Happy 11th Birthday Jack! And Happy Independence Day America!
As is our preference, we enjoy balancing our time between anchorages and city life and the past few weeks has been a nice mix of both. There is no question that Jack, at 11 years old, prefers the anchorages and swimming and playing with his friends so, of course, that is exactly what we did on his birthday.
But being 4000 miles from a home in Florida which is surrounded by beautiful bays and water in which we could anchor at home anytime, spending too much time doing that, when there are towns and cities which hold the history of several ancient civilizations just a short trip away, is completely counter to what we are doing here.
So, we must work to strike a balance of meeting the needs of everyone on board, while not missing the reason to be here.
Leaving the anchorage mentioned in our last post, I was anxious to get to Split, Croatia. One would think that frequent travelers such as Alec and I would be more familiar with this amazing city – in fact, the whole country. As we meandered the tiny and ancient city within the walled Diocletian palace, Alec and I marveled at how crazy it was that this wasn’t way higher on our wish list. How was it that we were even unfamiliar with the city of Split? The second largest city in Croatia and the largest city in the Dalmatia region, we certainly didn’t expect all that we found.
Founded by the Greeks in the 3rd of 2nd century BC, but later it became a Roman settlement and the birthplace of Emperor Diocletian, who built his retirement home on the shores of the Adriatic. Diocletian’s palace would later provide shelter to Roman refugees during the invasion by the Slavs and Avars. The amazingly preserved ceilings and walls of the current markets place is due to its use as a garbage dump by the inhabitants and the reluctance of anyone to pillage any of the stone or metal holding the structure together.
SPLIT later became a Byzantine city and then Venetian – in fact, in 1797 when Venice fell to Napoleon, to the current day as part of the republic of Croatia, this city has been in the hands of the Kingdom of Italy, The French Empire, The Illyrian provinces, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, Yugoslavia, Germany and finally Croatia when Croatia seceded from Yugoslavia in the war of Independence in 1991.
Very high on our list of priorities for this town was a tour of Diocletian’s Palace. Because all our boat school families were also interested, we booked a tour which was to be 90 minutes. 2.5 hours later, our tour guide was still going strong, unfortunately, we were not. I wish I had a week to follow this incredibly passionate and knowledgeable guide around this city that he loved so much but we gained at least a bit of knowledge and certainly we will retain the passion with which he shared his love of this city.
I will only show you the photos rather than tell the stories since there is plenty of info on the web but what struck us as shocking is that even though the Diocletian’s palace is a UNESCO heritage site and a place absolutely teeming with history, it is still a home for a shocking number of inhabitants who are descendants of the refugees mentioned above. It would be difficult to purchase property within the walls due to the nearly impossible task of ascertaining provenance. It is surreal for us to walk amidst ruins 2000 years old and observe laundry and panties hanging in the breezes just next door. Of course, to the people who live here there is nothing in the world more natural. And the homes and businesses which exist here are lovely and perfectly congruous. It is just amazing to imagine someone looking out the window of their home to observe a Sphinx, imported from Egypt by Diocletian, sitting in the sun and elements from 3500 years ago.
Also high on the “Split” list was collecting Amazon presents, which we had shipped to the BWA Yacht Agent here. So presents collected and ready for Jacks Birthday celebration on the 4th, we spent only a few days here and continued…
TROGIR, a perfectly preserved old medieval town, though alive with over 2300 years of continuous inhabitation, is another UNESCO heritage site. We loved it here! The weather had cooled just enough after our Split visit to allow more time exploring the town and sites in the city. We enjoyed a slightly different tour hoping to engage Jack a bit more, and it included the Myths and Legends of the area. If I had to choose between Trogir and Split, I couldn’t do it, which is to say, if you find yourself visiting one, you must visit the other. I love markets and the one in Tragir was a terrific place to provision for Jack’s party.
I just had to put in the photo of the jack hammer operator working in his Speedo! No health and safety inspectors here! He didn’t even have on eye protection!
