Saturday, June 28, 2014

Split, Croatia: Paradise City #1 on the Adriatic

Thursday, 17 April 2014, 17:00. Vienna International Bus Terminal. Aboard a bus en route to Zagreb, Croatia. We had Easter Monday off from school, so myself and seven other Webster Study Abroad students decided to tour Croatia for four days (which actually turned into five ... more on that later). Our plan was to visit Split, Zadar, and Plitvice Lakes National Park. At that point, my EuRail pass had expired, so there I was cozied up in the back of a bus with three of my friends - Jenn, Chris, and Patrick. 

The bus promptly departed from the terminal heading towards the first border crossing between Austria and Slovenia. I guess it may be a European normality to sell more bus tickets than there are seats, because when we stopped in Graz, Austria, passengers ended up standing in the aisle bouncing along trying to maintain their balance. I ended up seated next to a sweet man who reeked of alcohol and who was chatty in German and Croatian, both of which I couldn't understand very much of. When the bus reached the second border, the Slovenia/ Croatia border, we had to disembark the bus and walk our passports through a small building on the side of the road. The police checked them once there, and then when everyone got back on the bus after it drove to the other side, they came on again. Even though I was sitting in the last row of the bus, the policeman came to examine my passport. He swiped it out of my hand and got off. Then, the bus started to drive away. Did my passport just get stolen by the border patrol in Eastern Europe? I had a slight panic attack, and Jenn and the man next to me started to holler to the front of the bus. A moment later, a man came back and handed me my passport. It was taken to be stamped and double-checked. It was not going to be sold on the black market. Phew.

The bus arrived in Zagreb around 23:40 (or 11:40pm). From there, we hopped on the midnight bus to Split. About 10 minutes into the ride, the bus pulled over to the side of the road and the police pulled up behind it moments later. Uh oh. Turns out that the engine failed and that the police were there to help out. 45 minutes later, we boarded a new bus. Off to Split.

This long exposure photo describes my ride to Split perfectly. It was long, exhausting, and altogether blurry.
We arrived in Split around 06:10 the next morning. We were by the sea! I couldn't have been more thrilled.

Scenic Split at 6:15am.

First thing's first, I downed a black coffee after that 13 hour bus ride. Then, the four of us went to go see if we could check into our hostel. It was too early, so we went to go sit in the park nearby and we visited the marketplace. One of my favorite first moments in Split was seeing full-grown chickens being traded at 06:30 right on the edge of the marketplace. We ended up running into Michael, Wyatt, and Emielia, who traveled by train to meet us, in the park on their way to the hostel. We had time to kill before we could check in, so the seven of us grabbed breakfast on the water. After breakfast, we roamed through the crowded marketplace again, and walked through the city. We stumbled upon a beach behind a park and we spent a few hours there.

The streets of Split

They had to take a picture in front of this ...

The beautiful Adriatic Sea

Jenn and Emielia being happy

A picture of a picture

Jenn and the Sea

This is Max, a 7-month-old Labrador Retriever. I met him and his owner while walking along the beach. I snapped photos of them playing fetch.

Karate Max

These are only a select few of the Max pictures. I took over 75 pictures during my 10 minutes with them. There are more on my Facebook page if you want to see a short series.

Michael in the abandoned Pathfinder boat.
Mr. Bee doin' his thang.

The glistening sea in the sunlight

Ugh. I need to go back soon.
Following the beach, we checked into the hostel. We stayed at CroParadise Green Hostel, which I recommend. It is close to the center of town, inexpensive, has free WiFi, and they lent each of us a beach towel. They also have a seating area with couches on the roof of one of their buildings, which was a perfect sunbathing spot as we waited to check in. Once we had keys, we all stashed our belongings and ran for the beach again. We had to make the best of the gorgeous weather. This time, we went to one of the only sand beaches there. Wyatt, Chris, Michael, Patrick, and I dunked in the Adriatic. It was incredibly salty. After the beach, we did the evening stroll through the market and indulged in the fresh seafood for dinner. Gelato and wine topped off the wonderful first day along the Dalmatian Coast.

The bell tower of Saint Domnius

Old Split

Another angle of the bell tower
For our second day in Split, we decided to visit an island about 50 minutes away by ferry. Stay tuned for stories about being on the back of a scooter weaving through the roads of the island of Brac.

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