Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Day 4 – Pedal from Trogir to Split; Ferry to Island of Brac

Today is best described as a blend of the best of Croatia – pedaling through the seven “Kastela,” circumventing traffic via boat, taking a guided walk through the Diocletian Palace in Split (that I was unable to do Saturday night), ferrying to the Island of Brac, and pedaling on to the town of Postira where our hotel is located. The last leg (only about six miles) was easy, and as one of the first people off the ferry and onto the bicycle, I was once again first to the hotel and the proud claimant of the yellow jersey.
Kastela Village Fishermen
Guy in fishing village

The seven Kastela villages are each centered around a 15th or 16th century castle built by the noble families for defense against the Turks. Today, these small fishing villages have largely merged into one. After arriving at the last of these, Kastel Sucuracat, we regrouped and boarded a small boat, just big enough to hold all the bikes and riders. The boat took us to a point not far from the center of SplitSplit, Croatia’s second largest city.
Arriving around noon, we were on our own for lunch until about 2 PM, when we would have our guided tour of the immense palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. The family of our of our guides, Ante (who hails from this part of Croatia), met us in Split, and Ante’s father accompanied five of us to a choice local restaurant for lunch. While we enjoyed traditional dishes cooked directly in front of us (the restaurant only holds about 8 people), he kept us spellbound with tales of his life in the Merchant Marine, living under the Tito regime, and about Croatian culture and history. For lunch I had “black risotto” (a rice and squid dish) which was excellent.
Preview of the walking tour 
After lunch, we met a guide for the walking tour of the ancient palace. The tour took a good two hours, and was fascinating. Near the end, we had a brief concert by a group of a capella singers (a Croatian hallmark).
A capella singers

We then boarded an immense ferry for a 45 minute crossing to the Island of Brac, the largest of the central Dalmatian group of islands. We cycled on (about six more miles) to the village of Postira, our home for the next two nights. Today’s riding was extremely leisurely, so when we encountered a decent downhill, I decided that I needed a little more exercise, and stepped up the pace, thus regaining the yellow jersey.
View from Hotel Pastura

Tomorrow is a day filled with options built around a base suggested ride of about 30 miles. If the weather holds, I plan to build on some extra climbing, to the top of Vidova Gora, the highest point on the island of Brac (about 2,550 feet). 

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