Croatia 2016 Day 7 – Diocletian Palace and Split Old Town

This day was a holiday break within our holiday trip as we woke up at 830 even though we have our alarm clocks set at 730. Did our usual preps while waiting for baby K to wake up at 9am. Carried out our usual routine and had our breakfast bought from bakery the day before.

We only managed to leave the apartment at 1030am and we proceeded to walk to the Green Market. It was a huge area just in front of Diocletian Palace with quite a lot of stalls grouped by trade selling anything from foodstuff to other products – mommy bought some shorts from there.

Green Market with the crowd
Fresh produce

Our first destination was the commanding bell tower that stood tall overlooking Split. To reached the top for the birds’ eye view, we had to pay 20kunas to climb it. After negotiating the stairway lined along the walls of the squarish tower, with dual direction human traffic, we were finally greeted by first many bells and then by the beautiful port view of Split. Baby K was fascinated by bells and was looking at them through the fence.

Bell tower of the Diocletian Palace
Entrance to the bell tower.
Bell tower tickets.
Round and round down the bell tower
Many bells
Panoramic view of Split from the bell tower
Steep steps

After exiting the towering bell tower, we walked through the peristyle and entered the vestibule (circular bricked building with a circular opening at the top) to find a cappella group of 4 singing traditional tunes (and selling their CDs). To continue our exploration, we walked through the vestibule and exited into narrow streets. Took some time to walk around and to find the way out as the streets felt like a maze, we could only see as far as the street ahead.

Singers in the vestibule.
Split old town streets like a maze

We walked around to look for Billa supermarket  as we were trying to get small packet milk for baby K. We weren’t able to find suitable ones as those were normally 0.5L. We ended up buying goats’ milk. After that, we walked towards the port and bought some crepes from mobile stalls for lunch. The riviera was lined with trees which provided shade for us while we ate and K walked around. We then took the street behind the old town back to the apartment.

Narodni Trg clock
Narodni Trg
Interesting statues by the side of the walls.
Nutella crepes
Crepes stall

Baby K ate lunch in the apartment and I bathed him before sending him to bed for an afternoon nap after drinking goat milk (which he liked!). Mommy also slept at the same time.

I had some time to myself and so ventured out to Bacvice beach to have a look. It was a small beach and I didn’t stay long as there wasn’t much to see. I proceeded to walk to the port, trying my luck in getting the region exclusive Mr. Mime for Pokemon Go. Continued to walk till I arrived at the Split bell tower back in the old town and re-entered using the same tickets, after explaining that I was here earlier in the day and asked if i could re-enter (thankfully the person at the counter didn’t mind). I went back up where the bells were and took some photos of them, since baby K would be delighted to see them on photos too.

Bacvice beach
Bacvice beach of Split

Then I proceeded to one of the many stalls set up outside the old town walls and purchased another pair of shorts for mommy, as she had purchased earlier and found them nice. I continued on foot found some of the areas we missed earlier in the day,  places like the cathedral, the crypt, the temple of Jupiter, and palace basement. I then returned to the room and found K still sleeping while mommy had started cooking his dinner.

Shopping underground.
Palace basement
Statue of Gregory of Nin.
Fresh water.

K finally awoke from his nap at 6pm and we then left for old town. I brought them to  the few attractions, first to the Temple of Jupiter for just 20 kuna which it was very small itself.  By the time we crossed the street over to the Cathedral and crypt, they were both closed.  We then continued to explore the palace basement for another 20kuna. It was a huge area but mostly empty spaces. There were some floating balloons as exhibits too which baby K liked to pass by them as I carry him, and also some old pillars.

Statue inside the temple of Jupiter.
View of palace from the top
Palace compounds
Huge basement
Exhibits of pillars
…of statues…
…of balloons…

After the attractions, we returned to Billa supermarket to buy more goat milk since he liked it. After that we proceeded to a restaurant at the square, called Caffe Bar Pivnica Plac. Ordered pasta and curry chicken pasta but it was kinda salty, all for 180kuna.

