Thursday, February 05, 2015

Holiday in Split, Croatia

After spending a few nights in Dubrovnik we were ready to continue on our Croatian journey to Split. When I was originally scoping out travel options I had envisioned us traveling North by boat with stops in Korcula and Hvar but alas traveling in the shoulder season limited our options. After talking to tour operators before (thanks Naomi) and in Croatia we improvised and bought a coach/bus ticket to Split.

I have to admit, at first I was a little disappointed to not be traveling by boat...

The road from Dubrovnik to Split follows a scenic coastline north and even enters into Bosnia Herzegovina for a few kilometers.



Smoke break for the driver in Neum, Bosnia Herzegovina
As we got closer to Split we moved inland for awhile and ended up passing through Opuzen and along the Neretva river with it's extremely dense (and cool!) tangerine orchards.

Picture courtesy: www,IlikeCroatia.com

Overall the ride was about 3.5 hours between each cities centre. We thoroughly enjoyed our smooth modern ride in among the beautiful landscapes. My disappointment at not traveling by sea fell quickly by the wayside.

Refreshed from our ride we ventured out to explore our new holiday destination.

Diocletian's Palace

The history of settlement at Split goes back to the 4th century BC as a Greek colony but it wasn't until ~305 AD that the city gained significant prominence when the Roman Emperor Diocletion decided to create his retirement home (Palace) in this strategic location.
"The ruins of Diocletian's Palace, built between the late 3rd and the early 4th centuries AD, can be found throughout the city. The Roman Emperor Diocletian spent his declining years in an enormous palace that he had built near his birthplace, Aspalthos, in Dalmatia. The palace represents the most valuable example of Roman architecture on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. Its form and the arrangement of the buildings within the palace represent a transitional style of imperial villa, Hellenistic town and Roman camp."

The palace really defines the core of the old city and has seemingly shaped its evolution whether it be the physical form of the harbor along its old walls, it's labyrinth streets and buildings formed around/within during the medieval period or the re-use of the materials from the original mausoleum in the cathedral that stands today. This UNESCO protected site is a tour of active history.

Similar to Dubrovnik the old town sections of the city really need to be witnessed at different hours of the day to truly appreciate them. It's remarkable how the reflection off of the stone and the effects of shadows highlight architectural and design elements with the ever changing lighting.




The bell tower of Saint Domnius Cathedral in front of Peristil Square was our visual landmark for navigation (and later for finding our accommodations) so it seemed like a no brainer that Chrissy and I would climb up its 200+ narrow and occasionally rickety steps.


The view, and a little bit of sweat, was worth it. 






With our feet back on solid ground we ended up exploring more of the old city.

Art exhibit within the ruins







Markets

Split is blessed with a few markets within it's old town area highlighted by the Pazar Market and it's Fish Market. 

The Pazar Market (aka - Green Market) is located just steps away from Diocletian's Palace and has anything and everything your heart could desire. Chrissy and I spent plenty of time walking through the colorful stalls eventually buying ridiculously cheap hazelnuts and pomegranates.


This dude was just straight up selling garlic chains that he wore around his neck. For this reason alone I figured he must be a slavic sex symbol celebrity so I asked for a picture with him.


The Fish Market was a bit too 'real' (smelly) for Chrissy to take so I ended up walking through it alone. My woman is a fool I tell you! The place was awesome and totally made me hungry for a seafood feast.




Grisogono Palace Luxury Apartment

For our 2nd night in Split and last night in Croatia I arranged for us to stay at what looked like a beautiful apartment located in central Split. I found the place through Expedia and thought it looked like a good deal based on the pictures. It turned out that we were in for quite a surprise!

The apartment was probably the best location in Split and maybe the nicest apartment/hotel I have ever or will ever stay at. To really top of the coolness factor it is UNESCO protected property.



Beautifully restored ceiling mosaic

As I mentioned - the location was amazing. We looked directly out onto the Peristil Square and we spent nearly all of our time in the apartments window looking out at the tourists passing by through the day and enjoying the sounds of live music from the restaurant below at night.

View from the window


I cannot recommend highly enough the apartment. I would go back to Split solely to stay here again.

Other Highlights


Riva Promenade 
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Multiple gelato stops
Stuffed frog dioramas at Froggyland

Notes:

  • Split has a fantastic vibe and pace. I have been to many cities and have often though they would be only good to visit. I get the feeling I could live in Split.
  • So much great seafood. I love octopus salad and had a couple fantastic servings in Split. Other food highlights included: ridiculous amounts of seafood at a great price at Buffet Fife, waterfront dining and planning our future together at F de Mar
  • We chose to take a taxi to the airport as opposed to the much cheaper shuttle bus. Our taxi driver was every bit of crazy that I love. He went way over the speed limit all the time and was either singing along to pop songs or venomously swearing at neigboring cars. 

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