Tonight the noise at the campsite is even more disturbing than usual, thanks to the people from the Czech newspaper Denik and especially that girl with that shrieking laugh until after four in the morning. Teije has indeed slept through it, but he agrees with me, we break up and look for something else in Split tonight.
Josko asks us in a textmessage if we can meet somewhat later, because he has been out last night. That suits us pretty well because we prefer to take the coastal route where we cannot drive so fast but is much nicer than the highway. We pass old-fashioned fishing villages such as Marina, but also areas where diligently new constructions are build to accommodate tourists; they come again in large numbers to the Adriatic coast and with an opener Europe there are more than ever.
The sea here seems to be one of the richest fishing grounds in Europe and in many places we see fishing nets. Or actually we see the oil drums, buoys, tires or other things that keep the nets together and floating. Sea fishing for tourists is also possible but you must have a permit for that. We are now more concerned about the dark clouds that occasionally pass by. Please, don't let it rain again?
Then we suddenly have a view of Primosten, a small harbor town on a peninsula. In the 15th century it was founded by Bosniars who fled the Turks. Now it is a tourist car-free attraction and you have to pay to get to the peninsula. It still looks very medieval with the narrow streets, the houses with red roof tiles and the cozy squares where now mainly coffee bars and restaurants are located.Also for this part of the coast there are countless islands, large and small and many of them uninhabited. It takes us over 2 hours to reach Split (less than an hour via the highway), and if the light had been better we would have taken more pictures. Now the sky is bright dark gray (does that color exist?) and the photographss do not look really nice. We are early in Split and because we have not had a text message yet from Josko we first go looking for a hotel to reserve a room, rain is expected again, we are told. Then setting up the tent for just one night makes little sense, because afterwards we want to go to Dubrovnik. But everything seems fully booked or too expensive, but in the end we find a very luxurious apartment.
One of the girls of a hotel brings us there conspiratorially and tells us that we can only pay in cash. When Teije starts negotiating the price (€ 140) she is called back and forth several times with the other girl who stood at the reception of the reasonably luxurious hotel and finally we agree about € 100. We still find it a ridiculously high amount, but we have been searching for a while and it seems to be very expensive everywhere. And the apartment is luxurious, very luxury and large! Just a pity that we are going to make so little use of it. Then to the bank to exchange some traveler's checques that had been lying around for a long time at home, it seems like it does not cost us anything now, we have already spent that money. At the reception of the hotel there are now 3 girls and they talk softly how to handle it with the payment. But we do get a handwritten coupon that we have asked for. We suspect that these girls have a nice extra income with this business. You have to do something ..., there are more annoying ways.
We are only a few minutes away from the old town and there we find a terrace just outside the gates of the Roman palaces of Diocletian, a Roman emperor who was born near Split. Josko also shows up after a while and he is going to show us around town, he has lived here for a while.
Actually the old town of Split is the former palace, 30,000 square meters in size. The mausoleum, which was meant as a tomb for Diocletian, became centuries later a cathedral named after St. Domnius (actually only the bell tower), one of the victims of Diocletian who was the last emperor to do Christian persecutions. The palace has also been used for some time as a residence for exiled Roman rulers, but now it is mainly a tourist attraction even though there are still 3000 people living here, especially students, within the palace walls.
In the course of the centuries, a lot has been built in this historic city and we are confronted with a mix of building styles and history. But the Roman origin is still noticeable, and at the former courtyard there are even Egyptian columns and a real sphinx (15th century BC), imported riches at that time. Once there would have been 10.
It is possible to climb the cathedral but during our walk no one talks about it and I have been happy about it. My back remembers too well the climb of the Sagrada Famlia in Barcelona after which I have had problems for weeks. But if the boys want to go up, they should just go!
The narrow streets are teeming with tourists, coffeshops, restaurants and... shoe stores. I am still looking for old-fashioned linen sneakers, but the narrow shops that we enter have nothing to offer or at ridiculously high prices. Josko also shows us the even narrower alleys where students live and where he once had a small room. Here you also see far fewer tourists and we see a bit more of everyday life. The vaults under the palace have been used as a rubbish dump for centuries, but now you can visit a small part again where exhibitions are held.We also go to the temple of Jupiter, a small room that was later used as a chapel. Josko refuses to pay the 5 kuna. I've been here so often, he says and now I show my friends. Be happy that they pay 10 kuna for the entrance fee while you do not have to do anything but catch money for something that you have not contributed to. In this way he translates his words against the ticket-seller. And he walks in with us like that. He is absolutely right.
Just outside the northern 'Golden' gate, the original entrance to the palace, is a huge statue of Gregory of Nin (Grgur Ninski), a 10th century bishop who already argued for the use of local languages instead of Latin. The creator of the statue, Ivan Mestrovic, is one of the most famous sculptors from Croatia, although he spent most of it abroad because of the many political complications in the country. This image dates from 1929.
We walk back and go through the southern gate to the broad boulevard where we can finally give our feet some rest again. For hours we have walked through this fascinating city and seen a lot, more than we can tell here. When it starts to rain we find a nice pizzeria and we have a lot to talk with Josko who is looking for a 'miracle' to get his life back in order. But unfortunately we can not be more than a listening ear.When we leave the pizzeria hours later, it pours and Josko rushes to the bus (1 minute) and we go to our luxury apartment, about 10 minutes, where we almost go wrong. We are through and through wet and if we want to take a shower I'm still lucky with some warm water but there is nothing left for Teije. It is a complicated jacuzzi device that we do not understand at all and no more hot water comes out. We can not find a geyser or a similar old-fashioned device, so we quickly crawl underneath the warm blankets, while the storms increases in power. Soon we fall asleep, happy that we are not somewhere in a tent!