Croatia – Split
It was a shorter ferry ride from Hvar to Split but still not a scenic ride as this ferry also had dirty windows and no outside decks. Once in Split I discovered that Split is certainly a much bigger city than I imagined.
Something happened to our group’s booking at the hotel in Split so the hotel split us up into 2 hotels. Some others from our group and I had to stay at a different hotel for the night and the two hotels were not even very close to each other. Since we were too early to check into the hotel, we left our bags in a room to take to the other hotel after dinner. It was just too hot to keep going back and forth to the hotels and the city centre. Plus we didn’t want to waste time when we had a new city to explore!
At the end of the day, another traveling companion and I went back to the original hotel to get our luggage and transfer to our hotel. We were looking forward to bed after a long day. The original hotel were transporting us to the replacement hotel at their expense and they arranged for the taxi. I asked the receptionist for the name and address of the replacement hotel but he wouldn’t give it to me. He told us not to worry, that he would give clear instructions to the taxi driver. (Yea, right!) So we got into the cab and got dropped off at the “Art” Hotel. I questioned the driver saying I didn’t think it was correct but he was insistent it was. We thought it was a bit more upscale than expected. Their reception didn’t have our reservation. So I asked them if there is a hotel called “As” as I recall someone mentioning that name. The receptionist said yes, there is a hotel named “As“. She kindly called the original hotel and told them to get the taxi back to take us to the correct hotel – As! At least we had a nice hotel to wait in but it sure extended our day when we were tired and wanted to get to bed.
Once my group split up and went our own ways, I moved to accommodation closer to town. I enjoyed walking through the “green market” on my way to and from my room. The green market not only sold fresh produce but other things such as clothes and souvenirs. The vendors were very helpful. When I bought fruit, the vendor showed me where I could wash my purchase so I could eat it immediately, all without speaking English!
Split is interesting. Split is known for the remains of Diocletian’s Palace. The Palace was built in the 4th C as a retirement palace for Emperor Diocletian. Today Diocletian’s Palace is more like a walled town with the current old town built within it and newer areas built around the walls. Again, in one section of the the newer old town there were plenty of cats waiting to be fed. There seemed to be an ice cream/gelato place on every block – very welcome on those hot days.
Klapa singers (Croatian capella-style singers) are commonly heard in the Vestibule (the old residential entrance) of the Palace, due to its incredible acoustics. They sang at certain times of the day and were nice to listen to.
For a city I had never heard of until I booked this trip, Split had lots to see. I’m glad I stayed a few extra days to explore it.
I checked out the different exhibits in the Split’s main art gallery, Museum of Fine Arts. The Church of St Martin was a little difficult to find. Originally a guardhouse, it is built into a cavity of the wall. It is the smallest church in Split (and possibly anywhere), so it was interesting and didn’t take long to view.
The Ethnographic Museum displays regional furniture, costumes, jewelry, pottery, knitting, embroidery, and other various handmade artifacts.
The City of Split museum is in an old Venetian Family residence. On display are sculptures, furniture, artworks, documents, photographs, maps, and manuscripts that help tell the historical story of Split.
One evening there were wonderful performances of traditional Croatian folk dancing on the Riva Promenade with their beautiful and colourful costumes.
The Riva is a great big boardwalk along the water that is great to stroll along and people watch. Vacant shady spots to rest were difficult to find on the hot, sunny days but the Riva was very relaxing, especially in the evening.
I walked up to the top of Marjan Hill to the viewpoint. It was very hot but there was a water tap partway up so I could refill my water bottle. The views were great and they had benches and places to rest before making the trek back down. The temperatures were in the upper 30s.
One entrance fee allowed me into the Cathedral, the Treasury, the Crypt and the Baptistery. The Cathedral of St Domnius was built by the Emperor Diocletian and is the world’s oldest Catholic cathedral still in use today. It is impressive. I went upstairs to the Treasury, then downstairs to the crypt (which really felt like a basement). The location of the Baptistery of St John (Temple of Jupiter) was a bit confusing as I expected it to be connected to the cathedral but it was a couple of buildings away in the maze of cramped-together buildings.
One hot day I took a bus tour. They had air conditioning so it was comfortable. We stopped at Salona to see the ancient Roman ruins. There wasn’t much information to read so I had to content myself by just walking around and looking at the remains of the buildings, town walls, towers, sculptures, amphitheatre, and Necropolis of Manastirine (a burial area).
Next stop was the ancient town of Trogir. After a small initiation tour we explored the town on our own. Trogir is on a small island joined to the mainland by one bridge. It was nice to wonder around and check everything out and there was also some relaxing places to enjoy.
We went to Klis Fortress on top of a hill. Klis is a medieval fortress built into a rocky ridge and more than 2000 years old. It was once an important defensive stronghold between the Mediterranean and the Balkans. More recently it starred in Game of Thrones. There was less of a building than I expected, a bit undramatic – not much to explore – but interesting with a good view.
At the Fortress, I changed tour groups because the company had 2 different group tours there at the same time. So instead of going back to town, I got to go to the Vranjaca Caves. The caves were good and had an added bonus of being quite cool on a hot day. Our guide for the caves was the owner, Mr Punda, and he was a nice character. Mr. Punda, is the grandson of the man who discovered the cave in 1903. He told us he has live music in the caves sometimes. The cave has hosted several concerts and performances. There are several “Halls” and passageways, stalactites and stalagmites, columns and arcades of different shapes. There are natural features that look like owls, wise men, holy family, and old ladies. Mr. Punda entertained us with a tune by drumming on one of the stalagmites. Impressive!
Traveling through the countryside is lovely scenery with villages, hills, vineyards and olive groves.
We were on the Dalmatian coast for quite awhile but it wasn’t until my last day that I saw a Dalmatian dog – and I actually saw two different ones!
If I ever go back to Split, I am sure there is lots more things to see and explore in Split and the surrounding area that I didn’t get to.
An early morning flight from Split took me to Munich and then a flight back to Vancouver. It was a wonderful trip but I saw lots of places in a short period of time so places tended to blend together sometimes. Thank goodness I have my photos to remind me.