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  • 19. Nov, 2020.

Road trip from Mallorca to Split, July 2020

For the last 4-5 years, our director Andro spends his days on Mallorca and in Split, Croatia. It was March 2020 when everything changed (in Europe) and Andro was caught in the lockdown on Mallorca. 5 months later he departs for a road trip from Mallorca back to Split;

 

For the last 5 years I spend my time in Split and on the island of Mallorca. I was flying between Mallorca and Croatia every couple of months and this was relatively easy and cheap with all the low-cost airlines that exist in Europe.  If I find good connection, it is usually 2 flights and about 5h of total traveling.  In March 2020 I was supposed to fly again from Mallorca to Croatia. Few days before the departure I received an email – my flight is cancelled. Ok, no problem – I just continued to work online as I usually do while in Spain. But the things were getting worse, as I guess you all know. Sometime in June, when we realized there will not be much traveling (and work for us in Croatia) I slowly started to focus on some other things which were not work related. Baby Gina has 2 years, and spending time with her was of biggest importance. Lockdown in Spain was extremely strict. We were not really allowed to go outside for leisure activities, there were no kinder gardens opened and baby Gina was locked inside 4 walls for 2 months.  Once we were allowed to take babies and kids out – we were out, by the sea, in the forest, on the bike.. She was happy (and so was I)!! But then, I still had some free time so I used my work experience to create (and dream whilst creating) a perfect family road trip (or our return to Croatia). This was the formula: 

  • Find great mountain bike routes in France, Italy, Austria and Slovenia
  • Find great hiking routes for the whole family in the same location 
  • Find easier cycling routes for the family (in the same area) 
  • Find a place for the campervan
  • Find great restaurants 
  • Find interesting attractions 
  • Find parks where Gina can have FUN 

 

It took maybe 2 weeks to plan all of this and it included a lot of google maps (and that yellow guy from google maps) and other bike route mapping apps, youtube videos, various blogs and reviews and reports, driving and campervan apps, gps tracks creation...

Finally, when the departure day arrived, our fully equipped PEGGY campervan and we left the island of Mallorca. 

 

This was our route; 

 

 

  • Village Sospel, Alpes Maritimes, France – This area is part of Provence- Apes-Cote d’Azur region. Just before the border with Italy, we drove into the mountains/Alps. History, food, relaxed atmosphere of this charming village Sospel were stunning. But the best is that this area is home of Nicolas Vouilloz, French MTB downhill legend (I always preferred Shaun Palmer, even Nicolas is legend…)
  France... 
     
  Sospel - charming village in Alpes Maritimes
     
  The views from mountain bike ride 
     
  Broken chain in the middle of nowhere.. adventure! 
     
  Hiking in Alpes Maritimes 
     
  Swimming stop 

 

 

 

  • Finale Ligure and Final Borgo – Italian Riviera (Liguria). White sandy beaches and the views give you a feeling that you are in the postcard. But we did not stay on the beach. It was July and summer in full swing, and we headed to the mountains. This area hosts final race of MTB enduro world series cup.  Wherever you go, you end up on a great flow mountain bike trail. Heaven! Mozzarella di bufala! 

 

  Mozzarella Siiii! Bon Giorno! 
     
  Start of the adventure
     
  Exploring the Finale mountains 
     
  Hiking 
     
  Italian rivera... 
     
  Finale Ligure NATO Base - start of the best European mountain bike flow trails... 
     
  • Paganella, Molveno and Andalo – Dolomites, North Italy. Gina’s first ride with the lift. Here we really appreciated summer mountain climate and we were hiking (and biking – Willy Wonka flow trail oh!) between 1500 and 2000 meters. The views are just amazing; imposing rock faces and nature in its truest form, beautiful lake and many children parks high up in the mountains, beautiful trails and paths.

 

  On our campsite in Dolomites - on the farm! 
     
  2000 meters high!
     
  Adventure for the older ones.. 
     
  Our first gondola ride 
     
  The views.. 
     
  Gondola expert by now..
     
  Adventures for the small ones
     
  Molveno lake - Dolomites  
     
  Adventures for everyone 
     
  When I grow up I will be on YETI as well! 

 

 

  • Soll, Tyrol, Austria – this is where I used to work as a ski instructor long time ago… Charming Tyrolian village, many friends and mountains. Gina’s first proper hike and breakfast at a mountain hut! By this time, she was a proper mountain climber already! Great barbeques, farmer’s eggs and bacon, fresh milk, rivers, good food, beer. Tyrol is great and always will be! Servus. 

