6/7/2011

The woman who owned the hostel was very sorry.  She apologized many times and when she stopped I asked her what was wrong.  Her body language and a few English phrases eventually made it clear that my bed at the Hostel Antonio had been double-booked and I did not have a room here.  I packed my bags and wondered if I would find accommodations for the night.

The hostel owner’s daughter, who spoke better English than her mother, came into my room as I finished packing.  She handed me a set of keys and told me that her mother was very sorry but a large party of backpackers had reserved the entire dorm I was hoping to sleep in that night.  The young woman and her mother both hoped that allowing me to occupy a private apartment inside the palace walls for the rest of my stay would make up for the inconvenience.  They were right.

Here is me in the window of my apartment in Split.

On my final morning in Split I prepared for departure.  I gathered my things.  I cleaned.  I stuffed my pack.  I thought about the meal I was able to cook in my own private kitchen last night.  This was my first time with such a luxury since Germany and the first time on this trip with my own private room.

Cevapcici seasoned chicken and sauteed tomato/pepper medley with a fresh croissant.

After I was certain that I had packed everything and the apartment was left as I had found it I grabbed my keys and walked out the door.  Across the hall there was an old woman pounding on the apartment door.  When she heard my door open she swung towards me, still waving her fist.  I headed for the stairs, followed by the woman’s eyes and her shaking fist.

As I entered the palatial path outside of the apartment building I realized I still had an entire day in Split.  I was limited by my bulbous backpack but I had everything I needed to go to the beach for a relaxing afternoon.  So after I dropped off my keys I was off to the beach, I thought.

I handed the keys to the owner and she asked when I would be leaving Split.  I told her about my night cruise to Ancona and she insisted that I leave my pack with her until the evening so that I could enjoy Split unburdened.  This opened up possibilities.  I like possibilities so I headed for the door with my camera and a few dollars.

I walked down to the portside promenade, known as The Riva.

The Riva

The ferries flowed in and out of the port.  I sat near the sailor’s bar, watched the boats, and listened to the sailors sing their Croatian sailing songs.

This concrete box is the sailor’s bar. There are two benches and a table inside, as well as riotous sailors with a passion for singing and drinking.

The sea chants worked me into an adventurous state of mind and I decided to go for a walk to see what I could find.  As I started down the sidewalk I came upon the owner of The Antonio Hostel and her pug.  She asked if I was headed to the beach.  I told her that I did not know where I was going.  We were at a crossroads.  I pointed at the path that led away from the beach and asked her if there was anything up there.  She laughed a little and said “take the stairs, love.”  Later, I would understand why she laughed.

I climbed up the stairs until I reached a platform.  I stopped to get a picture, thinking this would be the best view in all of Split.

I would soon find out how wrong I was.  I kept on past where the stairs turned into a concrete path, and the path became a gravel trail.  After twenty minutes the trail widened and I was faced with a one-room stone church.

I stood looking at this simple, yet imposing structure, on the side of the mountain.  I continued down the trail until it forked.  There were paths taking off up and down the mountain.  A pole with numerous signs pointing in all directions acted as a tour guide… if you spoke Croatian.  I did not so for the next two hours I hiked each path on that mountain side.  Here are some of the highlights…

This trail shrunk until it almost threw me off the mountain cliff.

Then the trail opened up and revealed this view of the homes of Split on The Adriatic Sea.

This church was built near the mountain side.

This church was built in the mountain side.

A commune that thrives on the outskirts of Split.

As I rounded the bend I saw what was clearly the highest point on this mountain….

I knew I had to be on it but one thing stood in my way.  It was not the distance or the time.  It was the guardian of the peak….

As the “guardian” sauntered over to me with his head down looking for some attention I knew that nothing stood between me and the top of the rock.

After a vigorous scratch behind the guardian’s  ear I departed up the hill with his blessing.  The wind blew furiously.  I began to feel rain but I reached the top.  I snapped what pictures I could without getting my camera wet.  This is the only one that turned out….

Then I ran to a trash container and grabbed out a plastic bag.  I wrapped up my camera and wallet before hustling back down the hill.

Before long the rain stopped and the sun came back.  I stopped hustling and took my time wandering down the mountain.  By the time I was back at The Riva my hunger had grown enormous so I went to the little food truck just outside the other end of town.  I filled up on an extra veliki senvic budola with everything and headed to the promenade for a jagoda (strawberry) gelato and much deserved rest before shipping out to Italy.

This is the extra veliki senvic budola, loosely translated as “huge, delicious grilled sandwich (I assume).”

Well, the evening brought an entirely new adventure and I look forward to sharing it with you soon.  Until then…