Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Sadly Leaving Split and Journeying to Dubrovnik in Croatia

Friday, September 30, 2016:
Split-Dubrovnik, Croatia:
            Split was so spectacular that it simply stole our hearts away.

            After a very comfortable night and a very good sleep, Chriselle and I awoke in our Air B and B feeling very pleased with the choice we had made. We showered and then packed away our bags and took them down to the real estate agency where Laura took charge of them as check-out time was 11. 00 am. We then left to find ourselves a spot of breakfast.

Breakfast by the Harbor:

     Split was already hopping at 9.00 am when we set out to get some baked goods for breakfast as the cruise ships that come in each morning and disgorge vast crowds of passengers arrive early. As we walked towards the center of Old Town to find a bakery, we kept running into these hordes with their tour guides rattling off all sorts of information in varying languages. As we searched for a bakery, we wandered out of the Town walls and into the more modern part of Split. As we neared the waterside, we could see many watercraft bobbing lazily—from small yachts to big cruising ships, there were an impressive variety of them. When we did finally find a bakery, I got a hazelnut and chocolate twist with a cup of decaff coffee—and Chriselle got something along the same lines. We found ourselves a bench facing the water and people-watched as we munched on our goodies that tasted so good as we were ravenous.

Aimlessly Exploring the City:

A little later, we did some more strolling aimlessly. Everywhere we turned, there was something wonderful to see. We walked the length of the waterside promenade, we nipped into souvenir shops to buy magnets and postcards, we browsed in a few shops and bought T-shirts as gifts and then when Chriselle became deeply charmed by a cloth bag in the shape of an owl, we scoured some of the street-side stalls to make sure we got the best bargain. She did eventually find the one that she most adored and feeling very pleased with her purchase, we walked on.

            A little later, we came across a flea market that was full of knick-knacks as well as a section that sold fresh fruit and veg. I bought a small quantity of dried figs as I really do love them. Munching on them, we browsed through the vintage and antique items until Chriselle found a heart-shaped topaz-colored crystal pendant that she adored. I bought it for her as a small souvenir of our times together. She immediately put it on and was once again very pleased with her buy.

            More aimless wandering took us to parts of the Town we had never seen. We continued our Walking Tour as laid out in Lonely Planet and found Diocletian’s private apartments in remarkable form. We entered an ethnographic museum and enjoyed looking at the various exhibits that delineated varied aspects of Croatian life—dress, food, jewelry, crafts, hobbies, etc. All of it was a very good introduction to the region and its people. We entered a church and found the interior decoration dazzling. We did not climb to the top of the five-tiered Tower as we’d had enough of climbing the previous day. However, we made sure we combed through every alley, nook and cranny that the book suggested we comb—and at each turn, we were enchanted. We were also glad that we’d had a chance to see the buildings and the square the previous night in electric lighting as the look by daylight was completely different.

Departure from Split and Arrival in Dubrovnik:

            By 1.00 pm, we returned to Laura at the agency to pick up our bags and begin the short trek to the bus station. We boarded our bus to Dubrovnik for a 2.00 pm departure with expected time of arrival being close to 6. 30 pm. Once again, it was a beautiful drive as we hugged the Adriatic coast and passed numerous hazy islands throughout.

            What was also interesting about this drive was that for a part of it we traveled through Bosnia-Herzogovina. In fact, our coach made a short stop after we had our passports checked by border control. While we were in Bosnia, we used rest rooms, bought souvenirs and snacks and took some pictures of the lovely area through which we were passing. What a thrill it was to stop in Bosnia and spend a little while there! Little did we dream, when we had been reading about the dreadful war there, that we would one day travel to these parts of the world! It was a huge thrill for both Chriselle and myself. Not too much later, we were entering Croatia and going through another border check-point. Luckily, these stops were quite speedy and did not cause us too much impatience or anxiety.

Arrival in Dubrovnik:

            By the time we arrived in Dubrovnik, twilight had already descended upon the city. At the bus station, we found out about our on-going journey to Montenegro, two days later, and booked our tickets. We then bought tickets for the local bus that took us from the bus station to the Old Town where it terminated. Here again our accommodation was in the heart of the Old Town (an Air B and B arranged by Chriselle) and with very good directions, we managed to find it quite easily. The only hassle was that it was at the very top of a steep flight of stairs which was not a picnic to climb when we had our baggage with us. Still, we could not complain too much as the accommodation was very classy and very nice with a spacious room and a very modern bathroom. Once again, we stashed our things and decided to go out in search of dinner—which would also give us a chance to take in the Old Town by Night.

            Our first impressions of Old Town? Well, it is every bit as glorious as our friends had told us. This entire vast sprawling Town is made of marble—it has marble paving, gorgeous palazzos, superb Baroque churches that are as beautiful on the outside as they are within, and loads of lovely restaurants, cafes, bars and shops studded all over the place.

Dinner in Dubrovnik:

            With the best intentions of discovering the city the next day, we sauntered around until we found Cele, a restaurant in a busy square that was lively and fun-filled and offered live music. We ordered Croatian beer and decided to try some of the seafood for which Croatia is famed: we had a vast tureen of mussels with a thick and flavorful broth for which we were provided bread so that we could sop it all up (it was delectable!) and a platter of grilled vegetables that included eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes and cucumbers. They were very well seasoned and slightly charred and dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. We really did enjoy our dinner and our beer and felt pleased that we had not yet had a bad meal on our trip.

            Once dinner was done, however, we did not waste too much time hanging out as we really did need to catch up on our sleep. It was easy to find our accommodation once we knew where to go and about a half hour later, we were preparing to call it a day knowing that we had an absolute treat in store as we began a proper exploration of the city.

Until tomorrow, cheerio…

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