I can only sit idle for so long, so it was perfect timing for our friend Will to come visit and get a little touristy! While he was en route, we warmed up for a week of fun with a day hike right outside of Split. Apparently Google maps hasn’t gotten around to integrating with Croatian public transit so we had to actually use our brains to figure out their native site.
Ms. Frizzle unfortunately wasn’t the captain of bus 28, but the ride out was still pretty magical. Forty minutes through the city, small Mediterranean style villages and beautiful switch backs up the mountain got us to Gorne Sitno. And the trail head was conveniently located ~200 meters from the bus stop!
Snaking up between the locals’ property lines, things got progressively more rugged and beautiful as we hiked on. We spent about two and a half hours intermittently losing/finding the trail markers and acquiring abrasions, having underestimated the naturalness of the trail (wear pants!)… also because I’m clumsy. There was plenty more exploring to be done but we had a preference for the noon bus back over the 2:30. It was well worth the $5 and perhaps even a future return trip to see more of the area!
Will arrived the next afternoon and what better way to welcome your buddy than with the local cuisine and wine?! After filling our bellies with Croatian crustaceans, we let him catch up on some 😴 before figuratively diving into the Adriatic world… the water is too cold to be messing around in a wetsuit right now.
We started out with the #basic tour of old town and Diocletian’s palace. He wanted to ascend the bell tower for the view, whereas I wanted to go into the crypt because I thought it’d be that creepy kind of cool. Of course that combination required the most expensive entry ticket. Sadly the extra 10kn/$1.50 wasn’t worth it since the only thing in the crypt was this odd statue of a lady holding a tray with a pair of eyeballs…
Our last stop was what they called ‘the treasury.’ We almost didn’t bother with it, due to what I’d call a bad translation, but I’m glad we did. Whether or not they used to keep their gold stacks there, it was actually a small museum with some pretty cool artifacts (I’m generally not one to be enthralled by reading plaques). Ironically, it housed more human remains than the crypt.
To check the obvious sites off, we strolled along the outside of Marjan park to the rocky beach at the far end. The sunset was beautiful, but not quite as entertaining as the self-absorbed group perfectly embodying the ‘boyfriends of instagram’ stereotype.. except they were mostly taking pics of each other and not the girls they were with.
The next day we delved further into Dalmatian history, exploring a couple places I had no clue about when we got here. We started out touring the ruins of the ancient Roman capital in Dalmatia, Salona. This gives a quick historical synopsis better than I ever will, but the thing that will stick with me the most is how under the radar this huge site is. Like, straight up, there was an active archeological dig going on while we were there.
Some folks were leaving at the same time we were and I struck up a conversation with someone who happened to be a volunteer. I half jokingly asked if they wanted extra help and the professor leading the excavation said they’d be happy to have me.. so you might just be getting a firsthand account of what it’s like to meticulously dust off thousands of years of dirt from ancient ruins! Fun fact, they still have no idea what they’re uncovering is since it doesn’t align with any known architectural principles of the time.
From there, we ventured just a bit further out of the city to Klis. I’m sure this also means nothing to 98% of people, unless you’re a huge Game of Thrones nerd. On our first stumble through Split’s old town, I got inordinately mad about the GoT museums because I had no idea one of the cornerstone episodes of Khaleesi’s rise to power – overthrowing the slave owners of Meereen – was filmed a short cab ride from there.
Approaching the fortress looks a bit underwhelming because it is situated on the top of a narrow chunk of rock jutting up in the middle of the mountain pass and you enter along the short edge. However, once inside, it stretches for quite a ways, surprisinging you with new views each time you poke your head out. Just be careful not to smack your noggin when the doorway pitch drops dramatically 😉
Walking all day in heat had officially sucked the life out of us, so it was back to our air conditioned apartment for the evening. We were in desperate need of some rest before setting sail (almost literally) the next morning!