Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Croatia 2: Split

I might as well rip off the band-aid from the get-go: the first thing I discovered upon arrival at my hostel in Split was that my camera was gone. I'll spare you the gory details and just say that I lost a night's sleep over it and it sucked, but at least I had my phone, which takes decent enough pictures. After I went through the five stages of grief over this - denial as I desperately called the bus company, anger as I hoped the person who stole my camera would lose a limb or something, bargaining with a higher power, a bit of depression, and finally, acceptance - I was okay.

Now that we have that out of the way...

Day One:

The hostel was... interesting. I was greeted by a nice, young, chain-smoking Australian who was most definitely NOT secretly working there for a couple weeks and NOT being paid in free housing. Shhhh. The actual owner, a young energetic redhead, was rarely there, despite the fact that she was literally living in the "office" barely big enough for her couch and tiny desk. From what I could tell, there wasn't anyone actually running the place most of the time, and it felt more like staying over at a friend's apartment than a hostel. And the building, the actual hostel, and all the rooms, none of them were ever locked. I mean, they all had locks, but no one bothered to make use of them. But it was very social, full of characters, very chill, and people befriended each other quickly. Every night someone produced a two-liter plastic bottle of what I assume was some of the worst beer on the planet, and we hung out for hours on the deck. And the beds were really comfortable, which made up for being stuck in a room with guys who snored like machines each night. I'd definitely stay there again.

Split is built around Diocletian's Palace, a Roman ruin built by Emperor Diocletian who gave up the Roman throne in the 4th century and used it as his settlement afterwords. Inside there are lots of cafes and shops, apartments, and a bell tower where you can get a nice view of the water and the city. There's the Grgur Statue (nope, not a typo), whose toe you're supposed to touch and make a wish. I'm not sure if birthday cake rules apply here, but just in case, I won't tell you what I wished for. Besides that, there are several small beaches and a nice port to walk around. And a stuffed frog museum which I'm a little sad, yet also happy that I didn't go into. Over 500 dead, stuffed frogs doing different things. Frogs dancing, frogs doing dental work, frogs on a playground...

It's a pretty small town and after seeing it all in a couple of hours, I moved onto Suma Marjan, which is a giant wooded park which offers a great view of the city and the coastline. It was one of my favorite parts of Split, despite getting hopelessly lost for a few hours. I had a map and there were signs, but none of the signs pointed to anything on the map, so it was pretty much useless.

After that I went to the beach where I happened to meet up with some of the people from my hostel. We talked for a bit and the topic of my birthday came up. One of the guys decided it had to be celebrated that night (although it was more of a tack-on to his last-day-in-Split goodbye he had already been planning). So that night five or six of us ended up hanging out on the balcony, drinking Screwdrivers and talking until the warm night turned cold. The conversation turned a bit crass (I'll blame it on the vodka), but it was really great. I tend to feel either like I'm 12 or 80, and it was nice to have one of those rare moments that reminded me I'm in my 20's.

Day Two:

The next day the sun died and didn't come back until my last day in Zadar. It was miserable. There's nothing to do when it rains in Croatia. Can't go to the beach, can't go visit any of the islands, nothing. A couple other girls from the hostel and I tried to make the best of it and we went to go visit Trogir, which was talked up by all the travel websites. Apparently it's some amazing little town, great enough to be named a UNESCO site. I disagree. It sucked. We saw the whole thing in less than half an hour, climbed the bell tower. The view was okay.

We tried to make the trip last as long as we could by going out to coffee (which played a very large roll in my life during that trip, more than usual. It was really good all over Croatia, and cheap too), but by early afternoon we were done. We were all really low on energy and none of us seemed to feel like talking much. I think it was the sudden pressure change. When we got back I felt so dead I just laid in my bed and sort of half-slept. I honestly don't remember what I did the rest of the day. I think I just lazed around and talked with my fellow prisoners.

Day Three:

On my last day in Split I knew it was going to rain, but I would have lost my mind if I stayed in the hostel all day, so I decided to make a day trip to Omis, a nearby town (which apparently has a great hike that I was sad I couldn't do). I did manage to have a couple hours of good weather, so I walked around. The town was alright, but, (are you starting to see the pattern?) it was small and there wasn't much to see besides the short climb up a hill to a lookout point. (When I was talking to the lady at the office of tourism I asked her what to see. She listed off two or three things, thought for a second, and said "yeah, and that's all." Way to sell your city lady). The beach was really pretty though. I sat there, ate my yogurt, and stared at the insanely clear water.

After that I went into a cafe for some coffee and food, started to read, and when I looked up five minutes later, it was pouring outside. So I just chilled and read my book. It was really nice, actually. Until I had to sprint through the rain to catch my bus back, that was less nice.

Day Four:

I'm not quite sure what I did the last day. I must have walked around town or something. The weather was still dreary. That night though, a group of us went out to a couple clubs and danced until four in the morning. Now that was memorable.

It would be a lie to say it was my first time going to a club. No, my first time was at the Australian Bar in Montpellier, but that experience was painfully awkward. Yes yes, I went to college, but as you can probably tell I'm not much of a party-er, make fun of me all you want. (Remember that thing I said about feeling like I'm 80?). I was, surprise surprise, really tired and under-dressed, and I had no intention of joining the others, but a bit of whisky and some friendly coaxing and I finally gave in.

I won't go into the details, but it was really fun and I don't know why I don't do that more often. We went out to a bakery for some pizza afterword (a bakery open at 4:00, imagine that) and wandered back to the hostel smelling like cigarettes and watching lighting strike over the water. It was a great way to end my time in Split.

Diocletian's Palace

The Bell Tower
View from the bell tower:

This guy somehow got in this hole a few inches away from the people climbing the stairs. I have no idea how he got there or if he ever got out. 
3,500 year old Sphinx from Egypt 
Fish Market: you smell it, then you hear it, then you see it

That frog museum I was talking about
Lots of really random, really awesome stuff set up on tables outside of the Palace

The wishing toe. It's kind of hard to see but that one toe is gold from all the rubbing
Croatia: the birthplace of the necktie. In French/Polish/a bunch of different languages they're called cravate. Croat, cravat...see the connection?  
Split waterfront

The park and views from it

All over Croatia I kept smelling this scent. At first I thought everyone was wearing the same perfume, but it turned out to be these flowers.

...I don't know
And rained. And rained and rained and rained. 


"Hey, did you guys see Santa?" Asked one guy at the hostel. I thought he was high. And then the next day... there he was. 

Sat in here and watched it pour for hours

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