Leaving Trieste on Friday morning we got a little confused and had to circle the city before we found the road to Croatia. We hadn't realised that we would first pass through Slovenia for about 25 kms, but it seems that every country that can has claimed at least a small part of the Adriatic coast as its own. Our route took us inland via a fantastic new highway that crosses The Karst. The Karst is quite an unusual landscape- eerily like the moon- baren, rocky, and very dramatic. And after a while I found it rather boring. It's a long drive from Trieste to Split and I was happy when we finally arrived in the city.
After a bit of confusion finding The Vestibul Palace, we were warmly welcomed by the staff of this charming boutique hotel. A delightful reason for travelling in the off season is that sometimes you have amazing places all to yourself. Here we had the entire hotel (only 7 rooms) to ourselves, as well as the full attention of the extremely well-trained staff. This is one hotel we would highly recommend to anyone. The young Croats were professionally trained in the tourism industry and spoke perfect English. They were happy to spend time chatting with us about the past and the future of the country. The kitchen stayed open just for us and we had a gourmet dinner served with style.
Spilt turned out to be quite a surprise for us North Americans! It's a vibrant city full of history. Our hotel was located in the heart of Diocletian's Palace, an architectural gem of a Roman ruin. Parts of the walls of our room were actual walls from the original structure built in AD 300 and the room was fantastically designed with every modern amenity. I took a zillion pictures of laundry which hung like modern art in an ancient gallery.
Walking through the city at sunset was a magical experience where at every turn we had to stop and absorb the breathtaking ancient buildings. I found it enchanting to peek inside shop windows and see stone arches still supporting the jumbled structures above. It's a living museum with more than 3,000 people still living within the 220 buildings inside the Palace walls. There is a haunting sense of timelessness held carefully inside these timeworn walls, and visualising life as it once was is not too difficult to do.
We LOVED Split!