After the quietness of Veli Losinj, Split was a shock. There were plenty more tourists and shops selling plastic wares for them, and the heat and dusty road near the bus stop was oppressive. We walked through the Riva, a baking marble plaza fronting the water, found our accommodation and switched on the air conditioning.
However, Split was full of history, we found the next morning, walking past the fish markets and into the warren that led to the Roman ruins of Diocletian’s Palace. After watching some Roman-clad actors doing a bit of bad theatre in the centre, then a male choir singing traditional Dalmatian songs (lovely!), we attached ourselves to a tour group and walked through the cobbled streets in the heavy sun. The ruins were spectacular, rearing against the blue sky. They dated from the 4th century, when Diocletian built the palace for his retirement home. I couldn’t hear much of what the guide said as I was too hot to concentrate, but b/f repeated some of it for me. I tend to retain information more easily by reading, anyway. One part of the area was where Cersei did her walk of shame in Game of Thrones, and the underground dungeons were where Daenerys kept her dragons. It was cooler there, at least, and I felt for the menopausal women flapping brochures and fans.
That evening I wanted to get away from the tourists for dinner, so we followed some steps away from the centre and up into Marjan Forest Park. The views of the city were beautiful, but even better was the soft golden dusk, falling into the cypress trees. B/f mused how he had once thought the Victorian masters had fudged this effect in their paintings, but when he came to Europe he realised that this was how it actually was. A big change from Australia’s bold sunsets. There were charming Medieval grottos fitted into the rockfaces, too.
We didn’t find any dinner on the hill and by the time we got down, b/f often pulling me out of the way of cyclists whizzing dangerously past (I couldn’t hear them coming), I was hangry. We found a good place near our accommodation, and breakfasted there the next morning as well. Over our coffees we watched the ticket inspectors booking local cars, then we set off for the ferry for Hvar Island. While waiting in the holding pen, having a cool drink outside another cafe, b/f pointed out a young man with a cochlear implant. I was so impressed that he was travelling around by himself, although I shouldn’t have been, as I was intrepid when I was younger too. I watched him talk to some nearby women, his mobile in hand. They shook their heads & I realised he wanted the wi-fi password. I explained this to b/f and asked if he would take it over to him (it was printed on the café docket), and b/f obliged, as I was too shy. The man with the cochlear nodded when b/f showed him the code, then settled down with his phone.
Finally we boarded the ferry for Stari Grad, and I pulled out my laptop and furiously set to finishing my book.