Jan, Ivona, Gary and I sailed across the Adriatic on Saturday night after three glorious weeks in Italy. All four of us crammed into a single cabin with fourth berths. Tight but not too bad. We had booked the most affordable cabin available – no bathroom – but the hostess checking us in upgraded us to one with a bathroom free of charge. Nice! Because who wants to go down the hall in his underwear to take a pee in the middle of the night?
We left Ancona at 9 PM, had dinner aboard the ferry and went to sleep. Thankfully, the crossing was a calm one as the Adriatic can be very rough. The wake-up knock for breakfast came at about 6 AM. Way too early, but the weather was warm in Split, even though it was mostly overcast.
We quickly disembarked and went through passport control and cycled to the nearest coffee shop with wifi to sort out accommodation. While sitting there surfing the web on various devices, several people came up to see if we needed accommodation. There are hundreds of rooms available in private houses in Split. Some of them nice. Some of them not. This being off-season, people were willing to bargain as most rooms are sitting empty.
But after Jan and Ivona looked at some options we decided to go with an Air B&B listing: a two-bedroom apartment with a kitchen and a washing machine in the bathroom, only a few minutes’ walk from Diocletian’s Palace in the Old Town of Split. After booking online, Mayk, the owner and our host, met us there quickly, showed us the place, gave us a key and zoomed off on his moto. Easy as pie.
We stuffed a load of laundry into the washer and headed into town to the market for some shopping and to explore Diocletian’s Palace and Old Town. The sun had come out and life in Split looked pretty good. Ivona, with her nose for something meaty, found a little shop in the market selling all kinds of roast beast and we bought a large hunk of roast suckling pig, some fresh bread, a couple of beers and headed for the waterfront to have a picnic in the sun.
Counting our hour-long stay in France and our two days in the Republic of San Marino, this is our 10th country. It’s been quite a ride so far. Eight thousand kilometres and so far all has gone pretty well. Until now, we’ve had no major issues with our bikes or our bodies, until a few days ago, when we discovered that one of the rack mounts on the back of Jan’s bike had broken off the frame. And she couldn’t figure out why her bike felt so wiggly.
While replacing the chains and cleaning our transmissions here in Split yesterday, we also discovered my bike has had the same piece break off the frame. We’ve been able to attach the racks to the lower mount but this is far from ideal. We will have to see if we can get a shop to weld these bits back on. So far, no luck.
Split is an old city. Diocletian’s Palace dates back to the fourth century AD, named for then Roman emperor, you guessed it, Diocletian. He built this as a retirement pad. Over the centuries, buildings have been altered, torn down and new ones built. Even as recently as 2006, city council allowed new buildings to be built within the palace, including a shopping complex, despite it being a UNESCO world heritage site.
It is an amazing maze of plazas and narrow streets within the old walls, crammed full of little shops, restaurants, coffee shops, bars and people’s homes in what is believed to beÂ the world’s most complete remains of a Roman palace. For somebody who lives in a new city like Vancouver, this is the complete antithesis, and I love wandering the streets of these old places.
The marble steps street pavers have been shaped by the countless number of feet that have slowly shaped and eroded them. The walls, crumbling in places but still largely intact in others, are an awesome sight, realizing this was all manually built without the benefit of machines. All in all, another remarkable place in which we are privileged to spend some time.
Last night, Ivona and Gary took a train north to Vienna from where they plan to cycle further north to Ivona’s brother’s place in the Czech Republic. This morning, the weather had turned kind of nasty and as Jan and I laid in bed, listening to the wind and rain, we emailed our host to see if we could stay another day. No problem.
While grocery shopping this afternoon, we got caught out in a wicked rain storm, glad we weren’t out on the road. But the plan is to hit the road again tomorrow. We will head south toward Dubrovnik as the journey continues. It’s been nice to sit here in Split for a few days. In many ways, this is the start of another chapter as we are now in eastern Europe which has a different history and culture from the countries we’ve mostly travelled through until now.
It continues to be a pleasure and a privilege to be able to do this and discover a small part of our planet and meeting the people living on it. We’ll do our best to keep you up to date. Thank you all for riding along. We hope you stay with us.