Dalmatian National Parks by Boat and Bike 1: Trogir to Sali

Our trip was arranged through Rad+Reisen; an Austrian company we have been with many times before. The tour company, though, was German: Inselhupfen or Island-hopping. It started in Trogir and in order to meet our ship on time on Saturday 9th June we travelled to Trogir the day before. We flew from Gatwick to Split and took a local bus into Trogir. The bus station was just across a small, but busy, bridge to the picturesque old town. Our overnight apartment was through the old town and over another bridge – this one a drawbridge – onto Ciovo Island and up quite a steep hill.

Trogir old town from Ciovo bridge on right

It was very comfortable and good to get into an air-conditioned room. The weather was very hot and sticky. Later we had plenty of time to stroll around Trogir old town and take an early dinner in a ruined house with no roof. We had to move our table due to a shower of rain. That night there was a terrific thunder storm and there was still drizzly rain when I went out in the morning to fetch some breakfast.
On Saturday Trogir was crowded; tourist groups and shoppers thronging around the narrow streets with their polished stone paths. We took in the sites we had missed the previous day and had a stroll through the market. Then had a salad lunch with round “chips” at a quiet bar on the opposite side of the island from the harbour. We found our ship Romantica after lunch and went aboard to find our cabin about 2pm.

Our comfortable cabin with valued aircon

There was a group briefing at 2.45 when we heard all about the ship’s rules. While the briefing was underway so was the ship. We set off for our first stop at a small fishing village called Rogoznica. The storm of the previous night had an effect on the sea. It was quite rough and a few people suffered as a result. At Rogoznica we were able to walk along the coast to a small beach for a pleasant swim.
(While putting these notes into the computer, I did a bit of research and discovered this Freudian slip on the Rogoznica Tourist website – “Eager boaters are drown to one of the safest and loveliest ports on the Adriatic.” What a difference a vowel makes!)
That evening we had an enormous and tasty dinner on board. I felt guilty that such a lot had to be returned. After dinner we took a short stroll around the town.Next day was our first cycle trip. We cycled along the coast to Primosten where we met up with the ship again. It was not far, maybe 20km, with a steady climb out of Rogoznica and a steady descent into Primosten. During the ride there were excellent coastal views to be had including a distant view of our ship headed our way. The old town of Primosten was a delight. At one time in its past it was an island and the town walls are still impressive.

Approaching Primosten and gate in town walls

Inside the walls we had an opportunity to walk up to the church for more excellent coastal views.

Primosten Church on hilltop

After that we took our bikes back to the ship and many of us had a swim from its stern, in perfect blue water. After the swim and with everyone back on board the ship set off for our next destination, Sibenik.

During the voyage we engaged with a splendid lunch of tuna salad, sea bass and veg and cake; phew-again. At the entrance to Sibenik Harbour we passed the imposing Fortress of St Nicolas, a World Heritage Site. It was built by the Venetians in the 16th century to keep Turkish ships away from the harbour. At Sibenik the ship berthed while we had a guided tour of the town. It was very hot and we were glad of the shadows provided by the narrow streets. The tour finished at the Cathedral of St James, another listed World Heritage site dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. On our return to the ship we had another cruise up what now seemed like a river or fjord to Skradin, where we berthed for the night. We were taken to a konoba, a traditional bar-cum-cellar, where we sampled the local hooch and were instructed in the Croation history of such establishments. After, we were left to explore the town; there was no evening meal on the ship that evening. We walked to the Turina fortress which offered great views over the town. Skradin had quite a chequered history, being part of the Roman, Ottoman, Venetian, and French Empires under Napoleon, at various times.
Next day, after a glorious breakfast, we took an early start on a river boat for a visit to the Krka National Park. We were early but not quite early enough to miss all the crowds. However, by studiously ignoring the suggested route direction, we avoided the crowds and enjoyed this very special area. I have never been to such an atmospheric place. Perhaps it helped that there was a storm a few days previously, but the crystal clear water, abundant rivulets, bird song and thundering water falls created a lasting impression on me. It was also interesting to me that this was the site of the world’s second hydroelectric power station, opened in 1895 only 3 days after one at Niagara Falls. This station provided the power for street lights in Sibenik, the first city to be lit in this way.
Another boat trip back took us to Romantica and we set off again around 12.30. At the entrance to Sibenik harbour we had to wait for the traffic lights that control large boats through a narrow, deep channel leading to the Adriatic. The lights are controlled by the harbour authority and display permission by showing a green light. Once in the open sea again we headed for Vodice. Before arrival we stopped for a swim from the ship. Then, on arrival, we had an excellent lunch: mushroom soup followed by chicken in cream sauce with saffron rice.
At Vodice we had a short circular bike ride to the small island of Tribunj, which we rode around twice, marvelling at all the expensive yachts.

Then back to our ship for dinner: a starter of 3 cheeses, then salmon and, finally, pannacotta with fruit coulis. After, we needed the walk around the town’s sea front as the sun set. Despite the hour people, were out in force shopping, eating and drinking.

After a very adequate breakfast next day we set off on our bikes again, initially following the same route as the previous afternoon but continuing along the coast in a generally north westerly direction to rendezvous with Romantica at Slanica on the island of Murter. This was the longest ride so far of about 27km.

Rallying point before busier road down to Tisno

We mostly followed quiet roads into Tisno, where we crossed a bridge onto Murter Island.

Bridge to Murter Island

Just over the bridge, we had our first and only accident when one of our group tripped over a mooring rope and landed heavily hitting face and shoulder. It was nasty. The concrete shuddered, but she was able to soldier on. There was a short hill away from the bridge and then along a very quiet and picturesque beach road passing many camping and caravan parks and some quite isolated and expensive holiday homes. We arrived in Bentina with time to spare for coffee (but mostly ice cream) and other refreshments. It was then a very short ride to Slanica to rejoin our ship and for a swim prior to lunch. In the afternoon we had a cruise through many islands, many of which lie in the Kornati National Park. Our destination was the Telascica National Park and a walk to visit spectacular cliffs and an inland saltwater lake, called Silver Lake. The cruise was fantastic with blue, blue water and island upon island looking quite arrid, mostly apparantly deserted, despite the presence of many dry stone walls.

Romantica in the bay at Dugi Otok

Cliffs at Telascica

There followed a short cruise to Sali, where we spent the night. The evening meal was a special Captain’s dinner; wonderful food followed by music and dancing. A great end to a great day.

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