Sunday, 30 January 2011

Croatia Trogir and Split - Coastal Ride and Step Back in Time

Back on the bike today!!  The Croatian motorcycle community is so supportive and keeps growing! Which greatly humbles me.  Now we can trace Nikola, who took care of me in Krk and put me on to Croatian Vanja who lives in France.  Vanja who put me onto Hari, and his Mother and Brother  in Zadar.. and has NOW hooked me up with riders at my next destination - Split! (Well, actually Trogir just outside of Split).  They don't worry about who you are, or your story.. If you ride a motorcycle, that's good enough.. you can stay at our house!  Super country, super people..




As mentioned before, there is no shortage of rocks in this country.  I pass borders and fencelines of piled up rocks ever since I entered Slovenia actually. But this one extra caught my attention and made me stop.. I've not seen them as such a close grid of rocks before.. I don't understand.

I zoomed in with the camera and there are grape vines inside the squares. All I can think of is that in order for them to find the tinyest patch of growable dirt, they just dug out little pockets as it would have been insane to try to move that many rocks from the property??  Don't Know.. they have their olive trees along the border, grapes on the vine, boats to catch the fish, and plenty of rocks!  Land of abundance!!

Moving on to Trogir... more evidence of what a fun place to be in the summer...

Trogir
Here I meet a wonderful couple, Anton and Marija.  They are keen adventure riders, with Anton arriving back from exploring America just last night!  He owns a Yamaha Tenere, as well as the Yamaha dealership in town!

They have a summer apartment attached to their house, as nearly all houses do along the coast, and instead of renting it out, they keep it for motorcycle friends to use only. How cool is that? And they offered me to stay in it for as long as I want!!  The trip through America was with his good friend Ivan, where they rode a KTM 990 Adventure and BMW 800GS.  Being that they both have heaps of experience, it was interesting to hear their feedback about these other bikes as serious off-road riders!  ;-)

My conclusion is this: NOTE: I'm not the best person to conclude anything about motorcycles really, but here's my two cents worth at this stage of my journey.

To get the perfect motorcycle is impossible.. even though I researched the hell out of trying to pick the absolute best bike I could for this trip. I quite often don't feel I succeeded.  And then other times I do!  Every bike out there has a huge list of positives and negatives!  For instance, you wouldn't run a marathon in a great pair of high heel shoes!  But nice to wear if you want to look good! It really confirmed to me as I hear about the KTM and BMW experience, and then comparing those things they learned with my 690 and their Yamahas.

Sorry, I digress as usual..   Anyway, much needed rest for jet-lagged Anton while Marija sets off to show me around town before she goes to work. Speaking of shoes, she owns a great shoe store in town, carrying the Australian favorite - Ugg Boots! I love shoes.. Thank goodness I do love the one and only pair of shoes I have for this journey.

Again, no cars can fit in the old town.. which is really nice!  How many families have lived inside those buildings since they were built. Nobody has run them out for heritage purposes, they are still part of daily life today!

Where the lemon tree grows!

 And the spice boat arrives from Madagascar!!

Just kidding, it's a tourist boat... but I would love to step back in time and see what those boats would find in a far away land to trade with the people of Trogir... ;-) Of which we are walking the same streets and living inside the SAME walls they did back then... I just think that is amazing. I am loving this experience.

The streets in town are confusing and it took a while to be able to find my way out, but I eventually mastered it.

Marija was an excellent guide showing me everything I might need to know to enjoy my stay here.  She's gone to work, it's going to rain big time again, so I'll make my way to their house and settle in.



It rains and rains and rains for days.  They keep telling me "this is not normal"!!  Normal or not, I've had about enough.  Anton is ancy to go ride the bikes, he really wants to show me around the mountain roads along with Ivan..  Every day we think we can make a run for it, looks promising early morning.. Then it's raining hard before we can get the bikes ready.

So in between, I can't help to explore anyway.. enjoying bits of Trogir.. Remember, my computer is still gone to Austria for repairs, and I am no good at sitting around.  I don't mind riding around in the rain, especially if you know when you've had enough of it and you can simply go home.. that is really nice!!



And to walk around town at night is amazing..  I wish my pictures could do it justice, but if you think this place is like stepping back in time, the night around here steps it up another level...


Through the city doors and back onto the waterfront.






The skies are clearing and fingers crossed we get to ride tomorrow... But the good thing about being stuck by the rain is that I am living amongst the Croatian people. Not just on a holiday but it is daily life for me.  I hang out with my Croatian family, manage banking, internet, normal stuff!  In the apartment I have my own kitchen, which I would use more if they would stop calling me into their side of the house and feeding me so well!!! Marija is an awesome cook.  So lucky to be here... and I repeat, the way I am looked after by the people of Croatia.. the amount of care and support I get from each of them is very very humbling... ;-)

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Friday, 28 January 2011

Croatia Uglijan Island


Back on dry land from the ferry in Zadar, and after I said goodbye to Vanja's Mom at the port, and WHILE I was walking to the garage to pick up my bike, I got a text message from Hari. "Are you back?  I want to show you my island."  My eyebrow raises.. I'm thinking, Beware of men who want to show you their island... but I have spent enough time with him to know I can trust him...plus he is happily married and a son in school.  I did want to consider the weather and being early in the morning, should I keep on my mission to ride south today?  And then I thought "Hey!  I am in dag-gone Croatia!!  What an opportunity to see a Croatian Island!  Who cares if I am on schedule, today I will be off schedule and have a darn good time!" (Right... technically I don't really have a schedule, I can do what I want when I want, but I'm just saying I had a plan in my head, and now it will change. Sherri Jo to go with the flow!)

