Split. It's a town, I'm not asking you to leave.

Trip Start Apr 01, 2011
Trip End Jan 26, 2012

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Flag of Croatia  ,
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

After spending two days at Plitvice Lakes and seeing all of that crystal clear water that we were not allowed to swim in (you know, national park, UNESCO World Heritage Site and all…) we really wanted to spend some time on a beach. We decided to take the bus from Plitvice Lakes to a city about halfway down the Dalmatia coast called Split.  While we were standing at the bus stop in Plitvice, which was just a little three wall log shelter, we had a guy in a taxi van pull up and ask where we were going to take the bus to.  He told us that if he could find enough people going to Split to fill all the seats in his van, he would drive us to Split for the same price as the bus, get there in less than half the time and drop us off anywhere we wanted in the town.  That sounded pretty good so off he went to try and get more passengers.  He ended up almost filling the van so we only paid a couple dollars more than the bus would have been but it was a lot quicker than the bus, which was nice

Split is the second largest city in Croatia and has a population of approximately 300,000 people.  The old town in Split is along the harbor and is dominated by the ancient palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian, who decided in the year 295 that Split was a good place to spend the summers and over 1,700 years later, it still seems to be a popular place to spend time in the summer.  An interesting difference between the palace of Diocletian in Split and any of the other Palaces we have visited is that at some point in the past, the town moved inside the palace walls and the entire area inside the palace walls is now a maze of narrow walking streets with old stone buildings containing shops, houses, restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, hostels and hotels.  We spent many hours walking around inside the palace walls and in addition to probably seeing less than half of the streets, we were still unable to figure out where we were going or where we had been.  We decided to spend five days in Split so we rented a little apartment that had a kitchen in it so we could do some grocery shopping and prepare our own meals.  The apartment was quite small but served our needs well.  It had a little bar size refrigerator, a 2 burner stove, a sink, table and chairs, a bed, couch, TV and a washroom with a shower.  Outside we had a laundry line and a little patio on the roof with a small table and a couple of chairs.  We were less than a 2 minute walk to the grocery store and no more than 5 minutes to the beach or to the center of the old town.  One of the odd things we have noticed in Croatia is that it is common to have a switch outside the bathroom door to turn the hot water tank on and off.  The hot water tanks are relatively small (about 30 liters) and really super unbelievably hot to the point where I am surprised that steam doesn't come out of the tap.  The water is so hot, you have to use very little of it so it is no problem for 2 people to shower one after the other and still have plenty of hot water left.  It’s not good though if you accidentally bump the tap in the shower over to the hot side while you are maneuvering in a small shower stall.

On one of the days, we took a ferry to a town called Supetar on the island Brac.  There was a cemetery in the town, right at the end of a peninsula and surrounded by beaches and hotels that had really amazing headstones and even a few memorials that looked like entire churches built out of stone.  We tried taking a swim at one of the beaches but they were all very rocky and difficult to walk around on or walk in to the water so we stopped at another one of the beaches and sat and read.  A lot of the people we have seen here are wearing swim shoes while they are at the beach and it's starting to make sense.  There are a lot of beaches that are described as "pebble" beaches but a more accurate term would be “large shards of sharp broken rocks the size of softballs” beaches but at least the water is always very clean with only a hint of shredded flesh and blood (just kidding…  sort of)

We spent a lot of our time in Split walking – to the beach, to the grocery store, around the Palace.  On one day we spent a very long time looking for a McDonalds so that we could get some internet access because it seems that every McDonalds in Europe has free wireless internet.  After a long walk on a very hot day, we ended up having to ask an older lady who didn’t speak any English for directions.  Luckily we weren’t too far away from the mall that had the McDonalds in it, so we were able to understand her directions.

We have been very fortunate that most of the people we’ve spoken with in Croatia know at least some English. It’s really great because in the past, when we’ve been in Spain, France, and Germany, we’ve known a few words and what we didn’t know, you can take a wild guess at what the word means because a number of words are kind of similar to the English word.  We cannot do that in Croatia.  Few of the words that we’ve seen look remotely close to the English words, and there are some letters that look similar to letters we use, but do not sound the same.  It’s a very different language so it’s not intuitive at all when we are trying to read signs that have no English on them.  I think that we have only talked to three people so far in Croatia who were unable to speak any English: the above mentioned lady we asked for directions but who understood “McDonalds” and was able to point out the directions; one cashier at a supermarket but we had a person in line behind us who was able to translate; and a lady who worked at a bakery who could only speak Croatian and German so with our limited vocabulary of about 20 German words and the ability to understand and speak most numbers in German (Thanks Charlene for teaching me that when we were in France) we were able to get across the necessary information to buy a few things.   

We finally got to try some Slivovitz which is a very strong, very alcoholly booze that seems to be quite common in Croatia.  It’s actually a plum brandy and tastes almost nothing like plum, or fruit of any kind.  It didn’t seem like the bartender served it very often and wasn’t really sure how it was supposed to be served.  We asked for it in shot glasses and as it was close to the end of the bottle, we ended up with extra large shots :-)  After the fire in our throats went out and we contemplated whether it was good or bad that the shots were extra large, we left the bar and went for a walk along the water, a little tipsier than when we started out. 
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