Monday, June 29, 2015

Split, Croatia: I've Made it to the Coast!

I arrived in Split Saturday evening - walking from the bus station to my hotel, my first thought was that it was so warm. The sun was setting as I was walking along the Promenade, and it was so pretty. It finally felt like I was on a tropical vacation.

Split, you are so attractive. And warm.

What It's All About:
Split is a coastal city, the 2nd largest in Croatia after Zagreb. The city is super interesting because back in the 4th century, the Roman emperor Diocletian built his ridiculously large palace here - after the palace was abandoned, the locals moved into the palace walls and built their homes, lives, etc. inside the palace walls. Then the Venetians moved in and added on. So it's this crazy city where half of the "Old town" is still inside the former palace walls. The people who moved in built their own structures with the rubble from Diocletian's former palace - so it's this interesting combination, bc you can still see the super super old-school Roman palace, but now it's filled with tiny winding cobblestone streets and homes and Venetian architecture. 

Walking down the Promenade, you can still see parts of the palace mixed with newer buildings - the atmosphere kind of reminded me of South Beach (waterfront, outdoor cafes, street performers, palm trees) only with a ridiculously ancient old-school Roman palace throwback.  

Promenade at sunset.  Doesn't this feel just like South Beach!?

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • After I checked into my hotel, I spent a couple hours just roaming the streets. It was so ridiculously peaceful and nice.
    Split Cathedral
  • The next morning, I took a walking tour - the tour guide spoke a million miles a minute, and her accent was very heavy, so I estimate I picked up about 30% of what she said. Things I did pick up include 1.) Diocletian was kind of a tyrant. His palace is HUGE and so intricate and it only took 11 years to build bc he used 3,000 slaves. 2.) I think he also persecuted Christians? Yes, that's definitely right. 
    Just hanging out in the old palace square
Old palace walls still in tact. WITH A MINI CITY INSIDE
Acapella groups sing in the former domes bc of the great acoustics
Tiny cobblestone alleyways
  • After the tour, I went to lunch with my new friend David, who I'd met the night before in our hotel lobby. David is originally Irish, but now works as a yacht captain doing private charters on fancy boats for rich people (I'm paraphrasing here). He's been based in Split, and happened to have the week off.  We went to lunch at this delicious spot called Fife - huge seafood portions for a reasonable price.  Afterwards, we hit up the beach - we went to a local one vs. the super touristy one, and it was nice and not-so-crowded. We sat on the beach, drank beers, and traded stories - I got to hear about some of his yachting customers and stories, which was so fascinating. In case anyone was wondering, his life is kinda-sorta-but-not-really-at-all like the Bravo show "Below Deck." Because obviously, I asked. You're welcome.

Our tiny local beach
My new friend David; walking along the harbor back from the beach
  • That night, we had dinner in a courtyard near our hotel (there are so many courtyards in Europe! I might now start to shun places where i can't sit under the stars #spoiled), then went for drinks at a couple local spots. It was overall a nice, vacation-type day that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

Fun Facts of the Day:
  • Apparently you can smoke in bars here. Like, inside. It's cray. Does anyone else remember being little and going to a restaurant and having them ask if you wanted to sit in the smoking/non-smoking section? Throwback Monday, y'all.
  • Split is a big transit hub - from here, you can take ferries out to all these islands (the most popular of which is Hvar). If I'd had more time, I 100% would have taking a boat from Split, through all the islands, and down to Dubrovnik. Darn you, tight schedule *shakes fist* 
  • Croatian and Slovenian have the same word for "thank you." It's hvallah (another fun fact, I spelled that purely phonetically), which is easy for me to remember because I just think about shouting "voila!" to everyone, like I'm unveiling something super great 

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