Billa supermarket
Curry chicken
Pivnica Plac

After dinner, we walked to the port and played Pokemon Go for a little. There were lures at Pokestops and a couple of gamers camping there too. Got ourselves an almond gelato 8 kuna en-route back to the apartment.

Back at the room, it was cleaning up and bathing before feeding baby K milk and sleep.

Croatia 2016 Day 6 –  Krka National Park waterfalls and Sibenik

Back to normal morning routine, by the time we were done 930am.

We were visiting the Krka National park and it was going to be our first drive out of the tight spaces. As I had parked head first into the carpark, I wanted to do a “many point turn” so that I could just drive out – it was a bad decision. After reversing onto the road, mommy got out of the car to help guide me as I struggled but the 2 cars parked along the road made it impossible for me to drive out. Baby K was cranky after sitting in the back seat for too long made it all the more frustrating. Tried to go back to the landlord for help but no one was to be found. It was then the neighbor who parked one of the cars by the road side came out, a face of displeasure and mouthful of complaints saying that we had hit her car (which we didn’t of course). She told us to stop moving and she got into her car, maneuver it onto the kerb and created space for us to drive out. We thanked her, which made her feel better, before we drove the car out to the main road and towards the national park.

The drive to the park was fairly easy, just about getting onto the highway and followed the GPS to Skradin for about an hour. The toll was 31 kuna. When we got close to the parking lot, we were welcomed by a lot of (fake) parking attendants, all seen wearing the “P” Tee. Learning from my lesson in Mostar, I stuck to GPS route that brought us right to the correct carpark.

Toll receipt
Skradin car park

We entered the tourist information center but there weren’t much to see (the payable restroom was public one and located outside the building) and I had earlier purchased the tickets online in Singapore. The boat however was running on a schedule so I went to get lunch first. There were many stalls along the walking pavement near the port and I bought 2 large ham and cheese for 54kuna and one ice coffee 30kuna from the food stalls there. At the same time while having the sandwiches, we fed baby K. Couldn’t finish the huge sandwich and we proceeded to board the 12pm boat (we missed one that left earlier at 1130 because we thought the frequency was by the hour).

Tourist information
Boat transfer from Skradin
Skradin dock
Fast food for lunch
Ice coffee
Ham and cheese sandwich
Boat transfer to Krka waterfalls
On board the boat

The boat ride from the port to the falls was a 20mins slow gentle ride. The surrounding wasn’t very much interesting as the river meandered between trees towards the disembarkation location at the falls. We got off the boat with lots of passengers and as we walked towards the falls crossing crowded bridge, we passed the ticket counter which already had a queue. With the printed tickets, we walked to the entrance route of the falls manned by 3 staffs. Upon showing my printed tickets, they said that it had to be exchanged at the ticket counter! Mommy went back to queue and got the exchange while I let baby K enjoy kicking the small rocks on the ground.

Entrance to the falls
Ticket counter

It was a very busy day with many people streaming into the park. The falls were pretty close to the entrance and we walked onto the bridge where we could see the majestic falls and the many people having a dip in the lake in which the falls send the waters. Tried to take some photos on the narrow bridge, difficult but we managed with a selfie. We continued through the bridge and then there was some steps that brought us further upstream. We could see there were still some smaller falls and had to go close to the waters that were fenced up to prevent people from going into the rushing waters. We didn’t venture further upstream (as we didn’t know if there were more or not).

Dipping in the waters
Upstream of the falls
Gushing waters

As we return crossing the same bridge, I was very interested in getting my feet wet by the lake and taking a dip but mommy was overly concerned and I to give up the idea, disappointingly. We walked all the way back to the pier to wait for the next ferry, which already had a crowd waiting. We managed to board the 130pm return.

