Split : Sun, sea and (sort of) sand etc...
Split Travel Blog› entry 187 of 268 › view all entries
Upon my early arrival in Split I decide to flip a coin with Fate. Metaphorically speaking. Itâ€™s only 15 Kuna (Â£1.50) per 24 hours baggage storage at the train station and there are plenty of comfy enough, white wooden slat benches lining the main harbour promenade that sleeping rough, for the first time by choice, is tempting a little devil whoâ€™s keen to start stretching the bounds of acceptability to save a little money. I go to the one hostel Iâ€™d noted in my book and if they have a dorm bed without booking, okay, Iâ€™ll be sensible and take itâ€¦ but if not, itâ€™s back to the baggage storage and that bench tonight.
When the reception of the arrogantly titled â€˜Best Hostelâ€™ finally opens a couple of hours later Iâ€™m actually disappointed to find they can take me in.
Split is one of Croatiaâ€™s couple of prime tourist hot spots that lie on the nations generous length of Adriatic coastline. A large harbour port area welcomes boats of all shapes and sizes. Cruise ships doinâ€™ their thing, and cruisinâ€™ in and out of dock the whole day long. Its historical focal point is the large Roman-era palace of Diocletian that once sat at the very waters edge but now has a wide, pleasant pedestrian promenade that runs between it and the waters edge.
The Diocletian Palace, whatever its historical purpose and composition (youâ€™ll have to forgive the lack of enlightenment I bring you on this subject by The Lonely Plonkerâ€™s Guide to Eastern Europe is likewise minimalist in its coverage of the subject) now takes the form of a large warren of flag stone streets, alley ways and shadowed passages broken up by the occasional piata where life and commerce and tourism bustle along next to one another shoulder to shoulder. The latter two the most prominent at ground level. Cafes and bars sprout out of small doorways as you wend your way around or sit in greater splendour in the squares.
I donâ€™t partake of any of the various parts of the citadel complex that require cash for entry and anyhow Iâ€™m in a travel phase that feels it doesnâ€™t need to consume absolutely ever angle a city has to offer in order to understand or appreciate it. I could be wrong. So you can go into the Basement Halls, a Treasury, some small museums or enter the extremely busy Cathedral tower.
Diocletianâ€™s Palace swarms in the thick of the heat of midday with organised tour groups, their identifying â€˜lollypopâ€™ signs held high into the air. Iâ€™d almost forgotten the trauma of organised tourism since escaping from Eastern China! So I stare as the sweaty crowds sausage-meat themselves into the church to go up to the â€˜viewpoint towerâ€™ but Iâ€™m happy enough just to stare up at it and into the sun and wonder at the slight irony that these sky pointing structures were presumably built to inspire awe and to reach closer to God, compositionally designed to draw our eyes to the skies and heavens above, but now very often we use these structures rather to get the best possible vantage point for our cameras to look down and take in the best panoramas of mans architectural creations and city planning compositions.
Passing through the â€˜Gold Gateâ€™ (nah, itâ€™s made if dull white stone just like the â€˜Silverâ€™ and â€˜Bronzeâ€™ and all the other gates here about.) a large bronze statue of some kinda wizard dude stands tall as people rub the touch-worn shine of his left big toe - presumably for good luck. Both days Iâ€™m here a man dressed in extremely complex and rainbow-tastic clown garb sits in the shadow of the western wall of Marmontova Street playing the accordion and at once looks quite beautiful and terrifying. A young girl playing the violin (to pay her way around Europe?) I swear is following me too (well not really) as she seems to materialise everywhere I go on my strolling tour today. I see her at four different spots in the space of two hours.
Aside from a bit of lax history ogling the main reason for Splitâ€™s appeal is its collection of beaches, often fairly small and over populated pockets of pebble/ rock shoreline or in one instance a pretty tiny, dirty-yellow sand horseshoe a short stroll south of the train station besides the harbour waters. None of these will particularly satisfy the beach lounging, sun and suntan cream drenched beach bum in you, but hey, travel can be hard work so tempted by a particular fringe of rock I do a circuitous dash back to the hostel to get into me swimmers and collect my diving mask.
Sat on the aforementioned rocks with plenty of the Croatian regulars, a good 8 metres or so back from the waterline, Iâ€™m soaking up the sun, drying from my little dip in the Adriatic when all of a sudden, from out of absolutely nowhere, the sea having been as calm as you like all the while, a gigantic wave swooshes in and crashes over our sun bathing padâ€¦ whoooosh!!!â€¦ it washes over everything! I just manage to grab my bag and throw it way back over my shoulder.
I donâ€™t have a bunch to say about Split if Iâ€™m honest. It has charms but I feel theyâ€™re limited for the long term traveller really.
So I sit and sup my ice cold amber happy-juice (that, as is often the case, costs twice as much as my â€˜dinnerâ€™ did) and watch as kids are awed and terrified in equal measure by a collective of marionette puppets being made to dance and play guitars and saxophones and pianos to jazz songs.
At 17.15 on day two in Split Iâ€™m on my way again. Further south to Dubrovnik. An often astonishingly beautiful 4 and a half hour bus ride that hugs tightly to the beauties of the Adriatic coastline all the way whilst giving you passing glimpses of jewel-like inland lakes and rivers from time to time. Happy visions all the way.