I don’t know about you, but I was always very confused about the breakup of Yugoslavia, the countries that resulted and who was fighting who in the ensuing wars. I was therefore very pleased to accept an invitation from Villa Sunrise to visit Croatia and explore the countryside around Dubrovnik. The primary reason was to research the possibility of establishing a cycle touring destination, at the same time as hopefully getting a better understanding of the region.
Landing in the quiet Dubrovnik airport was possibly one of the easiest travel experiences I have had. It was the off-season but I gather this airport never gets too busy. Villa Sunrise is situated up in the hills overlooking the coast. It consists of 5 apartments each one fully appointed with a kitchen, living room and bedroom(s). The large balconies on the 1st and 2nd floors make ideal meal and relaxation venues, with outstanding views down the coast. The villa is situated behind Dubrovnik in a small village called Bragt Gornji, very close to the Bosnian border, how close I didn’t realise until our exploration the following day.
We headed into Dubrovnik for dinner and I have to say that the medieval city did live up to its reputation. Walking down the main street was quite breathtaking and it was so difficult to imagine the horrors of only 20 years ago. I gather it does get very busy in the summer months with cruise ship visitors, but we would be planning the cycle tours in the off season so that shouldn’t be a problem.
The following day started with breakfast in the warm sunshine on the balcony. Quite a change from the wet and windy weather in the UK. Tim and I drove off first to the south to explore the small coastal town of Molunat. The main coastal road to Cavtat is quite busy but after about 10kms we turned off onto a quieter back road which followed the coastline into Molunat. The first thing that strikes you is the excellent condition of the roads. Perfect for cycling. Molunat itself is a beautiful bay with crystal clear water and even though it was November, the water looked very inviting.
From Molunat we drove up into the mountains and discovered a trout farm/restaurant in the town of Gruda. We were looking for a crossing into Bosnia and after driving over some Alpine type climbs we ended up instead crossing into Montenegro. Not understanding the local language we ran into a bit of bother with the customs official who we finally figured out wanted our insurance green card.
Montenegro seemed a poorer relation to Croatia and after a few miles we turned off the coast road and back up into the mountains where we did find the border crossing into Bosnia. Another minor communications problem did occur when we gave the toll booth official our passports thinking we had reached passport control and hadn’t realised it was simply a road toll.
The crossing into Bosnia was very much up in the mountains with peaks of 3000’ to 6000’ surrounding us. Bosnia seemed to be relatively depopulated after the hustle and bustle of the coast, and the town of Trebinje made an interesting pit stop on our trails. It had a very austere feeling with concrete tenement blocks and a look of post war rehabilitation. The roads again were in excellent condition and the following day we explored more of the country roads around Trebinje and mapped out some interesting cycling routes around the Bosnian countryside. It would be cycling for experienced cyclists, but the range of coastal rides, islands and mountain climbs would make for an exciting (and challenging) break.
Villa Sunrise would make the perfect venue for groups of 6 to 8 people and offers the option of having meals cooked in-house or visiting the many restaurants in the area. In our short visit we only managed to explore a tiny part of the Dalmation coastline, however we saw enough to convince us that cycling in the region is certainly feasible and could be the experience of a lifetime. We mapped out some possible options for cycling loops around the region including the coast and islands and the more extreme loop into Bosnia.
If you are interested then give us a call or talk to Adriatic Villas directly and we will hopefully be able to help.