Sleepless in Split

Trip Start Oct 24, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Croatia  ,
Friday, September 9, 2011

Our bus had left Sarajevo at 9:00pm on Thursday night and was scheduled to arrive in Split around 4:30am. It wasn't ideal, but it would save us an entire day that we would have otherwise spent traveling from Bosnia-Herzegovina to Croatia. It was a rough ride, and we didn't get much sleep on the bus -- which was unfortunate because the bus pulled into the bus station in Split early, dropping us there at the dark hour of 3:15am.

Our plan was to spend the day exploring Split and Trogir, a neighboring town. None of that was going to happen at 3:15 in the morning, so we found a corner in the very well-lit bus station and curled up on our bags, trying to squeeze in a little more shut-eye. Needless to say, it wasn't very comfortable, and neither us of were really able to sleep before the station staff came around to kick us out at 5:30am. 
Things weren't working out very well for us so far in Split, but they started to look up when I went to check out the ferry times. We'd expected them to just run once a day, but it turned out that ferries to nearby islands of Hvar and Korcula ran multiple times throughout the day. With that knowledge in hand, I returned to the bus station considering a new idea: have a quick look around Split, then board an early ferry for one of the islands, thus gaining ourselves an extra day on the beach. Konrad thought it sounded like a good plan, so we left our bags at the left-luggage counter as soon as it opened and set out on the streets of Split.

Sitting proudly on the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic, Split is the second largest city in Croatia, boasting a population of just under 200,000 people. It is home to Diocletian's Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site identified by our guidebook as one of the world's most impressive Roman monuments. It was built by the order of the Roman emperor Diocletian between 295 and 313AD, who was preparing for his retirement and needed a suitable palace from which to enjoy it. It was, understandably, our first stop in Split.

Diocletian's Palace is monstrous, enclosing hundreds of homes, hotels restaurants, bars, shops, and cafes within its walls. It stretches on for blocks and blocks in either direction, and also features at least one beautiful bell tower. It was only a smidge past 7:00am when we wandered through one of its gates, so we'd beat the tour buses and cruise ships there and were able to appreciate its beauty without being shoved about by thousands of other tourists.

After exploring some of the nooks and crannies inside the palace, we sat down at a cafe to do a little research and make a final decision about which island we wanted to visit. Both Korcula and Hvar sounded fantastic, and it seemed like either choice would be a good one, which made it even more difficult. I'm not sure if we flipped a coin, but somehow we came to an agreement that we would head to Hvar.
There was an 8:00am ferry that we might just be able to make, so we rushed back to the quay. I had forgotten the sunhat I'd picked up in Macedonia on the bus from Sarajevo; I didn't really want to abandon it, so we tried banging on the doors of the bus again in the hopes that the driver would awake and open up so we could search. Our attempts at 5:00am and 6:00am had been unsuccessful, but this time I saw him up and about (and pantsless!) inside the bus as we walked up. He grumpily handed over my hat, but by the time that happened, it was too late for us to catch the ferry.

We instead walked over to the jetty and bought tickets for the 11:30am boat, leaving us with three hours to kill in Split. We returned to Diocletian's Palace and holed up at another cafe where I promptly fell asleep -- the long night on the bus and in the station were starting to take their toll. After at least fifty winks, we were back on our feet, walking around both the inside and outside of the palace. While doing so, we stumbled across a bookstore with English-language books where we picked up a few new titles to add to our already bulging book backpack. 

Around 11:00am, we returned once more to the bus station and collected our bags, then made for the ferry, which was extremely crowded. We left Split behind, but only for a short while, knowing that we would be transiting through again in the not too distant future.
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