Oh I do like to live beside the seaside...

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Do you know what Perth needs? Ancient ruins. That's right - big fuck off old ancient ruins. why? Coz they're cool; coz they're ancient; coz they're ruins - what more do you need? After much deliberation, I have reached the conclusion that 'Profject Ancient Rin' could be combined with 'Project City Wall'. A new project could be formed called 'Project Ancient Ruin Ciy Wall'. I know what you're thinking - Genius. Hvala. Now, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. The result of 'Project Ancient Ruin Ciy Wall' would not, and could not, be anywhere near as impresive as our current ye olde structurs - the roundhouse...? which i understand has won global fame by virtue of the Amazing Race - is, of course, unmatched worldwide. 'Project Ancient Ruin Ciy Wall' would, at least, try to match smoe of the grandeur of the Roundhouse. And anyway - chicks seem to dig Ancient Ruins.

Split is spectacular. Easily the most beautiful place that I've been to in europe on this trip. From the perimeter of the Adriatic, he old ciy and the ancient roman palace, built for the emperor Diocletian, rise up dramatically, imposing an unmistakable historic feeling over everything done in its presence: every coffee sipped; every icecream licked; every cevapi consumed. The old city and palace are amazingly well preserved and are so complex and winding that you could, after a couple of days of wandering its streets, still turn a corner or ascent a flight of stairs and say 'What the fuck? I've never seen this before'. Marble roads, dark, dank, spooky and mysterious crypts, broad squares opening out of nowhere. The old city and palace are awesome. Perth needs ancient ruins.

Unfortunately, I have found myself here in the middle of the holiday season - the place teeming wih tourists - mainly croatian - enjoying their yearly 2 week summer holiday. It's busy - not quite 'Yangshuo during May week' busy, but still fucking busy. Despite this, it hasn't been too difficult to find a reasonably quiet spot on the beach, swim and relax. Bacvice beach, according to one of the locals running my hotel (we'll call him Goran because that's his name), is the most beautiful beach in Split 'as long as you don't mind sand beaches', seemingly suggesting that some crazy people may object to sand beaches, which are clearly far superior. After visiting several parts of the Split coastline, I would disagree entirely with Goran's opinion. And having seen Bacvice, I now understand Goran's reservations about sand beaches, this particular one being fairly dour, the sand being more like mud. Far more beautiful were the beaches in the west of town: clear, warm water, pebbled unfortunately but calm and tranquil. Augmenting the credentials of these western beaches was their proximity to the Mestrovic Gallery, the home of most of the great works of the 20th century sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. A beautiful gallery, it must be said, the contortd religious scultures particularly expressive and amazing. Days like this particular one - wonderful visits to the beach interrupted by an amazing gallery - even on this trip, are few and far between.

Perhaps the worst thing that can be said about the beaches, and this lifestyle, is that they are a meditteranean cliche - the yachts bobbing in the secluded bays more likely than not to house a 'Diana toe-sucking' like scandal, to appear in tomorrow's tabloids. The bronzed men rarely wearing shirts; the sophisticated women smoking on the terraces; vespers; bad european dance music (las ketchup - killing me); are all to be expected as part of this mid-July snapshot but are still amusing and slightly surprising when they actually occur, like Australian accents in an Australian feature film. It's not such a bad cliche to be living...

Split, at this time of year at least, is certainly a playground for Croatians and other europeans alike. That the croatians enjoy such wonderful leisure time, very similar to Australia, in the summer, is quite remarkable considering their recent history. Such is the freshness of the war, there has been a certain reluctance to discuss anything political or war related; understandably so; insight about this period is difficult to attain. But even as the people are reluctant to speak, the abandoned, damaged, destroyed and obliterated dwellings and structures seen on the bus from Zagreb to Split speak for themselves. They now stand symbolically as a reminder of the war, not intentionally remaining but, as the girl next to me on the bus said 'because no one wants to live around here anymore'.

So, Split. A city of cafes, beaches, historical significance, beautiful women and, if visited at the right time of year, football hoolaganism - what's there not to like? A beautiful place that has induced me to stay for longer than planned.

And so to the Top 5. Well, having spent a large proportion of my time in Split cafes, I feel at least slightly qualified to cast some judgment over them. Frankly, they are one of the best ways to spend the long, hot Split days, writing, reading, people-watching, thinking about the great hings about these cafes. And so, after much thought, the Top 5 things about Split Cafes:

5. The fact that they serve no food at all, and the waitresses say 'No. We don't do food. We are a cafe'.
4. Cockta - not coke. not chinotto. Somewhere in between. Genius.
3. Chess - everywhere. Knight to b3.
2. $1 coffees - unheard of since the good old guild coffee days.
1. Swing chairs - aka chairs like swings. Like on the porch of a manor in the southern US states. Brilliant...

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