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Split, Croatia

October 15, 2008

On our fourth day in Zabreb we reluctantly checked out of the Palace Hotel. Our train wasn’t until 9:00 pm so they held onto our bags while we spent another day exploring Zagreb. We spent the day in series of lazy visits to outdoor cafes sandwiched by the Botanical Gardens, the Archaelogical Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art. After a tasty, filling (always filling in Zagreb) dinner, we headed to the train station.

We showed up at the train station 30 minutes or so before our departure time and checked the overhead board to see what track we were on. For the first time, our inability to speak Croatian smacked us in the face. Up to this point, we were spoiled Americans, relying on the fact that we could usually always find at least one person in each establishment who spoke English. No luck here. Michele was like a U.S. Ambassador, moving from person to person, pleading, arguing and negotiating to try to figure out where we were supposed to go. We had reserved a sleeper through a US based company and the pursers were looking at our tickets with a “what the hell is this” kind of expression. Michele kept persisting and they finally led us to a private cabin.

On Croatian Rail, private cabin does not equal sleeping berth.  The seats folded down but that was the only nod made towards sleeping.  Throw in some Limeys (the soccer hooligan kind, not the Hugh Grant kind) and a loud squeak that seemed to be an integral part of the train and you get a long night with little sleep.  Still, we made it from Zagreb to the coast with little hassle and didn’t lose a full day traveling. And when the sun came up, we peered out the window and discovered the beautiful Croatian Coast.

Our pictures from Split.

We were met at the train station by several locals with rooms to rent. If we spoke Croatian, we may have considered renting a place but we took the safe route and headed to a Travel Agency recommended by our guide book (Thank you Lonely Planet). With the help of Atlas Travel Agency, we found an awesome apartment in the city center for around $100.00 a night.

I had never heard of Split before we decided to go to Croatia for our Honeymoon.  It’s a convenient hopping off point to the islands in the south and it was highly recommended by the guide books (again, thanks Lonely Planet) so we decided to add it to our itinerary.  Fortunately, it was a great choice.

It’s a beautiful, bustling city.  It’s the second biggest city in Croatia and the largest port in the country.  It is also the home of Diocletian’s Palace.

Diocletian was a Roman Emperor who abdicated his position in AD 305 to retire to his villa in what was then part of the Roman Empire.  The city of Split grew up around his Palace.

It is an amazing structure.  A walled city, it is not a museum, but a integral part of the center of Split.  There are restaurants, hotels, shops, museums and private residences all throughout the grounds.  Walking through at 11:00 pm, the drinks are still being served and the music is still playing.  It is one of the coolest places I have ever been fortunate enough to visit.

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