beyond dubrovnik: visiting split

Because I’m taking several trips out of the country while I’m here–to Bergen, Norway in mid April, to Paris at the end of April, and to Italy at the end of May–I wasn’t expecting to have a lot of time to explore Croatia beyond Dubrovnik while I’m here. But because this is a long weekend (for Easter), I decided to take a short trip up to Split just to see another part of the Dalmatian Coast. Alex decided he wanted to join me, as did my colleague Mike. So I booked a 3-bedroom apartment through AirBnB, and we hopped onto the 10am bus from Dubrovnik yesterday morning.

The ride up was quite beautiful, as the road runs directly along the coast. It’s reminiscent of the Pacific Coast Highway in some ways. The 4.5 hour trip would have been uneventful, except for one embarrassing mishap midway. We’d stopped for the third time, with the previous two stops being 10-20 minute rest stops (no restrooms on the bus). Except this time, after what seemed like a long break, the driver came on looking impatient. “You go to Split?!” he asked, impatiently? We said yes. “You get on *that* bus now!” he snapped, pointing at the bus next to us. We looked up and through the windows, and saw the entire bus full of Croatian passengers laughing at us. Whoops. So we gathered up our things as quickly as possible, and dashed over to where they’d apparently been waiting for us.

The rest of the trip proceeded without mishap, and we arrived safely in Split. The apartment, as promised, was a fairly short (10-minute) walk from the bus station, in a lovely old building right on the waterfront called The Bajamonti Palace. The location and size made the $90 we paid for it quite reasonable. The only downside, which I’ll note tomorrow in the review (AirBnB won’t let me review it until the day after the trip ends, it seems), is that it’s a fifth-floor walkup, and the floors have 20-24 steps each. Given our current walking regimen, that wasn’t a big problem for us–but it might be an issue for some people (and I was glad we didn’t have heavy suitcases!). In the photo below, the Bajamonti Palace is the red building.

bajamonti

Once we’d dropped our bags, we headed to a local restaurant, where we ate heartily, and, fortified, we headed to Split’s biggest attraction–the Diocletian Palace. We toured the cellars, where there was an interesting art exhibit installed througout the rooms, and then explored a bit of the palace grounds (which are essentially a small town).

cellar-horse

After that it was dark, and we were tired, so we grabbed some dessert (and a glass of wine for me) at a cafe along the waterfront, and then headed back to the hotel–where I crashed, hard, and slept from 8:30pm until 8am (10.5 hours, since we switched to Daylight Saving Time today).

In the morning, we headed back to Diocletian’s Palace, where we hoped to tour the cathedral. Unfortunately, we hadn’t really thought about the whole “Easter Sunday” thing, and we found the Cathedral packed with both worshippers and cameras, as the service was being broadcast live. We gave up on trying to see past the crowds, and headed to the restaurant across from the cathedral, which was the only one we could find that was open and serving food on a holiday. Bonus: while we ate, we were able to watch the service on television (complete with a sign language interpreter).

split-easter

After we ate, the rain that had been falling all morning finally started to clear, and we decided that before we left we’d climb up partway up the hill on the Marjan peninsula, since the Rick Steve’s guide said that the views of the city from the park on the hill were spectacular. As usual, the guide was 100% correct.

split

At that point it was nearly 1pm, and we decided that picking up our bags and heading to the bus station for the 2pm bus home made sense. The ride home was even more spectacularly beautiful than the ride up–in part because the light was so perfect. (The photo at the top of the post is only one of a number of spectacular shots I got along the way.) It was a lovely way to end a very nice little trip.

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