Croatia (October 11th - October 16th)
(Florence - Arezzo - Gubbio - Ancona, Italy - Split, Croatia)

Distance biked so far:  (3,776 km)

The last few days in Italy were tests of endurance and patience as I battled a cold wind, rain and mountains. On Tuesday the 12th I left Florence and arrived late in Arezzo, unable to find accommodations. I was told there was definitely no camping in Arezzo so started looking for alternatives but once again was told everything was full so ended up cycling a bit out of town and just set up my tent in an abandoned field just as it was turning dark (about 7:00 pm here). At one point in the night I awoke to the sounds of sirens and the emergency vehicles stopped on the road close by so I assumed someone called the police but the emergency wasn't a vagabond who decided to camp in a field and they left within a few minutes.

The next morning started out fine but noticeably colder with lows in the single digits. I warmed up but later, about the time I started going up in the mountains, it started raining, slowly at first but near the end of the day a downpour. I was within 10 km of Gubbio and managed to get there against a stiff and cold head wind and steady rain. I found a hotel which was fairly expensive but didn't tell them I would have paid double to get out of the cold. I got my money's worth by almost draining the hotel's hot water tank nearly falling asleep in the shower, standing up. I was too tired to eat so just turned on the television and went into bed. The Italian game shows are hilarious. There is one similar to "Who wants to be a Millionaire" with a male host asking the questions. There is a female co-host who seems to just stand there and look good but when the show resumes after a commercial, she does a little dance number ending with a suggestive pose, then reads out the next question. The audience went wild. The actual game show appears to be the side attraction.

On Thursday I was facing a long day to get to Ancona for my ferry to Croatia. At noon I thought there was no way to make it as I was again in pretty hilly territory. As I got close to the Adriatic Sea on the east side of Italy, the hills flattened and the wind turned in my favour so I arrived well before dark and got my ticket. I decided to take a ferry directly to Split instead of further north as the Dalmatian coast which I would travel from north to south does not really hold any appeal; it is for the sun worshippers and beachgoers.

The ferry was overnight so once again was assigned a "reclining seat" so ended up unfolding my mat and sleeping bag and getting a decent sleep on the floor. It makes things easier when you carry your own bed. I arrived in Split on Friday morning.

Welcome to Croatia.
My first impression of Split was that the City is absolutely beautiful, here is a picture as our ferry arrived in the port.
Split is the second largest City in Croatia after the capital of Zagreb but I was able to avoid the sprawl as the ferry docks are right in the heart of the old town. I was planning to take a ferry a little further north but the Dalmatian coast between Split and Dubrovnik to the south is supposed to be spectacular and I wanted to take some time to explore the towns and not just the coastal villages.