Cycle Croatia 2022: Nathaniel’s experience
"One of my favourite things to do is travel, so when I started working for Dream Challenges six months ago, I could not wait to take off on one of their epic worldwide adventures! It was not long until the opportunity came about in the form of Cycle Croatia 2022. The stunning Mediterranean coastline, paired with the lively and welcoming culture make Croatia one of my favourite countries. So, with UK life beginning to turn a little cold and wet in September, both the location and time were perfect.
The trip started with a flight to Split, a Croatian city halfway up the coast. On the journey I met Julia, one of the challenge’s two medical doctors. She has travelled all over the world with Dream Challenges, and her stories of previous trips built my excitement even more. Next, we boarded a boat to the island of Brač, and the adventure really got started.
Having never been on a Dream Challenge before, I was unsure as to what to expect. Many of the challengers said to me later that they had also felt a little nervous. Within moments of arriving at the hotel, however, any worries were put to rest. I was met with a large open plan building with stunning sea views. The courtyard was filled with palm trees and vibrant Mediterranean plants that led up to a large swimming pool. The patio was already filled to the brim with Dream Challengers who had recently arrived, listening to a local band play. Many of the sixty-seven challengers had come solo or in small groups, but it would be impossible to tell as laughter roared from the whole team. Time to sit back with a Croatian beer, tuck into the unlimited dinner, and join my new Cycle Croatia crew!
Before we knew it, morning had come, and it was time to mount our bikes and head to the mountains. It was not long until we stumbled across one of the most beautiful spots from the whole trip. Down a little dirt track, surrounded by towering cliffs and hidden with the thick green forest, lay a tiny bay of golden white sand. A few metres into the shimmering turquoise water stood a wooden swing. Without a word, and in complete unison, we knew what we had to do. Immediately, we put our bikes to the side, took off our shoes, and began wading through the glimmering water. As we gently swung, with nothing but endless Mediterranean Sea stretching out before us, it felt as though we were in a real-life fairy tale.
Each day contained at least one steep mountain climb. As the group began ascending the first major summit, many of us were filled with doubts. Is this possible? Or, at least, is this possible for me? By my side was another Dream Challenger in the same position. We pushed each other hard, both determined to achieve the feat. Finally, after a 10-killometre-long incline, we made it. The satisfaction from reaching the top, knowing that it had taken everything we had and yet we made it cannot be fully described – only felt. Standing at the peak of the 1,500m cloud topped mountain, looking out over completely empty beaches surrounded by crystal blue waters and vivid green forests, it was easy to understand why this was a ‘Dream’ Challenge.
As the days continued, we sailed between the islands of Brač, Hvar and Korčula, finally finishing at the mainland city of Dubrovnik. Filled with three days of local wine and traditional Croatian foods, it was time to sit back and relax with the challengers for a well-deserved pint. Oh, and a jump in the sea of course!
Over three days of cycling, 100s of kilometres were covered, more than £100,000 raised for charity, and many friendships formed. I cannot wait for the next one!"