The Old City of Split, Croatia
Split is a five-hour drive from Sarajevo. Although it's only about 90 miles as the crow flies, the road wouldn't exactly pass as an Interstate--we were often driving slower than 20 miles an hour.
There's a mountain range west of Sarajevo that keeps all the nice weather out. As soon as we crossed the mountain range, we were greeted with a 20-degree increase in temperature and dry, rolling hills. The terrain and climate reminded me of the Osoyoos area in British Columbia and the deserts in eastern Washington State and Idaho.
Split is a beautiful city with a beautiful climate. It never snows, and they have consistently sunny days. In fact, some of the resorts on the nearby islands give you a discount if it's cloudy during your stay.
This is a picture of the old city, which is the main shopping, eating and fashion district. And when I say old, I mean old--1700 years. Some Roman emperor built his winter home here in the 4th century, and his castle now dominates the downtown.
A Good Square for Public Beheadings
This large, empty square looked like a great place to hold political rallies or public beheadings. I could imagine throngs of bloodthirsty citizens crowding the square and spilling out of the overlooking windows and cheering as Madmoiselle Guillotine did her work.
There's lots of palm trees throughout Split, especially lining the promenade by the sea. They're not an indigenous species--I think the Roman guy imported them--but they grow well in the mild clime and the constant sunshine.
The Roman Guy's Castle
Here's part of the Roman guy's house. The basement inside has been converted into an arts and crafts market. I wondered through the upstairs, and found a group of preteens playing soccer in one of the courtyards. It doesn't seem as though any effort has been made to preserve the castle, but the quality of construction keeps it from deteriorating too badly. It's built entirely of solid stones, hewn from the rocky earth that dominates the coastline.
Monk or Priest or something
While I was taking pictures, this fellow walked by wearing this costume, except I don't think it's a costume. Croatia is 90% Catholic, and Split's old city has huge religious buildings throughout, so he must be a monk. I don't think he's a priest, or he'd have to have a white collar on, right?
In a travel information center in Split, we saw a gorgeous poster of a narrow beach that jutted out into emerald waters of the Adriatic. We asked the clerk where it was, and she offhandedly remarked that it might be in Bol.
So Gina and I undertook the task of getting to Bol. We identified Bol on a map, and saw that it was on the nearby island of Brac. We located a ferry that shuttled there every two hours for $2, so we decided to jump on and hope that we could find a ride to Bol.
The ferry ride lasted an hour. We walked off and asked a cab driver what the price would be to Bol. He quoted $80, which was out of the question. We wondered into the town we had been dropped in, Supetar, and discovered a little bus station. A bus with a sign 'Bol' in the window was just getting ready to pull out, so we asked for bus driver for the fare. 75 cents. That sounded reasonable, so we hopped on.
Everybody on the bus was about 80 years old. Near the back of the bus, where we were sitting, six retirees were peeling onions and cabbage and making a salad. Another pensioner was cursing at a punk 60-year-old who was rebelliously riding with the window open--obviously trying to make everyone catch a cold from the breeze. We started getting nervous. This did not seem like a bus headed to a gorgeous beach.
We climbed up a narrow, winding road for 45 minutes, passing tiny little towns and fascinating landscape--the most rocky land I've ever seen. Then we approached a ledge in the island, and dropped over the top. The bus wound down a ridiculously steep road, with no guardrails. Far below, we could see a little town, and a white piece of beach that jutted out into the sea.
Swimming in the Adriatic
The beach in Bol was absolutely gorgeous; the best beach I've ever stepped foot on. And warm water!! Being from Canada, I may have a somewhat warped perspective of what constitutes warm water--we used to regularly swim in glacier-fed lakes--but this was the soupiest stuff I'd ever felt. Gina and I swam for a couple of hours. The Adriatic is totally calm, and very salty, so you float really well.
Gorgeous Woman on Beach
Here's Gina on the tip of "Zlatni Rat", as the beach is called. It's surrounded on three sides by clear, blue water. The beach is composed of billions of tiny pebbles, which cause the beach to gradually shift and change shape as the waters flow and push at its banks. Some people might prefer sand beaches, but I like pebbles--because sand always gets into my pores, into my ears, into my hair, into my camera, into my towel, etc. I've never had a pebble stuck in a pore.
We'll Come Back
This is one place we'll definitely visit again: a huge beach, all to ourselves; sunny weather and warm water; a charming little village of 1000. Next June, I think.