Saturday, September 22, 2012

Splendid Split

After braving the elements in Korcula, our katamaran made its way into smoother waters along the coastline, and eventually we were cruising under a blue sky! The weather forecast however had prepared me for a rainy day in Split, so it was no surprise when we found the remnants of big bad rain clouds looming over the mainland. However, one cappuccino (and energy kick after getting up at 4.30) later, all the clouds had disappeared and I was left with a truly splendid two days in and around the city. Split is best-known to be founded upon the remains of Roman emperor Diocletian's palace. I knew that the palace was the mains attraction. What I didn't know, however, was that it encompasses basically the entire old town, it's huge! Quite the retirement home for an old and wary emperor. Subsequently, refugees fleeing from a Slav invasion found the unused palace and used it for what my guidebook describes as the most infamous squat in history. Now, some actual sights remain such as a temple and the original basement (only excavated in 1956!), but the majority of the palace is actual living space now with restaurants, shops, cages and apartments sharing parts of the old walls. Fascinating. My favorite part of sightseeing was to climb the bell tower (with my backpack in tow, I felt like a mountaineer) and see the pristine harbor and coastline as well as the city. Oh, and swimming around the cliffs north of the city centre is recommendable too. I also got my dose of culture and great conversations thanks to my couchsurfing host Mladen, who took me to the Split independent film festival and around town and with whom I talked about everything from spirituality to the war. Truly an enriching experience beyond just the sights. (Also, in case one is looking for a half-day trip from Split, yesterday I went to Brac in the morning for one last ferry-and-island adventure and had the best time discovering the sleepy town and unspoiled bays. Mladen however says that Brac is incomparable to Hvar, and that I only liked Brac because I didn't have the comparison case. I think his exact words were "if you have never seen the ocean even a puddle looks great." then again, he is from Hvar and so majorly biased. :) Use your own judgment.)

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