Continuing on our trip through Croatia we rented a car in Zadar and drove to Split with a brief stop in Sibenik. Driving on the highways in Croatia was not as scary as I thought. I’ve only driven in the U.S. and Barbados so I wasn’t sure what to expect in Croatia but it was smooth. With hardly any traffic it was easy to take in the scenery. We stopped in Sibenik for lunch and to see the Cathedral of St. James. Construction was begun in the early 1400s and completed roughly 40 years later. There are decorative elements of the cathedral such as angels, lions and coats of arms that can also be seen in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and San Marco in Venice. This is great because you can see how the three cities were related and intertwined in so many ways. This is also why my bf decided we should visit Istanbul (December 2011-January 2012, forthcoming!), Venice and Croatia to understand how the people and countries shared culture, food, religion and politics in their early beginnings and now a little bit.
After lunch we walked around the old town of Sibenik. There was a beautiful monastery garden that now has an ice cream shop with tables in the shade. We wandered up to the old fort where you could climb up and have a picturesque view of the town and the sea.
After sweating out all the water, salt and toxins in my body we slid into the car and drove to Split. It wasn’t humid but just hot–90+ plus degrees Farenheit–with the sun beaming down. I love Summer and the sun but walking around in it, slightly dehydrated is never fun.
Split had no street signs which was very frustrating in finding the rental car place. Whenever we asked a local for directions they look at us like we were crazy, like the street didn’t exist or maybe we were foolish for driving around without knowledge of the city. Eventually we found the Dollar Rent A Car and all was okay.
The old town of Split is within the walls of Diocletian’s Palace. It was built-in the late 3rd to early 4th centuries as the Roman emperor’s retirement home. Not bad! It was surreal to walk inside the ruins of this Roman palace with tons of other tourists and see restaurants, bars and shops. Part of me thought we were contributing to its ruin but then I sucked it up and went with the flow. We’re tourists supporting the economy! Woo! Thinking of the history and scope of the Palace, I felt like Indiana Jones walking around and exploring all the streets and former temples. Unfortunately there was no Ark of the Covenant or Holy Grail for me to seek or an opportunity to channel Mola Ram, chant Kali Ma Shakti de and pull out a beating heart. Maybe next time.
To enhance the Roman feel there were guys dressed as Roman soldiers who were happy to pose and smile with you for a small price. For dinner we went outside the palace walls (haha I feel like a princess!) to place called Konoba Hvarinin. It was low-key, rustic and the food simple and delicious.
The next afternoon we were off to Hvar!