Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The cost of parking a car in Split is Kn 430!

This morning the storm has blown through. Last night we heard glass breaking - turns out it was one of the tables from the terrace where we enjoyed our breakfast yesterday morning - thankfully, when it landed at the end of the car park, it had missed all the cars!
Apartments Johnny is the best of both worlds - extra space in the apartment rooms but with the provision of breakfast so you can relax! Breakfast is served in the eating room in the back yard as it is still too blowy to eat outside. We have to wait 5 minutes as there is not enough room for everyone at one time. Ztravka again cooks us lovely omelettes and we share our meal with a Finnish family also staying here. In fact, for the off season, these apartments are really quite busy.

We have been seeing these revolutionary style signs proclaiming Torcida 1950 along the roadsides over the last few days. Well we finally checked it out on the web and after a number of misses due to me mis-spelling the name, we finally learn that it is a football (soccer) fan club that is known for their vocal and violent and intimidating behaviour of opposition teams and their fans. Guess its all political to them!

We head into Split intending to have a look at Diocletians Palace. Parking is the worst we have ever come across - there is absolutely nothing in the immediate or even nearby areas at all. After making two turns through the city and Frances not coming good (where are you when I need you?) we opt to come back in the afternoon when hopefully there will be some parking. We had read in the guide books about Primošten to the north a little (about 1 hour) so figure we will go take a look there first.

Heading out we go again through the area of Salona on the motorway before turning to hug the coast. We travel north following the coarse looking dolomite and limestone hills that erode in long narrow strips. There are Churches high on those hills with no apparent way of getting up to them other than to scramble like a goat over loose stones and steep mountain sides. Out to our left though, it is all blue water and further out, the islands are visible. We pass through tiny little hamlets that hug into the hills, on cling to the craggy rocks down to the shores of pebbly beaches.

There are millions of dollars worth of sailing and jet boats moored at a number of marinas along the coast. And in the pristine waters of the bays that surround these towns there are a myriad of what looks to be oyster farms, but could just as easily be any of the other molluscs as well.

Primošten is a medieval walled city that juts out on a spit into the bay with pristine water on three sides. It has narrow little roadways and alleys that climb up to a point where of course the Catholic Church of St George is located - locked of course, in case anyone wants to steal their Madonna icon on a silver tablet - pity the worshippers. But it commands wonderful views over the bay and is surrounded on three sides by seats - all looking at the Church of course! Walking up and down, we pass tiny little old houses and much newer ones side by side. The newer ones have weather sealed windows and air conditioning, while the older ones are lucky if they are weather proof, without holes in roofs or walls!

It is very windy here still today and the seas are choppy with whitecaps out in the bay and breakers splashing against the rock walls. Once we are back near the Marina we want warming up, so we sit in the sun with coffees and thick hot chocolate (like the Spanish serve it). Doesn't take long before we are thawed out sufficiently to continue our exploring.

Near where we parked the car just outside the city gate, there is a statue of Joseph and Mary on the donkey - maybe a local one? We have passed a number of donkeys on the way in to town - one that was just grazing and the other one was sitting maybe exhausted after recent activities! A little further around the park we see another very tiny church with a statue to Don Ivo Šarić - obviously someone important to the locals, but I can't find any information on him!

So it is time to head back towards Split. High on the rocky crags that look down over Solin (formerly Salona) and Split is Klis Fortress. We have seen this each of the last couple of days and as we near Solin again, I turn to head up to it. It is directly above the town of the same name and looks so inhospitable that it is amazing to think that anyone would ever want to attack it - let alone successfully take it. But they have! Read all about it at the link above...
Donna and Michael climbed a million steps - I waited in the warm car! Michael introduced Donna to a genuine garderobe - thankfully she didn't need to use it! There are restoration works being undertaken and like in many other parts of Europe, the WH&S practices are non-existent - one slip mate, and you are gone - way gone, way below! From high up above they could see the only lawn that we have seen in Croatia - on the school grounds below.

So back in to Split where Frances, following Donna's great advice (she always did get me in to trouble) found us a spot (in a tow away zone before 5 pm - its now 4:40 pm), where there are lots of other cars parked. So we park.

We are a couple of blocks away from the closest entry into the Palace area. School must have just finished - we pass a high school just as the last of the kids stream out the door and dash away. The light is starting to fade to that amazingly clear late afternoon light that is so good for photos of old buildings. We enter into the long little narrow alleyways that hug the city walls towering over us.

The footpaths are all marble through here - polished smooth by the feet of 1700 years crossing. New shops fill old spaces and overhead some of the formerly separate buildings have been connected with walled passageways. We wander down one street and then another, admiring the magnificent old architecture. The clock tower especially looks good in the late afternoon light.

Finally we turn a corner into one of the squares to find the Cathedral of Split. Now, this cathedral originally held the remains of Emperor Diocletian, and was called the 'Monumental Mausoleum of Diocletian'. During his reign as Emperor of Rome, Diocletian had it in for the those upstarts referred to as 'Christians'. Openly maltreating the Christians, through the 'Diocletianic Persecution' (or Great Persecution) which represented the last and most severest brutality in the Roman Empire. However, the Christians eventually had their 'day in court' against Diocletian....ah...after his death!

