Traveling down the cost of northern Croatia is a great ride, the roads, coffee and sea are great all the way to Pula. Ellie and I moved easily from town to town, at night it was warm and dry, we slept with just the inner of the tent as a mosquito barrier and left the waterproof outer packed away on the bike. The hot, slightly barren and rocky terrain of Croatia’s coast was comfortably familiar and reminded me of years ride down the cost of the mainland. We decided, for a change, to take an island hoping route this time but the terrain is still unmistakably that of Croatia.
Croatia has many long islands that span down its coastline and the first of these is Cres. On the ferry from the mainland we spied this island and remarked at its uniform, uncultivated, untamed scrub, it looked uninhabited and very, very dry. It was lunchtime when we arrived and from the foot of the ferry we surveyed the sun-baked rocks around us, there wasn’t a scrap of shelter or shade. We ate as close to the water as possible in a vain attempt to stay cool.
Everything about this day was governed by the oppressive heat, we swam in the sea after eating and slowly and lethargically packed our panniers away for the hot and sweaty climb that curled up the side of the hill from the port. That’s the trouble about being at sea level, the only way is up.
The heat dried our mouths causing us to guzzle through our water. I could feel the pulse within my skull and the heat haze on the road made distant features wobble and dance from side to side. We were ultimately rewarded for our efforts as we crested the highest point of the island and stood awestruck surrounded by 360 degree views of the mainland, Cres and the Mediterranean ocean.
The excitement of being on a new island stayed with us until we found a town nestled between the hills we had just climbed and the glistening blue ocean. Cres (the town shared its name with the island) looked very attractive, even from a distance. We caught glimpses of it through blurred fig trees as we descend towards its perimeter. The thing that makes these little island towns so appealing is the lack of industry; there are no factories billowing out thick smoke, no heavy goods traffic and no mining operations. All they have around them is translucent shimmering water and olive groves inhabited by goats. With our expectations of Cres rising with every inch of our decent mirages of lattes and sea food in the cool of shaded cafes flashed before our eyes.