Day 13: Croatia – Split

Plan for the day

There was only one destination planned for the day, that was Split in Croatia. The estimated distance was 150 km and the driving duration was 2 hr. Again we would be crossing a border this time from Bosnia & Herzegovina back to Croatia. We would be staying in Split for three nights and on the fourth day we would be leaving Croatia, flying out from Split airport.

Route for the day

Route for the day

By the end of the day

In the morning after checking out of Apartment Kravica we went in search for breakfast and end up eating two breakfasts in two hour span. Sinful but very satisfying. By the early afternoon we reached Split  and checked in to our apartment which was a  short distance from the harbour and the center of the old city. Once settled we had a great time exploring this beautiful city on foot. We spent the late evening at the harbour front enjoying dessert and hot coffee as we watched the tourists strolled by.

Two breakfasts

It was our last morning in Bosnia & Herzegovina and still had about 141 BAM (SGD$105 or €70). We figured that after spending on breakfast and petrol whatever left would probably not worth the effort to be converted back to Euro or Singapore dollar. At this moment in time we could not imagine ourselves visiting Bosnia & Herzegovina a 2nd time (not that we did not have a good time in Bosnia & Herzegovina but there were just too many other countries in our list to visit) so keeping the currency would be a waste of money. So the aim this morning was to use up as much of our BAM as possible.

We checked out early at 9 am and drove towards the town Ljubuski, since we visited the town center the evening before for dinner, we decided to proceed to other parts of town for this morning breakfast. At the road circle just before entering into the town center we turned left onto Road R242. Along R242 on the left side were a couple of cafes/restaurants some looked open some not. In less than 900 m we came upon a local cafe, it looked nice and we went in for our breakfast.

Local deli Pekarnica

Local deli Pekarnica

We picked a cheese pizza, a pie and requested to dine in, since we saw a table with four chairs at the corner in the shop. It seemed like the usual customers patronising this shop did not dine in, because the man behind the counter had a bit of difficulty searching for cutlery, plates etc. It was a pity that this shop did not sell drinks to go with the food. The cost of the food came up to only 6 BAM (SGD$4.8 or €3).

Our breakfast at Pekarnica

Once breakfast was done we looked around for a petrol station to “feed” our car,  I saw a petrol station across the road less than two hundred meters ahead so we drove there. Surprising it was not just a Petrol Station it was also a restaurant & cafe bar. We decided to make another stop for caffe latte as our breakfast felt incomplete without a proper hot drink.

AT Kerametal Benzinska & Caffe

AT Kerametal Benzinska & Caffe (Co-ords: 43.188898, 17.544632)

Wow! The interior of the cafe bar was lovely, it was luxurious and posh. It was pretty big, there was a breakfast/dining section, lounge section and bar section. The young handsome waiter that came to help us with our orders spoke a little English and was very helpful and friendly. This place was definitely so much cosier and more comfortable than our first breakfast place.

Lovely interior of Cafe and Bar

The pricing on the menu was also inexpensive (by Singapore standard), there were cakes, wraps, pancakes, ice-creams and they all looked so yummy. So rather than just a hot drink each we decided to have a second breakfast. This was despite the fact that we were still feeling full from our earlier breakfast. We limited ourselves to one food item each and ordered four items to share among us. Ohhhh… only if we were not feeling so full we would have ordered two food items each and then we could get to taste eight varieties. Sighh….

Yummy, Yummy, Yummmmy

Yummy, Yummy, Yummmmy…..

The entire bill for this second breakfast came up to 25 BAM (SGD$19  or €12.5). The food was great it was just a pity that I could not finish my portion as I felt too full.

We did not managed to use up all our BAM, even after pumping petrol and a visit to the local supermarket chain, Konzum. Generally everything in Bosnia & Herzegovina was less expensive than Croatia including supermarket goods. I wondered if Croatians popped into Bosnian & Herzegovina to buy their daily groceries and products since there would be a huge saving.

