Friday, 22 June 2012

Split to Zadar

Around 300 AD, what is now the city of Split, started life as a retirement village for the Roman emperor Diocletian. With a few quid to spare he built a stupendous villa covering 9½ acres (38,000 m²). After his demise it became the world's first time-share to various expelled Roman emperors and their family members.

Since about 639 AD it has been invaded, robbed and plundered by the who's who of the world's conquering forces, including the Slavs, Hungarians, Turks, Venetians and French.

Like hermit crabs, the various civilisations have colonised the palace with shops, market squares, & even a Christian cathedral (formerly Diocletian's mausoleum) inserted in the corridors and floors of the former palace. Each one making a little modification here and an attic conversion there, the place is now a labyrinth of narrow alleyways, made up of a hodge-podge of architectural styles. With souvenir shops, Pizzerias and B&B's at every turn, today the only invaders in sight are hordes of foreign tourists seeking fun in the sun.
Still the ambiance of a civilisations lost can be felt while treading the marble walkways polished smooth by millennia of weary soles.

It was hard to tear ourselves away from Split and our comfortable apartment, a stone's throw from the walls of the old palace but after bidding farewell to Merica and her fat cat Melena, we ventured forth to the beautiful national park at Krka.

A delightful valley with waterfalls cascading over pools of turquois blue, Krka is a tranquil relief after the hub bub of Split.

Raised walkways meander through the gorge facilitating breathtaking vistas at every turn.

Electric blue dragonflies hover over ponds filled with fish. Swans glide towards tourists on the waters edge, gratefully accepting any morsels offered.

Unfortunately we arrived on a stifling hot day with temperatures hovering around 36 degrees Celsius. Thank goodness for the Gelato vendors who have colonised every part of Croatia, including Krka.

We continued on towards Zadar with our latest rental car. In a period of three days we have changed cars no fewer than three times. The first being the one that broke down on Korcula and then the replacement car we received at Orebic needed replacing when we arrived in Split as the power supply from the cigarette lighter was not functioning. I know; we don't smoke, but our GPS requires 12 volt power to operate; something it struggles to do at the best of times over here. More often than not we end up driving round in circles as we wait for it to give us some direction in life. Streets we need either don't exist as far as its concerned or it simply decides to go out on strike at the most inopportune moments; why should we be the only ones on vacation?

Anyway, we always seem to find our destination eventually and the definition of a true optimist is one who can enjoy the view on a detour.

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