Cruise liners in the port of Split

Today we travel 230kms (142m) from Dubrovnik to Split, approximately halfway up the Dalmatian Coast, one of the 4 historical regions of Croatia.

Split is the 2nd largest city in Croatia with a population of just over 200 000. For those of us from Durban, Chicago and London this is a very small city but, if it was any bigger, it would stretch from the coast to the inland border with Bosnia-Herzegovina. As, I am sure most of you know, Croatia is a long and narrow country with a coast line along the azure blue Adriatic Sea.

Cruise liners in the port of SplitCruise liners in the Port of Split

As we travelled up the beautiful coast of Croatia we noticed many islands not far from the mainland. At the last count there were in excess of 2000 but less than 100 are currently occupied. There was a time when some had monasteries and small settlements but many have been abandoned or never had any human settlers.

One of Croatias 1000 islandsOne of the 1000-2000 islands

The Adriatic Sea from our hotelA view of the Adriatic Sea

Washing on the lineIt seemed strange to see laundry from the highway

Although it had rained most of the night, when we left the hotel at 08:30 the sun was shining. Our first stop was at the lovely seaside town of Makarska. We had an hour and half to walk the promenade while it rained gently but sporadically. It was amazing to see how many large ships came into this small, sheltered port. Many of the group, including Trevor & I, found a lovely park in which to sit and eat our lunch. The two of us had boiled eggs and some lovely fresh fruit salad. We were very fortunate to eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables wherever we were in Eastern Europe as they are staple to the Mediterranean diet. I was surprised that there was not more fish but whatever food we were offered was excellent.

Trevor sitting in a park in TrogirTrevor in the beautiful park

Portion of the Palace used for concerts etcAn area of the Palace where concerts are held

At 1:30pm we continued our trip to Split where a tour of Diocletian’s Palace had been arranged. While on our way it started to rain again and continued for most of the day. As with all the other guided tours we had been allocated a local lady. Once again, we were given ear-pieces or ‘Whispers” as they were commonly referred to. These really area great help when on a tour with so many people and other groups doing the same tours. The guide can be heard from a fair distance making being guided a much more pleasant experience.

The palace was built to very special instructions and dimensions and actually resembled a small town with streets, squares and an administrative section besides the living quarters. It was built right on the sea edge with a mooring included so that should there be an attack from the land side he could escape by boat

Diagram of Deocletians PalaceA diagram of the original palace. Note the boat standing by for Diocletian to escape if necessary

Diocletian, birth name Diocles, was Emperor of the Roman Empire from 284 – 305AD and built himself a retirement palace in Split as he had been born at Silon just a few miles to the north-east of Split. At the time the area was part of the Roman Empire and so Diocletian was a Roman from birth but of a lowly family. He rose to Emperor by rising through the ranks in the army. Under his rule the worst persecutions of Christians took place. Another piece of information of interest about him is that he was the only Emperor to die of old age. He chose to abdicate at 63 and lived in his specially built palace, tending his garden, for just 7 years before dying aged 70. Many of the other Roman Emperors were murderd while most died while still in office.

Bust of DeocletianBust of Diocletian

 After the death of Diocletian the palace stood empty and unused for 40 years until the Ottomans (or Turks) invaded and defeated the Roman leadership. The local people of Split then occupied the palace for protection and it has continues to be inhabited today, demanding some very high prices for a small piece of the property.

Deocletians PalaceOne of the surviving walls of the palace

Another wood fossilA wood fossil in the palace. Behind is a large pile of trash centuries old

Courtyard in Deocletians PalaceThe Palace courtyard

As we made our way through the palace wecame to a small square where a men’s choir was singing and when they had finished a set number of songs they offered a couple of their CDs for sale. It was quite surprising to see how many people purchased these.

Choir in the PalaceThe choir in the palace

After our tour of the palace we were given a free half hour to wander along the promenade and in the town and then were taken to our hotel in Split for the night. It was a beautiful hotel which had been updated in the year or two previous to our arrival. An interesting thing about our rooms was that they were very white – furniture, bed linen, walls etc. Just some very small touches of colour, if black is a colour. The TV was on and the “picture” was our welcome. It read, “Welcome Victori (sic) Ireland. No welcome for Trevor as I was the one who had made the booking with the tour company who had made the hotel booking.

A very white roomOur very white room

The Welcome at our hotel in SplitOur welcome to the hotel

Dinner in Split was included in the hotel booking. It was a simple set menu but delicious. We were offered salmon or veal for the main course with Trevor choosing to have the veal while I had the salmon. The fish was really excellent surpassed only by that we had when we were in Norway 15 months later.

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