 

  Hiking on Wilder Kaiser in Tirol 
     
  Our guides (actually friends) 
     
  Brunch in the Kaiser 
     
  Hintersteiner see in Tyrol 
     
  Grill with friends and Stiegl bier! 
     
  Learning tyrolean - SERVUS!! 
     

 

 

  • Leogang Saalbach- Hinterglemm – Bike circus. Ultimate downhill, enduro and freeride madness. Lifts. The views. Over 70km of tails and 9 gondolas. This is where UCI Mountain Bike World Championship was held. 

 

  Leogang - great mountain biking!!! 
     

 

 

  • Lake Bled, Slovenia – after all those mountains we spent some time walking around lake Bled in Slovenia. Beautiful and tranquil. Gina had local soup and trout.  
  Lake Bled
     
  Sailor on Bled! 
     

This was first time we spent 20 days of summer in the mountains of Europe. It is a great alternative to busy overcrowded beaches, at least for us, who live by the sea. Traveling is fun! We all want to go again tomorrow! 

 

 

Van life is great!!!

  Business talk... 
     
  Dinner time :) 
     

 

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  • 19. Mar, 2020.

Why Croatia?

Thinking about taking a cycling holiday in Croatia? For serious cyclists, it is becoming one of the top world destinations to visit!

How about those who are literally not cycling “fanatics” and only occasionally get on the bike, but want to see and experience a bit more than just cycling? 
Hopefully this post will inspire you to hurry up and discover this amazing country!

Croatia offers miles and miles of quiet paved back roads and some good gravel and mountain bike routes. It is one of the best preserved corners of Europe, where ancient cultures and traditional lifestyle can still be experienced. The two most beautiful cycling destinations in Croatia are Istria and the Dalmatian coast.

What else is there to see, taste and experience besides cycling? 

 

Mediterranean climate 

Moderate winters and cooler summers. Perfect cycling weather in spring and fall. 


Authentic lifestyle 

Croatia is picked up on the ‘must see world destinations list’, so we do have a lot of visitors in the summer time. Traveling by bike gives you a chance to discover laid back and authentic villages located off the main tourist routes. 


 

Amazing vistas

Located in the center of the Mediterranean and with more than 1000 islands, what do you expect?? 


Great gastronomic offer 

Croatia provides you a perfect mix of Mediterranean, Balkan and European cuisine. Greeks, thousands of years ago, introduced wine production. Fish and wine are still the main dining ingredients. 


History and Culture  

Yes, Italy and France are amazing countries with so much history.

But what’s going on with Croatia? It seems that this part of the world has always been an interesting and important strategic location for different kingdoms and empires, which left their traces in our architecture, gastronomy and probably mentality of the people. Below is a simplified list of different rulers/empires, which left their marks on Croatian territory and history; 

 

  • Prehistoric tribes 
  • Illyrian tribes (until approximately 3rd century BC) 
  • Greeks (4th century BC)  
  • Roman Empire (from 3rd century BC) 
  • Arrival of Croatian tribes in these areas (7th century AD) 
  • Venetians (13th century AD) 
  • Part of Croatia under the Ottoman Empire (15th century AD) 
  • Parts of Croatia under the French Empire (from the 19th century AD) 
  • Habsburg Monarchy (Austrian – Hungarian Monarchy) (till the beginning of 20th century AD) 
  • Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (beginning of 20th century) 
  • Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (after the Second World War) 
  • Republic of Croatia (after the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe) 
  • European Union – year 2013 


 

Safety 

The crime rate in Croatia is very low (by European standards). There are no no-go areas. The Croatian police is polite and speaks some English most of the time.  Croatian drivers do use their honks occasionally, but driving in general is considered to be safe. Touts, scammers and harassers who want to sell you anything, immediately become your friends and follow you everywhere do not really exist in Croatia. 


Roads

Croatian roads are well paved! Even the small back roads have smooth tarmac… 


Health 

Tap water is safe (and great) to drink everywhere in Croatia. No vaccinations are required for travel to Croatia. Public health standards are good.  Do you know what type of cuisine is considered to be the healthiest in the world? 

 


Still not convinced? 

