Croatia Part Four: Split

6 – 8 June 2016

We arrived at Split’s harbour after about an hour’s ferry ride from Hvar (give or take a slight delay) and walked for a short while until we found our accommodation for the next couple of nights – Hostel Split Garden – which we had found on Hostel World whilst in Hvar. We arrived to find the place was quite busy. There was a communal area outside was packed full of guys noisily drinking before their night out. We checked into our room but didn’t stick around for long before we headed out on the search for food.

We did have any recommendations on this occasion so we wandered into the Old Town and found a square filled with restaurants. We settled on one called Bepa! which looked a bit trendy. I had a burger which was okay but sadly not amazing. After dinner we decided to call it a night and head back to bed. Our hostel wasn’t in the nicest part of Split but it was close to the very pretty Old Town so we were able to take in some views on our walk back.

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The next day we planned to spend taking a day trip to Krka National Park, which had some very picturesque waterfalls, one of which you could swim in. We asked the girl at our hostel about getting the bus there but instead she recommended we hire a car – we’d have more flexibility that way and between the five of us we’d save some money, so we went for it. After all, who doesn’t love a road trip.

We had a little bit of time to kill before we could go and pick up our hire car – from a place on the road near the harbour – so we popped to the supermarket for picnic supplies and went on the hunt for some breakfast. We settled down at a place called De Belly at the Goli + Bosi design hostel. I went for bacon and egg and wasn’t served the biggest portion and the bacon wasn’t the best but it was pretty cheap so I can’t really complain.

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When we were ready, we headed down to the waterfront to pick up our car, which was located in a nearby car park. We could have had it for 24 hours but we didn’t want to have to deal with it the next day when we would be getting our final sightseeing done and then flying home, so we planned to have it back later that day.

The Flatmate volunteered to be our driver for the day and one in our group was able to get mobile data on her phone abroad so she became our designated navigator, whilst the rest of us piled in the back. I can’t remember exactly how long the drive took. I want to say 1.5/2 hours but perhaps it was less. Either way, it was worth the drive (she says not actually having to be the one to drive) and we had the radio to keep us entertained.

Thanks to Google maps, we were able to find Krka National Park relatively easily. The place is pretty big with several waterfalls but there was a car park close to Skradinski Buk – the waterfall you can swim in – and a shuttle bus to take us closer to it. We hopped aboard and drove for a short time until we came to the drop off point. From here we had to walk to the base of the waterfall. This took longer than I had expected but thankfully we were taking the scenic route – across several walkways that had been constructed through the trees and over the water.

Eventually we made it to Skradinski Buk. There were some picnic tables where we could unpack and eat our picnic before moving closer to the waterfall. There was a patch of rough grass but we chose a muddier spot amongst the roots of the trees next to the water and decided that we should take it in turns to go in while the rest of us looked after our stuff. I was in group two, so we sat and watched whilst two of us tentatively ventured into the very cold water. They spent most of the time having a photoshoot in front of the falls using one of my friend’s waterproof camera.

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Once they were done, it was time for the rest of us to go in. We found a place to slide it but it was easier said that done. The floor was covered in slippery rocks, the water was cold and the current from the waterfall was quite strong. That made for some entertainment when the three of us tried to stand on some rocks to take a photo only for the current to continuously push us off it. At least the more we swam the warmer we got. Soon the water didn’t even feel cold anymore.

Unfortunately, there was a barrier stopping swimmers getting too close to the falls but there was an area on the edge of the barrier were you could get under a bit of the falling water – so that’s what we did. This turned out to be one of the best days we’d had in Croatia so far.

After playing around in the water for a while, we got out, got dressed and walked back up to the bus stop. We had to wait for a bit before the shuttle bus came but then we off, back in the car and back on our way to Split.

By the time we got back to the city, the car rental place had closed (particularly because we got a little lost when we got back into Split) but we were still able to leave our car back in the car park and leave the key so we didn’t have to worry about it the next day.

