Day 59: 14/10/03
Rest day: Lumbarda
Sightseeing in Korcula Town
Day 60: 15/10/03
To: Skrivena Luka on Lastovo Island
Weather: Overcast, cool
Nice ride across Korcula island to the harbour town of Vela Luka at other end. 4pm boat didn’t take bikes so had to wait til 6pm which meant arriving on Lastovo at night. Tried to ride out of harbour on road to campsite, but roads were pitch black and my light wasn’t strong enough to light road. Eventually rescued by islands sole ‘Postie’ (Lastovo only has 700 inhabitants) who also has a small campsite. Threw my bike in the back of his car and in 10 minutes we were at the site on the other end of the island.
Day 61: 16/10/03
Rest day: Skrivena Luka
Weather: Sunny, hot
Day spent exploring this tiny island on my bike.
Day 62: 17/10/03
From: Skrivena Luka
Weather: Light cloud, cool
Most of the day I spent lounging in campsite, before riding the length of the island to the harbour. Ferry leaves at 4.45 in the morning tomorrow so had to take a room here.
Day 63: 18/10/03
Dist: 60 km
Ferry left on time and I was back at Vela Luka on Korcula island by 6am. As it was still pitch black I had to wait in a café for half hour for a bit of light to appear. Headed due east along island, so I had the fantastic sight of the sun coming up over the hills. Caught 1pm ferry from Korcula Town that got me in to Dubrovnik 3 hours later.
Days 64 – 65: 19/10/03 – 20/10/03
Rest days: Dubrovnik
4 days of rain are forecast which is not good news. I’m expecting Bosnia-Hercegovina (BiH) to be colder than Croatia also. Half-considered sticking to the warmer coast and going through Montenegro, Albania and Greece. Dubrovnik is a nice place anyway.
Day 66: 21/10/03
Dist: 162 km
Weather: Overcast, humid, clearing later. Occasional tailwind.
Started northbound along the main costal road. Turned off at Trsteno on a minor road signed for Majokovi. Long climb here towards the BiH border, though it became clear that this road isn’t much used. My worst fears were confirmed when I was turned back at the border crossing point, being told that I had to enter BiH at Metovik. This mean’t dropping all the way back down to the coast – ouch!
Carried on northwards up main costal road ‘til the delta containing the mouth of the Neretva river. Turned inland to follow main road by the river towards BiH. This road goes gradually up but a tailwind pretty much cancelled out the effect of the incline. At Metovic I saw a sign saying Mostar was 44km away. Put my head down and went for it. Got there and was immediately cornered by an old boy on a road bike who said he was an ex-champion racer. When I told him I was from England he seemed to start claiming to have known Tommy Simpson. Bizarrre!
Mostar is the first place I’ve visited with a strong Eastern flavour. It’s terribly battle-scarred (the war was three way here with both the Croat and Serb armies attacking the Bosnians), though the old Muslim part of town is mostly restored and has a nice relaxed street-life in the evening.
Day 67: 22/10/03
Dist: 69 km
Weather: Heavy rain
Had hoped to spend a couple of hours exploring Mostar further this morning, though as it was pouring down I thought I may as well just get going and get the riding over with as soon as possible.
Could only find a very poor map of BiH, but the weather meant I’d be sticking to the lower main road, a long uphill drag, so it didn’t really matter for now. This did mean that I’d have to go through a series of long unlit tunnels but I had no choice.
The weather got worse all day until it was torrential and the water cascading down on to the road from the mountains caused the drainage to fail and so the road became totally flooded in places. All sorts of debris were getting washed down in to the road as well – rocks, branches, etc. Eventually my only ally, the tailwind, not only deserted me but turned against me. I was now riding constantly uphill, in torrential rain and into a headwind, and there was going to be no change for at least a couple of hours. As well as this I had a series of pitch-black tunnels (the longest was 800m long) to negotiate. It was all starting to get a bit mad, not to mention dangerous.
Banished all thoughts of making it to Sarajevo and eventually called it a day at Konjic. Worst day so far by a mile.
Day 68: 23/10/03
Dist: 64 km
Weather: Cold, overcast.
Found out last night that it has been raining heavily here for 3 days now. Wasn’t too optimistic about my chances today but the rain finally stopped during the night. Carried on up main road, still uphill for another 20 km, and steeper than yesterdays gradual incline. Was surprised at how highly militarised this area still is. There are loads of police around here, including the armoured vehicles of the S-FOR international force.
The ride up the valley today was really nice though. Couldn’t see how beautiful it is here though yesterdays rain and fog.
Passed through one last long tunnel (my headlight packed up half way through, which made things interesting) and then started the long descent to Sarajevo. There was major flooding here from the rain. Many rivers had burst their banks and I had to walk over some landslides blocking the road. Was pleased I quit when I did yesterday. Will give up 2 days to Sarajevo before heading on to Belgrade.