We leave Cavtat which is a not so little place just out of Dubrovnik and pick up our rental car to make our way to Split. The GPS is set for the coast road and it’s picture perfect as we pass each little bay. We have been driving an hour or two when we come across some sort of Police checkpoint. We thought it was tolls at first and are scrambling for money when we realise it’s passports that are being handed over. We are entering Bosnia we guess. Someone ahead of us took ages but just seeing NZ passports and we are waved thru. A short time later we are at another and this must be re-entering Croatia? The guy waves us through once again after just seeing the covers.
We stop for a refuel and a drink and decide to grab a few groceries. Having a car makes it a bit easier to cook as were not carrying ingredients, and our next stop is an apartment.
The car is full. We are full and the boot is full of olives, cheese, pasta and bread still hot from the oven. Better put that in the boot Lindy says, it smells amazing! Half way to Split. We put the apartments address into the GPS and we’re off. I settle back in and begin to doze when Gilbert says something and as I jerk awake I see what looks like another checkpoint but there’s no one around. Maybe it’s tolls but no one is at the gates to collect money and we have no idea how much or where to pay. We park on the side and watch as a car passes thru. Gilbert gets out to watch more closely and sees them pushing a button and a card comes out.
So back in the car, find the button and it looks like the card is to be presented at journey end and appropriate money paid depending on time on what appears to be a super highway. We’re off again. Speed limit is signposted as 130 but our little car can only do 110-120 on the downhill and we are laughing about this when whoosh a car passes us. Jeepers he was tramping. Whoosh another blurs past. Gilbert guesses they are doing 160-180 or maybe more. It’s like a flipping plane has flown past. I hope you’re in the slow lane I say to Gilbert! Most pass us at about 140 at a guess and Gilbert wonders if 130 is the minimum haha, but we get to pass a couple who are a tad slower than us. Just a couple though. This is the highway we heard about that goes inland to Zagreb. We turn off for Split and it’s a busy city. The GPS takes us to the area we need to go but the streets get narrower and I text Evana, our BnB host, that we are near. We miss the tiny street she tells us to turn into and struggle to find street names. The road ahead is closed and it looks like a massive market. We go round again and ph Evana. She says she is waiting at the roadside. What are you wearing? I ask as there’s bloody people everywhere! Black she answers. Hmmm. Gilbert turns up a road so narrow I feel we should all hold our breath and then up a tiny way that cars are parked higgeldy piggeldy and we negotiate thru.
Gilbert tells me to jump out and see if I can find Evana dressed in black. From her deep voice and heavy Croatian accent I’m looking for a big boned woman about my age in a long black skirt and top but can’t see anyone scanning the street for us. Everyone is busy making their way to and from something. I phone her again and she starts to explain then suddenly hangs up when Lindy comes up behind me calling that she came from the other way. Back at the car is a gorgeous slim beauty in a skin tight black dress smiling. She was waiting at the other end but dashed around when she realised where we were. She guides us walking thru narrow alleyways full of children playing, people are smoking, cooking, chatting on steps, outside their doorways. No one gives us much more than a glance and we arrive at our door. No 5. I hear the neighbours say BnB as we step into our doorway. It’s a tiny apartment with a single and a double upstairs and a sofa bed that opens into a double downstairs.
Evana leaves us and Lindy and I head back to the car to get our bags while Gilbert writes Marinka and Holly an email for how to get here as they fly in at about midnight from Greece. Lindy and I get lost and it takes a bit to re-find the car. It’s a labyrinth of twists and turns and we’re sure we’ll have to go wait on the street to guide the girls in.
We snack on olives and crusty bread dipped in the sweetest nuttiest olive oil I have ever tasted while sipping the last of our red wine and then head out to explore a little. The place is amazing. I feel like we’re in a bazaar. People and market stalls, crusty pizzas, and BBQ’d nibble smells fill the air. Small restaurants set up everywhere in the open air and music. Suddenly we can hear drum beats and turn to look up the cobbled streets to see a procession that includes a roman emperor and his entourage of dancers and jugglers, armoured men on horseback and women and children dressed as in the times.
Turns out we’ve arrived on the weekend there is a massive celebration for Diocletians Palace and I look up and can’t believe that there we are in the middle of it. We wander for a few hours and head back and can’t wait to look through it properly tomorrow.
Lindy and I decide the girls will never find this place. So we, who both got lost, wait up for a text from them while having a drink, but just after 1am, there’s a knock on the door. I’m a little nervous opening the door at this time but hear the girls giggling, and sure enough there they are. Easy peasy!