We started our Croatian adventure in Split - a bustling coastal town centered around the remains of Roman Emperor Diocletian's palace. The area was originally colonized by the Ancient Greeks, but later on it became Roman territory (the province of Dalmatia) and Diocletian had his retirement palace built there in 305 AD. The palace was quite astounding - the walls were enormous and the area within the walls covers about 9 1/2 acres. At some point Split was invaded and the town's residents moved inside the palace walls to protect themselves - leading to lots of additional construction within the walls. It also resulted in the narrow, crazy streets within the palace walls (it took us a bit of wandering around to find the place we were staying).
The night we arrived was a bit rainy but we spent some time wandering around before looking for a place for dinner. We played the 'direction game' to find a restaurant (which really just involves taking turns picking right or left at every turn).
We found a little place called Konoba Grego Levante in the basement level of a building in the palace. It had a cosy atmosphere and there were a few other couples enjoying a quiet meal there too. We started with an order of bruschetta with fresh tomatoes, arugula and anchovy. It was my second time ever eating raw anchovy - be proud of me :)
I ordered the grilled squid and a mixed salad as a main course. I loved the simple grilled taste of the squid and had enough to share with Trev too - handy because his portion size was quite small. He ordered the spinach ravioli in tomato shrimp sauce. It tasted great, and was obviously totally homemade - the only small quibble was the size-to-cost-ratio. Overall, the meal was good, but a bit expensive. I guess we should have expected that when picking a restaurant within the palace walls.
The next day we explored a bit more before we had to catch a bus up the coast to meet our sailboat. We started the day by exploring the Cathedral of Saint Dominus, located right next to the peristyle (the central square within the palace).
I found it a bit ironic that the church was founded in the building that used to be Diocletian's mausoleum because he was notorious for his persecution of Christians. We climbed the bell tower, of course. I think it was probably the craziest church climb we've done yet - the stairs are steep & rickety and the windows you climb past are open to the square below (ie, you could fall out of one easily) but it was wonderful. The view was awesome - I loved looking out at the sparkling Adriatic and the red roofs of Split.
Klapa singers - an a capella group singing in Diocletian's old living quarters
Before catching the bus we enjoyed a stroll along the riva, the waterfront promenade, and picked up a döner - gotta try the street meat. It was just okay, but seemed perfect while sitting on bench in the sun.
We got to visit Split one more time on our trip when our sailboat stopped in the harbour for a couple hours. Because we had already explored a large portion of the old city Trev and I set off for the market just outside the palace. We picked up some tasty dried figs & sugared almonds as we snooped around. We also tried our first 'burek' - coiled up dough filled with cheese (or other things - more on that later). The ones from the bakery were a bit oily, but they did hit the spot for a quick lunch.
enjoying some burek at the market
We had a lot of fun in Split - if you're planning on visiting I think you can see pretty much everything in about a day and a half, but even a few hours are enough to get the feel (depending on your sight-seeing style, of course).