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Split, Tuesday 7 June

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Solid foundations Zadar

Early ferry my arse. We slept in and caught the 11.15 ferry. That meant we had a sweaty hike back to the bus station, which at least now we knew where it was in relation to the docks. In Zadar, once you are 100 metres from the dock area it becomes sultry and hot. Loaded packs, hot sun, 15 minutes to get to the station…very sweaty journey. The train didn’t arrive until late. If our preferred accommodation fell through we’d be kicking around in town late, prey to the touts and hustlers, so bus it was.

We had just enough time to buy the tickets and find the bus dock and it pulled in. No time for lunch, to our dismay. This bus was empty. There were almost more drivers than passengers. There were four drivers in uniform, and another guy whose role it was to eat…he ate the whole three hours. One drove, one was like a train guard/conductor, the other two were along for the ride. I guess they were the return drive team. They had a ball, yakking away. There was very little backseat driving, I expect as a professional courtesy….something amateur passengers might consider.

You know who I’m talking to….

The drive was interesting enough. A winding coastal road that sticks to the edges. Like the Great Ocean Road, with a village every ten kilometres.

Split is a bit of a shock to the system after Dugi Otok. Split has a population of more than 250000, and is the second biggest city in Croatia. You see the rows and rows of quite ugly high-rise apartments first, maybe more than 100. The drive in is through rustbelt industries, quarries, rail yards, then through cancerous concrete streets and graffitied buildings. Awful. When I was here three years ago it was just after New Year… cold, everything closed, and no one about. Now its hot and busy. Big city busy, traffic, noise, scruffy.

I had internet-found accommodation, and we rang. Dean (so he said…doesn’t sound Croatian to me, but he is) told us to wait by the post office and he would come and get us. How would he know who we were? The place was crawling with people mid-travel. The trains, buses and ferries all meet in the same spot, and it’s like an ant colony of backpackers and suitcase-wheelers.

“I will know,” he said, confidently.

While we waited we were approached by old ladies with accommodation signs, and other hustlers for accommodation. I saw a big normal-looking middle-aged guy lunge into a woman’s bag up to his elbow and miss as she went past the other way. She kept walking, completely impervious. I couldn’t understand that…something that crude couldn’t work very often, or for long. The waiter in the café saw it too, and came out and watched the guy walk off. That wouldn’t be good for café business.

Anyway, Dean showed up on foot, walked right up to me as if he had been sent my photo, then gave us a rapid-fire tour as he walked us back up the hill to the apartments his parents own. We’re uphill from the docks, so a sort of a view, but at least there’s a breeze.

If you broke the view into substances, it would be maybe 30% sky, 30% concrete, 10% asbestos, 10% terra-cotta tiles, 10% windows of other apartments and 10% mixed view (water and greenery).

Normally it might be crowded…the flats share a bathroom…but the building is currently empty, booked out from mid-June on.

Dean had scribbled three restaurants and a few other hot-spots on the map before he left, we went and tried one that he said wasn’t fancy but “real” Croatian food. And it was good, in a plain way. The sauce on Sylvia’s steak/dumpling dish was some sort of vegetable reduction, carrots and onions cooked so long they were a puree. We ate and left and there were still no other customers.

And a quick dip through Diocletian’s Palace. For the uninitiated, the Palace is one of Split’s main tourist drawcards. The Roman Emperor Diocletian had a massive marble palace built for himself on his retirement. Then, some time after he died the citizens of Solina moved in after their town was destroyed by raiders. The palace became a rabbit-warren of poky house and streets, and remains a living town. Its UNESCO registered. The streets are paved with marble, and it’s wonderful.

We sat for awhile on the esplanade and watched Split walk by, then back uphill to flake.

The fresh food market is nearby, so we’ll be buying breakfast there. The tentative plan is a hike through the peninsula park next to Split. Although the weather report says it will be thunder and storms tomorrow.

It’s certainly sultry enough.

Written by wurstofvienna2011

June 7, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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