Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Split and Trogir

Stayed up late last night enjoying the balcony and cool breeze off the Adriatic and decided to sleep in this morning. There's no breakfast offered at our accommodations for the rest of our trip, so we are on our own. This morning it's cold cuts. I slept till 9:30 and told Tom to sleep as long as he wants.

By the way, have I mentioned the crummy towels yet? Every place we've stayed, the towels have been rough and small, about 22 inches by 14 inches. Shall I dry my hair or my body? Maybe I'll use both towels, and Tom can dry himself with his T-shirt. See what happens when you sleep in? Ha!

We left our soba in Omis around noon and walked about 50 yards to a bus stop. It's about 40 minutes by bus to Split's Stari Grad (Old Town). We had no interest in driving into the center of the busy city of Split (population 190,000). It was bad enough driving on its outskirts yesterday.

The bus dropped us off right across the street from the Old Town's bustling Green Market, located on the east side of Diocletian's Palace. There were lots of fruit and vegetable vendors, along with flowers, tacky souvenirs, cheap sunglasses, etcetera. We never met a farmers market we didn't like. I bought a bag of cashews for later.

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Colorful Green Market, Split

In 293 A.D. Roman Emperor Diocletian had a huge (720 feet by 590 feet) palace built here for his retirement. At some point the palace was abandoned. Then in the 7th century, locals fleeing from Slavic invaders moved in, and a town sprang into being. Today, over 2,000 people live and work inside the palace walls, an interesting mix of residences, mostly used as rentals during the tourist season, public buildings, shops and other businesses, and religious buildings.

The Gradska Luka (City Harbor) and Riva promenade are to the south of Diocletian's Palace. We went to the harbor first to check the ferry schedules. From here we had a great view of the south wall of the palace, lined by shady palm trees. Homes built just a couple of hundred years ago use the wall of the palace as the back wall of their residences.

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Diocletian's Palace from the harbor

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Cool boat

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Houses built against palace wall

Entering the palace through the Brass Gate entrance in the south wall, we found ourselves in the underground chambers of what used to be Diocletian's living quarters, now lined with souvenir stands. This must be the oldest shopping mall in the world. I love that they actually use their ancient buildings in Croatia instead of treating them as museum pieces.

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Emperor's palace / Shopping center

We emerged from below into the Peristil, the colonnaded central open courtyard whose original purpose was to allow access to the Emperor's living quarters and temples. Here we found a high concentration of Roman ruins, plus a couple of guys dressed as Roman soldiers.

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Peristil, Diocletian's Palace

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Part of the Katedrala Svetog Duje

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Diocletian's mausoleum, on the east side of the Peristil, was converted into a cathedral, Katedrala Svetog Duje (Cathedral of St. Dominus), the oldest cathedral building in the world. Construction of the bell tower began in the 13th century and took 300 years to complete. Of course, we climbed the 183 very tall (at least 13-inch) steep steps, up an extremely narrow and claustrophobic tower, to the top and were rewarded with fantastic views.

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Katedrala Svetog Duje bell tower

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Split City Harbor

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Jana in the bell tower

We wandered out the west wall of the palace and stopped for lunch at Macho Burger in Narodni Trg (People's Square). When Diocletian occupied the palace, a Roman village popped up here, just outside this wall. The atmosphere of the square was better than the burger.

Outside the north entrance of the palace is a giant statue of Bishop Gregory of Nin, a 10th century priest who tried to get the Vatican to allow Mass to be said in Croatian rather than Latin. Now it seems he has become the patron saint of Disco. At least, that would explain the pose.

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Best statue ever

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Palace north gate

At 4:00 we boarded the Bura-Line ferry to Trogir. Tickets are purchased as you board, only 24 kuna each, the same price as a bus. We showed up 30 minutes before departure, ensuring we'd get a seat outside up top. They packed a ton of people inside on the bottom level. I can't imagine that everyone got seats. It's about an hour between Split and Trogir, with a five-minute stop en route at Slatine.

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Split from the ferry

Mainly we took the ferry just for the boat ride on the Adriatic, because we'll be spending the night in Trogir in about a week. I'm so glad we did. The Croatian coast is unbelievably beautiful! Perfect weather today, low 80s with brilliant sunshine.

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The Adriatic Sea

In Trogir we went up in the Katedrala Svetog Lovre (St. Lawrence Cathedral) bell tower and also into the cathedral and treasury. Yes, we have to go up every bell tower, or other high thing, possible. I wasn't sure it would be worth another 5 bucks to go up in yet another tower, but it was! The inside of the cathedral was nice too.

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Katedrala Svetog Lovre

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From the bell tower

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Tom captures the cathedral

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Inside Katedrala Svetog Lovre

Afterward, we ambled through town a bit and then walked to the bus station. The ferries had stopped running by then, so we had to take the bus from Trogir all the way to Omis, changing buses in Split. The ride back to the apartment took about two hours. There were some loud, ignorant, young American women on the bus with us from Trogir to Split. Tom and I shrank down in our seats and kept our mouths firmly shut, so as not to be associated with them. Sigh...

We had dinner in Omis at Caffe Bar Pivnica Panorama. This time I'm the one who ordered pizza, and Tom got spaghetti bolognese. Tonight we tried Crno pivo dark beer. The beer wasn't actually dark, but it had a slight touch of hops, so at least it had a little flavor, unlike most of the beers we've tried. The food was fine, but it's getting pretty repetitive.

Continue to September 4, 2013

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