Tag Archives: Split

Split to Zagreb to Belgrade, Serbia

11/17 – we got up early for the 8am train back to Zagreb. As soon as she heard us moving about, Pera brought down a tray of Turkish coffee and cookies to see us off. What a nice lady! We will miss her smile. If you’re ever in Split, you can’t do better than Apartment Pera. We found her on Booking.com.

When we were almost to Zagreb, we were informed that we would, once again, have to get off the train and get on a bus to get around a track problem. That’s the third time in a week! We hear that trains get less reliable from this point on, so this may be our new reality.

Got back to Zagreb in the late afternoon, where we are staying one night at the Palmer Hostel right near the train station. Very convenient, with a private room, and shared kitchen. We had a nice conversation with a retired Chinese couple who have been touring Europe for two months. They were excited that the U.S. and China had just extended visas for our respective countries to 10 years. Next year they plan to spend a nice long vacation touring the U.S.

This made us think about visas. We are swiftly running out of Europe, so I spent most of the evening looking into which countries in our near future require special visas, and how to get them. Turkey is first, and we secured that one online in about 10 minutes. The biggest problem looks like it’s going to be China, as you are supposed to apply from your home country. We couldn’t find any backpacker advice online that would help. Once we get to Istanbul, we will visit the Chinese Embassy, and see what alternatives are available to us.

11/18 – came downstairs for breakfast at the hostel, and someone had stolen our bananas! On closer inspection, Jim had put them on top of the fridge, which had a little sign that said it was a Free Food area. Oh well, some deserving backpacker was probably really happy to get some free bananas…

The train took us through some really pretty Croatian countryside, with the first sheep, pigs and horses we’ve seen in a while. IMG_4289.JPG




By 3pm we crossed into Serbia. Now we have been in three of the countries that used to be called Yugoslavia: Croatia, mostly Catholic, Bosnia-Herzegovina, mostly Muslim, and now Serbia, mostly Orthodox. We understand that Serbia shows the most scars from their war in the 1990s. Tomorrow we shall see.

Arrived in Belgrade on time (!), in the dark (streets not well lit) and cold! As in Brrrrrr! I’m going to need a hat! We had the street address for our apartment, but once we got there, it was in a big apartment building, and we could not see a way in. A young woman offered her assistance as we stood outside the door looking cold and confused. She called the phone number Jim had written down (our TMobile world plan doesn’t work in Serbia either), and told the landlord we were waiting outside. Our first Nice Person of Serbia! The landlord explained that he was illegally renting the apartment, which explained why there was no sign. Sheesh!

So now we are in our new cozy apartment, well fed with the omelette Jim fixed with supplies from the little market right down the street. We traded in our kuna for dinar, and we are ready to see Belgrade in the morning!


Medjugorje back to Split, Croatia

11/16 – well, there are things you can do, and things you can’t do, and it looks like traveling overland through Bosnia is one of the things we are just not going to do. Not impossible, but our options were limited and sounded unpleasant, so we opted to go back the way we came.

We got on the bus at Medjugorje for the four hour ride south to Split. Boarding with us was a man from Italy, who had filled up his entire rolling suitcase with big, dinner plate sized rocks taken from Apparition Hill, and had filled several plastic shopping bags with his displaced clothing. The bus driver told him the charge for stowing luggage was 8 kuna per bag, so he proceeded to unload the rocks one by one into the storage compartment, grunting with exertion, with the argument that if the rocks weren’t in a bag, he shouldn’t get charged! He went on to explain that he was bringing the rocks home as an inspiration to his poor, aged mother…. I think the driver gave up and let him stow the rocks. I would normally look aghast at someone helping themselves to parts of a shrine, but that hill won’t miss a few big rocks!

Unlike our ride north earlier in the week, the sun was shining and the clouds were awesome. Don’t you agree? These pix taken through the window of the moving bus: IMG_4227.JPG







So now we are back in our comfy apartment, and our lovely host Pera has left us more oranges and candies. It’s nice to be back home, if only for a day! Tomorrow, we take the train back to Zagreb.


Split to Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina

11/13 – yesterday the skies opened and the rain poured down, so we stayed close to home in our cozy apartment in Split. Our gracious landlady came down to make sure the water wasn’t coming in anywhere – there had been trouble with flooding before. We were nice and dry. She offered us more schnapps. Gotta love this place!

I spent most of the afternoon trying to plan the next leg of our journey. Jim wants to go to the pilgrimage town of Medjugorje, (Med you GOR ya) where the Virgin has been seen or heard daily for over 30 years.

