Croatia Day 1: Travel + Split

Rachel and I have arrived safely, and with all of our luggage, in Croatia! It was a long journey (particularly for me – about 26 hours door to door) but relatively unchallenging. All of our flights were a little delayed, but nothing terribly annoying. I also received a reminder of how small the world is by running into someone from my law school section on our flight to Split. Highlights of our flights included Lufthansa’s never ending drinks (they literally advertise their service as a pre-dinner cocktail, dinner drinks, and after-dinner brandy or Bailey’s). I’d forgotten how generous the European airlines are relative to American airlines! I’d also forgotten that Lufthansa provides you will several rounds of hot towels, which is really refreshing.

The flight into Split was great – it was a treat to see all of the islands as we flew along the coast. The closer we got to Split, the more sailboats and yachts we could see. I had never seen the Adriatic coast from the air before; maybe one day I’ll be able to see it from a yacht! (I’m keeping my eyes open for Croatian bachelors with boats.)

We got to our apartment in Split around 7, cleaned up, and then set our in search of food and drinks. We’re staying tonight in a darling apartment in a cute, quiet neighborhood just on the other side of a wall from the main tourist thoroughfare.

We walked through a market where the soothing scent of lavender wafted up from the many booths, and moments later we found ourselves in the Peristil, a square in the center of the ruins of former Roman emperor Diocletian’s palace. It turns out a wedding was going on, complete with flares, sparklers, live music, large Croatian flags, and lots of singing. It was so cool: the wedding party was standing on the steps of the chapel while all the tourists in the plaza looked on, clapped along, and generally shared in their joy. Croatian weddings (I’ve witnessed different phases of several others) are huge, day-long affairs filled with spirit, and I look forward to attending one as an official guest (or bride!) one of these days.

We continued wandering through this old part of the city, which is filled with clothing boutiques, souvenir shops, gelato stands, and cafés and eventually ended up on the Riva, which is the main waterfront pedestrian promenade. It’s filled with people from all over, walking or people watching from the cafés or benches lining the way. The smell of the water evokes a true sense of summer, and it’s a great area to just hang out. (When we were here in 2006, we parked my grandmother on one of the benches while we walked around, and she had a grand time.)

We ended up at a restaurant on another square where live music was being set up. (August is the high point of Croatia’s high tourist season, so there’s stuff happening in Split throughout the month.) At this point I hadn’t really eaten all day, and it was around 8 p.m., so I was pretty hungry. We ordered one of my favorite dishes: ćevapčići, small sausages made from beef and lamb, slightly spiced, and served with ajvar, a delicious red pepper spread. We followed dinner with a little rakija (brandy): medica (honey-flavored) and višnjevac (cherry-flavored). Both are favorites of mine from past trips.

After dinner, we wandered down an adjacent alley and stumbled upon Caffe Gaga, a sort of pop-up outdoor club in the next courtyard. They had music videos projecting onto the walls of the surrounding buildings and fancy green lights moving around on a different wall. It was a little too loud to distinguish the clientele, but everyone we bumped into seemed to be Australian. (Today in the process of getting to Split, I’ve heard German, French, Spanish, and Italian with equal frequency as English.)

Our energy level was very low at this point, so after a quick beer at Caffe Gaga we headed back to the Riva to people watch from a bench. We came back here around 10:45 (leaving the streets still filled with people) and are now getting ready for what will likely be a very good might’s sleep. Tomorrow we’re hanging out in Split until our 4:30 ferry to island #1, Brač. I’m excited I finally get some beach time this summer!

I’m having trouble uploading pictures here, so check Facebook and Instagram in coming days!

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