Last weekend my roommate and I hopped across the Adriatic to Croatia… well, ‘hopped’ makes it sound deceivingly short and simple. We actually took a 12-hour, overnight ferry from Ancona, a port town on the eastern coast of Italy.
It was a really long ferry ride, but I luckily slept through most of it (when I wasn’t working on my essay due Monday, that is). Besides, the view from the deck in the morning made it completely worth it.
Once we disembarked and went through passport control, we set out to find our hostel (and took lots of pictures along the way, of course).
Our hostel was awesome – it was a really clean and spacious converted apartment unit run by a friendly young woman who lived upstairs. It’s called Sweet and Cheap for anyone planning on going to Split anytime soon, and we booked through hostelworld.com (hostelbookers.com is also good). After dropping off our stuff, we headed to the farmer’s market we had passed on our way.
There, I bought ingredients for a delicious trail mix – almonds, hazelnuts, and dried pineapple and papaya pieces (a very non-GORP GORP, if you catch my drift). Snacks in hand, we set out to explore Split.
We stopped for lunch at a very non-touristy restaurant (or so we’d like to think), which the receptionist at the tourist information office recommended for authentic, traditional Croatian food. Then, we decided to find the beach. Always a good decision when it’s sunny and warm out.
After we had our fill of laying out under the sun, we decided to go to Trogir, the historic town just a half an hour bus ride from Split. It was a quiet little town with less of the cruise ship tourists and not terribly much to see — but worth a visit nonetheless. We took our time just wandering around until sunset.
After sunset we headed back to Split for dinner, which ended up being one of the best meals I’ve had in Europe thus far. We shared a champagne and smoked cheese risotto and that night’s special, a lentil and sausage dish, while sitting outside in one of Split’s many cobblestone squares. The rich and creamy risotto was perfectly balanced by the simple yet hearty lentils…delicious.
It was the perfect ending to our long first day in Croatia. Next up: day 2/3 in Plitvice Lakes National Park and Zagreb!