Saturday, September 7, 2013

One Last Day in Croatia - A Day in Split

Somehow it worked out that it was less expensive for us to stay an extra night in Croatia rather than us going back to Barcelona on Saturday.  Sure it meant that we were getting back the day before school started but it meant that we were going to get at least a half of a day to explore Split since that was where we were flying out of.

We got on an early ferry, around 8AM and started our trek back towards Split.  We expected the trip to take us around 3 hours and this time, it was pretty spot on!  We did notice the GPS once again tried to take us to Pag Island again but we were wiser this time around!

Sun coming up as we leave Rab Island

On the ferry

View of the mainland from the ferry (it's only a 15 min ferry)

My handsome boy showing his Boston pride :)

There is a reason we didn't get lost getting to the ferry - as you can see, it's the only thing for miles once you get to the mainland!

But first we had to make the long journey back thru 50 miles of windy, hair pin turn roads along side cliffs that just plummeted to the sea below.  On the bright side, we only had about half the journey that we had the week before since Split was actually mid way between Dubrovnik and Stinica.  And bonus, I was on the "right" side of the car this time for picture taking.  Unfortunately we were still driving at a decent clip and many of my pictures came out blurry or just too crooked to make them worthwhile, but here are a few... and somehow none of them clearly show the cliffs dropping off from way above, these seem to be the ones taken from a lower elevation - beautiful nonetheless!

This is Pag Island - the island just south of Rab that our GPS tried to get us to take when arriving.

Some of the curves

Homes built right along the edge because they are protected from harsh storms and erosion by neighboring islands and the mountains..

When we crossed that bridge, that's how we knew we were going the wrong way when we were heading to Rab last week...

More of a village built right along the edge of the water


We made it to Split in good time and arrived around lunch time.  Our room wasn't ready but our BnB could not have been in a better location - situated one street away from the water and nestled within the old town district.  So on the hunt we went for something to eat.  Of course, we were in a touristy area and expect to get sub-par food.
Near our hotel

The Iron Gate and the Clock Tower

Square near our hotel - it's called The People's Square and the Renaissance Town Hall is the building on the right.

Another view of the square with the Iron Gate and Clock Tower in the back

Statue in building

Waterfront about 50 feet from our hotel

Another square on the way to lunch

But Josh went on to Trip Advisor and found a restaurant nearby that got great ratings.  At first we were apprehensive because the menu had very little choice.  But in the end, it was a great place to end up. Intimate and off the beaten path a little bit, the waiter spoke great English and explained everything to us.  Josh and Aidan ended up getting a fresh fish platter that the waiter showed to us - everything had been caught that morning and was prepared in the most simple way to procure the best taste of the fish. They loved it!!  

The fish that Aidan and Josh had for lunch... don't ask me what it includes beyond prawns, mussels, tuna and some other fish (not being a fish eater, I can't really identify them, but Josh can!).

After lunch we got our things situated and headed back out into the old city quarter.  The BnB we were staying at was ideally located - you really couldn't ask for anything more as far as how close we were to the old city!
It certainly wasn't luxurious, but it's all his...

Literally the view out our window of our BnB room... yup right in the old city

The view when I hang out our window...

While I've been referring to it as the "walled city" or the "old city", technically it is the Palace of Diocletian.  It was completed in 305AD though the city of Split was founded long before.  Diocletian used this palace as his retirement home until his death in 316AD when it then became administrative offices and the governor's residence.  Today the palace is a part of the inner core of Split and is still inhabited with shops, markets and squares that have been inserted into the corridors and floors of the former palace. 

We worked our way thru the tiny pedestrian streets of Split til we found the Temples of Venus, Cybele and Jupiter.  There was also the Cathedral of St. Domnius.  It was amazing to see how well maintained this historical buildings were kept.  In Barcelona, we still have the old city wall, but most of it is destroyed.  There is a lot of history to see here, but you don't see it, like in some of these other walled cities, with this much clarity.  This is one of the things we love about life in Europe - the preservation of history.

I believe this is the Iron Gate

Narrow pedestrian streets

Peristyle - this area gave access to the sacred area with the temples of Venus and Cybele on the sides and further back, Jupiter. 

Having a gelato on the stairs in the Peristyle - on the opposite sides in front of them, there were cushions on the chairs where you could order a drink from the nearby cafes and enjoy the atmosphere all around you!

Going underground to do a little shopping...

I'm not sure what this space was used for but when we walked in there was a choir playing and they sounded amazing even with the open roof!

Entrance to the rotunda pictured above

Hanging out on ancient history!

This is what the palace used to look like...

Outer walls of the Palace

More outer walls

Great grassy area that we chilled out on while taking in the history in front of us

Liam pretending to be "headband boy" from my gym

Seriously, is this tempting to anyone?  And no, we didn't go in...

Cool building

After walking around the Diocletian Palace, we wandered down to the waterfront for a little bit.  Cafes stretched as far as the eye could see as well as little kiosks of touristy goodies and a few artisan treasures here and there.  They also had a few stands with traditional Croatian yummies - like these little donut hole type of treats that were covered in powdered sugar, different nuts with toppings like vanilla or caramel, etc etc.  So we grabbed a few snacks and sat down on a bench along the promenade to just watch the sights.

Cafes and kiosks along the waterfront

Since we had been up at the crack of dawn to make the trek out to Split in good time, we took a few hours in the late afternoon to just chill out and decompress in our hotel room.  We had a nice dinner in the Palace and then headed back to the hotel for an early evening since we had to head out early again the next morning back to Barcelona.  Josh did get out for a little walk after the sun went down and caught some great images of Split at night...

I think we were all pretty sad to see this great vacation come to an end.  We'd heard that Croatia was the new destination vacation place in Europe and it was spot on.  Reasonable prices, beautiful scenery, friendly people - it had it all.  But alas, all good things have to come to an end and school was starting the next day so time to head back to reality!


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