August 3, 2016 - 5:57 pm No Comments

Split is a good sized resort town filled with yachts and cruise ships, surrounded by mountains that make it look a bit like Tucson. A faint sulfur smell from nearby, naturally occurring sources, fills the city.

On our first night in Split, the group of us went to a booming outdoor nightclub near the beach. I’ve gotten much of the group drinking rum and cokes. Gabo and I bonded with some great conversation about the life of a G Adventures CEO and about how one of his best friends is Fredy, the CEO I had for a previous Rome to Madrid G Adventures trip that I took last year. When we discovered that my favorite restaurant in the world, La Cabrera in Buenos Aires, was also his favorite restaurant, we knew we would be friends forever. Then one of the girls knocked over a glass, cracking it and badly cutting Gabo’s hand.

Hat Trick Nightclub in Split

My first full day in Split started with an early morning walk to the famous Bacvice Beach. Crystal, the one who is from DC, joined me for the walk. She’s got the right attitude about this stuff. Like me, she wants to get up early and do as much as we can in each of the places we are visiting. If you’re not exhausted when you go home, then you haven’t done it right.

Not sure why Bacvice Beach is so famous, because it’s one of the ugliest beaches I’ve ever seen. There’s a tiny patch of sand filled with litter and the rest of the shore is built up with a concrete platform. In the early morning, the only ones there were old people. It’s funny how the defining features of both sexes start to disappear as they get older. With women losing boobs, men getting them, and the bellies on both growing large, they end up meeting somewhere in the middle.

Bacvice Beach

Our walking tour of the enormous Diocletian Palace was fantastic. Diocletian was a Roman emperor who once ruled the city and didn’t like Christianity very much. Darko, the guide for out walking tour, was funny and really knew his stuff.

Statue of Gregorius of Nin

Guitar at Diocletian's Palace

St. John the Baptist in Jupiter's Temple

Much of Game of Thrones was filmed in these parts. Darko pointed out to us where specific scenes were filmed, and being there did indeed jog the memory. There are moments where you feel like you’ve stepped into the TV show. He recounted scornfully that a small section of alley was blocked off for 5 days of production to create 19 seconds of footage in Season 5, and another alley was blocked for 3 days to create 11 seconds of footage in Season 3.

Game of Thrones Dragon's Lair Under Diocletian's Palace

Darko also gave us some insight into Croatian people. There’s a 25% unemployment rate. The men are notoriously lazy, and their priority is being macho and looking cool. Despite the lack of income, they do their best to impress women with money and fancy cars. And that’s what Croatian women respond to. It’s an interesting dynamic.

Crystal and I walked up Marjan Hill for a viewpoint over the city. Cicadas filled the trees around us, giving up a soundtrack for the steep and dreadfully hot hike up. The heat is seriously oppressive here. Shade is at a premium.

Split from Marjan Hill

Then back into the palace for a visit to the Cathedral and Bell Tower of St. Domnius. We did a lot of walking today. Crystal’s app says we did 14.5 miles and 35,000 steps.

If you travel long enough, eventually you’re going to see something bad. We returned to Bacvice Beach later in the afternoon to see if the scene had changed, and indeed it had, becoming a Vegas party with booming dance music and lots of younger people.

Bacvice Beach

As I was strolling along the beach admiring good-looking Croatians, a girl ran past me with panicked look on face. I turned to see an burly guy in water pulling the limp body of a 60-ish year old woman through waist-deep water to shore and yelling for help. There didn’t seem to be a lifeguard.

Right in front of me, two men hoisted her out of the water and up onto the concrete platform along the water’s edge. One of them checked for breathing and then turned her over, causing water to gush out of her mouth. Then chest compressions. They turned her again, and more water came gushing out. Then more chest compressions. It was all very hard to see.

A few minutes later, emergency medics arrived. A crowd, including many young children, gathered around the scene as the medics continued with furious chest compressions. At this point, we left. Maybe she had a heart attack or stroke or something in the water. Who knows. It was her time to go.

This experience affected me deeply for the rest of the day, and again as I am typing this a few days later. You don’t expect to see this kind of thing when you’re on vacation. But if there’s anything to get out of it, it’s that you have to make the most of your life, because you never know when it’s all going to end. In an uncomfortable sort of way, it’s reassurance that I’ve done the right thing by taking this crazy trip.

After a quiet dinner, we walked through the palace at night and found an American-sounding guy playing really chill covers with acoustic guitar in the main square. We sat with the crowd and listened and watched people dance. After a pretty heavy day, this seemed like a good way to end it.

Night at Diocletian's Palace

Tomorrow, we’re off to Hvar (GVAR), an island off the coast of Split.

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