Aug 26, 2010

Exploring Split and Zagreb

From Dubrovnik, John and I took the 9-hour Jadrolinija ferry from Dubrovnik to Split. Most people suggested we take the bus because it was faster but we are slow travelers. The scenery was great and we had a leisurely lunch. The ferry stopped at two islands – Korcula and Hvar - but we couldn’t get off. I would love to take ferries from island to island staying at each for a couple of days. In Split we stayed at Le Meridien and once again the views of the Adriatic were beautiful and the weather stayed perfect.

In the morning we took the hotel’s free shuttle to the inner city where we met Petra, our guide. One of the most amazing things about Split is that it is where Diocletian, the Roman emperor, built his retirement home in the 4th century and parts are still in use today. Most incredible is that the aqueduct that was built at that time is sufficient for the present population of Split. It seems that there was a factory the produced uniforms for the Roman army so they needed a lot of water. I guess out-sourcing clothing production is nothing new! The Palace of Diocletian is considered one of the best-preserved ancient Roman structures. Diocletian is best remembered as a persecutor of Christians; interestingly, the building that was constructed to be his mausoleum is now the Cathedral of St. Domnius.

In the nearby small town of Omis we negotiated a favorable deal for a boat trip on the Cetina River since we missed the scheduled trip. The river twists and turns between high rocky cliff making it a pirate hide out years ago. Today people enjoy rafting and fishing. After a month of incredibly beautiful weather we could tell the weather was changing but we beat the sprinkles back to hotel. In the morning we had another cooking lesson. This time it was Swiss Chard Pie, which is similar to a pizza with a top and bottom crust. As the chef explained, “It is making something out of nothing. That’s what pizza is. Dough with little bits of whatever was available sprinkled on top.”

The day we headed to the capital, Zagreb, the beautiful weather ended dramatically. It was cold, windy, and rainy. On the way the “Miracle of Plitvice” occurred. That’s what I called it. Plitvice is a national park between Split and Zagreb and twenty minutes before we arrived the sun came out and it was beautiful. For four hours we walked the trail that went past many waterfalls and ponds. Beautiful!

The next day in Zagreb it was cold and rainy on the walking tour of the city. Zagreb is a beautiful city that was once a stop on the famed Orient Express. Our hotel the Regent Esplanade was built in the 1920s to serve the passengers. Recently remodeled it is lovely. It was only a short walk to the bus stop where we took the free trolley to the city center. We walked up to the Museum of the City of Zagreb which provided a great overview of the city then we did was seemed to be the favorite pastime of everyone in Croatia. We had coffee in a café. Zagreb is a comfortable and easy city to visit/ Croatia is a place we would love to revisit and spend more than two weeks.