Croatia – Split & Dubrovnik

From Mostar I took the bus to Split, Croatia. The views on the bus were great, but the air conditioning didn’t work too well, so I got off the bus feeling like I’d been cooked so well I was probably safe to eat. 

My hostel turned out to be up 8 flights of stairs which, after briefly considering the merits of sleeping on the sidewalk, I arrived at safely and tiredly. I did appreciate this view from the balcony.

The main attraction in Split is Diocletian’s Palace. Diocletian was a Roman emperor who built his palace here in 305 AD.

It even had a granite sphynx, which was already ancient when it was brought to the palace.

There were occasional reenactments in the square, so there were usually some gladiators roaming around.

Outside one of the gates is a large statue of Grgur Ninski, or Gregory of Nin. He was a bishop who opposed the pope and introduced the Croatian language into religious services. 

I like to think that the statue depicts Gregory casting a spell at the pope.

Avada Hrvatska!

Just outside the city walls on one side is a daily fruit market. My favourite afternoon in Split was buying a half kilo of cherries for $2 and eating them on the hostel balcony.

To be honest I wasn’t as excited as I could have been about Split. I was missing the prices and relative quiet of Bosnia & Herzegovina. The prices were still good, just not compared to Mostar. 

I was able to find some solitude in the nearby park. It was a small hike, but worth it.

I was sure to be extra careful after I saw this. 

Only the toughest of gangsters carve their name into aloe vera. 

I made the trek up here three days in a row to get away from the cruise ship crowd. 

Split really was an interesting place. It had beaches, ancient Roman palaces, islands to visit, and graffitied aloe vera. Despite my initial feelings of wanting to return to Bosnia and Herzegovina, my hostel changed my mind. There were a lot of Canadians for some reason, and everyone in the hostel got along really well, so I ended up enjoying my time very much.

My next stop was Dubrovnik, which I was skeptical about visiting because of how expensive I heard it was. I shortened my stay from 6 nights to 3 and decided to go to Montenegro early when I saw the hostel prices. 

I was, however, surprised that I would consider a tourist packed expensive city to be worth it by the end.

It was immediately beautiful.

My bus ended up taking 2 more hours than expected from Split to Dubrovnik, so I intended to go to bed right when I got to my hostel. Instead, I went out for a few hours with a really cool American guy from the hostel, and we talked about home, life plans, and travel. That was one of the few times I decided sleep was less important and didn’t regret it.

Plus on the way back to the hostel we saw a wild hedgehog. 

The next day I was determined to get the most out of Dubrovnik because I’d kind of lost a day thanks to my bus. I met two really nice Belgian girls at the hostel and we decided to spend the day exploring together, which ended up being really fun!

The first stop was coffee. Then everything else.

There were many cats in the city, and this was a pretty cool sight. This lady was fishing with just some fishing line for the cats.

There were some nice churches on the main street.

The main street runs from the main gate to the harbour, and is nice and flat. On either side the streets go up abruptly.

We did a lot of aimless exploring, as well as going to locations where we knew Game if Thrones had been filmed. 

We met a lot of cats, and were looking forward to the evening when we planned to do the wall walk.

I really liked the central fountain by the main gate. That felt like a King’s Landing location.

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant in one of the side streets. I got some port and embraced my inner Lannister.

We planned to go up on the walls at 5:30, because the light would be nice and the heat wouldn’t be as intense. We were getting impatient to go up, so to kill some time we went out along the waterfront to watch the waves.

Before long it was time to go, and we got our tickets to walk the Walls of Dubrovnik.

The wall walk was completely worth the money, and my favourite part of Dubrovnik. 

In aerial shots of King’s Landing in Game of Thrones, you can see quite clearly that it’s an altered version of Dubrovnik, so as a fan I was loving this view.

I recognised these rocks from the show.

It was Jeppe, my friend from Sarajevo, who advised me to do the walk at 5:30. It was excellent advice. There weren’t too many people and the heat was tolerable. 

In the conflict that followed Croatia’s declaration of independence from Yugoslavia, Dubrovnik was besieged and suffered significant damage. 

Dubrovnik had even been demilitarised so that there would be no need to attack it, but that unfortunately did not work, and quite a few people lost their lives in the attacks on the city.

The buildings were repaired following the war to look as they did before.

I loved the entrance to this church.

My first full day concluded with a sunset walk back to the hostel along the cliffs by the sea.

My last day in Dubrovnik was much more relaxed.

My afternoon consisted of a Croatian sweet wine called Prošek, which was good enough for thirds.

And my evening was spent back down by the water watching the waves.

With a friend.

If you are looking for a safe vacation with beaches, history, and culture, Croatia is a pretty great choice.

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