We needed some electrical parts for the boat and it was time to service the engine so we decided to head to Split, Croatia’s second largest city, hoping that we would be able to find what we needed.
We headed northwest and set off on the 20 nm journey. We had a good force 3-4 easterly wind coming from behind so after motoring out of Pučišća we put up the Genoa and sailed along at a comfortable 4 kts. As always, just when everything is going well, the wind changes! It wasn’t long before the wind dropped and the engine was on. Thankfully it was only half an hour until the wind had moved around by 180° to the west and we were able to get both sails out for the rest of the journey.
We anchored in the bay called Luka Poljud, just off the coast from the Poljud Stadium where the local football team, Hajduk (which translates as ‘the bandit’) play. It was once declared as ‘the stadium with the best atmosphere in Europe’.
We intended to only stay here for two nights as the wind was due to change direction the following day and it wouldn’t be comfortable in this anchorage. With a busy day planned, we went ashore. It was 37°C, very humid and overcast, with a thunderstorm forecast for the afternoon. First stop was to a DIY store out of town so rather than a hot 3 mile walk, we took a taxi here and managed to get the electrical switch (and some fancy solar fairy lights for the Bimini) that we required. Next stop was to a Volvo dealer on the other side of town where we had ordered some engine parts and oil etc to service the engine.
Once we had managed to get everything that we needed, we walked back through a small park and around the harbour to the old town. In the park there once stood a Roman Church and Monastery, now there are just a few stones left standing,
As we reached the harbour, it must have been a ‘change-over’ day for charter boats as there were at least 20 boats all bobbing around waiting for the fuel dock before returning their boats. Not all we’re waiting patiently, I assume their return deadline was looming!
The main promenade (the Riva) along the water front is very smart, lined with cafes, restaurants and popular with the tourists.
Split has been built around the Diocletian Palace. In the 4th Century, the Roman Emperor Diocletian was born just outside Split and decided to build his Palace here as this was where he wanted to spend the last years of his life. Over the next 1700 years the Palace slowly turned into a city, and much of the history, tradition, ancient architecture and city walls still remain.
The Palace forms about half of the old town and although it is referred to as a ‘palace’, the structure is massive and more resembles a large fortress. Half of it was for Diocletian’s personal use, and the rest housed the military garrison.
The Catholic Cathedral of Saint Domnius with its tall bell tower was formed from an Imperial Roman Mausoleum, and stands within the palace.
The Palace is a rectangular building with four large towers at the corners and entrance doors on each of the four sides.
Below the palace is a substructure of cellars. These apparently represent one of the best preserved ancient complexes of their kind in the world. We walked underground through the cellars of the palace (It was much cooler down there!) which now have many shops and souvenir kiosks.
We managed to find a nice cafe for lunch surrounded by ancient buildings and part of the old city walls.
We continued our walk around the outside of the palace and old city walls where the streets are lined with market stalls.
Outside of the north gate stands the enormous bronze statue of Gregory of Nin (Grgur Ninski). He was a Bishop from the 10th century who defended the right to hold religious services in Croatian and became the symbol of national pride among ordinary people. The big toe on the statue’s left foot is shiny gold, having been rubbed by many people over the years. This is said to bring good luck so of course we had to give it a rub as we passed!
The old town here was not so immaculately preserved as Dubrovnik, it had the feeling of being more ‘lived in’ and as a result, we felt gave it more character.
On our way back we could hear thunder, we we’re just around the corner from the dinghy and the rain/hail started. Hoping this might clear the air, (and clean the boat) we took shelter, but it only lasted a few minutes and then the air temperature was really hot and you could see steam rising from the ground.
We got back to the dinghy and to ZigZag as the sun came out, time for a swim before the sun set in the evening. We have realised that overcast conditions don’t give the brightest photos, but often produce the most spectacular sunsets.