We're going island hopping today! Gonna head to the next island south of Brač, called Hvar. But strangely enough, there is no direct ferry between Brač and Hvar. Which means we've got to take a ferry back to the mainland, ride south a little bit and then take another ferry to Hvar. I guess there's not enough traffic between the two islands to justify a direct ferry. Oh well, more riding for us, we don't mind!
While at the ferry dock in Sumartin (Brač), Neda talks to some sidecar folks from Germany
I got to talking to another German rider, Günter, he is traveling around on his beloved Yamaha Diversion
Last view of Brač from the ferry before departing
We spent the rest of the ferry ride hanging out with Günter. His English was better than our German, and we talked a lot about our trips and motorcycles. We got along really well and he invited us to come visit him in Germany if we were ever in the area. That was very gracious of him, we'd love to hang out more with him again! Just gotta figure out when we'll be around Germany again...
Thanks to Günter for this pic of us - we don't have many of us together. Enjoying the sunshine!
After only an hour we arrive at Makarska, on mainland Croatia.
Günter is traveling further south, while we are going to stop less than 30kms away in Drvenik to catch the ferry to the next island of Hvar. We say our goodbyes in Makarska and less than 20 minutes later down the coast, we find ourselves waiting for yet another ferry!
Taking a dip in the Adriatic Sea while waiting. Weather is perfect! :)
It's a couple of hours wait in Drvenik for the next ferry, so we duck into a supermarket to get some cheese and Croatian prosciutto and we sit lazily by the edge of the sea while the blue sky and sun smile down at us. Nice.
Finally our ferry arrives. We park the bikes onboard and this was our entertainment for the next 15 minutes
When I first saw the long tour bus approach the already-loaded ferry, I told Neda, "There's no way he's fitting that thing on here this trip". The ferry operators corraled all the cars to the sides to make a bus-sized hole in the middle. Every single person marvelled at the bus-driver's Tetris skills as he shoe-horned his vehicle onboard with inches to spare on either side!
35 minutes later, it's time to disembark the ferry again. What a roundabout way to get to the next island!
Motoring around the twisty coastal roads on the island of Hvar
It was getting late in the day, so we headed to the town of Stari Grad
We're now about 10 kms away from where we slept last night, as the crow flies. But we didn't fly. We crossed two islands, took two ferries and rode around 120 kms to get here! Oh well, it's a motorcycle trip!
There was no one in this wine store when we walked in. I went into the washroom and when I came out,
Neda was ordering us some wine. Where did this guy come from?
Sipping our glasses of Croatian wine outside the store
Walking around the marina in Stari Grad
Main square in Stari Grad
For some reason, Neda thought Stari Grad was the main tourist town on Hvar island, but it seemed kind of older and small. Well, it was getting too late to relocate. We had to find a campsite soon before the sun went down.
Church of St Stephen, Stari Grad
Although it wasn't the main town on Hvar, Stari Grad was still very quaint with its typical Croatian narrow streets and pedestrian cobblestone roads
Sign reads, "Summer working hours: PO-MAaaaa Lo!!!"
This sign made Neda laugh. "Pomalo" literally translated means, "A little bit", but it's slang for "Take it easy. No stress". It's basically the Croatian equivalent of the Jamaican saying "Irie, mon". And it's specifically slang from the coastal regions, like Istria and Dalmatia, where life is more relaxed than the interior. Coastal Croatians are like islanders...
This Pomalo/Irie feeling would not last very long though.
We arrive at a campsite that was advertised online. It looked deserted and the facilities were boarded up. Uh oh. What do we do? We rode back out into town and knocked on a few hotel doors. Holy crap the prices were waaaay expensive. Not pomalo at all...
So we went back to the deserted campsite and set up our tent anyway. Pomalo, pomalo!
Neda catches up on some TV shows while I keep a watchful eye out for anyone that looked like they were going to kick us off the property
We don't really wild-camp much - we prefer having flush toilets and hot running water. But we don't feel like paying high-season hotel prices on the island, so we'll forgo the shower for this one night... I slept with one ear open, worrying that we would be woken up in the middle of the night, reprimanded (or worse) for trespassing and be forced to vacate the premises.
Man, just a month ago we were living like kings in palatial apartments for peanuts in Thailand and now we're balking at the cheapest hotel prices in Europe. What a change! :(
But in the morning, we haven't been discovered and Neda is making breakfast: Peanut butter and pomalo sandwiches!
