Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Monday, May 31, 2010


I find the name odd, there is nothing splitting about Split. On the way to Split we were near the town of Šibenik and it said in our book there was a famous cathedral to view. We tried, but either the cathedral is so small we missed it, or it is not inside the town. The traffic was so bad, we split. (Pun intended.) Somehow churches and I don’t work out.
Once back on the main road along the coast, I saw a sign for a mechanic, car wash facility, etc. The place looked clean and well organized so I asked if the guy could fix my side stand. I lucked out, the owner spoke English well, he was part of a Croatian Motorcycle club and he was mechanically all set up and capable. His name is Romeo. He inspected my side stand with a strong light and he found that the whole stand was cracked way up under the bike. To unscrew all, to do a perfect repair job would have taken two days. I opted for him to electro weld the broken part while it was still on the bike. We fabricated some kind of addition to the existing side stand so it will not lean over so far. We found a piece of metal piping and with some thinking and tinkering we came up with a workable do-hickey of a side stand.
It looks funny yet works just great. It is strong and welded well, reinforced inside with an iron bar and a screw was added to give some beef to an otherwise hollow section. Romeo’s son, Niko, drilled a few holes into my broken windshield and we kind of sewed the windshield together using plastic tie-mes. The windshield no longer flops in the wind. The whole fixing job took about 2 hours, a lot of effort went into the work and Romeo did a great job. Should you be stranded on the road near Split, email him. Or call his cell +385 91 5583853 (95 81 70700) he will more than help you get going in Croatia. Above his shop he has 2 apartments for rent in case it becomes a long repair. A food store is next door. You could survive there and have your bike well taken care of.
Carol carries a big volume of Frommer’s Eastern Europe. We use it to get our bearings and this book spells out that it is difficult and expensive to get a room in Split. When we entered the town I disregarded the “Do not enter” street sign and considered myself a ‘resident’ who is allowed to drive through some restricted streets. I immediately got a better understanding of the way Split is laid out. Riding around, not through, the old part of the city helped me get my bearings. I saw a side street not far from the old walls and drove right in. I saw a sign, rooms for rent and stopped to take a closer look. Way in the back yard, down a step I saw the same sign again. Ok, I parked the bike, knocked at a door and an old lady cautiously opened the gate. Her English was poor, she spoke no German and my Croatian is non-existent. I checked out the room but did not check out the bathroom too closely. The bathroom was down the hall, it was shared with the proprietors. I took the place for 2 nights and with a little haggling paid 400 Kuna (57 Euros) for the 2 days. No breakfast. It was a bargain especially since it came with a parking spot for 2 bikes, secure in the backyard of the house. The room was Spartan but very clean. The bathroom situation was challenging in the beginning, especially since it had no shower and there was a 15 inch (at least) step up into the bathroom but we managed just fine, using the hand held device as a shower and letting the water drip right onto the floor. Many places in the Balkans have such a bathroom set up. A hand held shower used in the tub, for example, without the shower curtain. No worry about where the water will fly. Just hold the gizmo against your skin and the water will not fly far. Works great! You hardy spill any water that way if you do it right.
The town of Split itself is worth a visit. I am not sure we needed the 2 days we had because after one day, one gets the hang of the place. Carol and I took a guided city tour for 100 Kuna plus we paid an additional 25 Kuna for the basement tour. Our guide spoke English well and the tour lasted about 1 hour plus.
The main attraction of Split is the Palace of Diocletian. Diocletian was a Roman Emperor (245 to 316 AD) who is the only Roman Emperor who ever abdicated his reign. While he was in office he had his retirement palace built near Salona (today Solin), the center of Roman activity in the Dalmatia. Diocletian’s planning worked out well, after 21 years on the throne he did move into his huge Palace which spans about 10 acres. Built with slave labor and begun in 293 it took 12 years to finish. The Emperor occupied the palace in 305 and after his death in 316 it was used by the Roman Government. Avars and Slavs attacked in the 7th Century and destroyed Salona, the major Roman city nearby. Split became the refuge for the remaining Roman citizens, who defended the Palace which has walls up to 6 feet thick and nearly 100 feet high at some points. There were so many people however, that the Palace was not big enough and people established a new town next to the Palace walls, today’s Split. Instead of ripping down the Roman Palace the folks then incorporated the walls, the rooms, the temples, the houses, the facilities into their new buildings. A major part of the Roman architecture was now part of the town. Restaurants had three new walls and another wall that was pure Roman, including columns that were stolen in ancient times from Egypt. Split is a mix of antiquity, of medieval structures and of layouts originating in Roman decree. The roads inside the old city are narrow, no vehicle is allowed within its walls. Specially constructed delivery platforms have been developed to deliver goods to stores. People that live inside these ancient walls, and some 3000 people still do, have their good delivered by these motorized contraptions.
Split today is not only the old town but continues up the hill and expands beyond the ancient area. Solin (Salona), the old Roman center of Dalmatia is only 6 Km away and is today a modern, albeit very industrial looking harbor town. If it were not for Diocletian retiring to his Palace, which today is called Split, Croatia would have lost out big. Split is a huge tourist mill, spitting out Euros, Dollars, and Kuna for Croatia on a daily basis. I guess a lot of Croatians owe Diocletian a huge thank you for providing a good life.

No comments: