It was such a different Split we came back to – a nice sunny smiling one! The pictures are so different that I had to look twice to see what I could recognise! Our previous brief encounter with the angry Split was pretty uncomfortable and scary as we were forced to leave the outer dock at the marina in very high swells and blustery winds!
Split looked fantastic as we came in and with both of us taking a keen interest in architecture and history, we knew we are in for a treat.
A short prelude to Split:
Split is by far the largest Dalmatian city and the second-largest city of Croatia. It is also one of the oldest cities in the area dating back just over 1,700 years (counting from the construction of the Diocletian’s Palace in AD 305.) The city was originally built around the Diocletian palace. The palace is an UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the world’s most impressive Roman monuments.
The beautiful Cathedral of Domnius and the Bell tower is very much a landmark of Split. The Cathedral is a complex of a church, formed from an Imperial Roman mausoleum, with an impressive Romanesque Bell tower. The Cathedral is dating back from the 4th century, which makes it the oldest (and the smallest) cathedral in the world. It took 300 years to build which explains the almost confusing mixture of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance style of it.
The Port of Split, with its annual traffic of 4 million passengers, is the third busiest port in the Mediterranean and we could see some of that as it was buzzing with ferries, busses and tourist – by the way, it was not even high season yet at the time we were there! In spite of the intensity of tourism and the commercialisation of the place, we were not put off from visiting this wonderful ancient city.
Wandering the historic centre of Split we were entranced by the remains of the almost two thousand year old Roman walls, squares, temples and remains of the original pillars (which has been carefully preserved and restored). Some of the later you will find inside shops, homes or in a corner tucked away under a staircase to accommodate expansions and restoration work of the buildings inside the palace.
Split is a buzz of restaurants, coffee shops, bars and some well-known brand name shops with a wonderful atmosphere about it. In spite of the amounts of tourists around it is a lovely clean city – once again it is one of the characteristics of Croatia as a whole, we thought – the tidiness of the towns and cities.
The highlight of our stay certainly was joining an organised walking tour of the old city. We were lucky to have a very vibrant, knowledgeable tour leader that coloured the already rich history of Split in with her wittiness. The history of Croatia as a country and certainly that of Split is a very involved and confusing affair at best of times and having it told with so much insight and flair, really paint the perfect picture in our minds. It all makes so much more sense now. Split has been under Roman, Venetian, Austrian, French, Italian and Yugoslav control in the past – Just to give you an idea of the influences that has moulded and shaped the city over the years!
Although the walk from the marina to the old town is totally doable, the water taxi became a welcome alternative to easily visit the city from there. The wonderful stretch of the Riva (waterfront) full of inviting restaurants makes a wonderful walk with its marble paving and rows of palm trees. The influence of the Venetian times has left Split with some stunning typical architecture that makes you think you are in Venetia when you see it.
Except for the wonderful guided tour, another highlight of the city was to climb up into the Bell Tower of tower of the Cathedral. Looking down on the red and brown tiled roofs, old stone buildings and courtyards, where life has been going on for thousands of years, had us in ecstasy for quite some time. We were lucky to be there on a very clear summer’s day and the view all the way over the bay to the marina and beyond made for some fabulous photography. The amazing detail in the architecture of the Cathedral is making you realise how much quality craftsmanship was involved in those days Our modern world is lacking so much of it and sadly, I don’t think there will be much to see for tourist in 2000 years of how we lived other than through documentaries. We just don’t have the quality buildings in modern times that will withstand the test of time.
We left Split feeling that we have done and see everything we hoped to. All that was left now was to pick Rosemarie, Johann’s mum and her friend Cal up. Our next group of guests for the next 2 weeks. We had to leave the marina at 2pm at the latest as it was fully booked for the weekend. The wind has already picked up quite a bit, and leaving the dock was already quite daunting with the wind pushing us back into the yacht next to us. Being a charter boat with a few very happy customers on it, they were pretty relaxed about it all! We just scraped pass with a hair struggling to get through the two hulls!
The plan now is to temporarily dock on the wall where the fuel dock is until they arrive at about 4 pm. It is a very exposed docking position with the swells coming straight at us and the wind pushing us at a slight angle into the wall. The only way was that I had to jump off, mooring line coiled around my arm and tie us down as soon as possible. The bow has never seemed higher! With a slight drizzle of rain settling in, the marble paved dock has become a very dangerous platform as point of contact. I almost kissed the lovely man (passing by) that offered to take the mooring lines and save me from killing myself in a very undignified and ungraceful manner!
To have two 80 year old guests on board is a pretty risky affair at best of times, but in weather like this, it seriously make us wonder if it was a good idea at all! A slippery deck and windy conditions did not help to ease our minds. Luckily the sea conditions were pretty mild, but the poor Cal was struggling from the moment we left the bay. Finding his sea legs kept eluding him for the next two days. I had to refrain from using the phrase “feeling green “ as that is his surname! Green! We did not have a long way to go, but for someone suffering from “mal de mer” a 3 hour journey is an eternity!
We were all relieved to be anchored in the relatively calm protective water of Trogir for the night.