Can it get any more beautiful …

An early morning cruise to Preko took us cycling through to Tkon. An easy cruising ride leaving the port of Preko, serenaded by the sound of what seemed like local opera, made you want to stay just for a while and enjoy a cup of coffee with the locals.

The views were once again magnificent as you crossed from one island to the other. Our coffee stop gave us the opportunity to explore the nearby church – what seems to be a prominent fixture in almost every town we visit. Croats are a deeply religious people and suffered terrible under Tito’s rule when he discouraged outward displays of religion as part of his effort to meld the ethnic identities – no surprise therefore that they lost no time publicly celebrating their Catholic faith when the country declared independence. Amazingly all the churches have a very similar design. It’s almost like ‘Ground Hog Day’ every time I take a photo.

Back on the cruising trail we stopped off in the middle of nowhere to enjoy the cool waters of the Adriatic Sea. Always so refreshing. And then on to explore the simple quiet island of Zlarin. A much quieter town, we strolled through to the top, picking fruit along the way – figs and grapes – the sweetest I’ve tasted in a long time.

To end off the day, we joined the locals in watching the sun set, with the now expected cool breeze to set the mood.

Waking to another beautiful day …

There’s nothing like waking up to the soft movement of water, a cool gentle breeze and the vision of boats sleeping on the water. What a delight this morning. I took the opportunity to explore a bit more of the trails, in the quiet moments of the early morning. Peace, peace and more peace.

The cycle course today took us through the undulating hills from Sali to Savar. Beautiful vistas of the mesmerizing blue sea, a glimpse of the fish farming industry and the early turn of leaves announcing the beginning of Autumn.

Savar was a delight – the peace and quiet of this small quaint town, very welcoming, allowing us a swim in its very cool waters, leaving us to our whim and fancy.

By contrast, we sailed to Zadar to rest for the night, the oldest continuously inhabited city in Croatia. Filled with wanderers, all making their way to the sea front to share the delight that is their sunset. The story goes that, to facilitate the improvement to the reconstruction done to repair the sea front after its devastation during the Second World War, a competition amongst architects for the most original design was created. This resulted in the construction of sea organs, concealed tubes and a resonating cavity that turns the site into a large musical instrument. The waves interact with the organ to create ramdom harmonic sounds.

That coupled with the sunset, proved to be a peaceful relaxing end to another perfect day.

An angel is born …

Within the four walls of this beautiful 19th Century Church a bubbly baby girl was baptised and christened. Surrounded by family and friends, the princess of the day was annointed with oil, prayed for and welcomed into the Catholic church. With many promising to keep her and guide her along the right path. To share, with her parents, the responsibility of bringing her up in a community that will teach her how to love, how to forgive. Teach her right from wrong. Teach her how to be strong in her faith and most importantly, the virtues of humility and grace, honesty and integrity.

Madison Lesley, may you keep your joyful spirit, may you always share your beautiful smile, readily and willingly as you do now. May your heart always be filled with love.

And, may you always have one more hug and kiss for your Great Aunty Denise.

Sailing the Croatian islands

What a busy, beautiful day. Cycling from Vodice to Murter, through small villages filled with sunbathers of all ages enjoying the warm rays of the sun, while others braved the very crispy waters of the Adriatic Sea. Campers, locals visiting for the day and the adventurers – like us – cycling through slowly and intently, observing, smiling, enjoying the ride.

Back on the boat for lunch, we sailed through the archipelago of Kornati National Park – a stark contrast to the opposing islands that were covered with trees. The Kornati National Park comprises 109 islands of which 76 are less than 1 hectare in size. It is believed that the islands were once covered with lush Mediterranean forests but were plundered for their wood to construct much needed ships for war. And to this day they have not recovered.

We anchored on the peaceful island of Dugi Otok, one of the safest natural bays in the Adriatic – just a couple of sailing boats resting across the bay. This island is home to the Telascica Nature Park which houses the Salt Lake ‘Mir’, home to the endemic specie of eel call the ‘Kajman’.

We hiked the mountain to take in the views of the cliffs ‘Stene’ rising up 200m over the sea and ended the day with a swim and quiet evening meal.


Excitement …

First Cruise, first bike and cruise. First visit to eastern Europe, first visit to C R O A T I A. Enough firsts to warrant excitement, I would reckon.

Another first – we made no major prior investigations as to what to expect, which islands we were visiting, local beverage, which wine to drink, what food to make sure we eat, not even trying to learn how to say ‘thank you’ and ‘good morning’ – which by the way is “Koala” and “Bok” (spelling?)

Still excited, we arrived in Split, at night, immediately making our way to the old city of Trogir after checking into our very posh Apartmani – ‘Hmm”, we nodded “not bad at all”. After all, not much thought went into any preparations – not even accommodation.

Trogir, whose culture was created under the influence of the ancient Greeks and afterwards the Romans and Venetians, was named by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1997. It has survived nicely through the different architectural inputs and if you close your eyes you can easily be transported back to ancient times.

Now however, it was buzzing with activity. People everywhere. Restaurants full. Bars even fuller. Glasses clinking, laughter, chatter. Excitement building. The narrow streets teeming with people of all ages and nationalities, meandering, peering into each shop, heading to any where. Enjoying the moment.

We joined the movement. Scouring every corner, every building, unwittingly following the rhythmic music in the background and soon, without warning, stumbled upon pure merriment. People dancing, a live band playing – and, naturally, we joined in.

Rain or Shine…

And you awake to pouring rain. A lazy cozy day indoors you say? Absolutely not. Remember it’s England and rain or shine, there’s a world out there waiting to be explored.

So instead of making our way to the Yorkshire Dales we visit the nearby town of Saltaire. This well-structured town has its history embedded in the fancy of Sir Titus Salt who believed that the welfare of his people was key to his success. As such to ensure the longevity of his large textile mill, he constructed a charming town where his workers were encouraged to live – a town with all the necessary amenities including a hospital, schools, gymnasium – and the list goes on. The story goes that Sir Titus Salt believed that alcohol was the devil and purposely excluded the inclusion of pubs in this thriving town. As you can imagine this lasted only until his death, when the rise of pubs increased with one of the first being entitled “Don’t tell Titus”.

Making our way to Appletreewick to meet up with another friend, we cruised through the lush dales with grazing sheep and cattle, stopping off in the sleepy town of Grassignton, a town committed to the summer weather.

Moving through North England…

So much to see and so little time to do it. As we made our way from York through to the Moors and onto the ancient sea faring coastal town of Whitby.

Visiting Castle Howard on the way gave us an insight into the luxury living of the wealthy in the 18th Century. Designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and built with the assistance of Nicholas Hawksmoor, Castle Howard and its 1,000 acres of well-kept grounds afforded you, your personal lakes including your personal wildlife, riding stables and trails, of course. Not to mention secret afternoon ‘tea spots’ with magnificent views and, in the winter, your very own ski slopes.

Surely your friends would have been well accommodated in the many-something room castle and your entertainment needs would certainly have been met. Ah well… I may just have enjoyed that life.

Moving onto the vast North York Moors where speculation of meteorites is ripe but, alas the Moors are in fact a product of nature at its best. Heather in all its glory, sheep grazing happily. Walking paths to your heart’s content – your 10,000-daily step goal, over-achieved.

To finish at Whitby, reminiscent of pirate towns of the ancient past, pubs aplenty, the cool wind on your face, the crashing of waves drowning out your cluttered thoughts, allowing you to relax, gaze and enjoy the moment.