Ancient buildings, good food and beautiful views... Another incredible spot on the Dalmatian Coast

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November 1st 2016
Published: May 19th 2017
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We could choose two different ways to get to Split, faster one through the highways and a slower (one hour longer) but scenic one by the coast... Well, we didn't have to think twice about that... You’d think that with the baby we would opt for the shorter one, but nope! On the contrary – coastal route it was then! The bus station was just around the corner from our apartment, so we got there in no time at all, bought some breakfast, got the tickets and were ready to jump onboard. I was quite surprised about the extra charge for putting the luggage in the lower compartments... Extra charge or not, there was no way we were going to sit with a pram and a gigantic backpack, so compartment it was then.

We definitely chose a better route as the drive along the coast was just stunning! Each town we were passing by seemed to be more beautiful than the one before! Sibenik definitely stood out – a town set as if in the middle of the sea with buildings almost touching the water! Absolutely beautiful! At some point the bus got quite full and we were surprised to see two grannies taking two seats each due to the size of their belongings (guess they weren't going to pay extra for their luggage to be put away). One of the grannies was telling some story to the other and was getting upset by the second to the point she started lamenting... 3 seconds later it was back to normal story telling though... We looked at each other slightly puzzled and Grant asked Millie if she would give the granny a cuddle... For a moment it looked as if she was really thinking about it... 😉 Millie handled the journey very well, only at the end she lost interest and started getting a bit cranky... Entertaining skills and a few snacks in action and thankfully soon after we arrived in Split. It looked like a much busier city than Zadar for sure. First impression wasn't that great because of that – bigger city meaning probably more expensive and more noisy for sure... Guess we would have to see...

Even though we got out at a different station than planned, it was still only a 15 minute walk to the apartment. Visiting places like that in low season certainly has its advantages, we got a two-bed apartment right in the Old Town for a bit over 20EUR a night! Apparently in the high season they were asking for it 200EUR per night! I had no doubt that they would actually get that price as especially after Game of Thrones was shot around here, the city was packed during summer months.

After seeing the apartment, slightly more optimistic about the city we dropped our bags and went to explore. We started off by wandering around the Old Town. Just like in Zadar we were amazed about the old architecture and the Roman structures in particular. Walking around on an empty stomach definitely wasn’t a good idea so soon after we went searching for some food. Quite a few places were closed and the ones open looked very sad and empty, only the bars and restaurants on the promenade seemed to be really alive. We had something else in mind though... As we were wandering the streets before, we noticed a burger place which seemed quite popular with Croats and tourists alike. Now we only needed to find it again. It turned out it wasn't a difficult task at all and soon after we were munching on some tasty burgers and washing them down with beer, and all that for 80kuna only! For the two of us. As we were standing inside and enjoying our drink and meal many people came to order some food too. A very popular place indeed, good and cheap food, friendly ladies working there, no wonder trip advisor certificates were proudly displayed on the walls. I had a strange feeling that wasn't our last visit here.

After that we bought some drinks in the supermarket and headed to the apartment. I couldn't believe we called it a day just after 5, but hey it was dark already, it was getting colder and besides Millie needed to practice some walking and what better place to do that than at our temporary home? First day in Split so far so good, we were looking forward to seeing more of the city.

Since Millie went to sleep at a decent hour (finally!), we actually had an earlier start next day as well. Seeing that days were getting shorter and shorter, starting a day earlier was actually a pretty good idea. We decided to head to the Marjan hill that morning. A quick breakfast at the Riva promenade first, meaning us sitting with sandwiches on the bench observing people of course. And then up the hill we went! Steps, steps and more steps... Thankfully they were very wide so we could move the pram one step at the time rather than carrying it all the way up, it must have been a pretty bumpy and odd ride for Millie though and yet she didn't complain even for a second. Little angel! 😊

We came across a restaurant with a fantastic view and simply couldn't help ourselves and not stop there for a drink. Millie was up for a nap as well, perfect timing for a small break then. What a beautiful spot it was! Almost no people around, only other two or three tables occupied, sun was shining, coffee way too small, quite tasty though... lovely start to a day! After our drinks we headed up to the proper view point, it was actually much further than I originally thought. The panorama was well worth the walk though. We've noticed more and more people showing up around us, it was time to head back then. The restaurant didn’t look that peaceful anymore – it was packed! It was well worth it coming here in the morning then!