We can get there easily enough on a Croatian bus from Split, in about 4 hours. The problem is where to go from there. Looking at a map, it appears to be a straight shot from there to Sarajevo, then northeast to Belgrade in Serbia, which is where we’d like to go. However, the nice folks at EuRail tell us that this train doesn’t run anymore, and the website for Bus Bosnia suggests that we rent a car! Oh well. The Bosnian infrastructure may have some issues. I’ll keep working on it.

The bus ride was tranquil, taking us up the coast advertised as the Croatian Riviera. Lots of posh hotels, casinos and yachts in the harbors. Only got a few pix, due to the rain.





After a short border check, we were in Bosnia, and the rain stopped. By 4pm, we found our apartment in one of many new buildings erected to support the influx of pilgrims. We have a brand new kitchen, and a washing machine that looks like a deluxe cheese grater!


Unfortunately, I hurt my hip lifting my pack this morning, and have been in considerable discomfort all day. I hope I can walk to the pilgrimage sites tomorrow.

Medjugorje was a small village prior to 1981, when six teens started reporting communications with Our Lady, Queen of Peace. The messages, sightings and miracles have been occurring daily since then, and over 40 million have visited the town, which has grown to support all the pilgrims who flock here. If you are not familiar with the history of the apparitions, you can read up on them at Medjugorje.org.

Monday in Split – Marjan Hill

11/10 – at the edge of the Riva is a staircase to Marjan (marYAN) Hill, Park and Forest, originally a recreational are for Emperor Diocletian and his people.

As soon as we started to ascend, we left the tourists behind.image



About halfway up the hill is a small chapel of St. Nikola, and a Jewish Cemetery, both locked.image



A gorgeous day.

Sunday in Split – the Riva

11/9 – here we are, back in summer! We left our quiet, pedestrian street, walked through the open-air market, and one block to the waterfront.image




The Split waterfront, called the Riva, has been compared to the Promenade de Anglais in Nice, and I can see why.

The town centers around Diocletian’s Palace, built in the year 300 by the Roman Emperor, as his vacation home. After the fall of Rome, the local people moved into the palace, and it is still in use today, filled with shops, restaurants, hotels, apartments and private homes.

In the palace is the Cathedral of St. Domnius, or St. Duje, the patron saint of Split. It was originally to be Diocletian’s Mausoleum. It is said to be the oldest cathedral in Christiandom, in that it has not been renovated or built over. St. Duje is interred in the sanctuary.





The carved wooden doors depict scenes from the life of Christ. There is a museum dedicated to the artwork on the doors.


Across from the sanctuary is the very small and plain Temple of Jupiter. Not sure who is actually buried here. A statue of John the Baptist hangs over the crypt.


The Cathedral is adorned by a tall tower, added circa 1200, that can be seen from any point in the city.image



As we are in the province of Dalmatia, I was pleased to see a local canine, sporting his spots:image

A beautiful town – so much to see!





Zagreb to Split, Croatia

11/8 – one train a day travels the 6 hours down From Zagreb to the southern shore of Croatia, and today we were on that train – the only passengers in the first class car, thanks to our EuRail pass. We are leaving autumn for one more glimpse of summer.

We saw additional signs of flooding, out our window.



An hour into the journey, our conductor informed us that we would be stopping and getting on a bus. Again?? I asked if it was due to a flood, and was told no, there was an accident. Did the train hit a car? Was everyone okay? No, an old man, and no. So we got another bus ride, and time to contemplate how quickly an ordinary day can turn into something else.

Back on the new train, we engaged our conductor in conversation. Her English is great, although she says her Italian is better. She has two teenaged daughters, one preparing for university, and one who would rather work for low wages. The economy is not good here, and really depends on the tourists.

We arrive in Split only 15 minutes late, although we had lost an hour due to the accident. It is very dark, and there are no street names on the corners. Jim is trying to follow his map, but in a short while, we know we are lost. A woman stops and looks at the address – it’s this way! Or maybe that way… She walks on.

Then a car pulls alongside, and a very American voice says, “You guys look lost. Do you speak English? Can I help?” He takes a look at the address, and recognizes it as the street where his in-laws live. He starts to direct us back the way we came, and then decides it would be easier to drive us there. Turns out he (a very tall man) went to Northwestern in Chicago on a basketball scholarship, and then moved back here with his wife and one year old daughter. We were only off by a block, and soon we are back on the street, thanking him profusely. Nice Person of Croatia!

We walked up our new (pedestrian only) street, looking for #63. When we found it, it looked dark and empty. We rang the bell, and a grandmotherly lady came down from the upper floor. “Oh, you’re here! I wasn’t expecting you til tomorrow!” Turns out we had made the online reservation for the wrong day. Sheesh! Our host Pera, assured us it was no problem, and offered us some schnapps. Another Nice Person of Croatia!

So here we are, a block from the beach. The weather is warm, and tomorrow we will see the city.