croatia I: split

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In late April, right around Easter, I got a job offer in Nuremberg! Right in the city, even — not even in the surrounding area or requiring a not-quite-two-hour commute each way to Munich! And so at the end of April I put in my resignation with the law firm I’d been working for since August 2008, in Frankfurt since November 2009, and set about relocating to Nuremberg for a June 1st start date at a totally new job (Management Assistant) in a totally new industry (IT service provision). And in the middle of terminating my lease and turning over my apartment and moving my things and everything else, I realized that I had a week and a half of vacation to burn before I left my old company. Normal people might figure that a week and a half of vacation between jobs would be perfect to use to stay at home, relax, take care of German bureaucratic moving tasks, maybe get to know Nuremberg a little better. And then I thought, why hang out in Nuremberg by myself while Stephen is working when maybe my mom would like to come visit? And then I thought, to heck with this, I am going to be in Nuremberg all the time starting very soon and I cannot imagine what my mom and I would spend an entire week and a half doing in and around Nuremberg and all of the German bureaucratic needs will get taken care of somehow. Why don’t we go to Croatia instead?

So my last day at my old job was May 22nd, and at noon on May 23rd I was on a flight to Split. Generally I’m something of a planner — I feel better when I can go into a trip knowing where I’m going to sleep each night and more or less how to get between destinations and maybe have even glanced at a guidebook — but for this trip that just wasn’t happening, so I booked our flights and two nights at the top-rated hotel in Split according to Trip Advisor (Palace Judita Hotel, definitely deserving of its ranking) and trusted that we would work the rest out upon arrival. This turned out to mean that we threw ourselves upon the mercy of the hotel staff, who planned the rest of our trip for us, even buying our ferry tickets to Korčula for us and delivering us to the harbor in the golf cart they dubbed The Popemobile.

We were in Split at the beginning and the end of the trip, and rented bicycles on both ends to explore our towards the beaches. (Getting to the beaches from the old town is certainly doable but I’ve got a semi-busted foot so biking was better for me.) We’d been told at the beginning of the trip that Bačvice beach was super touristy and should be avoided, so at the start of the trip we went out the other direction, toward the vast greenness of Marjan hill and its less-touristed beaches. Keeping in mind that we were in Split in mid-to-late May, before the tourist season really gets into full swing, we actually ended up liking Bačvice and the other beaches out that direction the best — but we could see that once there were serious crowds it might be better to avoid that area.

Probably the best fish I ate the whole trip was on our first night in Split, at Chops Grill: grilled monkfish in a truffle sauce. The best take-this-and-make-it-at-home dish of the trip, at the restaurant on the base of the steps leading up to Hotel Slavija, where we stayed at the end of our trip: thinly sliced red cabbage with matchsticked apples and prunes dressed in olive oil and sea salt. I’ve been eating that, with added smoked tofu, for a lot of recent lunches. Best hot chocolate of the trip: at a cafe at Bačvice where we ran to take cover just after swimming and as a massive downpour began (one of exactly two rainstorms during our ten-day trip).

At the very end of our trip, we began to have some idea of what Split would be like during high season, which is to say, incredibly massively overcrowded. We were glad to have visited when we did. Toward the end of May is pretty much perfect in that area, or it was for us: warm during the day, water temperature a little bit brisk but definitely swimmable, cool enough to want a light jacket at night, not too many people. We were fans.

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