Taking advantage of the beautiful sunny day, we decided to check out the beaches, a couple of beers in the backpack, some water and we were ready! I was surprised to see the first beach quite full as well! I read that it was a popular spot, but even so it was the middle of the week and the place was full of locals... Not to mention that quite a few people were actually swimming in the sea! Wasn't it November already? Yep, the 1st of Nov to be exact... Aaaa, now it all started to make sense... maybe they had a bank holiday for All Saints Day here, just like in Poland, as well? It most certainly looked like there was a holiday of some sort... We have noticed a group of men, most of them in speedos of course, standing in the shallow water playing some kind of ball game - it looked as if the ball couldn't touch the water and they were hitting the ball with full strength with their bare hands between each other... It looked fun, if not slightly painful also, and some of the men were certainly putting their heart and soul into the game, jumping into the air reaching the ball and landing with a big splash in the water. I later on found out that the game is called 'picigin' and it was actually invented here.

We went up to the third beach as it seemed slightly more quiet, sat by the sea, sipped beer, entertained Millie with some snacks and in general enjoyed the sunny, warm weather and the scenery. I thought that I could do this forever... who needs work right? Well... at some point we'd need to go down that road again, for now I was enjoying this blissful moment...

Later on we went back to the Old Town to have some food. Quite a few places were actually shut down, it looked like they really had All Saints Day here as a bank holiday as well. We didn't really want to spend too much money and most of the places looked slightly above our budget... after walking around for a while finally we found a place and settled for a pizza and some sides. To be a bit more adventurous, rather than choosing the usual flavours, we went for a Dalmatian speciality, pizza with shrimps and some herbs... I quite enjoyed the first slice, even though the shrimps were most likely from a can or frozen, with the second slice I kind of struggled to swallow down the bites, and I simply stuffed myself with the third one only because I was hungry... Pizza and shrimps, not for me I guess...

The following day we decided to do a little side trip out of Split. Plenty of gorgeous little towns to explore around, but since we didn't want to be stuck in a bus for too long, we decided to head to the nearby Trogir. As it turns out, this little town, just like many other places around Split, was used as a location for shooting Game of Thrones – surprise, surprise! It’s also been inscribed by UNESCO on world heritage list, so we were curious to see what this town was really all about.

It seems like whenever we get somewhere first thing we do is search for food. This time it was no different – breakfast a priority! First bakery we came by didn't have too much choice, still we were quite hungry so it would have to do. Soon after we were ready to explore. Once again stone floors, narrow passageways and odd, slightly tilted buildings... Same same yet slightly different, although if I mixed up some pictures from the three Croatian towns visited so far, not sure if I could guess which one was which... We walked by the water, checked out the fort and then just wandered around the old streets. My body started slowly demanding some coffee so it was best we sat down somewhere for a moment. And what better place than the main square in front of St Lawrence Cathedral! You could climb up the church's tower but since they didn't want to let us in with Millie even though she was secure in the carrier (no kids under 14 apparently), we checked the church’s interior and its masterpiece portal dating back to the 13th century and sat down to have a drink at a nearby restaurant. It was the priciest coffee and beer we had so far – location I guess? What was meant to be a relaxing break, turned into running after Millie chasing a cat – for Grant at least... as I was left in peace for a while and was just sitting there watching the chase and trying to enjoy my overpriced coffee. After that we decided to head back to Split.

When we were back in Split, first we visited Kantun Paulina (the burger place we went to the day before), they only had the sausages this time (cevapi), but that would do fine as well. I have to say though that as much as I enjoyed it both times, I thought it might have been the last time there for me – pretty good but very heavy on the stomach for sure! It was quite windy that day and the clouds were hanging around Split for most of the day, but we enjoyed walking around the Old Town anyway. This time we went through a different part, discovering other streets and guess what, we might be GoT fanatics after all, as after googling the locations, we decided to check at least one. We went to Papaliceva street, close to the Diocletian Palace... With no one around we could take as many shots as we wanted and even hummed the theme song to make it more atmospheric. 😉

For dinner we picked one of the recommended by other bloggers restaurants - Villa Spiza. During the season it might have been difficult to find a seat here as it sure is a pretty tiny place – one or two tables and some chairs set up along the wall and bar... The place would fit maximum 15 people, but I'd say once there are more than 10 inside it might already feel quite tight... Once again advantages of coming here in the low season – with only a few people inside, we managed to squeeze in there just fine, even with the pram! Apparently the menu changes quite often here, it looks like they simply use whatever produce they can get and adjust the menu accordingly. With very average prices of meals, cheap beer, super friendly staff and delicious food, no wonder this place is so popular. I was sure it wasn’t our last visit here just yet.

