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A Most Beautiful City and Seaside Regrets

We passed through several lovely beach towns in Montenegro and once again whisked through the border with a hand wave into Croatia. We crested a hill as we closed in on Dubrovnik and were treated to a beautiful sweeping view of this incredible walled city.


Built in the 7th century, it quickly became a hub of maritime trade and amongst its many claims to fame is that in all of its long history of war and siege, no enemy ever breached the walls. Even during the latest war in 1991 when it was heavily damaged by artillery the walls held. In my opinion, it's one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It was the site of King's Landing in Game of Thrones and is a world UNESCO site.

More importantly, waiting at the wonderful Hotel Excelsior was my wife at the time and quite the sight for sore eyes. After two months on the road, it felt wonderful to hold my gal in my arms and tour this incredible city.

Mike and Nick got to spend some time away from me and tour on their own for a couple of days, which I'm sure they enjoyed even though it was high tourist season, and the crowds were thick, and walking through the city was a slow-moving affair.

One of the highlights was taking a walking tour along the tops of the city walls which gave us a bird’s-eye view of many corners in the city. Another great tour was the war museum, which chronicled the Serbian-Yugoslavian war during the Clinton years. I had experienced some of its horrors when I was working for a newspaper in Prague, Czech Republic, and would talk with many journalists who were sent on assignment to Croatia to cover the war. Many came back completely changed by the situation, with hollowed-out looks and their youth visibly drained away. The museum did a great job of capturing the devastation of a war where neighbors were pitted against neighbors and family against family.

On a lighter note, we also took a parachute boat trip which gave us the best views of both the city and the coastline. Not only was the city beautiful but the natives were also very attractive, both male and female.


It was also nice to be off the bikes for a few days.

We left Dubrovnik reluctantly and headed up the Adriatic coast while my wife stayed a couple of extra days and flew to our next meeting place in Venice, Italy. We stayed the night in the small coastal town of Zadar.

We were hot and tired as we rolled into the city. Usually, we had our sleeping situation taken care of by the time we arrived and could just pull right up to the hotel or pension. This time we were staying in an Airbnb. We were given a telephone number to call a person who would then call the owner who would then guide us to the apartment. It was a bit of a clusterfuck and confusing and we were all growing a bit impatient. I was finally able to get the person on the phone and they gave us an address where to meet the owner.


We were pulled over in a grassy median area at a complex intersection and Mike asked me where we were going. Not quite sure of the directions yet, I pointed in the direction of where I thought we needed to go.  Mike abruptly drove off without his helmet comm on (which meant no communication) up the grass hill over the curb, avoiding the intersection, and was gone. Normally we stick together and follow whoever has the navigation figured out but this time Mike went rogue.


Nick and I looked at each other and debated what to do. We decided to go to the place where we were to meet the apartment owner because they were waiting for us, and once Nick knew where that location was he would double back to find Mike and hopefully bring him back.

After meeting up with the owner, Nick and Mike rolled up and Mike opened up on me with both barrels for leaving him behind. I was taken aback because Mike is the portrait of cool calm and collected. This was our first (and only) dust-up on the trip and it led to a silent ride through the city to our apartment where the awkward silence grew deafening to the point that Mike (always the better man) spoke out and said that he demanded an apology for leaving him.


I apologized but I truly felt that he had gone rogue and put us in an awkward position. The truth was we should have stayed where we were until Mike figured out that we weren't following him and found his way back to us, so I did truly feel bad about leaving him. In 19,000 miles, to have this be the only confrontation is a testament to what a fantastic travel mate Mike was and is.

That night we went on a walking tour of the old town, which was bustling with life. Mike and I had buried the hatchet and we looked forward to getting back on the bikes and heading toward our next destination: Piran, Slovenia.

More amazing Adriatic coast flowed by, passing numerous small villages and seaside castles, and we pulled into our hotel in Piran, a sleepy coastal resort town. Mike and I went for our customary dip in the sea and then met Nick on the roof of the hotel and took in a beautiful sunset over the Adriatic, cocktails in hand, quite happy.

For dinner, we walked along the coast, which is ringed by cafés and restaurants, and were motioned over by the concierge from the hotel who was sitting by himself at a crowded café. He told us the food was good and that he came to that restaurant because he was in love with one of the waitresses but that he wasn't making any headway with her. He then went on to tell us all about Slovenia and what a wonderful country it was; that although this coastal town was nice the real beauty lay in the mountains to the north; and that Slovenia was blessed with beaches that rivaled the French Riviera and mountains as beautiful as any in the Alps.


He also went on about how progressive the country was high-tech-wise and that he was studying to get a job with one of the emerging high-tech firms. By the end of the conversation, we all wished we were spending more time in Slovenia and vowed that we would come back and spend more time.

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