Spent a full day wandering around Split that included a walking tour where I was the only client—no problem getting questions answered. Overwhelmingly, the theme of the tour was how Diocletian’s Palace was the bedrock for Split for over 1700 years integrating over these years various architectural styles and cultures spanning the Romans, Croat, Venetian, Hungarian, Habsburg, you name it, all the while trying to repel the Ottoman influences. Just amazing the interlacing of it all, and it seems to be stable both physically and psychically.
I also focused on the sights and smells of the outdoor markets brimming with activity. The guide brought to my attention that I saw no flies in the fish market due to the slightly sulfurous odor in the water used to clean the stalls.
Here are some impressions: walking among the Palace structures one looks down on a platform used to sacrifice animals during the Roman era; then looking through the east entrance one can spot the bell tower addition made during the medieval era; the drawing gives a good impression of how it looked in 305 AD; and this kind of picture shows the integration of new with old.
And here are the markets, the second being the fly-less fish market.
Finished my walking yesterday in arriving in Bol (115 miles in all) and am in recovery mode until May 8th when I start walking again—pretty cushy! Took the bus/ferry combo and arrived on the mainland again at about 4:00 PM. Got settled into an apartment (the hostel I signed up for is out of business) for $30 a night—it’s very nice and modern and close to the city center.
My first evening out exploring the town and having dinner in the area Marjie/Mark recommended was amazing—picture taking saturation. The city center is built around the Roman emperor, Diocletian’s Palace that was readied for him in 305 AD. Every turn you make you feel obligated to take yet another picture—can’t post them all!
Here are my main impressions: first, the Temple of Jupiter was built sometime between 295 and 305, then converted to a Christian Baptistry in the sixth century; and on the sarcophagus as you enter you see one of the earliest sculptures of a Croatian King; next the Cathedral built in Middle Ages in Diocletian’s Palace, and further down a picture of the main altar as well as a picture of the entrance to the Cathedral from the main square; the other two photos show one of the many small streets winding through the Palace, and finally Restaurant Sperdun in the quarter recommend by Marjie and Mark (a family recommendation). The restaurant had a wait of over an hour when I finished—no wait when I started!
Great day, although I feared for rain, only to be surprised by sunshine. Covered 12 miles (19 km) and am nearing the end of the road walking in Croatia. Tomorrow I catch the ferry to the island of Brac (c with mark over it) and then walk 25 km and climb 1500 ft before descending to the coastal town of Bol from where I catch another ferry the following day to Split.
I was really impressed with the town of Tucepi (c with mark over it) in terms of all the action going on. Most of the riviera is still asleep but work is going on everywhere in preparation for the summer onslaught of tourists. It’s unbelievable how many signs you see advertising rooms and apartments (I’ve been renting the small apartmani).
Some pics for the day: the sign advertises the town of Tucepi; first view of Makarska; how I felt about the whole trip, just like the car getting a wash! And lastly, some of the “trail” actually getting down to the water as it did in Tucepi. Yes, LUCKY ME!
Only 10 miles (16 km) climbing into the coastal hills should have been easier than it was—mainly spillover from too much yesterday. In the coastal hills there were lovely fresh-water lake settings, the kind you picture in Austria or Switzerland. The welcome sign to the Gradac Riviera stopped me in my tracks because it challenged me to enjoy the beachfront, by myself. So after getting settled in my Booking.com apartment, I headed down to the water to try my best at enjoying it. With a glass of wine in hand I leaned back and took it all in, even though it is a bit early in the tourist season.
My impressions: after a steep climb, I couldn’t resist rewarding myself with fresh-squeezed orange juice and an omelette (I was the only one in this bus-stop type restaurant); then my explanation as why the road was so empty (a parallel interstate route became available); one of several freshwater lake scenes; the Gradac Riviera pebbly beach (I like our sand better) and lastly, my genuine attempt to enjoy the Riviera with a glass of wine —it was very pretty!
After a 19-mile (31 km) trek up into the coastal range and down again, my biggest quandary: how do you tell the difference between reaching your limit and exceeding it (no, there was no winery down that road)??? It was a beautiful day and I did one of those two—not sure which. After a beer on the house where I’m staying, the young lady offered to take my backpack to my room and I never objected—that’s a sign I was totally exhausted!
After coming down from the coastal hills, the road skirted an area similar to the Oxnard Plain just filled with citrus groves. A funny thing though: there must have been 50 fruit stands all selling about the same thing: bags and bags of oranges and orange products—all clones. Yet, this is not orange season. I tried to get it out of them where these oranges came from. Finally, one came clean and told me these are last year’s crop stored in the basement! Such is life!
Some impressions: Day can’t go wrong when you start your first cup of coffee served in a Julius Meinl cup (from Vienna, of course); just let this picture sink in—a wine tasting drive-through—what else could it be??; This is what beat me up early on; the orange stand clones!
Today took me 14 miles (22.4 km) along the Croatian Coast to the Bosnia–Herzegovina (BH) town of Neum. How did that happen? Well, BH has access to the Adriatic Sea consisting of about 12 miles (20 km) and I just happened to pick my overnight stay here in BH. It’s hard to imagine the turmoil in this region after Yugoslavia broke up, so to speak after peace broke out in Germany in 1989. One by one, the Soviet countries sued for independence. But Yugoslavia had its special ethnic problems that finally ended in 1995 with the signing in Paris of the peace accords that were drafted in Dayton OH. The region appears fairly stable now and BH has applied for EU membership.
The day was super windy with dangerous gusts threatening to blow me into oncoming traffic—at several points I had to change to the other side. Tomorrow will be longer but calmer.
Stopped by this makeshift oyster processing platform and got the fellow to chuck 6 oysters that I devoured in no time—yummy!
Here are some impressions of the day: first, the fishermen working the oysters, second, a view of the wall over yesterday’s town of Ston, thirdly, my six oysters, and lastly, entering the town of Neum where I’m staying at a Booking.com apartment.
After 13 miles (21 km), I arrived at a marvelous tourist-laden town of Ston. Because of its flourishing salt-bed business and oyster farming (you can see the oyster farming in the pic of the bay) the city needed protection from invaders. In 1461, a 1200-meter wall was commissioned that one can see on entering the twin towns of Ston and Little Ston (Mali Ston). I tried to capture a bit of the wall.
Buses by the dozen drop off their passengers who then flood the eateries and gift shops. By sunset, I expect a sleepy little town.
Early in my walk, I came on a roadside grave (similar to the one in the picture) with a middle-aged man and two young ladies weeping over the burning candles. All were dressed in black. As he waved at me across the road, I stopped and briefly prayed with them, then waved and continued on. In that short time, I felt their grief and deeply bonded with them—total strangers that they were. When they drove off, they waved to me, and I to them. How remarkable this brief encounter was and how it touched me—it made me recall the most difficult duty I had while in the service back in Omaha of bringing the sad news to families of the loss of someone dear to them as the locally appointed Army casualty assistance officer.
Short day at only about 8 miles (13 km) but started out in panic mode because both reservations cancelled on me and I had to wing it. On arrival, the first place I asked wasn’t ready for the season yet—oh, oh, I thought. Second place and all went well—a restaurant with rooms upstairs. After getting settled, I walked to the Marina restaurant where I was told they had lamb—my Easter Dinner Celebration.
First pic of typical lagoon setting that’s a common sight along the way. They say Croatia has a thousand islands—of course counting every rock protruding out of the water. Second pic is view from my little hotel room, and third pic is my Easter Celebration. As Rose so aptly deduced: “Pretty scenery, great wines, delicious food, happy people. Life is good in Croatia.” Yeah, verily!