Tuesday 8th May 2018
It was so hot last night, us UK folk are not used to the heat throughout the night, waking up and drinking water, throwing the bed sheet off and trying to sleep, it must have been 20° plus all night. The vents are open and the fly screens in use, there was no movement of air, the morning light indicates it’s time for a cup of tea. It’s 7am and we are sitting on the beach side wall taking in the day and scenery, it’s so quiet there’s no else here, just us and Pogo. All the cars and people gradually disappeared throughout the evening yesterday leaving us all alone.
Yesterday we drove from Krka towards Split and arrived here late afternoon/early evening. Our overnight spot was mentioned on Park 4 Night (another free website) it said authorised? motorhome parking (free) and we thought we would try it out. It is a super spot, it’s a small beach area called Kasjuni Plaza & Beach in Split with free parking for anyone it seems alongside the beach, there are beach showers and a beach bar called Joes Beach bar. The beach bar is a smart trendy looking place, plenty of shade from the cream coloured boat style sails draped from aluminium poles, there are very modern and comfortable loungers on the beach with cushions and parasols. The music was chilled out, almost instrumental but with a dance beat, just the right music for this spot. As we walked on the beach and around the area we couldn’t see any restrictions or no camping signs, so we decided to have a drink at the bar, why not, after all this might be a free camping spot for the night. We slept soundly after watching the sunset across the horizon.
It’s another warm one this morning and forecast to be 28° I go for a stroll and as I get to the beach bar area a chap cleaning the bar appears and gets my attention, “ no camping here” he is polite enough and I think he was trying to be helpful “ trouble and police” he says and I replied I’ll move later, ok he says “camp up there 150 metres” he saunters off back to work in the bar area.
Cathy and I discussed what has just happened and we decide to stay put for the day as we are not camping or sleeping here during the day and it’s free to park here. Going off to Split now, hopefully there is a bus route on the road nearby otherwise it’s a 45 minute walk in 26° heat, we find a bus stop within 5 metres of the top of the short hill to the main road, we asked the chap sat there, he said yai or something similar, the timetable says the bus (No. 12) is due now, what luck we are having! 11kn each (£1.20) straight into the centre of Split and 15 mins later we are on the main promenade called Riva, a bustling place full of activity as the beginning of another busy day for everybody here begins, the cruise ships and yachts are in as we look across the blue water and harbour. The palm trees are providing shade on the many white painted park benches and already folk are sat there escaping the sunshine, the park garden flowers are in bloom and it looks like a very, clean and smart city. We are not doing a walking tour today as we feel like exploring, discovering the treasures of the town and getting lost! The guided walks are not free here and cost about £20 each and take 2.5 hrs, not today in this heat thank you!
We cross the road and enter down the steps beneath street level and in to Diocletian Palace. The Palace once occupied 30,000 square metres and today the ruins are in the heart of the city. Emperor Diocletian wished to enter his palace on a ship without leaving his deck and the lower tier of the palace was once covered in water to enable this. Built in 305 A.D. it was used by the Emperor and also as a military garrison. The large vaulted ceilings and smoothed out creamy grey cobbles makes the atmosphere very cool, its great how the palace is still used as a commerce centre even today. There’s the usual gift and souvenir shops in here but we make our way through to the other side, climb the well-worn steps and we are in the sunshine again in a courtyard where the bell tower and cathedral are.
Our coffee break in the square here was literally a coffee break! looking at the tower and the old roman walls whilst sitting on the steps of the restaurant and coffee bar, great idea using the steps with small red cushions and small square table tops for their customers. 2 coffees ordered, whilst trying to put sugar in mine I knocked the large cup over and it spilt and splashed down the steps narrowly missing another customer who was sat on the lower steps beneath us, apologies all round and I go and find the staff to clean my mess up. As Cathy shared her coffee with me we could hear the faint sound of music, not unusual in tourist spot like this but then we heard clapping, off we go to investigate.
Traditional dalmatian songs being sung acapella style, their clear distinctive voices sounded great in the open topped circular stone building, we watched and listened for a while, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
In the square we saw two men dressed in gladiator style dress posing for photos (and money of course) the Japanese and Chinese are loving them, striking different poses of fighting and laughing a lot for their photos, we love their enthusiasm for everything.
We had an idea of what we would like to see today, and we marvel at life, everyday life in the old town and the surrounding walls
Once again tiny narrow paths and streets, zig zagging across each other, we follow our noses and once or twice we end up at a dead end but its all part of the adventure. The people of Split are very creative using their space to create intimate, fashionable shops, cafes, bar, businesses and homes. It’s noticeable how much cooler it is between the nearly touching walls of the separate buildings, some being held up with supporting wooden scaffolding.
