Our spring trip to Europe is winding to a close and it has been a memorable one. Since I last wrote about Croatia, we have been in Split and made side trips to the small town of Omis and the island of Hvar. The natural beauty of the area, the friendliness of the people, the weather, and the reasonable prices make this a new favorite for us. We will be back to take on more of the islands, go on a day trip to Trogir, and who knows what else.
Our next trip may include use of the extensive ferry system here. The route schedule includes many islands and small villages. I’ve seen numerous people departing the ferries with carry-on luggage. And at the ports, the little ladies of the villages who have rooms or apartments to rent greet the ships with signs offering accommodations.
Our day in Split involved some controversy. When the cab driver dropped us off at the town center, another cabbie came and chewed him out for overcharging us. (I never would have known). The fare came to 137 kuna on the meter and this guy was livid that we were charged more than the standard fare of 116 kunas from our hotel. Twenty-one kunas is about $4. Sure enough, on the return the fare in that cab came to 116 kunas. They are looking out for us tourists in more ways than we can imagine. I tipped both drivers anyway.
Split is the second largest city in Croatia and bears strong Mediterranean and Roman influences. The downtown city center had thriving vegetable and fish markets unlike anything I have ever seen: squid, octopus, monk fish, shrimp, sardines, mussels, tuna, eels, and who knows what else. The vendors were extremely busy and the locals were buying bags of this stuff. It was chaotic but there was no unpleasant odor since everything was in the shade and obviously washed down quite often.
|Split Fish Market|
Diocletian’s Palace (named for the Roman Emperor who built it) is really a combination of buildings in the city’s center — a city within a city — that surround a monumental court called the “Peristyle.” The Roman columns and cornices made for interesting contrast with the existing architecture. We made our way to the mausoleum under the church (which was packed and fascinating) and found the original crypt of the old church. It was like walking through an Indiana Jones movie as we moved into this crypt with its domed ceiling far below the church floor. In the center of the crypt was a hole about eight to 10 feet deep where I guess the old guy lay for hundreds of years. The church was 1700 years old. All that remained were coins people had thrown in the hole. So much for being remembered forever.
I’ve come to realize that one of the Europeans favorite pastimes is, as Barb or Bk3day calls it, “Eat Drink and Judge” They spend an awful lot of time sitting in outdoor cafes watching one another pass by. Katybug and I were guilty as well, but we just can’t sit all that long. After a while, one outdoor coffee shop looks like any other coffee shop and the costumes worn by us humans are all basically the same. We either dress for comfort or shock value. We obviously saw both in Amsterdam and Croatia.
We are in Amsterdam today, our last full day of holiday. Yesterday it rained but still we managed to walk through the shopping district and red light district plus visit the Rijksmuseum. The free breakfast in the executive lounge was terrific and filling. The round-trip train from the airport to Amsterdam Central cost 7.40 euros each and the trolley in town is 2.60 euros for a one-hour ticket. The museum was 12.50 euros each. The price of the meals at the hotel is outrageous, so we walked back to the airport and up on to the observation deck above the departures section to go to Dakotas Restaurant and to see the Fokker aircraft they’ve planted on the roof. Today we will hop on and off canal boats at 20 eruos each as often as we want. There is also a one-hour or one and a half hour circler route for a little less but without the on-and-off option.
We’re returning to the US tomorrow for three weeks before we head off to China. Our return is quite simple: one stop in the US gateway then off to Savannah. Our tickets cost us 50K frequent flier miles each plus $60.80 in taxes.
This has certainly been a worthwhile trip and we’ve added three new countries to our list of places visited: Turkey, Bosnia, and Croatia. Katy has now named Croatia as her second favorite country we’ve visited, behind New Zealand. If I could have spent more time exploring the islands, I might have it as high on my list as well.