Our adventure started with a long and uncomfortable journey with Turkish Airlines and Croatia Airlines – 9 hrs to Istanbul, 2 hrs to Zagreb and 50 min to Split. I would never use Turkish Airlines again, cheaper for many reasons. Inattentive and unhelpful staff, worst design in seats I have ever seen – enough legroom for even a short person to have bruised knees (poor Lee at 1.9m tall, I’m sure he lost circulation to his legs), the worst plane food I have come across, no air vents to control air flow in your seat. Basically an all-round fail. But finally we made it to a sizzling hot but beautiful and vibrant Split. The favourite of our 3 destination cities.
We stayed at an AirBnB called the Heritage Apartment inside the old city walls. There was a short walk to the apartment through the narrow streets and a long walk up four stories of steep stairs to our top level apartment. The apartment was stunning; the furniture and style was vintage which fitted right into the feel of the old town. Thank goodness for a well working air conditioner, this was the reward that motivated us to walk up those stairs so many times in 3 days. The apartment had everything we could ever need including a washing machine and dishwasher. There was also a quaint, little balcony that looked over the main square.
Day 1 – No good holiday starts without us having a local beer, “Karlovacko”, which went down a treat all holiday long in the sweltering heat. First-things-first and introductory walk through the old town and down to the “Riva Waterfront” where I sampled my first of many gelato’s, yumz! Then we had dinner at “Konoba Tuscullum” where I discovered that Pascitada with gnocci was a delicious local steak dish. Then let the bar hopping begin. There are so many bars that line the narrow street, each one with a different feel and vibe. We spent a lot of time at the bar “Dream” where we made friends with Ivana, the waitress who taught us some Croatian and introduced us the local shooter “Orahovac”, a walnut liqueur, it was yummy. We also found out that gold tequila is scarce as with of the rest of Europe and so we tried “Peublo” tequila which was horrible to say the least.
Day 2 – We took a long, steep walk with lots of stairs up “Marjan Hill” to the restaurant “Teraca Vidilica”. What a wonderful view over the “Riva Waterfront” and Split Old town. The seafood, veal and cocktails were also great. On the way back to our apartment we stopped at “Fabrique”, a bar/restaurant which turns into a full on club after 10pm. This was like air-con heaven for us. Believe it or not, there are not many air-conditioned places in Split, if there was an air-con then it was just not strong enough to compete with the heat of Split. That evening we walked to “Bacvice Beach” (about 20 min from the old town). We had dinner at “Pizzeria Karaka Pub”, I had a great Alfredo pasta made by a student chef, he was so proud and he had every right to be, the pasta was delicious and just what I needed when I was quickly getting tired of the local cuisine. The guys also had these massive burgers and long Islands for half the price than the old city, which they loved. Then we bar/club hopped – we had the special of 1l jugs of cocktails for 99 kuna (R200)
Day 3 – We hopped onto a boat day trip to 3 different stops. Stop 1 was “Dugga”, a small little island where we snorkelled, chilled on the beach and had a swim in the crystal clear blue water. We also learnt that most of the beached were rocks and pebbles and not sand (it was a rookie error not to take scuba shoes along…Ouch!). Lunch was included, we had braai’d fish, fresh bread, cabbage salad and local wine. This wine wasn’t great but we learnt that Croatian wine is actually really nice, almost as nice as South African wine. Stop 2 was “Blue Lagoon” where the boat anchored in the middle of the crystal clear and bright blue lagoon and we jumped of the boat and snorkelled. There weren’t many fish, I think all the noise of the boats and tourists scared them away. Stop 3 was “Solta” which was super hot so we chilled at a café and admired the little docked boats. Then back to Split we went, the view of the landmark bell tower was even better from the water than land. We finally got a good tip on where to find cheap, local cuisine (everything in Croatia was double the price compared to SA hence cheaper spots, if found, were a relief). A local travel agent recommended dinner at Konoba Korta – best local food thus far.
Our time in Split came to an end and we hopped on an hour long ferry to Hvar.
We loved Split with its ancient architecture, statues, buzzing squares, underground and on-ground flea markets, hundreds of little shops, tiny streets filled with restaurants bars and cafes. There was always a lively and upbeat vibe in Split. If I return to Croatia then Split would be my first choice.