Croatia Day 5: Split Personality

Today, we met with Stella, our guide through old town Split. I thought our tour might not happen though, because on our way there, the wind whipped up and it began to pour. Fortunately, it quickly stopped, and we found Stella waiting for us outside the southern gates of Diocletian’s Palace.

Built 4th century AD as a retirement palace for the emperor Diocletian, modern day homes and shops have sprung up inside, preserving much of the complex. These new buildings give the whole thing a jumbled up feeling. New and old clash in a subtle way in most cases. Can you guess what’s old and what’s “new” below?

The rock used to make the walls was quarried on the island of Brac. To my surprise, the stone used to build the White House and Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris also came from Brac. 

Below is the “new” bell tower juxtaposed against these ancient stone walls. 

Every one of boone’s dreams came true when he got to do battle with a real sword against real Romans 😉

This sculpture was made by Ivan Meštrović. He also did the Nickola Tesla statue in Zagreb, the bowman and the spearman in Chicago, St. Jerome the Priest DC, and Gregory of Nin in split (seen here. Rub his big toe for good luck). After fleeing communism, he died at Notre Dame where he was an artist in residence. 

With Stella as our guide, we moved from the Roman part of the city, through the Venetian, and into the Jewish area. We climbed a gradual yet steep hill to find all of Split spread before us.

And a family pictures in the gusting wind. 

On the way down, Stella showed us a tiny “fast” food place that makes these rolled up hamburger type things called cevapi. That is, the meat looks like little rolls and the bread like a cross of pita and foccia. Perfect street food and delicious – especially with the sauce. 

Of course we bought more things: lavender chocolate, wine (Ivan in Zagreb was right. The cost is nearly double here), and soccer kits. 

The weather is still overcast with gusting winds, so we’re staying in playing games. Plus, I think everyone needs a little downtime. 

Interestingly, Croatians in general think we are either German or Canadian which to me means Americans aren’t coming in throngs yet. There are HUGE tour groups of Europeans and Asians, however, and at times they prevented us from moving forward with our tour. With this being the shoulder season, I’d hate to see high season. 

Tomorrow is more Split. But more importantly, Croatia plays Czech Republic in the Euro Cup tomorrow. Good thing the boys are ready with their jerseys!

xoxo ~dawn 

Croatia Day 4: To Wine or Not To Wine

Okay, let’s be honest. The real reason I wanted to visit the Dalmation Coast was for the wine. Before arriving Bug and I watched a few shows on Croatia and had a list of places we wanted to visit. Today’s choice: 

Bibich. It wasn’t far from where we stayed last night, and hey if Anthony Bourdain liked, we probably would too.

And man was it yummy. We ended buying four bottles which brings our haul up to 6. The question is quickly becoming: do we drink it on the boat, or bring it home? Or drink it now. I’m not sure I can wait 😂

One of the things that struck about the vineyard was this:

Literally next to this: 

For those that don’t know, that means there are/could be mines present. Another reminder of the war.

After leaving Bibich, we had planned on swimming at the Krka waterfalls, but it was too cold (eventually it grew too hot, so we couldn’t win). So we head into Split.

We got a little turned around, and our hostess had to meet us at the gas station. Eventually, we made it to our amazing rental (another AirBnB shout out). Yes, it’s a walk to old town, but it’s clean, modern, and white. Plus, it has a nice balcony overlooking the sea. 

Unlike other parts of Croatia, Split stayed relatively untouched by the war, and is a hopping vacation destination for Europeans. Plus, many Australians of Croatian descent have moved here. It all together gives Split a fun, cosmopolitan vibe while maintaining its heritage. Here are some traditional singers performing on the Riva/Reva (I’m not sure of the spelling).

For dinner tonight we walked 20 minutes to Chop. The food was ridiculously good, not to mention plentiful and well-priced. The platter for two could have food four easily. 
One thing I noticed walking around Split is how much more people dress up here than elsewhere in Croatia. Zagreb was a jeans/t-shirt/soccer jersey city. Split is a dresses/jewelry/lipstick kind of place. 

After dinner, we walked to the sea.

The boys indulged me with another photo. 

And Bug is learning how take selfies 😂

For those interested, our itinerary is thus:

Zagreb – 2 nights

Bicine – 1 night

Split – 3 nights

Boat (Hvar, Bac, Vis) – 7 nights. 

Someone asked what prompted us to do this kind of vacation in an unusual (for Americans) place. We both loved our vacations to Nice, but wanted more time on the water. And boating the Greek Islands was crazy expensive, but Croatia was on budget. Basically, I could have wine, boats, and cities. I was sold. We decided it would be our joint 40th birthday present to ourselves. And so far, it was a great choice.

Now, about that bottle of wine…

xoxo ~dawn