Split

It was difficult to sit in the car with a full stomach.  Lucky for us the drive to Split was only two hours and finally at about 12.30 pm we reached Split. Our host (for Apartment Varos) had arranged to meet us at Vilidica Cafe. Based on the co-ordinates, our TOM TOM GPS brought us on a road up a hill that looked like the back yard of some park to a dead end road. From my google map I could see that Vilidica Cafe was a short walking distance (20 m) from the dead end road. I left everybody in the car and walked toward cafe to look for my host. A tall man waved at me and told me our host had sent him (it was a mystery how he could recognise me). He told us to park our car in the car park spaces along the dead end road which was also free of charge and he would guide us to our apartment. Apparently this dead end road was the nearest free car park to our apartment. It was a 200 metres downhill walk to our apartment through a labyrinth of cobbled paths.

Our host’s friend led us to Apartment Varos which was in a location different from the co-ordinates stated in our booking confirmation and also the position of Apartment Varos listed on google map. I had booked this apartment for its view and its proximity to the harbour. I was wondering if they had allocated the wrong apartment to us but on walking into the apartment, I could see that its interior was the same as the photos shown on the booking website, similarly the harbour view outside the window was the same too.

The port of Split as view from our Apartment Varos window

The harbour of Split as view from our Apartment Varos window

This was definitely the right apartment but in the wrong location, it was further away from the harbour than it was supposed to be. Looking out of the window I wished there were not so many roof tops in front of us. It would have been even better if this apartment had a balcony instead of windows. These were probably the reasons why this apartment was a bargain at 1000 kuna (SGD$210 or €135) for three nights.  I felt disappointed, but just only a tiny bit as we had a lot of time in Split and would surely be able to find other good viewpoints of the harbour front.

Split as seen from our apartment window

Split as seen from our apartment window

Exploring Split Harbour Promenade

From our apartment we walked down the an alley towards the harbour front. It was about 250 m away. We walked through the narrow cobbled path with houses on both sides, many of them were rented out to tourists. As we approached the harbour front, quaint cafes and restaurants started sprouting out among these rows of houses. The narrow cobbled path came to an end as it joined a main road at a “triangular round-about” just next to the harbour promenade. On one side was a church, Crkva i samostan sv. Frane, with its bell and clock tower and on the other side was a red five story buildings. We had arrived at Diochetian’s Palace!

Church  Crkva i samostan sv. Frane

Church  Crkva i samostan sv. Frane and the buildings of Diocletian’s Palace?

Diocletian’s Palace was not one particular building but an entire fortress which occupied around 30,000 square meters. It was referred to as a “palace” because  it was intended to be used as the retirement residence of Roman Emperor Diocletian and was built in the fourth century AD. So the palace consisted of not only Diocletian’s quarters but also surrounding buildings intended to house the military garrison.

This ancient fortress had become the old town of Split. The old buildings on the narrow streets of the palace/fortress were now used as shops, cafes, restaurants and apartments and about 3000 people lived on the territory of Diocletian’s palace today.

Which of these buildings were from the Diocletian age and which were added later by the long list of empires that owned Split after that age was difficult to tell. All this did not matter beyond the facts that Split was lovely.

Harbour Promenade at Split

Riva – Harbour Promenade at Split

Riva the harbour promenade was just after the “triangular round about”. On one side of the promenade were buildings housing cafes, restaurants and souvenir stores and on the other side was the sea with palm trees and benches. It was very cooling and relaxing to strolled down the promenade. We especially loved the outdoor cafes and decided that we were definitely going to come down to the promenade every evening to enjoy cakes and hot coffee.

The Riva was on the southern facade of Diocletian’s Palace/Fortress and it consisted of more luxurious structures as they served as the emperor’s apartments and religious buildings. As we walked along the shops on the Riva we came to a “corridor” that ran perpendicular to the row of shops. The corridor seemed to lead further into a covered underground alley. So we went in. We had apparently walked into the substructures  of Diocletian’s  Quarters. The tunnel had big chambers on both sides that were occupied by souvenir stores.