As with most of the Roman Emperors, Diocletian enjoyed a diet of megalomania, so during his reign he had his Palace constructed (3rdC AD) in Split so he could live out his retirement in luxury. On the 3 December 311AD, Diocletian gave up his ghost and made his way towards the marble gates of Elysium. Around the 12thC, it was decided to toss out Diocletian's sarcophagus (including the remains of the Emperor) and convert the mausoleum into the Cathedral of St. Duje. The portal to the Cathedral is flanked by two doors of the most beautiful examples of Medieaval wood carving. The doors were made around 1220 by the painter and woodcarver, Andrija Buvina. We found the mausoleum quite impressive and during the time of Diocletian, it must have been quite a jewel.

Attached to the cathedral is the monumental Cathedral Belfry Tower which was built onto the prostasis (entry to the temple) during the 13th and early 14thC's. Built in a mixed Gothic-Renaissance style it is presented as a very elegant edifice. Michael climbed the 189 to the tower's summit, and obtained some magnificent views of Split. Anyhow, at the risk of becoming tedious, we suggest you follow the links!

Oh, before we left the mausoleum, Donna and Michael made use of their entry tickets to view the Cathedral's treasury, but because it was up more steps, I waited in the Church.

I don't know who suffered more from megalomania after viewing the Treasury? However, without seeming crass or disrespectful, apart from the vestments, hardware, silverware, relics and the remains of saints (you had better believe it!) - it was the works of the Illuminators, Scriveners and Calligraphi which stood out. The choral manuscripts were just breathtaking and regretfully we were prevented from taking photographs - this included non-flash shots as well.... Should you, dear reader, have the opportunity to visually experience 'illuminated' works - we strongly recommend you do so!

Before making our way to the Temple of Jupiter (...that's what Michael prefers to call it), or as it is now known, The Cathedral Baptistery, we head for the Cathedral's crypt. You enter into the crypt through a dimly lit narrow passageway, and the further we entered the sanctorum the warmer it became! The crypt is where Diocletian was originally laid to rest, although now used as a private chapel. It is of a beehive construction with ten alcoves recessed around the base, and whatever motifs decorated the interior no longer exist - quite a sad, empty place really.

Originally there were three temples which were erected to the westside of the Mausoleum, of which only one remains - The Temple of Jupiter. This had been converted into the Baptistery, which now contains the baptismal font erected in the shape of a cross. Behind the font stands a tall stylised bronzed statue of John the Baptist. Fortunately, the exterior of the temple has been preserved which includes a headless black granite Egyptian sphynx. Above the portal and at its lintel remain carvings of the more important gods from the Roman pantheon: Hercules, Jupiter, Apollo, Mars, Venus and Neptune.

And so, Diocleation done, we headed down to the waterfront to find somewhere for dinner. Surprisingly there is less open than I expected - a few pizza restaurants and lots of bars, but not too many restaurants with a more extended menu. Finally about half way along the promenade we find the Adriatic Hotel. Our very efficient waitress hands out the menus and before long is back for the order. When asked what the specials were she quickly rattled off something about cuttlefish that is served with a spinach and potato mix which Michael decides to have and a meat platter that was served with chips for two that Donna and I will have. We also ordered a plate of vegetables and got char grilled zucchini and eggplant with capsicum and onion strips - ah goody, indigestion food! She had whisked away the menus so quickly that I didn't have time to copy the items.

When we return to the car, we find it GONE. Bugger, I had had a sunk feeling while we were walking back. Michael went to a fabric shop opposite. Yes, the car has been T-O-W-E-D! Didn't I tell you Donna is a bad influence! At least it wasn't stolen. Mind you, there are still plenty of local cars parked there. When we ask the shopkeeper what to do, he says go down to the taxis and tell them you need to go to the 'Spider'! He seems to be rather enjoying all the drama. And the cabbies know where to go - straight into the dense housing estates and a parked allotment below them. The Policija operate this towing service. When Michael walks in - hey, it IS a patriachal society - and ask if anyone speaks English, it takes two seconds for them to bring up our car on their computer screen.

"This is your car?" he asked. "Yes" answers Michael. "You were parked in a tow away zone and your car must be 1 metre away from the wall, and this area is for deliveries or emergency vehicles." We wanted the car, so didn't argue - despite me knowing the car was indeed at least 1 metre from the wall because I had opened the door to its full extent, and there was so many more local cars there. But they are doing there job and being an alien we are an easy target. They were certainly pleasant enough. We ask how much is the fine and he replies "340 Kuna for the towing and 300 for the police fine", but the young policewoman standing behind him announces that she will "forgive us the Policija fine" so all up it costs the equivalent of $100 Australian when you factor in the cab fare as well. I kinda think we got off lightly and everyone agrees. At this point we just want to get gone. We toot and wave as we leave them, didn't think to get a photo at that stage - might go back in the morning! NOT.

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