We went back to our hostel to freshen up and then went on the hunt for dinner. We’d read good things about Bokeria Kitchen & Wine on TripAdvisor and it looked good when we passed by so that’s where we went. It probably wasn’t the cheapest option available but it wasn’t particularly expensive and we did want somewhere nice for our last night. Since it did turn out to be very nice, we were left very happy with our choice.

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After dinner, we wandered through the Old Town, grabbed some ice cream and settled down on some stone steps next to the Bell Tower and the Peristyle of Diocletian’s Palace, where there was some live music being played. Most of the steps had been covered in cushions and reserved by one of the surrounding bars but there were still some free spots left. This did seem to be a popular place to hang out in the evenings and there were plenty of tourist watching the music, drinking and even dancing around.

When we were finished, we headed back to the hostel for the night and, in the morning, we checked out. Hostel Garden Split wasn’t the nicest hostel I’ve ever stayed in (our room was a bit old fashioned and the bunkbeds quite rickety) but it had done the job and the staff had been friendly and helpful.

We left our stuff at reception and headed out for some breakfast on the waterfront (which we’d found sometimes had a weird smell but thankfully did not today). We sat ourselves down at the Bobis Bakery after having spotted some tasty looking treats on display. It may not have been a traditional breakfast choice, but I went for a gooey slice of chocolate cake. It looked too good to pass up even though it wasn’t the cheapest option there and I wasn’t starting to run low on cash. It was nice but I probably should have stuck to the pastries.

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Now we were fuel-ed up, we went into the Old Town for some final exploring. Our first stop was the basements of Diocletian’s Palace – the old Roman palace from which the town of which Split grew and which forms the basis of the Old Town today. I wanted to see the basements for two reasons. 1. I love anything to do with ancient history and, 2. some scenes from Game of Thrones had been filmed down there (it was used as the set for Daenerys’ throne room) and I love Game of Thrones. Whilst down there, I caught snatches of conversation from a Game of Thrones tour which helped me set the scene.

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Next we decided to climb the Bell Tower which was part of the Cathedral of Saint Domnius complex. I had been hoping that – like the Bell Tower in Venice – there would be a lift so we didn’t have to walk all the way to the top. Sadly, we had no such luck here. This did not only completely wear me out but it did not do much for my vertigo. The stairs were obviously safe but felt very open (you could see all the way down) and a bit makeshift. Thankfully the views of the town and the waterfront were completely worth the climb.

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Once we were back down, we went for a bit more of a wander around the Old Town – just because it is seriously pretty (I particularly liked the City Clock). I will say that we all agreed that Split was our least favourite town. Some areas did feel a bit… sleazy. I can’t think of a better word. The Old Town however was amazing. I think we had the perfect amount of time in the city. We had time to explore the pretty parts and time to go to Krka National Park. That was all we needed.

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Since we didn’t have long before we needed to head to the airport, we grabbed an early lunch at Villa Spiza – a restaurant that had been highly recommended to us by the friend we had bumped into in Hvar, who had already been to Split. We must have arrived sometime between 12pm and 12.30pm so it was early enough that we could easily grab a seat. In fact I think we were the first people there. It didn’t stay that way for long though. Soon enough there were people waiting outside for a table. The restaurant was only small and I think the menu often changes depending on what food they buy in that day but it was good and the place was cute – almost like a little grotto. I’m glad we managed to fit in before we left.

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Once we’d finished, we still had a little bit of time to kill so we continued to wander until we ended up outside one of the gates to the Old Town, close to the Grgur Ninski Statue, where there were some market stalls where we could grab any final souvenirs and some grass for us to sit and hang out on. But, soon enough, it was time to head back to our hostel, grab our stuff and head to the bus stop, close to the harbour, to get the coach to the airport. We arrived a bit in advance but almost were too late. By the time we got onto the bus, there were only a few seats left. A couple of us had to sit on the steps – but at least we were on!

Split airport wasn’t huge but there were a couple of duty free places where I could spend the rest of my kuna (on duty free make up and some souvenir lavender bags which seem to be popular in Croatia). Unfortunately, there wasn’t much in the way of good food. But soon enough we were on the plane and flying home.

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