After Mostar, it was back to Croatia. Split is another coastal city, but feels much more urban. Many ships come here, as well as busses and trains. While it's used as a transfer point by many, there are also a lot of people who stay a few days in this resort-like city.
More pictures are on the Split page.
Our bus was a bit late, and a guy sitting near us said it's always late. He was waiting to give a packet to the driver to take to another destination. Apparently it's not unusual for that to happen, since he dropped packets off along the way and picked up others.
The way the roads look on the map, it seems you take the same road from the coast whether the other endpoint is Split (to the west) or Dubrovnik (to the east). However, our bus started out going in a completely different direction, so at first we thought there was another way out. We went through several switchbacks, seemingly going over a range. We went by several stops, but at one point we ended up at a stop we recognized on the way to Mostar. For the rest of the way to the coast, we followed the same road we took in from Dubrovnik.
Not too surprisingly, our driver seemed to know several of the other drivers we passed. He seemed to know one in particular; as the busses approached each other, the drivers put both of their hands in the air and smiled at each other. Driver humor.
We walked about five minutes from the bus terminal to where we were staying, a small but quite nice private room. Our bus had arrived about an hour earlier before we thought, so the owner was surprised when we called and said we were there. He did make it through traffic and let us in. After dropping off our bags, we headed out to Old Town.
Split's Old City consists largely of the ruins of the palace of Roman Emperor Diocletian, and we spent much of the afternoon exploring the palace. Before we did that, however, we tried to find the Tourist Information office. We walked around and around, finally narrowing the location to a building which had scaffolding and plastic all around it. We found the front door, and ended up the TI was temporarily housed across the peristyle. After gathering maps, we started touring the palace in earnest.
One room in the cellars contains an ancient olive press, but that room was closed. Peering in through the grating, you could see why, since there was water dripping all over the place. We were able to see the press, but it was really hard to get a picture of it without only seeing scaffolding.
The weather was pretty cold, so we found a place for dinner and were seated in a room in which everyone was speaking English (later a couple German couples came in, too).
After we got up the next morning (with a breakfast consisting of pastries we bought the night before and yogurt we got from a store two doors down) we continued exploring the palace. Melody went to the cathedral, while I went up the bell tower. The view was breathtaking, but unlike other towers, the stairway to the top was quite open. A handrail is what keeps you from getting a gravity-assisted view of the bells.
After looking around a bit more, we went to the Green Market and picked up some fruit for the next morning (since we'd be taking the night train). We also went by the fish market, where they sell fish so fresh they sometimes are still flopping.
Back to the room to check out (which involved picking up our bags and hiding the key) and store our luggage at the train station. We picked up a quick lunch of pizza slices (such stores are all over the place in Split). We then started walking west along the coast, going to the Ivan Meštrović Gallery. Meštrović is Croatia's answer to Rodin, and not only where there fabulous pieces in the gallery, but the whole building used to be his residence. We also went down the road a ways to visit the Kaštelet Chapel, which also included his work.
Speaking of Meštrović being Croatia's Rodin, on the walk back to Old Town, we saw this sculpture which is a stylized rendition of Rodin's The Thinker. It's harder to make out in the picture than it was in real life, but the resemblance was very clear. It seems to be some sort of monument.
Not only was there lots of construction around the palace, there was some in the water, too. On the other side of the road from these cranes was a huge construction site, where they seemed to be erecting a large building.
Having gotten back to Old Town a few hours before dinner, we hung out on the Riva to read and watch the people. Lots of pairs of people chatting up storms, lots of people sitting at tables and drinking coffee, but the thing that struck me the most was how slowly people were walking compared to in the States.
Having killed enough time before dinner, we found a restaurant, and that was no small feat; you had to find the opening to a narrow path between two buildings to a small terrace. We spent quite a bit of time there, but as the tables started to fill up we headed out. We picked up our bags, found our train car, and settled into our bunks for the night.
Again, this was the last city in which we would use a currency, this time Croatian Kuna. We did better this time, with 3 kn left (about $0.60).