And I love boats! All boats. Even this adorable boat in front of us – I just wish she could tell us her stories…
KRKA, one of the 7 national parks in Croatia, is itself a reason to travel to Croatia. When I first began posting photos on social media about Croatia, numerous friends chimed in with “DON’T MISS KRKA”. So, it wasn’t long after our arrival that we began to plan this stop. Named after the river which flows into the magnificent water falls in this UNESCO Heritage site, the falls comprise 2/3 of the river. Only open in the summer, if you plan a visit to this region, don’t miss this amazing treasure. Aside from the magnificent falls, KRKA is home to over 800 species of plant life and over 200 species of birds. We heard so many sounds we were not able to identify among the 8 adults in our group. And Croatia has done a beautiful job of preserving and maintaining the place for future generations. The boardwalk, which winds through the park, protects the precious ecosystem. The exhibits offered along the way tell the story of the history of this park, which include the distinction of being the first in operation and the 2nd built, after the famous Niagara falls in Canada, to have a hydro-electric power plant.
From the entrance to the river at Sibenik, to the town of Skadrin, where we boarded our ferry for the very short ride into the park is approximately 10 km. En route is a spectacular lake where we were spent a couple of nights enjoying swimming and peaceful paddleboard. Regulations prohibit taking our own boat into the area of the falls and, due to a tragic drowning incident last year, swimming is no longer permitted in the falls area.
On our way out of the lake we decided to make a day of a trip to Sibenik. We are so glad that we did! According to our DK Eyewitness guide, Sibenik is not to be missed in this area and we couldn’t agree more. The oldest Croatian City in the Adriatic, and home to 2 UNESCO heritage sites, this city was founded by Croats in the 9th or 10th century. Claiming to be one of the best preserved and authentic medieval towns, the crown jewel is the St. James Cathedral and Town Hall. This cathedral may well be our favorite yet – not due to the size, which is almost quaint, but because of the lines and geometry which are so pleasing. Studied by architects and historians, this marvel is a testament to the knowledge that the builder had of the special stone that makes up 100% of this building. Mined from the local island of Brac, this beautiful limestone is strong and appears to defy the laws of nature in how small spans seem to support huge loads. An amusing anecdote about this gorgeous cathedral is that parishioners who were stingy and not willing to donate to the building were immortalized for over 600 years now on the cathedral in stone.
And finally, Jacks Birthday celebration. Gratitude reached a new record of hosting 16 people for dinner for Jacks 11th birthday celebration. What a tremendous blessing to be able to celebrate this happy day with so many friends. Thank you to the Gamblers, The Long Summer, The Beyond Capricorn, and The Aihe’s for coming to celebrate with us. The day was spent exactly as Jack had requested and he said it was his favorite one yet. We took the Big Bertha out and everyone who wanted a ride, got a ride. Even Moms and Dads!! Then we enjoyed a traditional 4th of July meal (Jack’s request) followed by a movie for the kiddos and some laughs and fun stories for the adults on the fly bridge. Thanks Phil and Donna (Beyond Capricorn N57) for the photos!
We continue to be blessed with great friendships so many miles from our home shores.
Enjoying another 2 nights at anchor in the Telascica park, we enjoyed swimming, SUPing, and resting. Who would think that at anchor, away from land and most human activity we would still be meeting new friends but alas, yesterday a man from a neighboring boat came by to offer suggestions and make dinner recommendations? Alec and I love this part of our exploration. Even in a park, at anchor, lovely people still come by to say hello and reach out across the culture and country barriers which might normally exist. Many thanks Wolfgang from Germany for photos and restaurant/anchorage suggestions. We hope to catch up with you another time.
We are getting close to our original time goals, and we are on track to collect our friends who are traveling in from the US in Zadar. We will be exploring the Northern Dalmatian coast over the next 2 weeks and then on to Venice on August 1, 2021.