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Sunday, 28 September 2008

Cycling the Dalmatian Islands with Ana - Page 3

Written by Dale Fehringer
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Ana just might be the hardest-working tour guide in Europe. During the week she led our cycling tour around Croatia’s Dalmatian Islands she rode with us, entertained us, educated us, and watched over us – from breakfast until we were safely tucked in bed at night. Because of her efforts, we were transformed from a group of strangers into a cohesive group of friends … and in some respects into her temporary family.

Circling Hvar

Hvar is a good place to start a bike tour; it’s historic (having been populated at least since the 4th century BC), has a mild climate, good beaches, and an abundance of lavender, vineyards, and wildflowers.

We woke the first morning to sunshine and birds singing outside our hotel room. We dressed and headed down for breakfast and there was Ana, dressed in a bright bicycle jersey and sipping tea from a giant cup. She greeted us with a cheery smile and an enthusiastic, “Good Morning!” Her instructions were to meet in the hotel lobby at 8:30 am to start the tour. Not wanting to be the last to show up, we were in the lobby in our cycling gear at 8:20 – a little sleepy, slightly nervous, and ready to ride. As we waited, Peter arrived, waving his passport in the air. He quickly stored his luggage, changed into his cycling clothes, and joined us.

Cycling the Dalmatian Islands with Ana, Split, cycling croatia, cycling tour europe, Dalmatian islands, Hvar,  Dubrovnik, Korcula, Ston, Sucuraj, Jelsa, Hvar Town, Stari Grad, Vela Luka, Mljet, Prizba, Brna,  Smokvica, Pupnat, Dale FehringerWe were off – through the city to the coast and along winding country roads toward Hvar Town and Stari Grad. We enjoyed views of the sea and surrounding islands, and noted mounds of rocks, in rows, lining the hills from top to bottom. Over the years, generations of Hvar residents moved those rocks by hand to clear the land for crops, where today, rows of lavender and grape vines grow between the mounds.

Hvar is also known as "Lavender Island" because the graceful plants grow in profusion.  Vendors sell it in packages, soaps, and oils and we bought some from a stand in Stari Grad. That night the pleasant, comforting scent filled our room.

We had an excellent thin-crust cheese pizza for lunch in the plaza at Hvar Town, and then rode north to Stari Grad and east to Jelsa.

Dinner that night was in the village of Jelsa. We sat at an outside table, ate local seafood, and challenged Ana to call us by name. She did well, correctly identifying 14 of the 16 of us. She seemed pleased with herself, and shrugged off her two misses.

On to Korcula

We were getting used to seeing Ana at breakfast in the morning with her giant cup of tea and cheery smile. She seemed genuinely glad to see us and eager to get on with the day’s ride.

The second day was cloudy and cool – just right for cycling – and we rode through the walled city of Jelsa, enjoying sweeping views of the surrounding bays, blooming wildflowers on the roadsides and hills, and gardens of peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes.

(Page 3 of 6)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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