Banana Split for my baby…
Split was my favourite place in Croatia. It didn’t have the same ‘WOW’ factor of Dubrovnik, but there’s something special about this city. The south of Croatia feels a bit like Italy – the people look fabulous, the sun shines and it’s all coastal with people enjoying the beaches and swimming. Everyone is so friendly and helpful and they all seem to know each other. Everyone is healthy as well – they eat so much fresh fish from the Adriatic Coast, swim daily, go for jobs up into the hills… it’s great to see and really made me want to move here immediately.
We drove up from Dubrovnik to Split and the views are astounding along the coast. We had to pass through Serbia and Herzegovina on the way, which meant showing our passports on both sides and for giggles, we stopped off for dinner in another country – the Japanese crew had never driven into another country before and found it fascinating.
We stayed at the Hotel Split and it was amazing! Easily the best hotel I’ve ever been to – the staff were beyond friendly, it was right on the beach (just check out my view!!) and we were offered drinks on the beach on arrival, even though it was almost midnight and in the summer they have a pool on the roof!
The reason we went to Split was to see the aftermath of the floods, without having to show distressed people and farm animals. Split is another UNESCO World Heritage site because of Emperor Diocletian’s Palace, which was constructed here around 300 AD. The Palace was actually built as a retirement home for the Roman Emperor and is over 30 000m². For hundreds of years the basements were used as a waste disposal area, however now it’s a tourist site as well as a home for many Croatian people. In 1952 the basements were excavated and preserved wonderfully. However in the floods of 2014, the water came rushing into the Palace from the port and flooded the basement.
Right next to the water-front and port you enter into the square-shaped Palace grounds. No cars can get into the limestone Palace and even in off-season April, there were many tourists. One of the oldest churches in the world is in the middle and you can climb to the top to get a view of the area. There is a sphinx from Egypt over 3500 years old next to the church and it’s wonderful to just walk through the cobbled streets and tiny courtyards. People live here to this day and you can see their washing hanging out of the windows to dry. It feels very Mediterranean – life is slow-paced, food is enjoyed slowly and it’s a lovely place to just sit back, relax and people watch. We had a very tight schedule and so were the only people there running around like loons, but we saw everything.
After filming in the basements, we had a coffee right in the middle of the square at the Lvxor Kavana, where you can sit on the steps and watch the throng of tourist groups clicking their cameras.
You absolutely cannot miss the spectacular views from Marjan hill – it’s a bit of a hike but well-worth it.
During the floods, ships were smashed onto the shore and we even found a huge old ship that had been prepared for taking apart – but the storms had moved it so far from its docking area that now it rested on the beach on the other side of the port near Slatine on the island of Čiovo. Over a year later and they are still waiting for it to be moved. The Čiovo island was my absolutely favourite place in Croatia (to date) – no tourists were spotted and the water goes from deep-blue to iridescent blues and greens, to completely clear. All I wanted to do was jump in and I know I will return here!
For lunch we stayed on the island and went to the Restaurant Konaba Kaleta, which was directly on the port. Delicious fresh food surrounded by palm trees! I felt like I was on holiday
One last thing – don’t forget to rub the big toe of the statue of Gregory of Nin at the north entrance for good luck and hilarious photo opportunity!
*Just a word of warning – bring rain clothing – the weather here changed from hot hot hot sunshine to freezing wind and rain almost instantly. This is totally normal according to all the weather experts we were interviewing, but I just wanted to let you know*