101 Dalmations (Islands)

In truth, there are thousands of Islands on the Croatian coastline (how many are on the Dalmatian coast I’m still to confirm), however cheesy titles have been my go lately, so let’s roll with it.

Now I’ve read several reviews of the best coastal road trips in my time (back home we have one that frequently appears, ‘The Great Ocean Road’ so I feel I have some reasonable basis for comparison here) and I must say that the coastal road leading from Dubrovnik should certainly be amongst them.

Turquoise blue waters, stunning craggy coastline, Islands galore, and plenty more cute villages hugging the shoreline with their terracotta tiled roofs glistening in the sun. The only disappointment really was it simply didn’t run all the way to Split itself.

It does include one of those international border anomalies (free of charge) however, as the Croatian coastline actually crosses a small strip of land that is officially part of Bosnia & Herzegovina. The Bosnian’s didn’t show us much interest (I didn’t actually even see a border checkpoint) however we did require passport inspections from the Croatian authorities at each end. The bonus here was the addition of the most attractive customs official I’ve seen in any country (yes, it was a woman).

Traveling the Dalmation coast

Traveling the Dalmation coast

About 4 hours after our departure on this modern, air conditioned bus, we made it to Split, where we had an afternoon to waste before jumping on a plane to the Croatian capital, Zagreb.

We found somewhere to stow our bags for a few hours, conveniently right near the bus station where we would later be departing from for the airport. My advice here would be to shop around. With the heat and weight of our packs, we took the first option we found. Walk a few hundred metres further along and there are many more options for storing luggage, many at far cheaper rates.

Our first thought was to grab some lunch before taking in the old town (yet another one) and with dining options on the waterfront seeming fairly thin, we settled for a pizza and a couple of beers, nestled beside a bunch of rowdy French boys and a young Australian couple (upon learning our nationality, we received many cries of “Richie Porte”, the Australian Team SKY cyclist as the Tour de France was currently on).

Split's marbled old town

Split’s marbled old town

Our impressions of Split however were in honesty, average at best. I wonder how much more we may have liked it, had we visited before we’d seen Dubrovnik and the small towns on the Bay of Kotor, all with far more beautiful old towns and a more picturesque look.

Split’s old town by comparison felt far more developed (in a modern sense), so it was not long before we felt we’d seen enough and found a nice shady park to plan our next move, given we still had many hours until we were due to depart.

It was a nice little interlude, we chilled for a bit, read our Kindles (these were a new addition for this trip and saved us carrying bulky books, our Eastern Europe Lonely Planet being the exception) and got to enjoy the sounds of some backpackers playing first a piano accordion, then a guitar.

Some tunes in the park

Some tunes in the park

There was also one of the coolest markets I’d yet seen on the trip, selling a variety of antiques and other bric a brac in the heat.

It was our reluctance to do nothing, but find an option that would be appealing with the weather that saw us purchase tickets to see the catacombs of Diocletian’s Palace.

As soon as we descended the stairs, the heat abated, and after making our way through the entrance area, complete with souvenir stalls in abundance, we were able to enter the catacombs proper of the former Roman emperors domain.

The crowds were thinner here, and it was a pretty interesting area which perhaps somewhat oddly, also included a photographic exhibition dedicated to the people of Greenland and their experiences with global warming (and its affect on changing their lifestyle).

Beating the heat in the catacombs

Beating the heat in the catacombs

The remainder of the afternoon was spent people watching, aided in our efforts to keep cool by both umbrella and beer before it was time to fly on to Zagreb.

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