We packed up our tent as discreetly as possible, and rode off the deserted property as quietly as we could. As we passed the front gate, a man approached us and Neda engaged him in Croatian. Turns out he was the campsite manager! Uh oh!
We found out that because it was still early in the season, the site was only due to open the next week. He said he saw our tent late last night and told us that if he had known earlier, he would have opened up the facilities for us. I was ready to reach for my wallet when he said, "Don't worry, I'm not going to charge you for a patch of grass. Have a nice trip!"
So we left Stari Grad to find the tourist centre of Hvar island. Which turns out to be the town of Hvar. Duh!
A fortress at the top of a hill greets us as we approach Hvar. The city walls extend all the way up the hillside
Ah, now *this* is the tourist centre!
A lot larger and much more fancier than Stari Grad (Stari Grad means "old town" in Croatian BTW)
Another beautiful day! Neda bought some strawberries at the farmer's market
and we ate them while hanging out at the edge of the marina. Pomalo pomalo!
Main square in Hvar
Taking a walk along the harbour
The minute I saw the fort up the hill, I knew Neda would make us hike up it... No Pomalo:(
Along the way, I take a picture of a well from Roman times. Neda yanks me by the shirt, "Stop stalling. We've got a hill to climb!" :(
As we hike the path up to the fortress, we pass underneath one of the city walls
Along the way, I stop to take picture. Neda taps her foot impatiently...
Finally, we reach the top outside the fortress. Great view of the city and harbour below
The fort is called Tvrđava Španjola, which means Spanish Fortress, built by Spanish military engineers in the 16th century. It costs money to go into the fort, so we take a pass on that. I'm sure the view is much nicer from the outside than the inside!
Some nice boats moored at the harbour in Hvar. Sailing the Dalmatian islands is a popular bucketlist item.
Having seen Hvar and Hvar island, we hop on the bikes and double back to the same ferry that took us here. The Dalmatian islands are not that big, Hvar is only about 80kms from end-to-end. Soon, we find ourselves back on the mainland heading south again.
And more twisty, coastal roads!
Just before Ploče , we stop to take a look at the Neretva river flowing into the Adriatic
We have to make a decision, do we catch another ferry at Ploče to get to the next Dalmatian island south of Hvar: Pelješac and Korčula? Or continue on southwards down the Dalmatian coast. Hvar and Brač were pretty similar, so I think we've got the jist of the Dalmatian islands at this point.
So we head south.
Oh but first, Neda does some more shopping
Neda has had peanut butter and jam sandwiches for breakfast pretty much every single day on this trip with little exception. So when she saw a roadside stall selling artisanal Croatian jams and marmalades, we had to stop to take a look. Meh, too overpriced! We'll get some at the grocery store instead.
Most people don't know that you can't travel the entire length of the Dalmatian coastline while staying entirely in Croatia. There's a 9-km piece of land belonging to Bosnia and Herzegovina called the Neum Corridor, which interrupts the Croatian coastline:
There's a lot of conflicting information about whether or not you need to purchase Bosnian vehicle insurance if you are crossing the Neum Corridor, especially since Croatia joined the European Union a few years ago and Bosnia & Herzegovina is not in the EU. The minimum coverage period you can purchase for Bosnian insurance is 7 days and it costs $25. That's expensive for a 10-minute ride across the Neum Corridor!
A lot of overlanders play it safe by catching a ferry at Ploče to the peninsula of Pelješac, which bypasses the Neum Corridor and connects back up to the Dalmatian coastline towards Dubrovnik. All the while staying in Croatia. Fortunately the day before, we e-mailed our new German friend, Günter, who had went ahead of us south. He told us they didn't make him purchase Bosnian vehicle insurance at the border...
Which is why we had the option to do this!
The 9-kms we saw of Bosnia & Herzegovina was not very much different from the Dalmatian coast that we had already seen. We will visit Bosnia properly later, but now we're just content to lazily wander around on the Adriatic. We flashed our EU passports again at the Croatian border and continued on our way south.
After crossing back into Croatia, we rode a little bit into Pelješac peninsula anyway, stopping into the town of Ston for lunch
To our surprise, Ston also had a fortress up on the hill, like Hvar. It was like that Doctor Who episode, where the Doctor and his companions traveled the entire length of the city only to return to the exact same spot they left! It felt like a loop in the space/time continuum. Thankfully, Neda didn't make me hike up this hill. We're seeing a lot of the same things in Dalmatia.
We had a nice lunch and climbed aboard our bikes again.
Next stop: Dubrovnik!