Just get your arse down here!
We were Skyping with Alison, and in typical polite British fashion, she was expressing concern that she would crash the party, but in typical brash American fashion, we were telling her 'no, you are not.' After three full months on the road and a brief three-day respite with Jennie and Jeremy in Salzburg, it had pretty much been just the two of us 24/7. We were dying for an intervention.
After a little bit of convincing (ok, obnoxious pleading), she arrived like the goddess of civilization with suitcase in one hand and a bottle of Piper Heidsieck in the other.
In her suitcase were several toiletries and articles of summer clothing from our stash at Sue and Roger's. When we went out that night, I pranced around in my 'new' duds (which weren't actually new, just different), overjoyed not to be wearing the same clothing from my backpack.
The 'new clothes feeling' was one of many euphoric experiences that week in Croatia, giving it a distinctly sunny holiday atmosphere.
Croatia is known for its stunning coastline on the Adriatic and Split's biggest draw is the beach. From the famed sandy beach of Bacvice to the stunningly beautiful pebble beaches of nearby Brac and Hvar islands, relaxing by the water is why you go to Split. During peak season, it heaves with beach-going families and cruise ship passengers during the day and young international partiers by night.
The other star of Split is Diocletian's Palace, a fortress-like Roman complex in the heart of the Old Town, dating back to 300 AD. Unbelievably well-preserved and filled with restaurants, cafes, wine bars, shops and hotels, it's easy to be transported back to Roman times as your sandals skim across the white stones and your fellow citizens toast one another with refreshing Croatian rose or Aperol spritz. Surely the Romans invented Aperol and that orange color is totally natural.
But sun and surf was our primary objective and we spent three full days at three different sites.
Day 1: Ovcice Beach
The closest to our apartment off Kastelana, we made the three minute walk to this pebble beach and set up camp right on the water with three lounge chairs and two umbrellas for 100 Kuna ($15 USD). I was glad for my flip-flops, but in truth, aqua socks or even (gasp) Crocs are the best footwear to traverse the rocks. There are two parts to Ovcice, the pebble beach on the east side of the bay and the concrete platform on the west side. The east side was definitely less crowded and when we popped into the bar behind us, we had the place to ourselves, but for more options (there were no restaurants near us), head closer to the Old Town.
Day 2: Bacvice Beach
The celebrity of Split is Bacvice, for both its rare sandy beach and close proximity to Old Town. After putting down a base tan at secluded Ovcice, we were ready for the lively action and less painful walk to the water at Bacvice. Once again, we secured three sun beds and two umbrellas for a slightly higher price of 150 Kuna ($20). If you are going for a full day, this is a bargain.
Despite the crowds, I enjoyed our day at Bacvice tremendously. The sea is quite shallow for a very long distance and the soft sand beckons you out past the warm water and splashing kids into clean and cool turquoise heaven.
There are plenty of restaurants to choose from and we had an especially nice experience at Pizzeria Karaka, a family run place, where despite the steady flow of demanding tourists, still managed genuine smiles!
Day 3: Bol Beach, Brac
A visit to Bol is an all-day affair, but worth it. Take the ferry from Split to Supetar for 33 Kuna per person ($5 USD) and then catch a minivan (it seems sketchy but it's not) to Bol for a scenic, heart pounding drive up and over Brac on narrow, rollercoaster roads for 50 Kuna ($7.50).
Once in Bol, you have to blink several times to take it all in. The water is so clear, the sun shimmers across it in blinding fashion. Once adjusted, it's hard not to just stand and stare, but don't wait too long to grab a sun chair and umbrella or be prepared to lay on the rocks. We paid 250 Kuna ($37) for the three of us, but worth every cent since only a local raised on pebble beaches could lay directly on it as we frequently witnessed. Ouch!
It was blistering hot that day and the water, though colder than in Split, was perfectly refreshing. We didn't venture into the village for a fish lunch, which was recommended by our Airbnb host, but rather grabbed a quick sandwich and fries at a cafeteria under the shady white pines.
Nightlife at Diocletian's Palace
Like our Roman forebears, we took a break from the sun with evenings of great food and plenty of wine. Our favorite meals of the week were a case study in high/low. Bokeria, on the one end serves an elegant fusion of Mediterranean, European and Croatian cuisine with a superb wine selection. Popaj (Popeye) Fast Food on the other end, offers delicious and inexpensive pizzas ($1) and salads ($4). And there is everything in between.
After three days and four nights, Ali, armed with our cold weather layers, departed our world of hedonism. We decided the best penance would be a very long walk to burn off the booze and see the other side of the peninsula.
It was a sizzling hot day and we initially enjoyed the walk along the water, finding far nicer and secluded beaches. But we made the mistake of trying to follow the coast all the way around and then had to double back up a very steep hill. However, once inside the park, it was cooler and shaded by fragrant white pines, a smell we have since come to associate with Croatia.
A Farewell to Dreamies
As our week ended and we packed up for our journey to Bosnia and Herzegovina, we said goodbye to the cat who had become our constant companion during lazy mornings on the patio. After a week of Dreamies cat treats and bowls of cream, little did she know her holiday was coming to an end as well, but we'll always remember those eyes.
If you want to see our entire Split photo album, click here.
Thanks for reading!
Next time on Gobsmacked: Mystical Beauty and Bullet Holes: Two Faces of Bosnia