Croatia (2013)

The journey to Split

We fly to Split via Vienna, drag our suitcase to the appartment and then eat oliebollen on the boulevard. A good start to our vacation!

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Insurance products are commonly said to be obscure, with several parties standing in between you as a customer and the actual insurer, but other business can do an equally confusing job. The reason our story starts with this sentiment—other than an undoubtedly serious case of job conditioning—is that we are currently are in the middle of an Austrian Airways flight that we booked with Lufthansa, but is actually operated by Tyrolean Airways. Right.

Regardless of who is doing what, this morning flight will take us in slightly under two hours to Vienna. There, we will transfer to our flight to Split, which is our first destination. Our eye has fallen onto Croatia this year, since yesterday officially the newest addition to the European Union. The idea is to visit Split, Šibenik and Zadar, which all three lie on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Neither Vonne nor myself have been to Croatia before, but we have heard good things and are very curious!

After a short stop in Vienna we transfer to the second aircraft, which is operated in the same construction mentioned above. When originally leaving, we had entirely forgotten that checking in online is a thing in the 21st century. We only found out in the aircraft that the seats that were assigned to us at Schiphol Airport were all the way on the last row, with a generous and luxurious view onto a jet engine on the side of the fuselage.

Fortunately our boarding pass for the Vienna–Split flight tells us we are seated in row nine, so for the final hour we should have a proper view. And that would have been the case if row nine had not been right next to an emergency exit, leaving us with a flat grey doorpost and handle where the majestic view of a sunny southern Europe should have been. But hardly a cookie and a juice later, the pilot already announced that we have started our descent into Croatia. Split, here we come! Even if we can not actually see you.

Arrival in Split

Once landed, things go quickly. We descend the stairs from the aircraft into the Croatian sun and walk to the terminal of Split’s small airport. Or rather, I should say: Kaštela's, since the airport is actually a few villages down the road. A direct busline to Split is available and takes about half an hour. We find it easily and a short ride later we find ourselves in the warm sun at Split’s harbour, watching beautiful ships floating in obscenely blue water.

I just manage to prevent him from writing down my passport’s issue date and registering me as a 2-year old as well.

We set course in the direction of the appartment we have booked and drag our new and gargantuan travel bag behind us, which rolls through the streets of Split like a tank on two wheels. The advantage is that it holds pretty much all of our gear and does not need to be carried. The disadvantage is that it is quite heavy and about as manoeuverable as a grizzly in hibernation.

And so we hurtle into the street that should house our appartment, but where at one building we are not nearly at the number we are staying at, at the next building we are way past it. A few walks up and down and we realise that the numbering actually continues down a small side street where we find Ulica Plinarska № 65. A brief phonecall and the owner is headed our way to grant us access.

Ivica turns out to be a very friendly Croat who shows us into a very lovely appartement with a separate bedroom, a small kitchen, sitting area and balcony. After he fills out the required tourist registration forms, officially registering me as Ivan Vlaardingen (I just manage to prevent him from writing down my passport’s issue date and registering me as a 2-year old as well), he quickly fastens the toilet seat and offers an apology for the broken towel rack. He also quickly fetches a Split map to show us where we can find everything.

That last part is especially useful, as we do need to find a supermarket to get some needed supplies, such as drinks and breakfast. As it is approaching dinner time and we have spent most of the day travelling, we figure it is a good idea to get dinner at the supermarket and have a meal first. Which is what we do: after shopping, and relaxing on our balcony with a book and a meal, we have recuperated enough to head out for a bit.

On the boulevard

We head back towards the harbour, where there are a lot of boats offering day tours, passage to one of the islands or another town, or which you can privately rent. There are several nice looking tours, so we decide to check them out later in the week.

A bit further down there are a few boats which are quite clearly not for rent, and if they were, would probably cost more a day than our entire vacation put together. One of the yachts, sailing under Australian flag, has three decks, an indoor jacuzzi and a complete terrace on the back with illuminated stairs up and down into the waterline. Adjoining the terrace is roofed area containing a complete bar including stools and a giant flatscreen TV, currently displaying cartoons for the two children on board. Oh right, and the deck beneath the terrace has a large built-in acquarium. In case you are in the middle of the sea and have the irresistible urge to see some fish, I guess. At any rate, the picture is quite clear: I would not mind having a boat like that.

The boulevard along the harbour is quite busy: besides all the busy outdoor seating areas for the bars and restaurants, a Bulgarian pyrojuggler (one of those guys waving around buring torches without a barbecue being near or without lighting his pants on fire) and a group of dancers in traditional Croatian clothing are performing. In addition, there are also a variety of stalls offering treats, including one which serves fritule: fried dough balls which Vonne finds very interesting. Curious, she goes and gets herself a serving and returns with a large plastic cup with balls covered in powdered sugar. Guess what: they are miniature oliebollen! We have never seen them outside of the Netherlands, no one anywhere has heard of them, but here in Split, you stroll down the boulevard on a summer evening, eating small oliebollen from a cup. Who could have guessed.

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