Chapter Fifteen: Split Decision

Central Europe 2008: From The Czech Republic to Poland to Austria to Croatia to Slovenia to Italy

SPLIT 1 DIOCLETIANChapter Fifteen: Split Decision

Day Seventeen – Bite Me, Palace Aforethought, Maitai’s Harem, Let’s Split Split, The Tom/Kim “Short-Cut,” Jump Starting Our Vacation And “Oh, I Thought You Said Marijuana”

And the answer is…the insect by TKO.  Laying in bed on this cloudy morning, I was covered with multiple mosquito bites, but these weren’t the average run-of-the mill Southern California mosquito bites.  These babies were huge, and there was one bite so big on the inside of my elbow that I thought I was growing a new appendage.  The good news, the West Nile Virus was nowhere to be found in Trogir.

  There was no sign of the monster mosquito, but I envisioned he was sitting out on the balcony smoking a cigarette and chatting on a cell phone to his mosquito buddies about his conquest.   The funny thing about these bites was that they did not itch; not at all.  The only problem was lifting my arm that now had a giant red mass attached to it.

After a nice breakfast cooked by Luka’s wife at the Apartmani Trogir, we took off for the second largest city in Croatia; Split.  Our goal for the morning was to see Dioklecijanova Palača, (Diocletian’s Palace).  In the late 200s Diocletian wanted a retirement residence to be constructed, but this palace was not going to be Leisure World.

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The palace took more than a decade to build, and safety surely was not the order of the day.  More than 2,000 people lost their lives building it, but I’m sure Diocletian did not care because he was busy torturing and executing Christians.  By the time our car reached the parking area for the palace, the four of us were ready to torture and execute the people who were in charge of sign directions in Split.

SPLIT 2 DIOCLETIANWe got off at the appointed exit we had been told to take, saw a sign for the palace and then…nothing.  There were no signs, but we followed a course that seemed to be going in the general direction of the palace.

Driving through Split, we were very happy we had not made this city our base.  Split was big, and it will not go down as one of my favorite European cities.  We drove down to the harbor, saw no sign of or signs for the palace, figured we had made a wrong turn and headed back.  We did this a few times until we realized our first instincts had been correct.  “Just find a parking space anywhere,” Tracy said.  “After that big breakfast, the walking will do us good.”  Words she would regret only a couple of hours later.

DSC04746We walked down to the Obala Hrvatskog Narodnog Preporoda (Croatian National Revival Embankment), which is known as the Riva.

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The promenade has been a focus of controversy because it was recently redone, and many people think it looks too modern.  We thought it looked fine, even with the slight smell of sulphur, a smell that I first blamed on Kim (hey, we’ve known each other a long time.

DSC04751We toured Diocletian’s Palace for about an hour.

DUBROVNIK 4There were numerous rooms that the four of us meandered through, and crowds were fortunately at a minimum…

DSC04750…so we could view the palace as it might have looked centuries ago.

SPLIT 1 DIOCLETIAN

It was then time to climb the stairs (yep, more stairs) to Katedrale Sv. Duje (Cathedral of St. Dominus).

DSC04754The last part of the stairwell was rather precarious, but we again lived to tell about them.

DSC04755At the top, Kim had me pose with four new “Mrs. Maitais,” whose combined age was younger than some bourbon I have drank in my life.

SPLIT 3 TOM CROATIAN BABESTracy reminded me again about living in the back of the Honda, and once more my dreams were shattered. It was time for couple photos to get me grounded again.

SPLIT 5 KIM MARY SPLIT 6 TOM TRACY

We took in the views of the harbor at Split and then navigated the precarious stairs on the way down.

SPLIT 7 DIOWe saw a little more of the palace…

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…and we decided that was enough history for one morning.

DSC04758On the way back to the car, we strolled through an outdoor market where I picked up a melon that smelled delicious.

DSC04759The gang was ready to split Split and get back to quaint Trogir for lunch, and it was at this moment that Kim and I made our fatal decision.

About 15 minutes and 20 “looks” later, Kim and I realized we had no clue where the hell we were or where the hell we were going.  It was now very hot out and Tracy’s expression made Medusa’s stare look romantic.  Fortunately, I did not turn into stone.   

Mary was happy, because now her Dubrovnik “short-cut” was a distant second in walking miscues on this trip.  Eventually we got back on track, found the car and after the mandatory 10 minutes of silence, the couples were once again speaking to each other in civil tones.

DSC04733We parked back at the apartment and scurried over to Old Town Trogir for a little more exploration of the town and a much-needed lunch and found a place on the Trogir Riva.   Kim and Mary went back to the apartment first.

TROGIR 2When we arrived about 20 minutes later, Kim was standing next to the car.  “What are you doing out here?” I asked.

“You left the lights on,” he said, “and I don’t know where you put the key.”

“No problem,” I thought.  I was sure that this car was just like my Honda (where I would live if I ever cheated on Tracy), and the lights would shut off automatically after a few minutes.

  We climbed upstairs; I grabbed the keys and said confidently, “I’ll be back in a few seconds.”  I hurried downstairs, got in the car, turned off the lights and, just so I could reassure everyone when I returned, I turned the key to start the car. I tried again.  No luck.  It was 4 p.m. and we were going to leave tomorrow at the crack of dawn to go to Plitvice National Park.  I had a dilemma.  Think fast.

  Then I remembered.  Our apartment was located next to an auto repair shop.  I walked briskly over to a few guys standing in front of a dismantled car and asked if anyone could speak English.  Fortunately, they all spoke English and even more fortunately the young man working at the shop had some jumper cables.  “Give me a couple of minutes,“ he said.

By the time I had walked back to the car, he was there on his motorcycle.  He hooked up the car to the motorcycle, and I heard the beautiful sound of our rental car’s engine humming.  “Keep it on 15 minutes and you’ll be fine,” he said.  The charge (pun intended) was about ten bucks.  Right after he left, Kim came down and said, “Well, it looks like everything was ok.”  I thought about just answering “yes,” but because we are “the story comes first” type of people, I came clean.  He just shook his head; laughed and said, “See you up on the balcony for some wine.”

TROGIR 11 DRINKINGLater, as we sipped our vino, Kim and Mary said (or I thought they said), “How about Marijuana tonight for dinner?”

“Is that legal in Croatia?” I asked hopefully.  Wow, first I’m nearly turned into stone and later I might get stoned.  I wondered if Kim had any Grateful Dead songs on that IPOD.

Strolling through Trogir, we tried to get lost in the little alleyways that cropped up throughout the town.  This UNESCO town is good for an overnight and is definitely cute, but there really is not an abundance of things to do here.

Kim and Mary obviously had not said “marijuana,” but the restaurant called Marijana.  It was a nice way to end an unusual day, and the food was again fine, although Croatia’s food had not been, in our opinion, as good as the food we had eaten in the Czech Republic and Poland.  However our resident fish connoisseur Mary was very happy with the choices from the sea in Croatia.

TROGIR 9 MARY DINNERWe arrived back at the apartment relatively early, because tomorrow we were going to drive inland and spend the day in Plitvička jezera (Plitvice National Park).  As the four of us drifted off that night, we did not have a clue that one of the most gorgeous settings on the planet lay only a few hours away.

Next: Day Eighteen – Hells Bells, On The Boardwalk In Park Place, Plitvice Perfect And The Nightcap From Hell

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