Although much longer than necessary, the bus journey to Split was probably one of the most scenic of my life, sticking to the coastal road and offering wonderful views of the Adriatic, the famous islands and cute little coastal towns. After getting out of the touristy port, finding where I was staying and taking in the city for a couple of hours, I was pretty much decided that this was my favourite place so far. Nowhere near as touristy as Dubrovnik but still with the same charm, plus the gorgeous Riva and just a more genuine feel to the place.
On my first full day, and my last day of being on my own, I explored the narrow streets of Diocletian’s Palace – reminding me a little bit of a smaller version of Dubrovnik’s old city, the ‘palace’ is actually a walled off part of the city. On the one hand it is a series of stunning Roman ruins – based around the central Peristil, just off of which lie the Cathedral of St Dominius, the Temple of Jupiter complete with Egyptian sphinxes, and the Palace’s underground network of cellars, to name just a few. On each of the Palace’s four walls is an ornate gate, named Gold, Silver, Bronze and Iron. And yet amongst this striking architecture, life goes on as normal. Split is the shopping capital of Croatia and there is no shortage of designer shops, bars and restaurants nestled into the Palace walls. I decided to take advantage of this and do a bit of shopping, figuring it was best to get that out of the way before I had male company. In the afternoon I headed down to the very central Bačvice beach, which I have to admit was a bit of a disappointment as it seemed a bit dirty and seedy. But a beach is a beach and after lying in the sun for a few hours I was feeling very relaxed. As the day drew to a close I sat on the harbour wall with a mojito and watched the sun set which was pretty spectacular.
The next morning I met Alex at the bus stop, checking out the ‘green’ market on the way there where I picked up some fresh food and where you can find just about anything. After showing him the basic sights of Split we decided to walk out to Marjan, where we discovered the much nicer Kasuni beach. The water was pretty cold but we still managed to swim! For dinner that evening we braved the famous black risotto (which I actually enjoyed, though I wouldn’t recommend eating it on a date cause it stains pretty much everything black!) and of course had to get some ice cream, although it wasn’t nearly as good as Dubrovnik’s. Always keen to try local things we also headed to a little bar in the middle of Palace where we tried about half a dozen flavours of rakija. All in all a pretty good day.
The next morning we had planned on visiting either Hvar or Brač, which after a late night drinking probably wasn’t the best idea, and as it’s the off season the number of ferries is reduced. We missed the one to Hvar so headed out to Brač instead. I don’t think either of us actualy realised how big these islands are, and after docking in the main town of Supetar we didn’t really know where to start. In the end we opted to check out the famous Zlatni Rat beach near Bol, on the opposite side of the island. After contemplating renting a car, and talking Alex out of hiring a dune buggy, this meant another hour long bus ride. While it was lovely, the views were stunning and we both had some much needed time lying in the sun and swimming, I’m not sure it was really worth the 2 hours to get there and we maybe should have planned it a little better! Regardless of the long journey, as we sat and watched the sun set from the ferry heading back over I found myself wishing we could spend a lot longer in Split as it really is an amazing place.