180521-The Great Escape

Before leaving Dubrovnik I stopped at a supermarket to spend the last of my Croatian kuna on groceries I’d then have to carry.

Climbing back out of Dubrovnik I meet a British couple in Dubrovnik via a cruise ship. They had brought foldable bicycles with them and were cycling to Cavtat, about 15 km away. We bonded as we walked our bicycles across a three-foot wide ledge with a 100-foot drop to one side. They had to be back before the ship left at 5:00 pm. Given the hills and their 7-speed bicycles, I hope they made it.

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While I initially followed highway, when the option presented itself I switched to a smaller road. More vertical roads. I spent the day slowly climbing, walking, or zooming downwards.

I encountered two big dogs while climbing one of those backroad hills. They came baying for me from a distance, and I figured they’d stop when I reached the edge of their property. I crossed that border and one veered off. When he emerged ahead of me I realized he’d intentionally cut me off, and he wasn’t barking any more – very bad. I came off the bike and shouted at them while continuing to walk away. And kept shouting. They eventually backed off but they scared me.

Approaching the border to Montenegro, I worried that the small border crossing might cause me problems. Instead of risking a 20 km reversal, I added 5 km to return to the highway. Approaching the border, little traffic remained, although I walked the 8% grade up to the border crossing.

A Croatian border guard called me out of line and asked if I had a green card for the bicycle. He confused me; the green cards indicate insurance status when traveling across the borders. As I expressed confusion, he laughed. He was just screwing with me; they stamped my passport. The Montenegro border control officer didn’t have the same sense of humor. He just stamped my passport and sent me on my way.

At the outskirts of Herceg Novi I spotted two cyclists in the shade of a tree with their gear sprawled around them. Like two other cyclists I’d encountered earlier, they were German, these on day 45 of a 6-month trip. One of them had hit a small rock on a rapid descent and taken quite a spill, having scraped up his leg from his fall. I didn’t have much farther to go so I stopped and chatted for a while. They planned another 50 km today, and pointed out a ferry for tomorrow. They passed me while I was checking in to the B&B.

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Today was short (62 km) but I want to pace myself in the mountains, and explore Herceg Novi. I checked ferry schedules last night, and off-season the ferry in Bar runs only on Wednesdays. That works out well — a short ride to Kotor tomorrow, and then to Bar for a ferry back to Bari in Italy at exactly the 3-week point.

I spent the evening walking the Old Town, visiting the two castles, and swimming in the Adriatic. A typical evening!

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I have a lovely view from my balcony.
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