It’s my own fault, I know. Every time I plan on visiting a new destination I try and cram in as many places to see as possible. In my first week in Croatia I had fitted in Dubronik, Hvar and daytrips to Mostar and Kotor. The second week was not to be any lighter on desitnations: Split, Zadar, Plitvice Lakes and Zagreb. But Split was by far the most rushed portion of my trip. Just one and a half days at the seaside resort was not enough, particularly when I spent one of them on a trip to swim in waterfalls… More on that later though.
I planned on leaving Hvar on the early catamaran to make the most of my first day in Split, but when I went to buy the ticket I found it fully booked. Instead I had to get the second one of the day which got me to Split in the lunchtime heat. Armed with my map I was headed to my hostel which was deemed to be the best hostel in Croatia – Split Guesthouse & Hostel. It did not disappoint! The host, Josko, is one of the most welcoming people I have ever met. It really felt like a home from home staying at his guesthouse, everything from G’ma’s Nutella pancakes in the morning, to Josko arriving with massive pizzas for the guests to share before we headed out on a pub crawl. Honestly, the people staying there were so much fun, but Josko really makes this the ideal place to stay if you are travelling through Split. His recommendations are out of this world, no wonder the entire place is decorated with notes from his past guests singing his praises!
Josko advised me that the other guests were at a beach near Park Šuma Marjan, a park to the West of the main town and that I’d be able to identify them as they were cliff jumping and are loud! He also gave me tips on places to eat, to hire a bike, ice cream, bars, everything!
So off I trotted to enjoy my afternoon in Split. I decided to walk to Park Šuma Marjan to take in the peaceful walk around the hill and also hopefully to get some spectacular views. I was not disappointed, and the shade of the trees was very much welcomed as I didn’t have to reapply my SPF50 every 15 minutes! I walked for a couple of hours, stopping off at a beach for a swim which included a moment of panic when I dived into the very salty sea with my FitBit on my wrist. It’s not waterproof and I was sure I would have busted it, but thankfully it was fine! Of course I had more delicious ice cream and then decided that I’d walk back to the town rather than getting the bus. I think I covered about 8 miles on that walk in near 30 degree heat. Split harbour is amazing; it’s quite touristy, but the main highlight is the superyacht porn that is moored all along any available space. They were hands down the fanciest private boats I have ever seen; I was gutted not to befriend the captain of one so I could get on board and enjoy the life of luxury for a while!
Returning to the hostel meant it was time to meet the other hostel guests, free pizza from Josko, the mandatory welcome shot of Grandpa’s Rakia (it burned so bad!), endless drinking games and then heading out on a bar crawl. This bar crawl was special, it was €10 and at the first bar it was unlimited drinks included. They were really sugary, but it was unusual to head to a bar and legitmately order 6 vodka lemonades and walk away without paying! Needless to say this bar was very popular, but it also offered free pizza and beer pong, at which myself and the other girls in the hostel beat the boys! We then headed to some other bars/clubs which were outside in the old part of the city. But it had started to rain, so combined with amount of alcohol I had consumed I though I’d head home. After all, we had to be up at 10am for Josko to take us to Krka National Park to swim in some waterfalls.
Of course, being on a trip with Josko meant that it was no normal trip. He blagged cheaper tickets by using his hoarde of student cards from previous hostel guests, and then we walked down to the main waterfall that you see in all of the pictures of Krka. It is spectacular, but as we were up in the hills it was quite a bit colder swimming in this water than in the sea! It made your skin tingle, but there was also a semi-strong current which would sweep you down river if you got into the deeper bits of water.
An hour or so here swimming, taking photos and having some lunch was followed by Josko’s “special” part of the tour. i.e. we were going to climb up to a restricted bit of the park, about the five main waterfalls and swim and jump in them! Seriously, we climbed up concrete walls that were adorned with “Danger” signs, shimmied along iron pipes, and generally clamoured our way up to the designated spot. All whilst wearing flip flops! Breaking the rules of the park, and having the other visitors looking down on us wondering how they too could get to this quiet bit of the park made it very special indeed.
We all got back into the vans and headed off to the second part of our daytrip. And being Croatia, it meant there was more time for my Game of Thrones fangirlling; we were heading to Meereen! In the real world, we were going to visit the Klis Fortress on the mountains overlooking Split. As soon as I arrived it was easy to visualise this place as part of Slavers Bay, and where Daenerys nailed the former slave masters to crucifixes. Aside from the GoT links, Klis was a destination with truly spectacular views across the penninsula; it must have been of strategic importance for any previous rulers of Croatia in times of war. Our guide also gave us a lesson in archery, which was so much fun. There’s something really empowering about sending an arrow shooting off into the middle of the target. I also got to try and use a longbow (really difficult) and had a go a sword-fighting (really heavy and difficult). Heading to Klis was a truly amazing experience, and one which I wouldn’t have got if I had gone to Krka by myself instead of with Josko!
Once back to the hostel, I realised my bus to Zadar the next day was in the morning not in the afternoon as I had thought. And I still hadn’t seen the Diocletian’s Palace, which is another UNESCO World Heritage site. So I had a quick bite to eat and a beer from Sexy Cow (recommendation of Josko of course) before heading down to the Palace with a couple of the others to explore a little. As it was the evening the market had closed down, but there was some jazz to listen to in one of the courtyards, and we met some other travellers near some of the Roman ruins who were playing with poi and playing silly card games.
More ice cream, a visit to the “cat roundabout” covered in stray cats and a wander home. It was a sedate, relaxing way to end my fleeting trip to Split, before I headed slightly up the coast to Zadar for a few days.