Balkan Road Trip 2018 - Part 7- Makarska, Biokovo National Park & St Jure Chapel
Balkans Road Trip 2018 - Part 9 - Krka National Park, Rakovica, Dreznik, & Rastoke

Balkans Road Trip 2018 - Part 8 - Split, Diocletian's Palace & Hvar Island

Part 1. Part 2, Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7. Part 9 & Part 10.

We arrived in Split around 7pm. Our GPS went a little nuts. It really struggles with roads that have no car access.(Usually due to the stairs...)


Luckily as per our usual practice I had called our host, Petro about 30 minutes from arrival, and had received instructions. We ended up having to meet our host, and then have him drive us in, and park. Our rooms were located just minutes from Diocletian's Palace. We walked into the old city, and grabbed a burger before heading back to bed.

As you may have guessed I have a slight obsession with the laundry out the window thing. Well, our rooms had shutters that opened up, and they had a washing line! So naturally we had to try it. (It works very well.)


Our rooms in Split did not have a kitchen (only a small fridge which was fine.) So our first morning we ambled into the old City to find some breakfast.


 This (above) photo is of the closest entrance into Diocletian's Palace from our rooms. I had thought that Diocletian's Palace would be a Roman ruin empty except for tourists. It isn't. It actually is a vibrant old city - filled with shops, hotels and restaurants. It's lived in! We found breakfast at a place (hotel) called Augubio. There we had omelets, juice and coffee.


The stone and brick walls behind Kevin are original from Diocletian's Palace. After breakfast we found a tourist vendor office and booked for the 12:15pm Walking Tour (100 Kuna per person.) The photo (below) is a reconstruction of what the palace must have looked like. Not bad for a place by the beach to retire to!


 The tour ended up being a private tour - just us and a very nice guide. We learned about how the different eras left their architectural marks behind - Roman, Venetian, Ottoman and Medieval. Diocletian was quite an emperor. He built this palace (sea views, a Temple of Jupiter - so that he could be worshipped, and of course his own personal army) as his place by the sea. (It certainly puts my retirement plans into perspective!) All the columns came from Egypt.


Including a couple of Sphinxes...


One had lost its head, as its head was used as decoration elsewhere...


Romans loved their arches, and liked big wide windows. Later periods, such as during Medieval times bricked them in and made them smaller.


We saw evidence of Roman mosaics (for the baths)


And amazing arches...


Water fountains...


Later during the Medieval times, the streets and windows became narrower...


 Caper bushes grow out of the cracks... (I had no idea what caper bushes actually looked like. My only experience with capers is buying the bottles in the store.)


More caper bushes, Roman walls, and Roman mosaics...


The underground cellars are still largely intact, but now house vendors who sell souvenirs to passing tourists...

The Romans were good engineers, and some of the drains they built are still intact. Like this one we saw in this shop...


The original Diocletian's Palace was expanded by the Venetians with additional defensive fortifications against the Ottomans.


This is the view along the Riva. It is lined with restaurants.


It is gorgeous at sunset...


We ate dinner at a restaurant in Diocletian's Palace - I had mussels and Kevin had the swordfish. He had a local beer, and I had a glass of local wine.

We decided to catch one of the ferries from Split to Hvar Island. While we were waiting for our City Walking Tour we had walked to the ferry docks and had purchased tickets to leave early in the morning, and to return mid afternoon the following day. The ferry we caught was a passenger only ferry that took us directly to Hvar Town. The car ferry has a different route and landing point. It took about one hour to get from Split to our destination.

Here's a screen shot of Google Maps tracking our location.


We arrived rather early in Hvar Town, so it was nice to see the town in the morning light. We saw another ferry line picking up waiting passengers...


 Restaurants and coffee shops lined the small harbor.


Small boats including water taxis were lined up in the dock...


A fort overlooks the town...

There are wide open plazas


After exploring a little, we decided to walk around the harbor and see whether we could find a spot for a swim.


I thought that Hvar Town was very pretty.


I loved how it looked in the morning light.


It did have a list of rules... which came with some hefty fines (the fines are quoted in euros.)


 And soon we found a place to swim...


 The beaches are rocky so wearing water shoes is advisable. We felt too cheap to pay money for the beach chairs. We found a spot to set up for free.


The water was very clear, and refreshing. We really enjoyed our swim.


After a nice lazy time by the beach we enjoyed a leisurely stroll back to the Town.


Passed yachts...




We found a restaurant on the plaza and shared a Greek salad and a pizza. After lunch we decided to do some more exploring. The streets are narrow and photogenic. They are lined with restaurants and art shops as well as accommodations for visitors.


None of the streets were very wide, and some were simply stairs.


This is the way up the stairs to the fort...


We got a little distracted by other things, and so never had time to visit the fort.


We had been so used to seeing cats everywhere we had to stop and take a photo of this friendly canine...


I found the architectural details quite photogenic - like this griffin...


and these columns...


I can see why Hvar Town is such a popular tourist destination. It is very pretty.


And then things got interesting. The blue sky gave way to gray, and the weather turned bad - we had winds, and rain. I was worried that the ferry would be cancelled due to the storm, and we would be stuck on the island. All the outside seating was packed away due to the wind and rain, which made indoor seating hard to come by. We found a spot for a snack, and took shelter from the wind and rain as we waited for our ferry to arrive, which it did in due course. The ride back to Split was interesting. It felt as though we were in an hour long roller coaster ride as the ferry sailed through some quite rough seas. We had a number of passengers that got sick - really sick. I spent most of the time concentrating on not getting sick. My legs were shaking and my stomach was in knots when we eventually arrived in Split. This was only the second day in our entire 3 week stay where we had rain. Boy was I glad to get back on terra firma. I think that the ferry ride aka the roller coaster ride was the scariest moment of our trip. (Kevin disagrees. For him the drive in Biokovo was more scary.)

We were sad to say good bye to Split. Again, we didn't get to see all the things we wanted to see at the pace we set. I would definitely come back, and I would also spend some more time on the Hvar Island. Our next stop - Krka National Park, and Rakovica.