 

A few facts about Croatia; 

 

  • 250 days of sunshine per year
  • 1246 islands, isles and inlets 
  • 8 UNESCO Word heritage sites  
  • Highest number of UNESCO Intangible Goods of any European country 
  • 11 nature parks, 8 national parks and 2 nature reserves (10% of the country) 
  • Home of the world’s smallest town – Hum (population between 17 and 23) 
  • The ancient amphitheater in Pula is one of 3 best preserved amphitheaters in the world 
  • 2500 years old tradition of wine production (from the ancient Greeks) 
  • Best sunset in the world (by Alfred Hitchcock) 
  • The pearl of the Adriatic – synonym for Dubrovnik by English poet Lord Byron 
  • Roman Emperor Diocletian built his retirement palace that today forms the city of Split 
  • The Dalmatian dog originates from the southern Croatian region of Dalmatia 
  • Game of Thrones was filmed in the towns Dubrovnik, Šibenik, Ston, Imotski and Split

 

 

Here is a short description of our 2 most beautiful cycling destinations in Croatia;

 

Istrian peninsula 

It is a cone shaped peninsula, located very close to Slovenia and Italy. Do not stick only to the coast (which is also beautiful), but explore also the magical interior of this peninsula and discover its medieval villages perched on fortified hilltops. Towns like Grožnjan, Motovun, Svetvinčenat, Višnjan, Vodnjan and the coastal towns Pula, Rovinj and Poreč are a must visit! 

While in Istria make sure you try Fuži (homemade pasta), various seafood, oysters from the Lim channel, smoked ham (pršut), wild asparagus (šparoge), maneštra (traditional soup) and truffles (tartufi). 

In order to keep hydrated, we recommend trying Malvasia (white wine), Muškat (semi sweet wine) and Teran (red wine). 

 

Dalmatian coast

In this case we might be a bit subjective as most of the contributors to this blog are from Dalmatia. The Dalmatian coast stretches from Zadar all the way to Dubrovnik. There are more than 15 larger islands that are part of Dalmatia, all with well paved roads which provide great cycling and breathtaking views. Try out how much fun is island-hopping along the Adriatic and explore perfectly preserved history and culture.  By the end of the cycling day you should treat yourself with the freshest seafood available.  Besides traditional meals, such as grilled fish, risotto, shellfish or octopus salad, you might want to try fish stew, salted and marinated sardines (with capers), brodetto, pašticada (beef stew) or Peka (meat or fish cooked under the bell-lid).  Serious Croatian winemaking history began around 390 BC with the Greeks, who were discovering this area. Then the late Romans in the 4th century AD developed it even further for sacramental purposes. The warm, sunny climate is ideal for the cultivation of the rich and fruity white wine Pošip. The most famous red wines are Babić (Primošten area) and Plavac Mali (vineyards located on the southern slopes of Dalmatian islands).  

 

20160923_144845_hdr.jpg

 

 

When to bike in Croatia 

 

We (Croats) bike in the coastal area all year long. Of course, we will not go biking during heavy rains or strong winds, which occur occasionally in the winter months. July and August are very busy (the peak of the tourist season), temperatures can be very high and there is in general a lot of traffic. Spring and fall are considered the best period for biking. April, May, June, September, October and November have moderate temperatures and almost empty roads. 
If you consider a fast getaway from the cold European winter, then March, November and December might suit you well. In these months you might experience in one week a mix of spring days, sunny days with blue skies, rain showers and storms that last for a couple of hours.

 

Temperatures:  

The weather across Croatia doesn’t vary dramatically from north to south, though it is generally warmer towards the south. The climate does change from continental to Mediterranean as you move towards the Dalmatian coast. The sea has a moderating influence that keeps winters warmer and summers cooler than might be expected.


Summer temperatures vary from 22°C to 26°C in the continental part of the country, 15°C to 20°C in mountain regions and 26°C to 30°C in the coastal region. The highest tourist season is from mid-July to mid-August, when you will experience the highest temperatures and find a lot of traffic on the roads, which can be dangerous as there are many foreign drivers who don’t know the roads.

 

Spring (March, April and May) and fall (September, October, November) have lower temperatures (13-20°C in the continental regions, 16-25°C in the coastal region) and a higher possibility of rain and wind, but also less visitors. 

 

 

When should I go? 

 

It depends on what you are looking for.  Below you will see a small chart, which might help you to decide;

 

Cycling

Local experience

Weather (for cycling)

Crowded

Night life

Swimming

January

*

**

**

*

*

 

February

*

***

*

*

*

 

March

***

****

***

*

**

 

April

*****

*****

*****

**

***

*

May

*****

*****

*****

***

***

***

June

****

****

****

***

****

*****

July

***

**

***

*****

*****

*****

August

***

**

***

*****

*****

*****

September

*****

***

*****

****

****

*****

October

*****

*****

*****

**

***

****

November

****

*****

****

*

*

*

December

***

****

**

**

***

 

 

 

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