Under ground tunnel of Diocletian's Palace

Under ground tunnel of Diocletian’s Palace

At the end of the tunnel we walked up some steps that led us into a huge compound, like a courtyard with beautiful Roman style buildings on all sides. This was the peristyle – a central square within the Diocletian’s Palace. On the east side of the square sat Diocletian’s mausoleum which was also the Cathedral of St. Domnius. The structures around the square were built from white limestone and marble.

The building opposite the Cathedral now housed a Cafe and many visitors bought coffee from the cafe but instead of enjoying their drinks in the cafe they sat on the few rows of steps surrounding the square sipping their coffee as they watched the people go by.

Peristyle - a central square within Diocletian's Palace

Peristyle – a central square within Diocletian’s Palace

After the Peristyle we walked northward until we exited the Golden Gate (Northern gate)  of the Diocletian’s Palace and came to a huge statue of of a medieval Croatian Bishop (Gregory of Nin). Rubbing the toe of the statue was said to bring good luck. He was famous because he introduced the national Croatian Language into Catholic services which were originally conducted in Latin which few people understood. This helped grew Christianity in the Croatian kingdom.

Grgur Ninski

Grgur Ninski (Gregory of Nin)

After exploring the old town for more than three hours we decided it was time to go back to our apartment to cook dinner. We intended to finished as much of our food supplies as possible before we we left Croatia. In our supplies we still had a huge piece of smoke bacon that we bought from Bosnia & Herzegovina, some eggs and tomatoes. We walked into one to the many supermarkets in the old town and bought a pack of cheese tortellini and had a lovely home cooked dinner back at our apartment.

Bacon with cheese tortellini

Bacon with cheese tortellini

Night out at Riva

After dinner and a good rest we were restless again. This time we returned to where we had parked our car and from there walked a couple of steps to Vilidica Cafe. On the sea-facing side of the cafe there was a wide viewing deck where we could see the entire harbour front of Split old town. It was very beautiful. By about 8 pm, the lights in town came on one by one and soon at 8.30 pm the old town looked like a magical land

Beautiful Split as view from a viewing deck near Validica Cafe

Beautiful Split as view from a viewing deck near Validica Cafe

The entire harbour promenade was lighted up. We could see the bell tower of Cathedral of St. Domnius at Diocletian’s quarter. From Vilidica Cafe we walked down a flight of steps that went down to the harbour. It was about 9 pm and we wanted our dessert and coffee. The outdoor cafes at Riva were crowded with patrons. We found a cosy place, placed our orders and sat down to enjoy the cakes, hot drinks and watched the people walked by. For a piece of cake, two hot chocolates and two cafe lattes the cost came up to 18 Kuna (SGD$3.6 or €2.4), a fantastic price.

Accommodation for the night

I booked Apartment Varos online from Booking.com. The cost for three nights was for 1000 Kuna (SGD210 or€134). Again I booked this apartment because its price was very attractive and it also offered a good view. It was only on arriving that we realized the apartment was not as near the harbour as was stated by Booking.com or google map.

Along the street Palmina ul we entered a green metal gate into a compound shared my several houses of different shapes, sizes and heights.  Our unit was on the 3rd level of a door number “41”.

Apartment Varos was on the 3rd level

Apartment Varos was on the 3rd level

The apartment had two bedrooms, one room had a double bed and the other had a double and a single. This apartment could actually sleep 5 persons.  A big TV was installed in only one of the bedroom. The place was clean and the deco in the bedrooms was simple.

Two bedrooms at Apartment Varos

Two bedrooms at Apartment Varos

Immediately outside the two bedrooms was the kitchen with a large dining table. The kitchen was well equipped with crockery and appliance so cooking would be easy here. Beside the dining table there was no other sitting area. The window from the kitchen overlooked the beautiful old town of Split.

Kitchen and dining room at Apartment Varos

Kitchen and dining room at Apartment Varos

There was one big toilet in the apartment. The toilet was pretty modern and clean.

Toilet in Apartment Varos

Toilet in Apartment Varos

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