Split July 19-24, 2013
Split, what an aptly named place. It is split between being beautiful and ugly at the same time. We arrived at around mid-morning and after a longish bus trip from the airport we were deposited in a noisy, crowded and franticaly busy portside area. It was baking hot and all we wanted to do was to get out of the sun. Following written directions to our accommodation we took a couple of goes to find it, having to navigate through the narrow alleys in the within the old city walls and a crowded marketplace. Relieved to get to our studio apartment, we dropped our bags and went out to explore.
By now it was really HOT and even more crowded. We tried to get through the Diocletian palace but it was impossible to see anything. It was overcrowded by stalls selling stuff, by bars and restaurants just about everywhere you turn and the rest of the space was filled with tourists trying to see the old ruins. We seem to be surrounded by Australians, just about every English speaker we have heard has been Australian. At times it feels like Byron Bay or Gold Coast at schoolies or end of footy season tours. We gave up and went to the beach. The closest beach to the city was like the city itself – crowded. But the sea redeems everything, it is an amazing blue colour and impossibly clear. The water is refreshingly cool and after a swim we were restored.
In our time in Split we visited several galleries and museums and found that in almost all of them, we were the only ones there. I guess visitors to Split come for the sea or to see the ruins of the Diocletian Palace. The Maestrovic gallery and Chapel are quite impressive and cool places to visit in the heat of the day with wonderful displays of the artists work.
We also did a 3 hr kayaking trip and found a wonderful oasis of rocky outcrops with deep water beautifully clear and calm. The guide was funny – mid way to paddling out he asked us if we were tired, I was wondering why? It was clear after the trip when he said to me that he was so very impressed to see couples like us – Australians – doing physical, adventurous stuff. I was a little confused and then it dawned on me he meant old couples like us. I nearly laughed – if only he knew. The 3 hours of kayaking in still ocean waters was neither physical nor overly adventurous. Just wonderful to be out, away from the crowds and seeing a different perspective to the place.
We have both struggled with the heat – it took us a while to work out why. The air temperature is wonderful and pleasant when you are under a shade of a tree. But there is so little shade to be found around the old town – it is all white stone buildings and paving, which tends to trap the heat and reflect it back so you feel like you are being roasted from top and bottom. So we have had to resort to staying indoors around midday – it is simply intolerable to be outside. It reminds me of the reef trips in summer – mornings and evenings are best to be out doing anything.
We also visited the island of Brac, which is a 50 minute ferry ride from Split. We hired a car and explored the island. Simply wonderful, Brac is everything I thought Split might have been. A rocky island only about 40km long by 13km wide with several small fishing villages and numerous chapels dating abck to the Middle Ages. Hammer did well driving a clapped out old Golf along some narrow winding roads with very steep dropoffs and no safety barriers. We found the most beautiful swimming beach at Murvica where we spent a few hours enjoying the cooling breeze under the shade of dense pine trees. If I were to plan this trip again I probably would have stayed on this island and only have done a day trip to Split.