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Split, Croatia

The ferry arrived into Split at 7am, and it felt like we were in a cloud. The mist was so thick that you could barely see across the road, so I settled into a cafe. Later, having located the hostel which was within 50m of Diocletian's Palace and the centre of the town, it had cleared enough to see around the ancient buildings.

Split is a fascinating city, and for me the primary interest lay in the seamless juxtaposition of the old and the new. The centre of the town dates back 1,700 years, and many original walls and features survive. Interwoven with these, however, are the homes of many of the locals, making it very much a living city, despite also being a monument of antiquity. If you walk down one of the tiny streets it is quite likely that half a dozen different neighbours will be conversing across the street over your head. Having walked through the old part of the town, I ventured further out, into the big utilitarian flats of the east side, and then down into the richer villas of the south part, which was a kind of Croatian Beverly Hills. It really is a city of great inequality and difference.

Down on the promenade (which is an example of the modern reconstruction taking place), the last day of the Croatian Boat Show was in full swing. Not perhaps my normal way to spend an afternoon, but certainly a relaxing one, sitting in the sun and looking out onto the the Mediterranean. The boat show meant big yachts, rich Europeans and the music of Kanye West being pumped out across the promenade; again, an interesting contrast to the Roman walls behind.

The hostel I was staying at was fantastic, and it was good to be around other English-speakers again. (I even met a group of students from Connecticut!) It was, however, down a tiny , little back street and up a fairly wobbly flight of stairs; and opposite was a building that, if the signs were to be transliterated, was a less than reputable business. I am sure this was not the case, but such are the problems of trying to survive with an alphabet you only half understand.

My second day was more lazy - it was so hot that even though I tried several times to go for a walk, I failed in my efforts, so I eventually gave in and sat for most of the afternoon in different spots along the waterfront, exploring a couple of parks and new streets. I had to get to bed early as my ferry left the port at 7am the next day, and so I found myself again leaving a beautiful city behind and heading off into the unknown.

The unknown took the form of a lovely little ferry. The Croatian boats are preferable to the ones we use to cross the Channel in several ways, but most notable because they don't have wall-to-wall screaming, vomiting children. Most of the passengers were rich American couples, with a few Croatians thrown in. I ate a proper meal for the first time in days and even had breakfast with coffee and orange juice, overlooking the islands. The views from the boat were indescribable; every few minutes new mountainscapes and sea views would form on the horizon, dotted with villages, farms and churches. The journey was nine hours, but felt like half that, and I soon arrived into the port of Dubrovnik.

permalink written by  BenWH on April 5, 2009 from Split, Croatia
from the travel blog: Gap Year Odyssey
tagged Croatia

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This all sounds so amazing! We can't wait for you to end up over here. What town were the students from CT from?

permalink written by  Marianne Pettit on April 8, 2009

Hey, thanks! They were at Trinity College in Hartford I think. Know it?

permalink written by  BenWH on April 8, 2009

haha yes! It's about 10 or 15 minutes from West Hartford and it's ridiculously hard to get into. They have some pretty cool speakers and programs during the school year and I bet they have stuff during the summer, you would probably love some of the speakers and events they have there.

permalink written by  Marianne Pettit on April 8, 2009

Thanks, I'll check it out!

permalink written by  BenWH on April 10, 2009

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