Also consider that I have just spent the last 36 hours traveling virtually non-stop with ferry's and trains, sailing through the night 2 nights in a row on 'deck chair space'.  Needless to say, I am severely lacking in sleep.  So this way, I can be shown an island and not be riding a motorcycle along Croatian coastal roads with minimal rest.  Actually minimal rest and food.. I've only had one meal during the Italy marathon... granted it was a hugely divine Italian meal the Tuscan family treated me to, but that was ages ago..

Next text message was, "Can you fit your motorcycle in my little boat?  Before I can respond, another text.  "And I will pick you up on the water, in front of the man in the little red dinghy"  Eyebrow raise again..

So here comes my ride..

Nice idea, but he opts to ditch the KTM in the boat idea and put it in the far-too-hard basket for a day trip.. I'm glad.

Hari had asked me if I checked out the Sea Organ.  Click the link for more info.. but in a nutshell, the organ was built to make harmonic sounds as the water from the waves pass through the pipes.  You can see the slits in the marble along the sea steps.

I had heard of it, but didn't see yet.. So we swing the boat around to the other side of the ferry I was on last night to see and "hear" it!  No big waves today, it wasn't a musical chorus, but I heard very unique sounds.  A little bit eery actually.. I am sure it would be great to sit there on the steps when the waves and tide are ideal.



Next, a 15 minute ride to Hari's Island... better known as Uglijan.  Pronouned 'oogleeyan'.  Didn't want anyone out there saying Ugly Jan, like I did.. ;-/  Couldn't bear it! Especially since my Mom's name is Jan and she was no where near ugly! First a stop into a tiny marina for the grocery.. and much needed food for both of us!

I love little island grocery, the best service!

Back in the boat for a ride to the little marina closest to Hari's property.  The water is so clear and clean, with that beautiful turqouise blue due to all the limestone here.


Next a short walk home.. a little island hideaway home, and only 15 min from the city.  Easy! His wife and son are in Zagreb for a concert this weekend and this is his great little escape.  He explains to me he mostly lives out here in summer.  It's so peaceful... have a swim and chill out.


Luckily, Hari's neighbor let us borrow a car, and after lunch we took a spin around to see more of the island.
Have to admit, I am looking a bit rough after my mad dash to Italy and back, but for once, I don't have to drive!!  Thank you Hari and Neighbor man!


He drives me to see the ruins of an old venetian fort.  There is a lot of history here from old Italy as well as from the Germans in WWII.  I love exploring these kind of places, but this one had a reality check..The true epitome of todays' mix of modern times with history.  These ruins are home to a beautiful telecommunications tower!!  Yuk..!!  Don't want to be a hypocrite, I use what these towers offer me daily, it was just a bummer to see it smack dab in the middle of this interesting place.

The tower is so ugly to look at. I wonder why they had to put it here. I am really hoping they have a darn good reason, and it was the only place they had to choose from??? ;-/

But!!  The views are beautiful..





This last one is a view back to Zadar.


We pass an old man on his daily walk to check on his olive trees. Hari stops to 'shoot the bull' with him, as men do.... It's an island. Everybody knows everybody, of course!



And that concludes our Lukoran..  oops, I mean lookaround the beautiful Croatian island of Uglijan.  I think it's really cool to see what life is like on the island.  And not as a typical tourist, but into the houses of neighbors and friends as we meandered through tiny villages.

Hari kindly sent over an email of his photo from my website showing the busy day.. ;-)

Sorry..Nothing happening today with the motorcycle... I'll be back on the road tomorrow to Split for sure! I am at the point in my journey that after 3 days, I really miss my BIKE!!  It's like being separated from your best friend. Can't wait to see the orange and black and ride again tomorrow.

By the time Hari and I return car to neighbor and get packed up, we take the boat in the dark back to Zadar.  I also need to find a place to sleep tonight, so I can get an early start on the road to Split.

Hari suggested Vanja's mom again.. I said No Way, that poor lady has done enough for me already!  He feels certain that we should ring her.  I am embarrassed as all be, because I couldn't ask her myself to do another thing.. But Hari called and said she is more than happy to have me for the night!  We go there, and I am ready to bury my face in my hands. She tells Hari in Croatian to tell me that it's seriously no problem.  Vanja, her son, used to bring refugees from the Yugoslav wars home with him all the time, with no warning!~  And he'd bring like 10-15 people, give them food and a place to sleep in her one bedroom apartment... so surely she can manage to have me on the couch for the night!  Well, she sold me there, and another example of what wonderful people I encounter on this journey..  It's been 3 days now since a decent sleep, and I went straight to bed.. but not without thinking how amazing it is I am sleeping in the same place that so many scared and desperate people from the war slept only a few years ago...wow..

See you next time!