A Last Hurrah in Split, Croatia

Posted by Madeline on June 7, 2018 in Brac Island, Croatia, Split, studying abroad, travel

A few weekends ago (April 26-29) my roommates and I went on a Bus2Alps trip to Croatia. We looked into organizing it ourselves, but it was hard to find affordable transport. Bus2Alps was cheaper to use with what they provided, so we just used them for transportation and accomodation. Our bus left at 9 pm Thursday, arriving around 10 am Friday to Split! Our seats didn’t recline much, and there was barely any space, so I didn’t sleep well at all! The 27th was my friend Rachel’s birthday, and she’d found a guided kayaking and cliff jumping tour for us at 3. Until then, we decided to go to the beach, which was nice since I didn’t have much energy! The water was so clear there, and saltier than the water I’d been in in Italy (Sicily and Viareggio) somehow. We sunbathed, played volleyball in the water and listened to music. When it was time, we started heading for the kayak place. They drove us in a van to a rocky beach -it was really uncomfortable to walk on! And we put in our kayaks, I was in a kayak with Lucy, Rachel with Jesse, and Roselyn with Daniella. Our guide was alone, and took pictures as we went along. It took about half an hour to get to the cliffs. We parked our kayaks at a small beach around the bend from them. Getting out, we saw a starfish in the shallow water, and asked if we could pick it up:) Our guide said it wouldn’t hurt it and we were just preparing it for high tourist season!!

It felt so funny to hold..slightly prickly, and when it moved I almost wanted to drop it because it felt so strange. After we’d passed it around for everyone to hold, we put it back off to the side and continued to the path to the cliffs. There were little prickly plants that we stepped on and put our hands on climbing over the rocks, which was slightly painful! When we made it out to the edge, we went to the lower rocks to jump first. It was exhilarating to jump off, I hit the water with a smack and water went in my nose. The water felt so good though, refreshing! We swam to the wall, where there were low enough rocks and grabbing spots to lift ourselves back up to climb back to the jumping spot. Next, we went to the higher level, about 7 meters I think the guide said.

After a few rounds, we were ready to keep going. Staying somewhat close to the mainland, we passed between small rock outcroppings and finally glimpsed the bay where we’d go to shore. When we paddled in, a few families were at the little beach watching their kids play in the water. They were really excited by the kayaks, so our guide let them get in one and paddle around a bit!
While our guide loaded up the van with a tiny help here and there from us, we watched the sunset over the water. It was so calming and peaceful, I felt good surrounded by friends in such a beautiful place enjoying the moment.

The next morning, we took a ferry to the nearby island of Brac. The ferry ride made me nostalgic of times when we took a ferry across Lake Champlain as a kid. I loved seeing the changing landscape from the ship as we went by.

View of Split from the Ferry

The hour long ferry ride brought us to a quaint marina and town filled with white cottages with bright clay red roofs.

Incredibly clear, turquoise waters greeted us when we went down to the shore. For lunch, we stopped at a restaurant we found that said they were the best in the town. I was skeptical since that’s a common, often false advertisement. Looking at the menu though, it seemed good, and the customers food appeared so as well, and they praised it. So we sat. One girl in our group said to the waiter how the food was good, but still inexpensive. He shook his head, saying not really. He said in the center of the town you could get the same dishes cheaper, but here, they prepare the food properly, and truly follow how it is meant to be, such as using the best cuts of meat, etc. It was nice to hear his honesty..he could have simply nodded and smiled, but he took the time to explain the importance of how we had truly paid for quality.
Lucy and I took an earlier ferry back than the rest of the group, since we wanted to explore the city of Split more. We’d heard of Diocletian’s Palace, but didn’t know anything more besides Game of Thrones had some scenes filmed there. After speaking with a guide, we found out that most of the central square of Split was where the Palace used to stand, but had been filled in with buildings for the people to live. We meandered around, enjoying the absence of cars, narrow streets archways, and marble walls. What I really liked was that Split felt very different from Italy. When I’d gone to Barcelona, the ancient buildings looked just like those of Italy’s, similar to what I’d seen in Rome. The wide use of marble for building, and those bright red roofs I think were what really set it apart. It also didn’t seem as touristy as I would have expected since they had this large, beautiful palace, right on the sea, and the popularity of Game of Thrones. But as Lucy and I went to the museum, it seemed as though they could have benefited from some tourism to bring in money for upkeep and repairs. On the lower level below the city, the old cellar or basement of the Palace, there were leaky areas, crumbling walls and it just seemed to be deteriorating overall. I did have fun making some friends back home who are lovers of Game of Thrones jealous though!

Our last day, we hopped back on the bus. In an hour we reached Krka National Park. The bus ride down to the main area made me sad we weren’t there longer to do a true hike into the vast wilderness we could see as we wound down the weaving road. We only had time for a walk down to the falls area and hanging out there a bit before re-boarding the bus. The falls were very beautiful though, and we walked on a boardwalk through what was like an upscale swamp -a mix of trees, plants and water, but the water was clear to the bottom with mesmerizing whirlpools.
I’m so glad I went on this trip, for a bit of a last hurrah with my roommates for the semester, and to be there for my friend Rachel’s birthday!