Saturday, September 8, 2012

Explorning Split in Croatia

Who names a town Split? I know, it's Croatian, and I should look on the bright side, it's a lot easier (at least for me) than pronouncing 90% of the Italian towns. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, right?

We arrived in Split on the morning Thursday, September 6, I think. I've lost track of the days (this is a good thing when you're on vacation). When we first got off the boat, I was not only exhausted, but it is always strange walking around a foreign land where you assume nobody speaks English, especially a port town where tourists are aplenty. It didn't help that it was 7:00AM, and my POV was heavily biased by all the stupid Hollywood movies I'd seen about Eastern Bloc intrigue.

As it turns out, my anxieties, as they often are, were completely unfounded. Sure, people were tired and weary (it was the crack of dawn, for crying out loud), but the people we asked for help were all very friendly and helpful, even the ones that looked like characters out of a LeCarre novel. Most of them spoke English, as well, and at one point, we were standing there totally clueless and lost, looking like sitting duck targets for a scammer, when an elderly woman walked over and asked us if we were looking for the ticketing booth (we were). She then kindly explained to us where we needed to go, and we were on our way.

The reality is, Split is a fairly booming tourist port, and along with it's rich history, caters to the jet-set crowd. You don't get a sense of this back home, but Croatia, particularly the coast and islands, are the hot destination for European travelers, especially the young and the beautiful, as well as the jet-set travelers with money. You see this last part on the islands, where huge yachts tend to dock. Now my first impression of Split when we got off the boat was clouded by gray skies and fatigue, but as the sun began to rise and the day got started, we began to realize that Split was a very cool town. Not only was it clean and filled with interesting shops and restaurants, but it was hopping with tourists, especially the Brits. They were there in full force, they practically owned the place.

We had a few hours to pass, so we wandered about the place, and really enjoyed it. There were open air markets where we got some amazing peaches and grapes, we scored a SIM card for the cell phone and the guy at the luggage claim explained to us how to use it in perfect English. Finally, we were able to get ferry tickets to Hvar, and they were cheap. One thing really nice about Croatia is that they are not part of the European Union, so they operate on their own currency, the Kuna. Prices are very reasonable, not quite dirt cheap, but much cheaper than the EU. We experienced a similar situation in Turkey.

All in all, it was a really nice time, and I for one would not have minded spending more time in Split, except that we were bound for better things in Hvar. The ferry ride was pleasant, about an hour, and the boat was nice and cool with the air-conditioning on. Even still, weary world travelers can have a ripe smell to them. Such is life.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

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