Timing means a lot in love, and it means a lot in travel too. I remember watching travel videos about Split, the walled city and former palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. I knew it looked a bit touristy, but I wanted to go. After all, I’ve never been to a city whose center contained the most preserved Roman ruins in the world, have you?
But no matter how special a place is, if you go at the wrong time, you probably won’t like it. Luckily for me, I was traveling through Croatia and its Dalmatian coast at the tail end of its tourist season. Streets that were once crowded were now manageable. I could get a seat at any restaurant I wanted, and the price for accommodations was less than half its normal price. In Split, I was the only one at my hostel, which is usually so packed you have to book well in advance.
Lucky for me, just because tourist season was over didn’t mean I wouldn’t be blessed with warm 70 degree weather. Immediately after arriving in Split I was too hot to wear a jacket. After spending most of the month of October in cooler climates like Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, I was elated to see the sun and to wear a t-shirt again. Best of all, Split is on the water with access to many beaches. I did not go to any because it wasn’t quite warm enough, but you can easily learn about them at the Split tourist office.
My favorite thing about Split was that the city center was on the smaller side, so I didn’t have any anxiety about having to see it all, but still found lots of intriguing little shops and restaurants around every corner. The city is mostly flat, but if you like a little hike and an amazing view then head to Marjan Hill just outside the city center. (It’s about a ten minute walk from the center to the entrance to the path. See the below map. The Hill is the dark green mass to the west of Diocletian’s palace.)
The hike is a bit challenging if you have any kind of disability. However, if you can walk up stairs and hike for a short period of time, as the trail is not long, you will be able to do this hike. I was OK, but I did feel a bit sore on my way down as my hips and knees have a mind of their own.
Another way to catch a view of the town is to climb to the top of the Cathedral. Now please be advised, if you have a disability or are afraid of heights, it will be nearly impossible to go to the top of the Cathedral. The stairs were very tall, which is weird because I thought people were shorter back in the day, and hard to climb even if you’re able bodied. I’m also not usually afraid of heights, but the stairs within the cathedral that take you to the top are easy to see through so you will always be aware of well, how far from the ground you are. I honestly got a bit scared, but the view of the town was worth it. That’s where I shot most of the footage for my video.
One of the other highlights of my trip to Split was my visit to Zinfandel Winebar. It was here that I tasted a sample of 6 wines (with full pours) for about $20, and discovered the wine of my dreams, the Matsuko 2009 Dingac. The bartenders were incredibly knowledgeable about wine and gave me a lot of instructions on how to taste. The Matusko Dingac, the Plavac Mali grape, was the most interesting wine I’d ever smelled. It smelled like candied caramel and plums. And no, I do not exaggerate. It’s incredibly fragrant. I later went back to the bar with a couchsurfing friend to order a glass. My friend, a Croatian, was astonished that we’d managed to order such an expensive glass of wine. She offered to pay for mine. I calculated the price in dollars. It was $7. $7 for the best wine I’ve ever had. Imagine what she’d do when she saw the $18 wine by the glass list at my favorite NYC wine bars.
Speaking of couchsurfing. I noticed that Split has a really active couchsurfing community. I easily made friends to explore the city with, none of whom were even remotely creepy – which says a lot because most of the time I post on CS I get messages from a slew of creepy guys.
So would I ever return to Split? Absolutely. However, next time I want to bring a friend and hit up one of their amazing summer techno parties. I know that Split will be more crowded then, but I think I’ll be willing to brave it. I love that place.