30.06.2013 - 30.06.2013
Our plan today was to take an early morning ferry from Hvar to Split. After walking around Split for the morning and afternoon we planned to pick up our rental car and visit and stay in Trogir (troh-GEER).
This morning we took the passenger ferry from Hvar to Split, the second biggest city in Croatia.
First we visited a few small art galleries featuring sculptor Ivan Mestrovic, one of Croatia's most famous artist. He actually lived quite a while in the US. Disagreements with the communist Croatian government after World War II spurred him to take a professorship at Syracuse University. He was offered US citizenship, and the ceremony was presided over by President Eisenhower.
Adam and Eve, too bad Jen's photo is fuzzy
The most impressive thing to me was the biblical woodcuts. You have to carve it like a 3-D sculpture, but use perspective like a 2-D painting. Tough.
Grabbed lunch in a cafe on Republic Square.
We then met our guide Milka for our tour of Diocletian Palace (the Roman emperor). Split is unusual because the 'old town' is actually the palace. Settlers incorporated the palace into the town after it was abandoned.
'Riva' oceanfront cafes in front of the palace wall.
Houses built into the front of the palace.
Above the old basement of the palace you can see the floor of a few houses
Roof of the entry to the peristyle
Peristyle (open columned porch at the center of a Roman residence)
Climbed the bell tower on the peristyle
Here is a 12 century container used to submerse people for baptism. On it shows the social order of the day, the ruler on the right, and the worshiper under the foot of the bishop on the left.
We grabbed a drink at a cafe in the palace.
Windy and claustrophobic streets
We then walked around the perimeter of the palace.
The city is both old and modern, so the architecture is an interesting mix of old and new.
One of the defensive towers set up around Diocletian Palace by Venetians (1400s) after they took over Split. These towers are mixed into the more modern city.
Then we took the bus to the Split airport to pick up our rental car. There we witnessed a cool moment. A guy walked up and spoke to our car rental agent in Croatian. He then turned and spoke so hopefully to his son in a perfect British accent, asking his 7 year old son what he remembers about Croatia. All the son said was that he remembered how to say things like excuse me and hello, nothing specific about the place itself. Heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time that he wanted to reintroduce his home country to a son that probably remembers very little of it.
We drove our rental car to Trogir and unfortunately got to our accommodations, Palaca Stafileo, late. Feeling guilty, we apologized repeatedly to the owner. No time for that-he makes a phone call confirming our arrival, then of course out comes the homemade brandy. This time the glass was filled so high it was impossible not to spill. I take a couple of sips and then shoot it. I think it is walnut brandy. Meanwhile Jen takes a sip, “I can’t do this, it’s too much, drink some of mine while he is not looking.” I drank a little of her’s, but it was too much for me also. It remained unfinished.
Our top floor room was small, cute, and had great views of the windy streets.
View from our room
The town is on a small island.
The town harborfront
Earlier I wrote that one of the goals I set was not to rush around too much, and until today we’ve been moving at a relaxed pace. Well, we packed way too much stuff into today. After we rented the car at the airport and got to Trogir all we wanted to do was walk around a little bit, get a quick bite to eat, and turn in early. The stairs in Hvar shredded our feet and we need some more recovery time. Plus we planned to leave Trogir very early tomorrow morning so we could make it to the Plitvice Lake hike before it is flooded with tour groups.
Didn’t happen. Let me back up and explain why. When we first booked this trip and found out Croatia was joining the EU on July 1st while we were here, I figured there would be a massive celebration, so I did some looking around to try to find one. The only one I could find was in the capital, Zagreb, where we would not be going. Finally I gave up. Early in our trip it seemed like the local reaction to joining the EU ranged from a cautious “We’ll see” to “This is a very bad idea”. Maybe people are not excited, hence no celebrations. The current state of the EU is much poorer now than it was when they applied to join over ten years ago. However, when we arrived in Split earlier in the day they were erecting a stage with an EU banner on the Riva.
When our local Split guide, Milka, first saw the stage, she was surprised and had no idea there was any celebration planned. Split is the second biggest city in Croatia, so I guess it makes sense there was going to be a celebration, but I was surprised that few people seemed to know about it beforehand. Unfortunately we were staying in Trogir. When we started walking through the main square in Trogir, some people started moving café tables out of the way.
Main Square in Trogir
Church on the square
Carved doors on the church
Then we saw lighting equipment erected on the square.
We checked in later and an orchestra was being seated. Locals were gathering in the square and the crowd was slowly building and building. We decided to find seats and watch the growing spectacle because this was a unique event that could never be experienced again. I think regardless of the mixed feelings some Croatians had about joining the EU, all of them realized that this is a threshold, a special and unique historic moment for their young country. And it showed . . . there was great dancing in traditional outfits, music, and singers belting out songs that the whole crowd knew the words to (except us!). We even shared a moment of laughter with a mother. In the crowd we were sandwiched between her stroller bound 2 year old and a woman who was wearing a hood. The toddler kept leaning out of his stroller to look around us and try to see underneath that mysterious hood. We were giggling at this kid, and finally he got so curious and leaned so far out of his stroller he almost fell out!! We all laughed. Finally after the festivities we trudged back to our room tired, but happy.
Unveiling of the EU flag