I bought a hat, panama style as my head is hot in a baseball cap and this is much cooler and I might say a bit more stylish! Cathy loves it.
We purchase some sandwiches from a bakery as we are trying to do it a bit cheaper, huge rolled flat breads with salad and ham for me and chicken and salad for Cathy with hindsight they were too big and one would have been enough for us to share, lesson for next time.
The huge statue of Gregory of Nin towers up at the back of the town, during the WW11 this was removed and hidden away to avoid destruction and was re-erected in 1954. Gregory was a medieval Croatian bishop who is believed to have introduced the national language in Croatia through religious services commencing in 926 AD.
A photo opportunity is on the cards from the bell tower, we paid 25kn each (€3) and we take the steps up. Well what an experience that turned out to be, Cathy and I have climbed many towers on our travels, we always enjoy the views and taking photos so we are used to a variety of different buildings and heights
Understandably the initial stone steps are narrow maybe 2 feet wide and very steep, you have to wait for your turn because people are going both up and down on the same narrow steps, its dark with limited headroom in parts, I would dread to think what it must be like in high season! We came out on to a small platform shared with 3 large bells, it’s narrow we can’t pass others so as we wait I look upwards….. and what I see scares me a little. The tower is square, there are no further floors or landings between here and the very top viewing platform, there’s probably 15 sets of stairs, you look directly up to the top, there are no further landings, people are passing each other on the metal frame steps and stairs that measure just 3 feet wide, the railings are open with a 2-foot gap between each bar. The whole construction from here to the top is only fastened to the wall, just like the shelves in your home are attached to the walls, scary! (I should have taken a photo). There is an absence of vertical poles, columns or rods, there is nothing underneath any part of the stairs holding it up, so the whole thing is bolted sideways in to the wall, and all I am thinking about what is stopping the whole sets of stairs breaking away from the wall. It looks like an accident waiting to happen to me! We proceed, I stopped to let people come down past me, I want to be on the wall side, so they can pass me on the railing side. The wall is open to the elements as well, there are no windows just large rectangular holes in the walls, this is really getting to me now. I stop with 3 flights left to go, turning to Cathy behind me I say I can’t go on and I feel very uncomfortable, Cathy does too, my G.P always asks if I do a lot of exercise as my pulse is always slow at 50 beats and my blood pressure is low too, now I am breathing ever so quickly and Cathy thinks I am going to faint, we turn around and descend, I am not feeling so good, Cathy thinks because of my low blood pressure that I am going to faint and fall through the gap in the railings and keeps talking to me to distract me from looking down and toppling over as we retrace our steps.
Once on terra ferma we sat in the shade and regained our composure for 15 mins and we walk to the waterfront, time for a beer, sea, fresh air off the sea sunshine and a view, that’ll fix me!
As we sat slowly drinking and recovering from the ordeal we can see the No.12 bus and we time it just right, drinks paid for and we hop on and head back.
It’s now 28° and the people have come out to play at Kasjuni Plaza & Beach, the car park is rammed, we are blocked in but don’t mind, we are planning to move up the hill sometime this evening, don’t want anyone moaning at us, swim wear on and on to the beach to catch the last few hours of evening sunshine. We plant ourselves down on the beach at a spot that Cathy calls the place for the pretty and skinny people! Not us! Cathy gets straight in as usual and I am hesitant but soon we are both swimming together in the blue, green and yet clear water, it’s amazing watching the sun sinking away behind the hills and sea.
Whilst drying off I am enjoying the chill out dance beats from the beach bar, even now it’s 23° at 5pm!
Some light cloud drifts in and covers the sun and all the Croatians rush home to get warm!
Turned Pogo around and drove up the hill, chocked up and level we cook our tea and enjoy the 180 views. 40 mins later the clounds part and we are treated to a glorious sunset.
The monument in front of us here flies the Croatian flag and I’ve translated the scripture, hopefully correctly.
“You are just like magic,
You served our Croatia,
All units that participated,
In defense of the city of Split,
Members who died for liberty,
As well as civilian victims”
We sometimes forget that it is only 27 years ago that there was no peace in the area or country.
Fly screens and nets up, sat with a drink after the sunset chatting away, where shall we go, when, how do we get there, and Cathy suggests a 5.30am start to watch the sunrise! In memory of her dad.