A stunning coastal scenery, extreme temperatures and lots of apartments. The past few weeks we’ve been cycling through Croatia and is has been a truly new experience after all the mountains and snow.
600 kilometers of tourism
It was a very heavy day of cycling from Slovenia to the Croatian border with over 1500+ climbing meters and very hot weather. At the beginning of the night, we arrived in Croatia where we had a very warm welcome. We stayed with a Croatian family just off the border with Slovenia. We asked to pitch up our tent in the garden and they happily invited to sleep inside the house. We had some great conversations together and we were given a delicious breakfast and coffee. After breakfast and goodbye, we set off to cycle to the more touristy coast of Croatia which was around 100 kilometers away.
To avoid the most of the heat, we changed our daily rhythm and started cycling early in the morning around 07:00. In the afternoon we rested for a few hours at the beach to cool down. When it cooled down in the end of the afternoon, we continued cycling and started looking for a place to stay over for the night.
Finding a place to sleep in Croatia is much harder than in the rest of the Countries where we’ve been. There are almost no Warmshower-hosts and because of the extreme tourism along the coast, the people were less hospitable. The prices of camping were in our opinion very high, just for pitching up a small tent with two persons, prices of around 20 euro were asked without electricity. In some campings, they even asked 5 euro per dog per night extra. Luckily after some long bargaining, we found some campings which let us stay for 12 euro a night. Although the campings are very expensive the location was most of the times very good! After waking up, you could easily freshen up in the Sea which was just a few meters away.
Despite lots of tourism, Croatia has a very beautiful nature and we met a lot of nice people along the way. It was also the first time we met other fellow cyclists, which were traveling in all directions of the world. Some of then heading to Asia, others were touring around the Balkans and some were cycling our route, but just the other way around. In Croatia, we’ve cycled about half a day with a Swiss couple, who started cycling around the same date as us and were planning to cycle through the Middle-East. We really enjoyed meeting all of them, sharing experiences and making new friendships.
Things to see
- Zadar - The Sea organ (Croatian: Morske orgulje) is an architectural sound art object located in Zadar, Croatia and an experimental musical instrument, which plays music by way of sea waves and tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps.
- Dubrovnik - The 'Pearl of the Adriatic', situated on the Dalmatian coast, became an important Mediterranean sea power from the 13th century onwards. Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667, Dubrovnik managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. Damaged again in the 1990s by armed conflict, it is now the focus of a major restoration programme co-ordinated by UNESCO.
Rain & Thunderstorms
After we went over the Alps, it became warmer which was very pleasant. But most of the days in Croatia and especially the last days. At the border control with Montenegro, the temperatures rose into the extreme with a max of 47 Celsius. The heat was literally melting us away since we had to stand in line with the many cars.
When we finally got away from the border control, we started cycling towards The Bay of Kotor. The Bay of Kotor consists of four smaller gulfs. The total area equals 88 square kilometers. The Gulf of Herceg Novi empties into the Adriatic Sea. Due to its unusual look, the bay is often called Europe's southernmost fjord, but in fact, it's a submerged river canyon.
The first night in Montenegro, we stayed at a camping at the Bay of Kotor were we met some other Dutch and shared some stories and a couple of beers. This night was also the first night of a 4-day streak of rain and thunderstorms. Our tent was put to the test, but it kept all our belongings safe and dry. Since Montenegro already was our country of first times, we also used for the first time a different vehicle to transport ourselves then a bike. Since we wanted to save some time and cycle the beautiful Serpentine-pass, we took a short ferry over the Bay of Kotor.
The Serpentine Pass
After switching our sea legs back into bike legs, we started with cycling up the Serpentine-pass. This curvy and mountainous road has a total length of 38 kilometers. Located between the cities of Kotor and Cetinje, this pass is a favorite among motorcycles and cyclists. A very challenging part is the short 8.5 kilometer stretch with around 30 hairpins called the ‘’Kotor Serpentine’’.
If you check a map you can see the serpentine twists and turns, showing it is not something exaggerated. If you ever go to Montenegro this is a highlight and the adventure is definitely worth it. The road with over 900 meters of elevation gain, gives an amazing view over the Bay of Kotor and afterward will lead you through a beautiful Valley.
After a delicious pizza at the end of the Serpentine road in Cetinje, it was time for a very nice road which was descending al the way to the capital Podgorica. At our host in Podgorica, we stayed for two nights. It was raining a lot so we decided to have a little rest for us and the dogs, before heading to Albania.
One of our biggest concerns was that the dogs couldn't resist the extreme heat we were going to deal with. So we made some adjustments at the Dog trailer and give them lots of water to cool down. But we might have been a little bit overanxious because every time we stopped the dog trailer, the dogs jumped out and laid down and started sunbathing. The dogs are having a great time and are really worshipping the sun! Especially Huub likes to lay down in the Sun until his tongue almost falls out. The last two weeks the temperatures have been over 30+ Celsius and it is a great relief that the dogs are dealing so well with this temperature, I think even better than us!
We also had our first encounter with stray dogs, from which there are lots in Montenegro. Good for us is that the stray dogs are very used to humans and others animals, so they aren’t bothering Huub & Liska. Luckily, the stray dogs we’ve seen in Montenegro are treated well under circumstances and sometimes get food from restaurants. Despite this, it is very sad to see that these dogs hardly get any love or attention, which they really need. Most of the time when we give them our left-over food, usually at first they are very scared thinking that they will get slapped or shouted at. When we bend down and they see we want to share, you just see them becoming happy and wagging their tales like every normal dog.
Please keep in mind, when you see stray dogs note that they don’t do any harm (most of the time), they are just scared and abused!