Mountain biking into the 14th Century
From the deck of our motorised sailing vessel or gulet, the ancient walls of Korcula Town set against crystal clear waters in shades of turquoise and blue in the early evening light are spectacular. We had expected some awesome riding, a comfortable gulet and quaint little towns however the Dalmatian Islands of Croatia far surpassed our expectations. Over and over again I heard, “It can’t get any better than this.” But it did. The old towns were enchanting. Quite simply, they take your breath away as one sails into the marina lined with yachts from around the world against a backdrop of Romanesque Gothic architecture.
Once ashore we ride down cool, narrow cobbled alleys with high 15th or 16th century walls on either side. Aromas from a bakery handed down through generations, charming window shutters, the small balconies with pot plants, old wooden doors, Roman inscriptions, open air restaurants and pubs . And then into the spectacular main square, drawn by the sound of bells from the Barouche church.
...more Dalmatian Islands
The islands of Sipan, Mljet, Korcula, Hvar, Vis, Solta and Brac all have an undeniable charm about them, each with their own unique feel and pulse. We cycled through vineyards on the Peljasec Peninsula or along the sheer cliffs plunging into the Adriatic south of Hvar Town, we were blown away by the mind blowing landscape. Sometimes we veered off onto little gravel tracks leading down to a quaint fishing village or a remote light house, following single track along the shore.
...cobbled stairs and narrow lanes
We cycled through little villages, clusters of houses made from stones dug from the surroundings, encircling the inevitable church steeple and clock. Many are deserted, left behind in time. An old man hobbles along, children stare wide eyed before resuming with their game. Our bikes give us the freedom to explore where few foreigners have ventured; ride down cobbled stairs, past entrances lined with pot plants, narrow lanes.
While we explore the trails, our gulet sails around the island and meets us on the other side. Bikes loaded on board, we plunge into the crystal clear sea. Explore remote coves in a kayak, lounge on the deck over a quiet whisky or watch a mesmerising sunset while waiting for our Croatian chef to serve up a sea food platter or perhaps an Italian pasta.
French bread, cold meats, cheeses, yogurts, baby croissants, honey, jams and coffee for breakfast. A local home cooked lunch with an array of cuisines, perhaps a dish of vegetables, lamb and veal in a pot covered by coals, simmering in delectable spices and served with decantered red wine or Ozjusko beer.
After an unforgettable week of sailing and riding, we cruise into the old town of Split, a Mediterranean city on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea, centered around the ancient Roman Palace of the Emperor Diocletian. Marbled walkways lined with shops, cosmopolitan coffee bars and ice cream counters. One of the most beautiful cities I have visited.
Dubrovnik, as described in the Lonely planet;... the sense of awe and beauty when you set eyes on this jewel of the Dalmatian coast never fades. Indeed it’s hard to imagine anyone becoming jaded by the city’s marble streets, baroque buildings and the endless shimmer of the Adriatic, or failing to be inspired by a walk along the spectacular ancient city walls, said to be the finest in the world and Dubrovnik’s main claim to fame. No trip to Croatia is complete without a visit.
...value for money
The culture, the history, the people, the vibe...Croatia will always have a special place in my heart. If you are looking for a value for money mountain biking holiday, then ride and sail the Dalmatian Islands of Croatia.