Hvar to Split

Trip Start Nov 09, 2007
Trip End Feb 03, 2008

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Flag of Croatia  ,
Friday, December 21, 2007

We were up early as our ferry was due at 7.55. I over allowed for the time to get to the ferry, mainly so that we would be there early. Unfortunately the ferry did not have the same idea but preferred to get there late. We stood at the quayside near the edge of the pier and watched in awe at the graceful entry into the harbour of the huge ferry. The skilful captain pulled the ship smoothly towards the pier.
As it came close we noticed that the other intending passengers were standing well away from the edge. 'Do you think there's a reason the other passengers are standing over there?' Jess asked. "I was just thinking the same thing' said Jean. 'I say we move over there.' Just in the nick of time we left the spot beside the water's edge. Moments later a huge rope was tossed off the side of the ship and landed on the very spot where we had been standing. A waiting wharf hand scooped it up and placed it over one of the pilings. Noone had told us that our original position might be a less than wise place to wait. No doubt we were part of the possible amusement for the day.
A gangplank was lowered from the ferry. The lower it came, the more the gangplank resembled a ladder. By the time it reached the shore we were faced with lugging the suitcases up an almost vertical horror before we could get on board. We sorted out who was going to lug which of the bags, now swelled with Christmas presents and other momentos, up the ladder. Thankfully now that Cameron had joined us we could share the super-weight bags. Arriving on the ferry we looked around for somewhere to sit. In front of us we saw a room with quite a number of empty seats, so we trundled in there, places the bags in some orderly chaos and sat down beside them.
A waiter approached us a graciously said 'so are you going to eat?' Somewhat taken aback by the abrupt approach we all considered his question. 'Yes' Jess said. This appeared to phase the rude waiter momentarily, so he countered with 'So what you going to eat?'. 'Do you have a menu?' I asked. 'Yes, we have breakfast.' he replied. 'How many you want? One, two three, four?'
I'm nothing if not perceptive, because my radar was telling me that there was something annoying him (see, clever AND perceptive, that's me). 'Are these bags OK here?' I asked him. 'No, bags should not be here. Bags should be out there' he said pointing to an unknown place suitable for bags.
'Sorry for troubling you' I very politely responded OK, I write the blog so I get to say I was polite. You want a different opinion about whether I was scathingly sarcastic to the very rude man and you'd have to ask someone else.
We left the smoky downmarket on-board café and found some seats in the section described as 'airplane seating'. Fair enough, the description was accurate and we spent the rest of the smooth crossing in quiet contemplation. The fare was just 22 kuna each
As we approached Split Harbour we noticed a number of people getting ready to disembark. The smartest thing to do seemed to be to follow the crowd who appeared to know where they were going. We were led down two flights of stairs, lugging the bags (again) as we went.
The crowd has led us down into the bowels of the boat to the garage section. Drivers were getting into their cars and getting ready to drive off. Right in front of us was a massive tractor, fitted out to dig ditches. For some reason the driver of the behemoth seemed to find it necessary to start his engine far in advance of the ship docking, let alone the ramp being lowered. The fumes and loud noise were set to cause permanent injury when finally the ramp started coming down.
As we left we followed the instructions we had been given to walk around the harbour front. As we walked we noticed what a lovely town Split is. We hadn't noticed this three days earlier when we had just been in Split to catch a ferry. It occurred to us that it was a shame that all many people would get to see of Split is the ferry terminal as they board to go off to an island.
The instructions told us to go behind the church so when we came upon the church we took the road behind the church. Despite the instructions being quite clear, we were unable to find the street we were looking for. Jess asked an old woman standing in a doorway, who in turn asked a passing man. He looked at the name of the street and scratched his head. After a while he pointed back the way we had come and said we had to walk around and along. As he did so, he suggested we might need a taxi to get us there. I laughed at this idea, as I knew it was not far from where we were. Nevertheless we walked back the way we had come and then took the street in front of the church. As we did so we looked up at the street sign to find it was the street we were looking for. We continued on for a minute or so and reached a corner that was about 20 metres from where we had asked directions and where we would have reached if we had continued down the lane we had been walking. For reasons known only to himself this person had deliberately sent us about 200 metres out of our way. I guess he thought it was pretty funny.
Another minute or so of walking and we found the address of the apartment, and Nikola, our host came out to meet with us. He told us our rooms would not be ready for a few minutes yet so suggested we might like to go for a coffee. He recommended a café with a nice terrace about 2 minutes away that we had passed on the way so we went back there and had coffee and an omelette in the glorious morning sun.
After this break we went back and had a tour of our apartments. We are in two apartments, the kids are in the upstairs apartment that sleeps four (called 'Apartment Olga' on the website, and Jess and I are in 'Apartment Bila' downstairs. They are both lovely and ideal for us. Nikola was very friendly and helpful, suggesting a number of activities and places to eat.
After dumping our bags and freshening up we headed into town. With no particular agenda we just walked around the old town of Split, finding some markets, stumbling across the tourist information, and generally enjoying the amazing alleyways that characterise this area. We found the Diocletian Palace, which is a remarkably well preserved Roman artefact. What is most amazing about it is the way that the city has been built into the ruin. No keeping it set aside as a museum piece for these people. It has markets, stores, residences all incorporated into the aquaducts, basilicas and walls. Walking around the palace was a joy.
We came across an art gallery dedicated to the work of Emanuel Vidovic, a Croatian painter of some renown. We all admired his work and spent an hour enjoying the atmosphere of the gallery.
Needing a break we went to the cafes lined up on the harbour front in an area that has clearly had a lot of money spent on it. We sat outside in the late afternoon sun and had coffee and delicious pastries.
Cameron and Jean went home while Jess and I took Maggie and Georgie on a shopping expedition trying to pick up a few last minute gifts for Christmas. Small and lightweight are the principal requirements for us at this stage. The Christmas lights in the old town were on by now and the place took on a romantic charm.
When we got back we found the 'Big kids' had bought some gnocchi for their dinner so we left the 'wee kids' to eat with them while we went out for a meal on our own for the first time in months. It was really very nice to have some time alone with Jess to chat about silly things and plan for Christmas and the upcoming travel.
The restaurant we went to was called
Fife and is only 2 minutes from our apartment. They serve hearty local food with large portions for very reasonable prices. Jess and I ate until we were full, had wine and coffee and the bill was around $24. We were very happy as we strolled back to our apartment, arm in arm.
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