Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Eyes Split Wide

The harbour of Split

The day was just breaking when we headed to the Central Bus Station in Dubrovnik, after checking out of our apartment in Dubrovnik. The road was deserted as the taxi smoothly manoeuvred the bends to reach the bus station. At the designated time the bus arrived and we got the seats from where we could enjoy the uninterrupted views about which we had read earlier. Our bags were safely tucked away in the boot and we settled down as the bus started, sharp at 8 AM and headed in the direction of Split. We had to cover a distance of almost 240 km that would take almost four and a half hours. 
The lovely island  of Lokurm was soon visible which was closed due to the winter season but looked astounding with the lights twinkling against the backdrop of the rising sun. It is a lovely Botanical Garden and the famous Netflix serial, The Game of Thrones were extensively shot here.
The Walls of Ston
The bus often kept kissing the pristine Adriatic coastline as we passed by some small towns like Slano and Ston. The great walls of Ston which are almost 5 km long with 40 watchtowers are truly impressive. These were built in the 5th century AD to protect the wealth of salt pans from the invaders as these were considered as precious as gold and silver in those times.  The bus often climbed the height to offer some of the most astounding views of the vast expanse of shimmering blue sea, dotted with villages, pine and olive trees and miles of orchards of oranges and lemon. Soon we could see a beautiful white building along the pebbled beach which we learnt was a hotel built to house the German soldiers during the World War II. 
Neum a pretty little town in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The bus reached the little town of Neum which has an amazing picture postcard setting. Neum is in Bosnia and Herzegovina and borders Croatia. Those possessing multiple entry visa for the Schengen States have no problem to enter the region at the border control post. In the coming days, I would cross into this region several times.  We had hot coffee and chocolate croissants while enjoying the unhindered views of The Adriatic Sea and a lovely Church spire at a distance. The currency in Bosnia( Kronas) is different from Kuna, used in Croatia, but all shops accept Euros and Kunas.
After, a brief halt, the bus headed further. It was impossible to close the eyes due to the spectacular scenic beauty all around. The camera battery ran out due to the never-ending photos I kept clicking. We passed by some more towns like Makarasa and Omis as we reached Split. When the bus halted at the bus station my eyes were opened split wide at the unbelievable beauty. Just at a stone’s throw was lovely harbour on one side, the Old Town at other and the rising Marjan hills in distance. Several ships were moored in the harbour and at distance the lovely islands of Brac, Hvar and Korcula were visible.

Diocletian Palace
As I had some time before boarding the ferry to Hvar, I decided to explore the Old City called Grad Split which was within walking distance. The city has a rich history and heritage starting from the Roman times, Ottoman conquests, Hungarian Croatian kingdoms, WW2 and the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1992
Cathedral of St Dominus
I started from the Diocletian's Palace from the Southern Entrance on towards Cathedral of Saint Dominus. Diocletian Palace was built around 3rd and 4th century A.D as a retreat after the retirement of the Roman emperor Diocletian. The epic ‘Game of Thrones’ was also shot in the cellars of this palace. The Cathedral was also built in the 4th century AD and is the seat of Archdiocese of Split-Makarska.
People's Square
There are two lovely Squares one called Peristyle and other People Square with a lot of eateries, bars and pubs. These are invariably crowded with people
The Golden Gate
The beautifully preserved Jupiter Temple and the Golden Gate are not to be missed for their sheer beauty and the way they have been preserved.  
Statue of Grur Ninski
Just nearby is the massive statue of Grugr Ninski. It has an interesting tale woven around, according to which, rubbing the big toe of the statue brings good luck.
The Narrow Alleyways of the Old Town
The most striking part of the walk is the beauty of narrow stone cobbled alleyways with some designer and artesian boutiques. There are several museums and art galleries scattered around the town worth exploring besides a trek to Marjan hill. Time and energy are the two constraints that always come to rescue to cut the itinerary short no matter how strongly one desires to go around. Moreover, I had to catch a ferry to Hvar. So, in the next blog post, I will take you on a trip to Hvar.

PS- All pictures are mine