The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Split–Gateway to the Balkans

The following takes place on Days 220-224, July 5-9,2011

I did it! I escaped the clutches of Italy! Don’t get me wrong, Italy is a beautiful country, but holy hell is it expensive. I was so excited to be heading to Croatia and Eastern Europe as I believed that it would help get my average daily spending down a bit and help save money for Amsterdam.

I was also very excited that I managed to get a good deal online with regards to the ferry from Ancona to Split. The price of a bed in a cabin(to myself I’ll have you know!) online was the same price as a seat on the deck in person. So I splurged on the bed. Most definitely worth the money. I had an amazing sleep on the boat and woke up with the sight of the Croatian coastline on the horizon.

IMG_9642Split, the city I arrived in, appears small at first. This is mainly, like a lot of other cities I’ve found, because the majority of the stuff is concentrated in one area so most tourists tend to stay in their little area and not venture out. This creates an illusion of smallness when in fact the city could be quite large. I suffered from this delusion when I first arrived in Split, with the rain pouring down.

At the Northern edge of the old town, where I was staying, a set of stairs head up to the beginnings of the trails that circumnavigate the large peninsula. From the highest point of this spot, one can see the entire city sprawled out in front of them. The climb is tough, especially in the hot 40 degree heat, but easily doable if you take your time.


A couple beaches are hidden along the peninsula, usually only visited by locals as they’re quite a walk from the downtown core where the city beach is located. Most tourists will tend to stay there. I went there only once and that was enough for me. Shallow water for a good 150 meters made it nice for kids, but the proximity to a number of beach front nightclubs ensured that you would find remnants of the partiers. Worst thing I stumbled across: panty liner.

The other beaches on the peninsula are a lot better. They aren’t sandy beaches at all, but much cleaner and water is much nicer. One, Kisuny(I am spelling it incorrectly) is a pebbled beach while the other, Bene, is just boulders. Of the two that I visited, each on separate days, I preferred Bene. It was quieter, more private, and had the best water of all the ones on the mainland.

IMG_9660The best beach overall though goes to Bol, out on an island not far from Split. A group of us from the hostel went to the island of Brac together in order to go to this famous beach. We boarded the ferry to the island and once there, quickly realized that it would make more sense economically if we rented a vehicle and drove ourselves to the other side of the island instead of taking a bus or taxi. Even with gas included, the price per person would be less overall.

The beach itself could be considered a land spit, just completely covered with insanely smooth stones. The stones, smoothened by the waves and the constant wind(Bol is considered the best place in Croatia for Kite and wind surfing), are easy to walk barefoot on. The water too was amazing, albeit quite cold.

IMG_9756Beyond the beaches though, there is a beautiful old town that I spent a full day exploring while in Split. Swallows were everywhere here and the sound of their high pitched screeching filled the air all day and into the dusk. The old town is walled, with the inside being a labyrinth of side streets and shops and restaurants. In the center lies the main Cathedral of the old town which gives people the opportunity to climb to the top of the bell tower for a great view over the city. I did this and spent a good half hour just staring over the city.

At one end of the Old Town, just outside the gate, is a giant statue of a local monk. On one of it’s feet, the toe has been rubbed clean as it is rumoured to grant wishes if you rub the toe while wishing. I did it twice, wishing a separate wish each time. So fIMG_9729ar, the first wish has come true for one of my friends(a wish that my friends would find love and happiness). The second . . . we’ll see how Vietnam plays out.

In all, I spent five nights in Split, two more than originally planned. The city was so laid back and quiet(except on Friday’s when the Cruisers show up).Why so many people tend to skip it for the islands, I don’t know. It’s amazing. But maybe it’s a good thing that so many backpackers tend to only use it as a jump off point. Keeps it nice for the rest of us.

But now I’m just being greedy.

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