For our last swim stop we moored in a bay outside Split Harbour. This was a memorable stop because we almost left one of our number behind. He had swum to the shore and begun snorkeling and it wasn’t until we started to move off that someone noticed Pete was still in the water- a great save by the lovely Nancy.
Docking was interesting in Split – we first went to a temporary berth, where we had lunch, during which time servicemen came on board for maintenance work. Mid-afternoon saw us moving to our overnight mooring. As we moved towards it, we took in the beautiful vista before us. The Riva is stunning – it is lined with palm trees and gardens, with the historic Diocletian Palace standing behind the rows of restaurants and bars at its base. From onboard, Split immediately impressed as an elegant and vibrant city, and once on shore my impression was confirmed.
As we edged into the dock we could a large contingent of Police standing to the right of the boat. We later discovered the purpose of their presence …
At the end of the cruise, Sail Croatia allows an overnight stay on the boat, and disembarkation must be complete by 9 the following morning. It is quite a nice way to wind down but because the final get-together was, in essence, at the Captain’s dinner the previous evening, it felt a little anticlimactic. No matter what, I was happy to be in beautiful Split!
Antonio had organised a walking tour for us on the day we arrived and our guide Ornela met us dockside, before taking us into the old town. We stopped on the Riva opposite the entrance to the town, to acquaint ourselves with the layout. We entered the Palace complex via the Bronze Gate and once in I was surprised to see a rather touristy arts and craft market.
Ornela stopped us near a well where she explained a little about the sanitation process in ancient times and then we wandered through the old town, stopping at each point of interest – the Vestibule, the Peristyle, the Cathedral, and the Vomitorium (oh yes, there was one – used for purging after the consumption of huge meals, so that feasting could continue).
It was hot and extremely busy and sometimes quite hard to hear what Ornela was saying but it was a good orientation as we knew we would explore further in the next couple of days.
I pondered as we walked — how amazing it must be to able to dwell amongst all this history. Those who live within the palace walls are lucky indeed.
After our walking tour, Phil and I set about more self-guided exploring. I was keen to visit the Cathedral, where we had seen the bridal party (literally there was joyous singing and dancing as the bride and groom came down the stairs). There is a fee to enter the Cathedral but it is so worth it. Much smaller, than I expected it has a golden aura and the altar decor and lecturn are exquisite.
We returned to the boat to freshen up for dinner via the Riva – it was warm, pretty and lively, with street performers lining the path.
This would be our last dinner and drinks as a group of six. Phil and I had come across a rather nice place called the Olive Tree on our stroll and thought it looked rather good…
The Riva was buzzing when we returned and it proved to be great place for a bit of people-watching.. As it happened, our arrival coincided with the Split Gay Pride Parade – hence the huge police presence, though to us it seemed rather excessive!
After taking in the Parade spectacle it was time for food, so we decided to try the Olive Tree – it has a great ambience, funky decor, great wait staff and excellent cuisine. We had lovely evening celebrating the end of a wonderful cruising experience together.
Later, Phil and I went for a final wander before returning to the boat for our last overnight stay on board. The Palace is impressive in the twilight, with uplighting creating a wonderful effect. Back on board the ship we sat on the deck taking in the spectacle that is Split Harbour at night… it was a wonderful day and a memorable evening …
Next Post? – Split via Le Meridien Lav resort hotel