Croatia in 35mm: Split

After a beautiful day of driving and exploration that took us through the towns of Sibenik and Trogir (read here), we finally arrived in Split just before sunset. Our AirBnB accommodation was located right outside the periphery of the old city and we were lucky enough to find parking across our apartment building. It was really nice to be greeted by a young and energetic host and her beautiful dog. As she helped us settle in, she brought out a bunch of maps and sat down with us to give us the lay of the land. After getting a sense of our itinerary she made recommendations of all the places we should try to see and of course places where we should eat.

Her first recommendation for the evening was a restaurant called “Vidilica” which was located at the top of a hill and approximately 30 minutes from the apartment. Since we’d been promised spectacular views of the city, it wasn’t something I was going to pass up on. As we arrived huffing and puffing, we were greeted with a large, open space and stunning views of the bay, just as promised. With a glass of wine in hand and a spot at the edge of the terrace, it was easy to lose ourselves in the cool breeze, the beautiful sunset and the spectacular views of the city. It’s a pity that one can’t be here at sunrise, but I definitely recommend coming here before sunset as it’s not a sight you’d want to miss. After finishing our wine we started walking down the winding staircase towards the port and made our way into the city for dinner. We decided to go to “Bokeria”, a trendy spot that was quite reminiscent of a few places I’ve been to in the meatpacking district of Manhattan. With a very chic decor and an energetic vibe, this seemed like the place where everyone came to be seen. I was furious with myself for not having a backup camera battery or a phone charger as both my devices ran out of juice, so my only option was to kick back and enjoy dinner!

The following day we had an early start at around 9am (it’s early according to vacation standard time!). Of all the times I’ve travelled, this was the first time I’d decided to carry my own coffee equipment which consisted of a bag of coffee beans, a battery operated portable burr grinder, an electric kettle and an aeropress. Since there weren’t any coffee shops closeby and given my absolute dependency on a morning cup of coffee, my absurdly pedantic coffee fixation had finally paid off. Wired on some much needed caffeine, we set out into the old city and as always started by making our way to the bell tower. Thanks to our early(ish) start, we managed to avoid most of the foot traffic that followed us to get to the top of the tower. The climb wasn’t as scary as the one at St. Michael’s tower in Trogir and the views were simply jaw-dropping. Having skipped breakfast, I was ravenous from the morning excursion, so we took our host’s recommendation and decided to get lunch at a local spot named, “Villa Spiza”. The restaurant eschews a regular menu in favour of a daily specials list that’s based on what they have in the kitchen on the day from the local markets. This is a small establishment, so be prepared to wait as it may get crowded very quickly. If it does, be patient and make sure to wait, I promise you it’s worth it.

The rest of the afternoon was very relaxed as we explored the city on foot. The architecture in Split’s old city is spectacular and walking here is like being inside a pop-up book that tells you stories of everything this amazing city has been through. Split is the second largest city in Croatia and as such has seen more than it’s fair share of invasions and annexations over its lifetime. One of my favourite places in the city was the Peristyle dome at Diocletian’s Palace. This is where local musicians usually gather and offer a free show to promote the local music and culture. The dome has a massive skylight that illuminates the stone interiors in golden sunshine while offering views of the vivid, blue skies above. I couldn’t seem to get myself to walk away from this place and spent the better part of my afternoon just sitting there and watching people walk in and out. Exhausted from the afternoon, we decided to pick up some wine & cheese from a local market and stay in for the evening. But around 10pm I found myself craving a late night snack, so we stepped back out into the city. “Kantun Paulina” is a small establishment that specializes in the Croatian delicacy, “Cevapi”. If you’ve read my earlier posts you might have learnt that I absolutely love cevapi and ate it practically everyday. Sold in most restaurants, what makes this place different is that they’ve been making it for nearly a century! Standing in line, waiting for our turn reminded me of my first visit to Mamoun’s falafel in New York city’s west village. Oh the good old days of grad school! The night wouldn’t be complete without some dessert, so once again we took our host’s recommendation and made our way to “Luka”, a local bakery that specialises in homemade cakes and ice cream. Thankfully we made it just before closing time, the pastries here were an absolute treat and gave a perfect ending to a perfect day.

The following morning it was time for us to bid adieu to Split as we took the ferry into Hvar. Our time in Split was short and sweet and I definitely wished we’d spent another day here. However, I don’t have any regrets as I feel it’s always good to leave a place wanting more, gives you the perfect incentive to come back!