Gone Bike About...

Split – Korčula – Dubrovnik (Croatia) – Herceg Novi – Kotor – Podgorica (Montenegro) 

310km 

The Romans, the Celts and chocolate were Kurt’s hints as he whisked Darina off to the airport on another surprise trip. Having guessed practically every country in Europe, more help was required.

Then, he produced a bar of Ragusa, the Swiss hazelnut chocolate speciality, saying “That’s the best clue ever!” Google found the town of Ragusa in Sicily, but it was the Republic of Ragusa, more commonly known as Dubrovnik that he had in mind!

Last clue!

  
Peristil square

A short flight from Basel with Easy Jet brought us to Split (the Roman part of the hint), where the old town is basically the palatial retirement home of Diocletian. This smart Roman emperor preferred retirement over assassination and his fabulous columns and plazas make Split quite the tourist magnet. There is even a black granite sphinx, one of twelve won at a rebellion in Egypt in the year 297.

The last surviving sphinx of 12

Split theatre

Split harbour

Trg Republike, Split

To avoid the busy coastal road, Kurt in his wisdom came up with a fabulous alternative. A four-hour ferry ride out to Vela Luka on Korčula Island left all the traffic behind and cycling was a joy. Korčula town, a leisurely day’s ride away, was reputedly the birthplace of Marco Polo. Despite this debatable trivia being marketed on every street corner, this medieval walled town is an absolute marvel.

Vela Luka

Views of north coast and Peljeac peninsula

Views of and from Korčula

Home away from home

Accommodation on the islands was very affordable with cute apartments going for 20 euros a night.

 

It was seafood all the way and we ate like kings!

Seafood risotto

Orebić was just a 15-minute ferry ride away and was the start of a beautiful ride on remote roads, gravel paths and hiking trails with fantastic coastal views. Ston guards this peninsula of Peljeac with a city wall extending high up the over-looking hill.

Cyclists be warned!

Coastal views on the Peljeac peninsula

Tough gravel paths – we were warned!

The great wall of Ston

Dubrovnik

Our next stop was the Republic of Ragusa itself and with three cruise ships on the same wave length, we had to share this gem with the world and its granny! Nevertheless, it’s as beautiful as it is interesting and we got to see the freshly washed marble street version!

 

Dubrovnik

The best views of town were had on the way out. It was a pleasant ride southbound and across the border into Montenegro. There was an evident change in style as we cycled through the horrific Igalo holiday resort, but things looked up from Herceg-Novi on.

Dubrovnik

Herceg-Novi

Perast

Our main goal was a UNESCO world heritage site and the only fjord in the Mediterranean: the Bay of Kotor. To the backdrop of towering karst mountains, the bay is protected by two easily defendable bottleneck entrances, making it a haven for medieval merchant fleets. Today, the towns of Perast and Kotor sport the wealth acquired by their overseas exploits.

The beautiful Perast

Kotor

Mixed grill for 2: 12 Euros

Just so that the trip wasn’t all chocolate, the last leg entailed a 1006m climb with impressive views of the bay and Adriatic. Cetinje, the former capital, is studded with palaces and embassies from all over the world and a pizzeria for every day of the week! The ride from there to Podgorica overlooked a mystical Lake Shkoder shrouded in fog.

The climb

View of Kotor Bay and Adriatic Sea

Stately palaces in Cetinje

View of Lake Shkoder

Podgorica is a great place for food markets and has the cheapest taxis in Europe, should you have an early flight out of its international airport. Be prepared to pay 50% more, i.e 2 euros should the taxi driver get his hands dirty! But you’ll get a friendly hand shake thrown in for good measure 😉

Peaceful cycling

It was an easy six-day cycle, highlighted by friendly people, delicious seafood, beautiful towns and perfect cycling weather. We’ll be back!                      

P.S. For those of you wondering about the relevance of Kurt’s third hint: “The Celts? Sure they were everywhere!”