Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Landed in Split

Trip date: May 2019

After 7 days cruising around the Croatian coast (links at the end of this post), my friend Aaron and I were dropped off at our hotels in Split. Well Aaron was dropped off at his hotel, I was let out at a parking lot just outside the walls to the old city. I was staying at Central Square Heritage Hotel which is right in the center of Old Town. Since cars aren't allowed in this area the hotel kindly sent someone from the front desk to help me with my luggage and walk me to the hotel. Very nice!
Although it wasn't ready when I arrived at 9am, room 310 turned out to have a very large king-bed, marble bathroom, and pretty view of the square below. The hotel had just opened when I was there so everything was spotless. And they have a lift for those with many bags, which I left with the front desk until later.

Split is the 2nd largest city in Croatia; we would be concentrating our time in the small, pedestrian-only old town area. Aaron and I met in the square for a self-guided walking tour of the well-preserved Roman ruins.

First up, Diocletian's Palace built in the 4th century AD for the Roman emperor by the same name. The palace is huge and takes up almost half of the old town. What was once a network of military housing are now private apartments, restaurants, and shops. It was a little confusing until we realized that the word "Palace" was referring to the entire area vs. a castle or actual palace.

From the Peristyle we cut through a nondescript ally in order to visit the Temple of Juniper, which dates from 305 AD! That is pretty incredible! The small temple has a beautifully ornate relief over the entrance, a Renaissance style barrel vault ceiling, and sarcophagi containing two of Split's Archbishops.

Following the narrow passages through the Palace, we made our way out the Golden Gate and past the giant statue of 10th century bishop Grgur Ninski.
Strolling along outside of the Palace walls, we passed numerous tourist stands selling typical souvenirs, but also came across a good sized produce market. Many vendors thrust out samples of local fruits and vegetables, including this loquat which I had never tasted before.

As it started to drizzle, we cut back inside the walls and bought tickets to tour the underground cellars. There were not many people in most of the areas, and the vaulted cellars were damp and dark. Actually a bit creepy!!

All this before lunch! We were starved so made our way to Konoba Fetivi which had been recommended to us for fresh fish. The interior is a little kooky, but our meal was another one for the top of our list. We chose a selection of fresh fish to be grilled, paired with a rich soup, inexpensive wine, and dessert. Highly recommend!

We finished our tour of Diocletian's Palace in the beautiful cathedral, which had been closed earlier in the day. Lots of marble and gold; I especially loved these ornate hanging lamps (or are they incense burners?) which were found throughout.

When I arrived back to the Central Square Hotel, my bags and some love bird towels were waiting for me in my room. I took a quick nap with the windows open, snoozing to the relaxing sounds of people having coffee and conversations in the square below.
Split doesn't have a good classic cocktail bar, that I could find anyway, but Aaron and I checked out two places that had been recommended before dinner. Sanctuary looked like a dive bar but actually served up a decent martini. However people were smoking inside, and the outside tables were full so we only stayed for one round.

Antique had a lovely setting right on the waterfront but the drinks were actively bad. I-sent-mine-back kind of bad. The weather had cleared up and it was a gorgeous evening as we walked along to our dinner destination, Corto Maltese.

This was another recommendation and was a great spot. We had a short wait for a table outside and had a couple of delicious small plates. Afterwards I left Aaron at a gelato stand he was excited to try out, and wandered around in the warm night.

The first thing I came across was a small area, not a park, more like a public shrub area, where a large number of stray cats were gathered. The locals brought cans of cat food here and left them open for the cats. Very cute, and sweet!

Next I encountered a fireworks display! There had been a music stage set up earlier by the waterfront, and now I noticed banners which read in Croatian "It's my country" so I assume it was some patriotic celebration.

As I wandered into the Peristyle there were a lot of people sitting around on the ancient stones listening to a guitar player. I joined, ordered a glass of wine from the waiter who was circulating, and spent the next 45 minutes listening and people watching. The streets were practically empty by the time I made my way back to my hotel and went to bed. It had been a very fun, and very full, day!

The next morning, Aaron and I took a day trip to nearby Trogir. More on that in an upcoming post as I would end up spending a night in the quaint town as well. But we returned to Split for lunch and had an outstanding meal at Villa Spiza. We were lucky enough to get a little table outside where started with some local cheese, fresh bread, and glasses of wine. I had a decadent pasta with minced pork, black truffles, and cream for my main and a nap for dessert!
Later in the afternoon I took advantage of the great weather and strolled along the waterfront. Split really is a lovely city, especially during the shoulder season, before all the crowds.
Aaron and I met at Madero Gin Bar, which sounded promising but was incredibly disappointing. However our final dinner in town at Bokeria, where we had to book days in advance, was another winner. 
We met early the next morning, I bought a few meat stuffed phyllo pastries called burek, and we walked about 15 minutes to the ferry dock. We were headed to Dubrovnik on the fast ferry!

All Split photos here

Other posts from this trip:

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