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Clare
Clare

Day 1: Home to Split

I think we may have broken a record on this holiday for the earliest getting up ever when our alarms went off at 01.30 this morning. We had a 06.25 flight from Stansted to Split, which I can only assume seemed like a good idea at the point at which I booked it! It certainly didn't feel like a good idea when we had to drag ourselves out of bed after only a few hours' sleep and begin the long trek down to Stansted.

Stansted did, however, seem like a dream airport after flying from Luton last week (we managed to get breakfast - yay!) and we were also surprised by how good flying with Easyjet was. Everything from the check-in to boarding seemed to run just a little bit more smoothly than on Ryanair; we didn't get penned into any confined spaces, there were no aggressive fights in the queue from people refusing to accept that their hand baggage had to be put in the hold, and I even ended up with a window seat :)

Split airport isn't very big but I think it must rank as one of the most impressive airports I've ever landed at. The plane flew from the coast of Italy across the Adriatic and then over numerous Croatian islands as got closer to Split. It's one of those airports where almost right up until the moment you land, you can't actually see anywhere that looks either flat enough or dry enough for a plane to land, as the mountains come almost right down to the sea :)

It looked like a beautiful bright sunny day and as soon as we stepped off the aircraft we were hit by a wave of heat. Wow, it was hot - immediately it felt hotter than it had been even when we were in Spain and France in June! Within less than fifteen minutes we were through the (very casual) passport control, had collected our baggage and were out in the sunshine looking for the airport shuttle bus.

Things seemed to have progressed a bit in Split since we last flew here in 2013. At that time the airport shuttle bus only met flights of Croatia Airlines, so if you weren't flying with them, in order to get into the centre of Split you didn't have any option but to pay for a private taxi transfer. Now the airport shuttle appears to meet every flight and it's even possible to buy tickets online, although there isn't anything approaching a timetable on the website; just a message announcing that a bus will depart about 20 minutes after each flight lands.

The airport is situated about 25km outside Split, and so I wasn't expecting the bus journey to take very long. In the end it took nearly an hour, because there were some roadworks on the main coastal road. We were probably the only passengers who were happy about this, because we were trying to kill some time until it was possible to check into our apartment. Officially the check-in wasn't supposed to have been until 2pm, but I had contacted the apartment owner a few days ago to see whether we could turn up earlier, and he had agreed we could come at midday. It was about 09.30 when our plane landed and about 10.45 when we finally pulled in the bus station in Split, so there wasn't too much time left to kill.

We found a cafe not far from the bus station where we could stop for a drink and look over the walking instructions to the apartment. We were sitting partly in the shade under some sort of parasol but within 10 minutes I started to feel like I was already starting to turn an interesting shade of pink. I also had the realisation that I'd forgotten to pack my hat, which wasn't very clever of me!

Some of the reviews on booking.com had indicated that the apartment was difficult to find, but one of the reviewers had recommended turning off up a staircase next to a kebab shop and although that didn't sound terribly inspiring, when we did just that we found ourselves on a pretty little street and next to a big orange sign announcing the name of the apartments we were looking for. We were met by the owner who expressed surprise that I'd emailed him in Croatian and spoke to us in a mixture of English and Croatian as he told us a bit about Split and the apartment.

Beautiful as Split is, our first priority was to turn up the air-conditioning and have a nap! It was later in the afternoon by the time we ventured out for a stroll along the Riva (the promenade which runs along the sea front).

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As always, Split has some very impressive palm trees :)

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The further you walk around the sea front, the better the view you have of the city...

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...and of the mountains beyond.

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We enjoyed the view for a while before heading back into the old town.

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The main streets of Split are often very busy and cluttered up with market stalls selling sunglasses and flip-flops and other seaside accessories. Normally these are an annoyance but today they turned out to be useful because I managed to buy a cheap hat :)

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It didn't take long to reach the centre of the old town, where the cathedral of St Domnius towers above everything.

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There was something going on with Roman re-enactments today, and so in the square outside we found two men dressed as Roman soldiers.

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We enjoyed wandering round the old streets for a while.

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The centre of Split is built among the ruins of the Roman emperor Diocletian's palace, and there are interesting buildings at every turn.

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Every now and again you come to gaps in the town walls, through which you can get a tantalising glimpse down to the sea.

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Breakfast had been at 5am and we had missed lunch altogether, so by this time we were starting to feel pretty hungry. We decided to try and look for a pizzeria which we had eaten in last time we were in Split.

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We found it, and then remembered that last time we'd eaten there we'd had a jug of wine that was so horrible we couldn't actually drink it! When we had a proper look at the menu today we figured out why; we must have chosen the very cheapest "stolno vino" (table wine) as opposed to the wine which for only a few kunas more was labelled as "kvalitetno vino" (quality wine!). I decided to go for a glass of the kvalitetno vino today, and it turned out to be much nicer :)

Split is a very convenient place to travel to and it's been fun to visit it today. Tomorrow we are moving on though, via catamaran, to the island of Korčula :)

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