The weather forecast was pretty much rain for the following day and yet I was somehow slightly surprised to see puddles and gigantic rain drops through the window... well, maybe not surprised but a bit disappointed I guess, some part of me hoped the forecast was wrong... There was no sleeping in through the rainy morning as Millie woke up just before 7. Instead we had plenty of time to let her practice walking again though so morning well spent! And we can proudly say that Split is the place where she took those first steps totally on her own! 😊

When the rain stopped a bit we decided to go out. Off to the Old Town again... this time we decided to check out Diocletian's Palace a bit more. First on the list was the Cathedral of Saint Dominius, which apparently is considered to be the oldest Catholic cathedral still in use in its original form. Next we went to the Temple of Jupiter, which is basically opposite to the cathedral. You have to walk under some wooden structure holding two buildings together though... quite a few of these structures around the Old Town actually. They might not look too sturdy but I guess they do the job... It's quite incredible actually that so many Roman structures are still standing here and that the city simply grew around or on their foundations... Next on the list were the Basements. After the downpour that morning, you could see the structure wasn’t as perfect as you would hope it would be as there were quite a few puddles around. Nevertheless once again I was amazed how well preserved this section of the Diocletian's Palace was – seeing the Palace was originally built in the 4th century, few puddles here and there really shouldn’t matter right? After that we stopped at a little cafe for some coffee and beer, but mostly to escape the rain and warm up a bit, yep! more or less soaked... Since it didn't look like it was going to stop raining any time soon, we just headed back to our apartment if only to let Millie have a nap in a cosy and warm place...

With the rain pouring and pouring, I thought that this might be it for the day but as my belly started rumbling we decided to leave our cosy apartment and at least get something to eat. It actually stopped raining soon after Millie woke up, so it was now or never... Since we really liked Villa Spiza the night before, we headed there once again. As soon as we walked into the restaurant Millie started waving and blowing kisses to everyone and became a centre of attention straight away... One guy came over to our table saying he wanted to pass good energy to Millie... I didn't really know what to make out of it to be honest and it looked like Millie had exactly the same thoughts as she wasn’t friendly with him at all... After a short conversation it turned out he was from Tibet but was living around Europe for quite a few years now... Tibet... That only brought back some memories from Nepal... I was so close to Tibet and yet it didn't happen back then... Hopefully one day... The guy actually turned out to be very genuine and was trying to make conversation with some other guests as well, he even started giving out presents... Millie got a good fortune necklace made out of lovely beads and another couple got... a flute! How about that! It looked like the staff either wasn't too happy or simply confused about his doings... maybe he wasn't there the first time? Hard to know... maybe I wrongly picked up their expressions? I don't think I am a good people reader... I think I am quite cautious when meeting new people and it actually takes me a while to really warm up to people as well... maybe I should trust more in people and their intentions? Hard to let your guard down, especially with Millie around... Still probably better be extra careful than sorry right? We really enjoyed our dinner again and I even treated myself to some cake! Yay!

So that was it for Split. My first impression about it maybe wasn't too great, but the city grew on me very quickly and despite the disappointing weather on our last day we actually had a pretty good time here. From here we could either continue towards Dubrovnik or check one of the nearby islands first. With the low season, island hopping was a bit limited and yet we thought it would’ve been a shame to be so close to the islands and not to check at least one of them... We booked the ferry and were ready to move on to our next destination. Next stop: Hvar!

Additional photos below
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20th May 2017
Lovely spot for a bite to eat

The setting
Food always taste better in a setting like this. Life is grand. Thanks for sharing your trip.
22nd May 2017
Lovely spot for a bite to eat

The setting
Great location definitely has a good effect on the taste buds! Thanks for reading :)
19th June 2017

Did someone say burgers!
Damn! we didn't get to eat at Kanton Paulina - I guess we will need to go back. We both love Game of Thrones but it is a bit of a curse on the Croatian coast as it tends to multiply the tourist trade, but thankfully for you guys being out of high season you probably didn't get the huge tourist crush. When you work you really look forward to the public holidays and long weekends but boy they can be annoying when you are travelling and everything is shut. Loving the photos and the stories.
28th June 2017

Did someone say burgers!
It was a really nice little place and so cheap! And yes we were very lucky as there were no tourist crowds at all... Thanks for reading :)

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