A day in Split

Split, is a fortified city with the Diocletian Palace being its nucleus. What was once a grand retirement palace of a Roman Emperor, has now translated into lanes of make-shift ice-cream shops, residential quarters, boutiques and cafes. Yet the walk within the fortified palace satiates the intrigue  and reflects the old world charm.

The best way to explore Split is on foot (Actually one has less of an option, as there is barely any parking space and the public transportation isn’t a very popular option!). The Diocletian Palace has four gates: Brass, Silver, Golden and Iron.

I started my walk from the Brass Door which faces the harbor. This used to be the back door of the palace and worked as an emergency exit into the sea if one was attacked. Walking through the Brass Door, one reaches the Cellar, which at one point of time, was filled with water and then later was used as a dump. The Cellar today houses several souvenir stands, selling trinkets and jewelry.

As you climb the stairs of the Cellar, you would enter the centerpiece of Split, called the Peristil. We saw a traditional choir of dalmatia singers perform in the vestibule, with their voices filling up the walls with their fine tunes.

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Peristil, the heart of Split, houses Roman pillars and arches, red stone buildings and a black sphinx (defining the long reign of Diocletian at Egypt). At noon, actors playing Diocletian and his troops parade the Peristil and address the crowd in Latin. It is a bit of a drollery but makes for good photographic opportunities. This a really good place to grab a sandwich ( Bobis- excellent chicken rolls, puff pastry, Apple pastry and their famous walnut horse shoe) or a gelato from a nearby cafe and watch the world go by. Zinfandal is also a good lunch option to have some local cuisine.

I am usually not a fan of climbing bell towers, but the 200 feet tall tower located above the Church at the Peristil was, despite being a scary climb, worth all the labour and paid off with its sweeping views of the city.

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The best way to see the sun set in Split and enjoy the panoramic view is to hike to the Marjan Peninsula by crossing the bustling streets of Riva and the Marina. It is an easy hike and the views are definitely rewarding.

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As you trail down, you will notice a restaurant named ‘Buffet Fifi’. This is a very popular restaurant cast in a stone walled house, where one can expect big and inexpensive portions of fish stew, pasticada (beef cooked in a wine stew and served with gnocchi or pasta), tripe, goulash, fried fish and stuffed paprika. The Dalmatian cuisine was fresh, hearty and tasty.

 

After a hearty meal, I would recommend quenching the dessert pang at the crepes/pancake stalls on the street, in company of the lovely breeze at the harbor.

The Riva bar is a great place with inspiring views of the Riva promenade and port and is well known for its nightlife and cocktails.  Very close to Riva, are the Puls, Fluid and Ghetto clubs, which are popular options with both, tourists and locals.

Apart from the promenade, the Luxor cafe is also a great place to enjoy the dimly lit tower, adding to its mystic presence. Grab a drink at the Luxor cafe to sit on the red cushions or simply enjoy watching people breaking into a dance to the live band music.  Walking through the streets is really fun in the night and almost feels like a quest within the fortified walls.

The next morning we woke up to some great breakfast at Mazzgoon Cafe, which is a hole in the wall cafe, where I loooooved the French Toast with ricotta cheese and Cinnamon toast. The Kikolo juice centre is a great place to have some fresh blends of nutritious blends using fruits, vegetables and vitamins.

Split is a wonderful stopover between Hvar and Dubrovnik, which boasts of its rich past and where people know how to let go and have fun! Get lost in the lanes, catch the wind, pretend to be a gladiator, bring out the foodie in you and let loose and party!

Tip: The bus connections between Split and Dubrovnik are mostly in the morning and need to be booked in advance, which also takes a lot of time. We rented a car and drove via Bosnia to Durbrovnik. Feel free to haggle with car rental companies, as even the reputed rental companies will overplay the price. Also, you don’t need to have a visa to cross Bosnia and Herzegovina to cross over to Dubrovnik. We actually managed to even stop over at Neum for coffee and also got a parking ticket! So much for that!

 

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