Croatia & Montenegro 2007

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This trip follows the Dalmatian coast from Istria in the north to Bar in Montenegro. We biked mostly on the islands, in order to avoid the large road that follows the coast on the mainland. However, this itinerary requires a lot of ferries. The islands are beautiful, less developed and less crowded than the mainland; altogether better cycling territory. There are plenty of steep climbs, rewarded by gorgeous views of the mediteranean. The roads are either well paved or in the process of being repaved, which can be a little tricky. Development in Croatia is proceeding well. Large resorts are rare and historical sites well kept.

We biked in September, trying to catch the window between the departure of most tourists and the arrival of cold weather. Crowds were heavy in the first week, but thinned as time went on, and the cold weather never arrived. Lodging is easy to find. But time invested in finding a bed and breakfast will be well rewarded. Food can be delightful, especially if you stay close to the farm. Croatian wine, little known in the west, is extremely good, as is the olive oil and mineral water. There is also good hard cheese and and cured ham. We had some great meals with only these ingredients along with a blitva salad, which, unique to Croatia, tastes like a cross between spinach and chard. Istria is awash in truffles in September. They are not expensive, so you can indulge past your stomach's content.

Montenegra is more rural and less affluent than Croatia. The development along the coast is poor. There's far too many cheap hotels, dissonant buildings, and regretable attempts to exploit the sea coast for money. There are those magnificent mountains though, which, at the moment, seem beyond the corrupting power of human civilization. The interior differs from the coast and this is the real Montenegro. Neither on the coast nor interior, did we meet a Montengrian that we didn't like. They're frank and friendly and always willing to help.