The third leg of the Croatian adventure began with a refreshing breakfast on the terrace of Gradska Cavana Arsenal in the old arsenal building of Dubrovnik. Then off to the car rental agency to pick up the ride for the next couple days and on up towards the north along the scenic coastal road.
The twists and turns and ups and downs of the Croatian section of the Adriatic Highway immediately brought to mind a similar drive up the California coastline a couple years ago, along the iconic Route 1 from L.A. to San Francisco. The main difference was that this road had a couple passport controls due to the short stretch through Bosnia-Herzegovina which breaks Croatia in two in the south. Beautiful views all along the way, but the road is clearly designed to be driven from north to south, as almost all the scenic view stops were set up so that it was impossible to reach them from the lane heading north. No cool photos of the views therefore, only mental snapshots.
The first stop was made about 140 km and four hours north of Dubrovnik at Makarska on the Croatian Riviera. Apparently tourism is not a new phenomenon here, based on the statue on the boardwalk named Monument to the Tourist erected 10 years ago to commemorate 100 years of tourism.
After some quick refreshments, it was time to get back on the road and continue towards Omis, where a quick look at the views and a drive through the town left one with a feeling that this might be a good place to come back to some time for a couple days.
Then back in the car, which was making the trip a bit more exciting than necessary: the floor on the passenger side kept turning into a pool due to some strange water leak under the dashboard. Definitely the first and hopefully the last time that stops have been needed to bail water out of a car…
The coastal road was left at Split and the trip continued on along the A1 toll road. The route headed first north between the coast and the Dinaric Alps and then continued east across the southern tip of the Velebit mountain range through tunnels, the longest being close to 6 km. A couple hours cost a bit over 10€ but made the trip to Rudanovac near Plitvice Lakes National Park quick and easy. This area of Croatia was surprisingly different compared to the southern coastal areas, resembling southern Bavaria with its small villages and grazing cows.
At the end of about 7.5 hours and 450 km on the road, a spacious room at the picturesque House Rustico was obtained at a very decent price. After a lovely trout dinner at nearby Vila Velebita, owned by the same proprietor as House Rustico, rest was more than welcome. The evening ended with some excitement as a thunderstorm rolled in and lit up the sky, but the night passed otherwise calmly in the quiet countryside.