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And Then We Split

Gregory of Nin, traveler's rub his toe for luck.

Gregory of Nin, traveler’s rub his toe for luck.

It was hard to leave our little piece of paradise at 65 Lozica; not only was it a beautiful setting, there was plenty of space to stretch out in and it was nice to have a week free of travel days. The morning of September 26th, we had to get an early start as the bread box was supposed to be returned to the car rental place in Split no later than noon, and we weren’t sure what kind of devious plan our Garmin might have in store for us. A little note about traveling in Croatia if you come – There is a major north-south highway called the A1 which makes the portion between Zagreb and Split a very fast trip, but further down, from Split to Dubrovnik, the roads are mostly coastal roads.  They are two-lane, very windy, and there is quite a bit of traffic, making it slow going by car.  So, when planning your travel route through Croatia, you need to factor this in.  The A1 is being extended and as of this post, it runs to about an hour south of Split, by a town called Vrgorac but then it transitions you onto this crazy twisting mountain road which eventually connects back to the coastal highway. We were traveling this route in reverse and it took a full 3 hours with one stop for gas.

 

When we arrived in Split, we were amazed at what a big city it was.  The “Last Minute Car Rental” office put us right down by the waterfront and Old Town.  After dropping off the van, we walked with the kids towards the ferry terminals.  The sulfur/egg smell was overwhelming.  The word on the street is that there are some underground hot springs here that produce that smell, but it was really hard to enjoy the scenery while inhaling that with every breath.   This is one of the first (or the first?) place on our trip where we had arrived without a reservation.  We needed to find a place to stay but it is nearly impossible to focus with our backpack-laden kids in tow and a million eyes upon us, so we deposited the kids on a shady park bench by the water, gave them some kuna (croatian currency) and headed out to inquire about some of the accommodations in our guidebook.

After a couple of strikeouts, and feeling nauseous from the smell, Jon suggested we just hop the night boat tonight, instead of waiting another day.  It made sense: even if we found a place to stay in Split, we would have to check out early, and we would have another “limbo” day in Split, lugging our bags around, or paying to store them.  So, we purchased our tickets on Venezia Lines and headed back to retrieve our offspring.  Of course we found them smugly eating gelato.  To their credit, they had not spent their money unscrupulously; they had scouted out several gelaterias in the area until they found the biggest scoops for the least amount of money.  Interestingly, the place they found was also the place recommended in our guidebook!

We saddled everyone up again, stopped at the Posta to mail some items home and to our niece, and then stashed our bags.  The baggage storage places charged 15 kuna per bag (about $3), but we found lockers at the bus station, and they had a few giant lockers for only 20 kuna!   We cheered Jon on as he employed his master packing skills to stash all six backpacks + some extras into a single 20 kuna locker.  Free of the packs, we set out to explore Split.  The main attraction is Diocletian’s palace, and so we wandered about in that area.  The tiny, winding streets appear to dead-end but then you find a curved passage way to the next block over.  I was starting to see that Split actually is a pretty cool little city and felt sad that we were “ditching” it and heading to Italy a day earlier than we had planned.

After, with room to spare

After, with room to spare

Before

Before

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Peristyle of Diocletian's palace

The Peristyle of Diocletian’s palace

We found a great restaurant from our guidebook and enjoyed a meal there, where I was able to use the wifi to contact our Venice host and ask about coming a day earlier.  Then we headed to a flea market, where local artisans were selling their own creations alongside some amazing relics from the past.  Afterwards, we found our way to the main square of Diocletian’s palace, built by the Roman emperor of the same name in the 4th century.  We hung out in the main town square, or peristyle, and enjoyed the people-watching.  I convinced David and Vivian to venture up the tower with me, and we enjoyed spying on Jon, Maggie and Molly far below, while taking in the beautiful views and photographing the bells up close.

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The view from the tower, There is the boat we will be leaving on!

The view from the tower, There is the boat we will be leaving on!

After returning to earth, we made our way back out onto the pier, where we found an internet cafe and checked our email once more. Our host in Venice was able to allow us to come a day early, freeing us of the uncertainty of where to stay on the 27th.  We skyped with my Dad, watched the sunset, and then headed to the boat, not knowing quite what to expect. Jon and I had taken overnight ferries in Greece years ago, and had quite varied experiences, where some of the boats were so crowded that we could barely find a bare spot on the floor to claim, to boats where we seemed to be the only passenger.  We figured anything had to be better than our last overnight ferry ride on the “night train“, and we were pleasantly surprised when we saw our cabins.  For a little more than we typically pay for a nights’ accommodations, we had reserved two 4-berth cabins (they were out of 2-berth rooms).  Each one was about 4 times as large as our train couchette and had a private bathroom with shower.  Next stop, Ancona, Italy!

Hard to beat this - getting a night's stay and 12 hours worth of travel in at the same time!  And the A/C even worked!

Hard to beat this – getting a night’s stay and 12 hours worth of travel in at the same time! And the A/C even worked!

 

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  1. Luang Prabang Waterfalls, Wifi and Wrap Up » Roaming Jones

    […] making a decision to book.  On this trip, this technique has not worked out so well for us (see Split post), and we are not as confident to try it often with a big group of six.  Anyhow, as we sat and ate […]

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