Sunday, April 30, 2017

Croatia...Split and Hvar

 Leaving the National Park we took another bus all the way to Split where we were to meet Dawn, Matt and Molly who were flying in from London. The drive was long but the scenery through the mountains was spectacular...





 We met at the house we were renting and got settled in for a few days...


Our rental was in the Center of Split so was quite convienent for getting out and about with Molly. 

Split is the second largest city in Croatia with a population of approximately 200,000. It is located on the Adriatic Sea so has a busy ferry port, both local and international ferries.


As well as a huge marina...


It is very picturesque with mountains surrounding it...


The main feature of the town is the Riva which is a long promenade in front of the harbour that is lined with restaurants and cafes...



It is busy both day and night.



Behind the Riva you can see the old town...


Split is at least as old as the 1700 year old Palace that is the Center of the historic city.

 Diocletian's Palace  is an ancient palace built by the Roman Emperor Diocletian at the turn of the fourth century AD, that today forms about half the old town and city center. While it is referred to as a "palace" because of its intended use as the retirement residence of Diocletian, the term can be misleading as the structure is massive and more resembles a large fortress: about half of it was for Diocletian's personal use, and the rest housed the military garrison.

The walls to the Palace


And according to this sign you must not enter in your underwear...


It has four gates...


And inside it is bustling with people, shops and restaurants. 






The city also has some beautiful architecture...


The theatre built in 1893...



The bell tower of St. domincus is one of the landmarks of Split. Originally built between the 13th and 16th century it underwent renovations in the 19th century...


The Peristyle which is a narrow shaped public square is the Center of the palace...


It has very elaborate red granite pillars...


And an Egyptian sphinx....there were twelve sphinxes brought to Split after Diocletian put down a rebellion in Egypt somewhere around the year 297. Unfortunately, only one survived and is now standing at the Peristyle. 


Some of the remaining walls...



Inside the walls...




Just outside there are many markets which operate every day...

Our strawberry lady...




While we were there the weather was unsettled but whenever the sun shone we went out for a walk, one day to a nearby beach and got to walk along the shoreline...






Molly got to play on the beach...


Another day we hiked up Marjan Hill which is a little west of the Center and a good hike up a lot of stairs 

 But great views from the park on top...


The Croatian flag flys proudly from the top as the Croats are fiercely proud of their struggle for independence. 


The cross at the top...


Going down...


Just like everyone else 





We spent a lot of time on the Riva with Molly as she loved feeding the birds...


Looking for airplanes...


 dancing with Ma and Pop...


And walks with Ma and Daddy...


Don and I had visited Split 8 years ago and liked it better back then as it is now full of people and much more expensive. However that being said we still enjoyed our time there and were happy to have company. 

We now were ready to move on to the islands which are quite a popular destination in Croatia.  We decided to take the faster catamaran to Hvar but the weather was horrible, windy and rainy so it was cancelled and we were delayed and then had to travel on a slow, overcrowded ferry. Got off in pouring rain, full bus, no taxi....long travel day! 

A very blustery day on the water! 

There are hundreds of islands of Croatia's coast with only a fraction being inhabited, with a few well known for tourism. We are staying on Hvar Island which is the fourth most populated with around 12,000 people. It is a long skinny island measuring 68 km. It is also a very popular island, often named on lists as one of the top 10 in the world. 

Hvar town has a large harbour that is full of fishing boats tour boats, cruise ships and private yachts. It is a very busy place with boats going and coming all the time. 






The town goes uphill from the harbour and is free of vechicles which makes it very pleasant for strolling...

 

However, now that we are in the beginning of tourist season there are many tour groups in town...


There are always families with kids hanging out in the square...




Just before the harbour is the Town Square which is one of the largest in Croatia...

Looking towards the harbour...

The church at the other end which was built in the 16th and 17th century...


High above the town is The Fortress – Fortica Ċ panjola, built in the 16th century under Venetian rule it stands guard over the town with an expansive view.

On the way up we walked through some lovely gardens...



Walked through century old gates...


Views from the top...


The tiled roofs

The park land to the west of the town...


Many little islands offshore that can be accessed by water taxi....





Two oldies...


Another bench with a view...


There are many churches and chapels in Hvar.  Slightly off the main path to the Fortress was this small chapel. The words “Zdravo Marijo” a.k.a. “Ava Maria” or “Hail Mary” were inscribed above the entrance door.


Outside the old Dominican Monastery...


The Franciscan Monastery 


Our accommodation here was very centrally located, we are in the yellow house in the Center of the picture...


Again lots of stairs to climb...


It had a great outdoor space including a wood oven which we used a couple of times...



Lots of quiet spaces...

And good times...


There was time for long walks to the end of town along a gorgeous walkway with amazing views...






Past five star hotels...


Expensive bath houses...



Famous beach bars...




Small beaches...


And everywhere selfie takers!!!


We went to the beach one day but it was too windy and cold for a dip 



Don went in to his ankles...


And Molly as well...


Hvar is known for attracting the rich and famous( not us!) so there are lots of places to eat and drink and shop...

Croatia s known for it's lavender 

 
Lots of booths with gifts, jewelry and other local items...



Restaurants line the harbour...



And are hidden away up the stairs and alleyways 




There was cafe latte and ice cream everyday...


Traditional meals out...


Ending with drunken figs!


We are sorry to see our time in Croatia coming to an end as well as our tour through Southern Europe. We are off now for a couple of days in London with Matt, Dawn and Molly before they fly home. Then we are going for a quick trip to Edinburgh to visit some friends and then home on a flight to St. John's next week. 

This trip exceeded our expectations in lots of ways...it was Don's idea to visit Southern Europe and I got to plan it! The places we have seen, the people we have met and the experiences we have had will last us a lifetime! If you are ever looking for a place to visit then there are lots of beauties in this part of the world. Now where to next winter???   

Our last picture together on this trip...