We are not generally fans of organized group travel, though we love to see places by bicycle, and biking often works better in organized group travel. We are also not generally fans of cruises, and yet here we are on a two-week organized boat and bike tour of Dalmatia.
Our friend Ethyl had signed up for this tour last year and urged us to check it out. We met Ethyl biking in Japan about five years ago. And we see each other a couple times a year in New York. She mostly lives in California but spends the winter in New York, where she is a conductor for the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. We love Ethyl, love biking, and love Croatia, so we actually ended up planning this whole eight-week summer getaway around this particular tour.
A few days into it, the tour comes with the expected annoyances. Our quarters are of quite minimal comfort, groups can be annoying, and we are subject to more talks and waiting for people than our low tolerance level ordinarily permits. No surprises there.
On the plus side, we’re getting to see a lot of beautiful Mediterranean landscapes, and there is something wonderful about the way you encounter those places from a bicycle.
We’ve so far completed 3 of 12 of our bicycling days. And by day 3, those have fallen into a pretty nice rhythm. Mediterranean islands are anything but flat. When you start and finish from a boat, that means you start each tour from a lovely harbor and begin with a lot of hard climbing. Then you ride between charming villages, along vineyards, between low stone walls. You get many glimpses of the turquoise waters in the distance. And the ride eventually ends with a long descent to another (or sometimes the same) beautiful harbor — often followed by a cooling swim in that turquoise water. Not a bad routine at all.
As for those initial climbs, they are a little easier for me than for Jim. When he signed us up for this trip, he signed me up for an e-bike, which I’ve never used before. Jim himself remains too purist for that, but I’ll admit, I really love the e-bike. I can set it to give me a nice little boost when I’m climbing these tough hills. Im still peddling and getting my share of exercise, but there’s no more dreading the long steep climbs. Makes the biking a pure joy.
Lots more islands to explore!