Supposedly ‘stinky’ Split exceeds expectations…

We bid goodbye to Montenegro and began a fairly full day of travel with a stickily hot bus ride that wound through the coastal mountains towards the Croatian border.

The view of Dubrovnik from the bus…

I was treated to some stunning views of Dubrovnik but had to resign myself to seeing it in its full glory when we returned later in the week. After a quick changeover we boarded a new (and thankfully much cooler) bus for the 4 hour drive to Split.

The Lonely Liar (as I affectionately call our guidebook) had mentioned that this drive was supposed to be particularly picturesque and I was very pleased to see that for once it was telling the truth! The entire trip was filled with glimpses of tiny coves and inlets lined with turquoise blue pebbled beaches.

Now I’d been privvy to some fairly mixed reports about the town of Split from friends. I’d be lying if said my expectations hasn’t been lowered by statements such as ‘it stinks’ and ‘a poo floated past me at the beach’. Lovely.

I was therefore very pleasantly surprised when we arrived and found a charming stone-walled old town nestled on an (albeit slightly smelly) old harbor.

Split’s main plaza…

We checked into the Diocletian Palace Hostel, a beautiful and brand spanking new place where one wall of the hostel walls is one of the walls of the Diocletian Palace itself. This palace is one of the major tourist attractions in the town – so to have a private room and all of this for $16 a night each I thought we were doing pretty well to have nabbed this place.

A fish feast! For 50 Kuna (not very much!)…

The friendly staff eagerly pointed us in the direction of some good cheap local food and after a 10 minute walk past the port area I sat down to a ‘mixed fish platter’ – a feast of freshly cooked whole fish. My fish knowledge is a little lacking, so I have no idea what type if fish they were. Someone we met later in the evening had visited the same place and when they asked what type of fish came on the mixed platter they were told by a very gruff and unimpressed waiter that it was simply ‘mixed fish’ – so who knows what on earth was placed on our plates!?

The reasoning behind the whole ‘Split is stinky’ thing became very apparent upon our walk back to the old town, where we were hit squarely in the face with a thick, pungent and overwhelming smell of seafood.

The slightly stenchy Split waterfront…

Thankfully, I’m a forgiving kind of person and with some innovative use of my handbag I managed to shield myself from the port-side stenchiness (at least to a level enough to enjoy the town) on our walk back into the center. Our palatial-walled hostel was in fact extremely social and welcoming, so this ultimately resulted in a rather rowdy night of multiple local spirits, traditional squeezed lemonade and free shots of honey brandied liquor (it’s a tough life, really it is…) with a motley bunch scattered from all about the globe! At one stage we even stumbled across a gorgeous town square where a restaurant had had the bright idea of seating people along the already existing plaza steps to be served tasty and freshly shaken cocktails, heaven!

The main plaza of Split…

We awoke – hot, flustered and a little disorientated as we struggled to remember exactly where we were. All in all, (once I’d remembered where we were) I decided that for a town I’d been pressured into giving the flick all together, Split delivered in more ways than I had thought possible. We were happy, contented and (as much as one can be) cheerfully hung-over when it came time the following morning to leave the town on our early-morning catamaran to Hvar.

Will rubs St Gregory of Nin’s toe for good luck…who knows whether we got it or not?

If our brief but gratifying stay in Split taught me anything, it’s that you can’t always solely rely on the opinion of others during your travel adventures. If we’d done so – we would be without a delicious seafood dinner, a hilarious a cheap night out as well as the pleasure of sniffing a rancid and lingering seafood-y smell (yum!).

Ok, granted the last point does not seem overly appealing but in general, I think it’s safe to say that the good outweighs the bad. In this case, it proves that the risk – is almost always worth it!

DIOCLETIAN PALACE HOSTEL

http://www.diocletianpalace.com/

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