October 28 – 30, 2015
Third Destination: Split. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, awesome restaurants, the best ice cream and cake shop, fresh smoothies and nice views from the Marjan forest hilltop. As the second largest city in Croatia, things were a bit more lively. The old town is mainly embedded within the walls of Diocletian’s Palace, as was our hotel, Hotel Slavija, the city’s oldest. The Slavija has a prime location, atop the ruins of Diocletian’s Palace baths, and its staff was as helpful as they were knowledgeable about the city. They assisted us in booking our further travel plans, had nuanced suggestions for good eateries and watering holes, and were well informed about the city’s history, ancient and recent. We took, what turned out to be, a very memorable city tour, lead by the receptionist (and trained guide) Mirjana, through the old palace area.
Mirjana, in red above, brought the city to life and was able to put its present in the context of its past. As experiences go I am sure it will linger longer than even the best pastries; I’d highly recommend it for a much richer and more authentic experience of Split. The first culinary hit was Robert’s (the other receptionist) suggestion of Luka’s Ice Cream and Cake Shop. There’s too much I wanna say about them, so you better read that here. The second hit was the Paradox Wine Bar, for a delicate and fine snack – like cheese platters from Pag or anchovies on a bed of arugula and fresh bread, reminiscent of cornbread but with a wheat base.
But the homer was the cozy restaurant Villa Spiza. It was a deliberate decision to come here, however definitely the right one.
The next morning I had to abandon the rest of my family and tour the Fish Market (prompted by our dinner), located just outside the palace gates. Its overwhelming smell, bustling crowds of locals, and piles of fish strewn out across marble tables gave it a sort of spooky feel … then again it was almost Halloween. The Green Market, also outside the old palace, but on the other side, was large, filled with many identical looking cheese vendors, nuts, and bean stands and tables full of vegetables and fruits. Some vendors made me sample everything, but sometimes the old ladies got upset, when I didn’t buy anything.
We spent part of our second morning navigating Marjan hill which forms the green part of the Split peninsula, on the tip of the thumb. About a third of the way up is a 16th century jewish cemetery, further up a zoo and the last 500 steps reward you with a broad view from above. Looking down, and all around, it is no wonder that Diocletian chose to build his palace here, and distinguish himself as the first Roman emperor to retire his command in favor of tending vegetables from his beloved palace in what must have even then been a Dalmatian Jewel.
Last but not least, I managed to go to this (below) smoothie stand right before our departure. Around the corner from our hotel, tucked in the palace entry way, it had been tempting me since our arrival. My smoothie was definitely worth it but the recommended chocolatey-orange-fig-ball added a whole nother dimension!
CANNABIZZ and a chocolate orange fig ball
Smoothie Stand Kokolo
LUKA’s Ice Cream & Cakes: Ul. Petra Svačića 2, 21000, Split, Croatia (just outside the palace walls, right next to PARADOX)
PARADOX Wine & Cheese Bar: Poljana Tina Ujevića 2, 21000, Split, Croatia (just outside the palace walls, right next to LUKA’s)
Villa Spiza: Ul. Petra Kružića 3, 21000, Split, Croatia