these mountains and gazing over the landscape.

I got back to the coast around 1 and it got really warm. I went from the cold shade of the mountains to the direct sea sun.

They were building something in the mountain face

I stopped at a bench on the sea for a drink and a snack before my last 10 miles back to Split.

The last ten miles to Split were scary. The road just kept getting busier and busier until I was forced to get off because it was basically a highway. I found a slightly less busy road into the city center.

I made it back to the Hurricane Hostel at 3 and booked for two nights.

I was tired from riding mountains all day so I walked the city until 6 and then i laid in bed for the rest of the night attempting to fill out all the paperwork I needed to do to get into Thailand. By the end of the night I completed the Thailand Pass, which is a request form to enter Thailand that requires you to have tons of Covid stuff figured out. It’s all simple things but there are a lot of them so it takes a while and doesn’t save your data. I ended up filling it out about 10 times before I was able to submit it.


Nov 12 (Day 100 Away)

I decided my mission for the day would be to find a bag to fit my stuff into to be my checked bag on the airplane. I figured the mall would have something so I walked there, but the bags were too small. So I ended up walking 4 miles to Decathlon and found a perfect bag. I also got some new underwear because I either lost or got 2 pairs of underwear stolen at the hostel.

Then I walked back 4 miles to the hostel with my new duffel in hand.

I got a text from a friend I met last week inviting me out for some Friday night fun with their group. I said sure but I wasn’t planning on staying late because I had a bus to catch early in the morning and that included taking my bike apart.

When I got back to the hostel I met a Canadian guy named Patrick and I invited him to join us tonight.

I ended up staying out till 1 am despite my morning bus but I had lots of fun and met tons of cool people.


Nov 13

I woke up to my alarm at 6 and got my stuff ready to head down to the bus station. I took my bike apart and got on my bus at 8.

6 hours later I arrived in Zagreb

I biked around the city searching for a hostel and eventually checked in to one by the city center.

I went out at 4 and explored the city until 9. I had to go home then because it got way too cold. I was planning on going out to see some music at 11 but my early bedtime caught up to me and I ended up falling asleep beforehand.

Now I have a week and a half to explore the city before my flight to Chiang Mai.


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2 thoughts on “Nov 1 – Nov 13 (Zadar to Zagreb)

  1. Thank you for your update. After reading it, a nagging question stuck in my mind. Why didn’t you two (you and Henry) move on together while Henry went with the others? You travel alone now. This is not an ideal situation. You are now on your own for everything that can happen. When I see you now, in the solitude of being alone under sometimes harsh circumstances, I feel for you. If you prefer not to answer my question or in a general sense, I fully understand. I wish you a pleasant and above all a safe continuation of the bike ride.

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    1. Henry went home to work since he is running low on money. He is just spending 4 or 5 months at home then he’s coming back out to meet me and continue our travels.
      As for my solo riding, I am confident in my ability as a traveler to stay safe. I’m not worried about loneliness or anything because as a solo traveler you are approached by lots of friendly people, a lot of whom are travelers too. So I know it’s different to be alone but I’m excited for the next 5 months where I’ll get to experience a lot of things I wouldn’t if I was traveling with another person.

      Like

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