"here kitty"

Trip Start May 19, 2010
Trip End Aug 03, 2010

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Where I stayed
Diocletians Palace guesthouse

Flag of Croatia  ,
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Split, the first destination on our travels. Quite a unique one at that. Our accommodation in Split will almost certainly have to rank as the most unusual on our travels. It was nestled inside the tightly packed alleyways of one of the most impressive Roman buildings in existence, thou rather than being a museum piece Diocletian's Palace is the bustling heart of Split. Constructed around 300 A.D. the Palace served as the summer retreat for the Roman Emperor Diocletian. It wasn't until later in the 6th century after the fall of the Roman presence in the region that the locals moved in, forming the genesis of Dalmatian culture and people. The Palace is filled with the mundane goings on of daily life, with squadrons of swallows flying over head and numerous cats roaming the streets. The heart of Split casts an enchanting spell, until raucous camera happy tour groups flood through the white stoned city. We could only imagine how unbearable the tourist presence must be during the peak summer season. We found, without a doubt, the best time to enjoy split was very early in the morning. No problem for our skewed body clocks.

Fortunately even at first light there was life in the old city markets. We made a habit of every morning wandering about to grab food both for breakfast and our lunches. Devastating pastries and deli meats and cheeses. Of course, it wouldn't be Europe with out an endless supply of bread and cheese. Croatia bills itself in sexed up ads across the world as "the Mediterranean as it used to be". A fair call really. While much of the slower old world way of life lives on, so too do a few noticeable habits and traits. Fashion is indeed a bit OTT  (think overly ornamented tight jeans and a healthy dose of sparkly crap). And smoking, much to Leah's disdain, still seems to be the pastime of choice. Smoking in bars is one thing, but to be surrounded  by highly animated Deli's chain smoking is quite another. Thankfully, bar one overly priced tourist trap, the food has been  exceptionally good. Pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a country on the side of the Adriatic, plenty of pasta and  pizzas, but also Dalmatian specialties like mince stuffed courgette and lamb stew with wine, herbs and gnocci. Very much enjoy. 

Perhaps our most interesting encounter with the locals happened at a local Konoba (family restaurant) that Randall had visited during his last visit to Split. Buffet Fife had served up exceptional local food at a very reasonable price (about $7 NZD per main). The portions were more than generous. While the local owners were incredibly friendly on our initial arrival the substantial amount of food left uneaten on Leah's plate elicited complaints and explanations of the millions of starving people on the planet. Under pressure Leah attempted more but was soon defeated. Randall was of little use as he only just managed his meal - the generous serving of gnocci with the lamb dish was to blame. We ate there again but shared a main. Just to save trouble.

It's pretty obvious your in a special part of the world when a short day trip of less than an hour takes you from one UNESCO world heritage site to another.  That second spot was Trogir, a little medieval walled village built on a tiny island between the main coast and another larger island. It was one of the only  towns on the Dalmatian coast to flourish after the Venetians conquered Dalmatia (bastards). Subsequently its dripping in Renascence architecture, all tightly knotted inside its city walls.

Still, we were much happier spending our time in Split. Most certainly a grand start to our European meanders.
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