Croatia’s Split: Don’t Spit On It!

 

I was first told to go to Split when I was in Barcelona, and was at a hostel talking to a girl from Croatia.

“OK,” I said, “So I should go to Dubrovnik, Hvar, and Spit?” “Not Spit, Split,” she corrected me. I half said “spit” on purpose because I didn’t like this rude blonde (or as Tina Fey says, yellow-haired, because why should we give special treatment to them when someone would say my hair is brown?).  She probably did not catch my very very very passive aggressive insult. After visiting Split, I am ashamed I would ever try to dirty the good name of this fair city.
Visiting Croatia, I’ve spent a good chunk of time in Split, one of Croatia’s most well-known cities and central port hubs. It’s a vibrant place, full of street music, fisherman ports, beaches, and, of course, old stuff. OK, so the old stuff here is especially interesting- half of the main downtown area exists in what was once Diocletian’s palace. The ruins of the palace are scattered about Split’s Old Town, and you can get into the palace area through four gates, the Bronze Gate, Gold Gate, Silver Gate, and Iron Gate. Sounds like GOT to me! (Game of Thrones. I know, I need to shut up about it already)

Diocletian chose the shore side of Split for his home because he was getting old and his arthritis was showing his age. Split’s seawater has sulfur in it, which is good for the aches, but walking about the Riva (Split’s pedestrian street along the water, a kind of promenade)  you’ll sometimes be suddenly overwhelmed with the scent of rotting eggs or garbage, which is in fact, sulfur. The good thing about this sulfur smell is that it keeps the fish markets down the street fly-free, since flies hate sulfur apparently. If anything grosses me out more than dead fish heads, it’s flies on dead fish heads, am I right?

My first days in Split I spent in the Split Wine Garden Hostel, where host Nola was like an angel, always happy to help guests arrange trips, show you where to eat, or aid in arranging transportation. She was the best! Anyway, I spent my time wandering about town and sampling the gelato- a tough job gig but I carried the burden admirably.

Someone had left snorkeling gear at my hostel, so I took it (cleaned it, don’t worry!) and went out to one of Split’s beaches to do some sunning and snorkeling.

I forgot what fun swimming can be! Remember how when you were a kid, you could spend endless hours in the water? As an only child, I had to rely a lot on my imagination- I remember at my Dad’s lake house having this AWESOME Zebra inner tube, and I would ride around on it pretending to be a adventurer or brave knight going on journeys across the land. Me and that plastic zebra had countless adventures. I remember sobbing for days when it got a hole in it and was rendered incapable of continuing its duties as my faithful steed.

Even without my inflatable Zebra pal, I could spend forever in pools, without props, swimming around pretending to be a platypus or some other unnatural mutation of a mammal.

Anyway, as you get older, the magic of water fades. Kids lose their sense of wonder associated with nature in general-forests no longer harbor enchanted unicorns, and the sea loses its mermaids. But snorkeling brought some of that magic back, opening a whole new world beneath the sea!

Now I know why as a kid I always swam with goggles. I wouldn’t swim without them. I had a gigantic pink plastic face mask and would jump in the water, roll around in the sand, and run about like a lunatic. So snorkeling was awesome!

The sunning never goes well for me, and the beaches at Split were quite crowded, not allowing much room for sun-soaking. To many beach bums’ disappointment, most beaches in the area are pebbly and not sandy. One day I took an hour bus trip out to “Brela Beach” which was suppose to be one of the most beautiful, sandy beaches in Croatia. When I got off the bus, I had to walk down this HUGE mountainside, following criss-crossing, looping roads that went on forever. When I finally got the beach, it was pretty “eh”. Lots of little children, not much room, and big hard pebbles that burned my feet. But people were selling crepes, so I was pretty sold on that place.

While Croatia is more Mediterranean than anything, it doesn’t have an abundance of sandy beaches, but the sun and crystal clear waters make up for it.

 

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