Dock at the falls
Leaving the waterfalls

As we returned back to Skradin, we got ourselves some icecream at one of the stalls and drinks and before going back to our car. There were still a couple of places to go and off we went after following the GPS route to Roski Slap. The toddler was quick to fall asleep during the drive there. The route got more difficult as we approached the falls and become single lane which I wasn’t comfortable with as it would be a problem if a car in the opposite direction came but thankfully none did. After merging from the 1 lane route onto a clearing, the park attendants directed me to park a clearing atop a small slope as the main carparks were full.

Mommy and I had to take turns to go see the Roski Slap since baby K was sleeping in the car. With the same tickets I walked to the entrance not too far from the car park and advanced quickly downhill. It wasn’t a straight forward route as there weren’t signs but it was not difficult to find either. The Roski Slap was just one falls and from the place that I could see, it was quite far away and didn’t turn out to be as majestic as I had in mind. After a few snaps, I returned to the car so that mommy could go see the falls. While in the car, I couldn’t do much as there wasn’t any signal for mifi. Mommy returned soon and we decided to skip visiting the smaller multiple necklaces falls as it was about 1.35km away.

Walking path to Roskic Slap
Roski Slap
Little falls

Our last nature viewing for the day was to check out the view point called the Visovac lookout. From there one could see a tiny small island with a church in the middle of the river. It wasn’t far from the Roski Slap and we soon found ourselves on a major clearing where I parked the car so that we could go look over the cliff at the island. Again we took turns, I went first followed by Mommy. There was in fact a way to visit the island by taking a boat but we weren’t that interested.

Visovac pano view

Baby K woke up from his nap as we embarked on our journey to a nearby town Sibenik. Worried that parking could be a problem at the old town, I parked at a carpark meant for ferry passengers which had barely a few cars but at about 750meters away from old town. Approaching the old town, we visited a supermarket to buy yogurt. Supermarketing became like a habit that we had to do it at the different towns, as we stocked up our supplies of bottled water and foodstuff for baby K.

There wasn’t an itinerary for Sibenik since it was an ad-hoc visit knowing that it was just 30mins away from Krka NP. We thought of just lounging by the port and so tried to find a cafe. As we walked around the old town, it was like walking in a maze, not knowing where the route would lead us. After heading in the general direction with google map, we finally found the Rivera with cafes by the sea and went into one.

Fountain at Sibenik

I was in an urgent need to pee but as I visited the cafe’s one and only restroom, it was busy and I had to hold it until it was available ( there was someone shitting behind unlockable doors.) we ordered a scoop of vanilla icecream, sprite and Coke Zero to cool ourselves from the heat and baby K delighted to have his first taste of icecream after having his yogurt.

Sibenik cafes
Sibenik port

After our short lounging session, we walked back to the carpark and paid 12kuna for carpark. Then the return on the highway to Split resulted in a toll of 27kuna. With the previous disastrous parking the first day we arrived, I decided to try parking butt first and I found easier much easier in fact! However we couldn’t do it upon arrival as the private lot was chained up to prevent other people from parking. We had to get the landlord to help unlock the chain.

Toll tickets
Narrow road to the Airbnb parking

Mommy cooked while I did some washing of bottles and entertained K and cleaned K after he crapped. We only left the apartment again at 830pm for dinner in Split’s old town.

There were a variety restaurants to choose from and we entered one of the restaurants, De Belly which featured a live band, making the dining experience relaxing and also a distraction to keep baby K’s attention. Ordered mussels in white wine and turkey ham and it was not bad!

Bowl of mussels
Turkey ham
De Belly restaurant

After dinner we walked along Riveria to look at the mobile stalls selling things from food to souvenirs. The whole strip was lively with many restaurants, and it was a nice feeling to soak in that atmosphere. Baby K was walking about with me as we visited stall to stall. We returned back to the apartment late.

Shopping street
Split port night view
Split Riviera
Funny road sign

Bath time and it was off to bed.

Croatia 2016 Day 4 – Dubrovnik to Neum to Split

Woke up at about the same timing as pervious day. Baby K woke up rather early but thankfully he went back to sleep quickly. I went to the bakery to get some pastries for breakfast and 2 lattes from Lavazza. I managed to make a mess when I toppled my cup of coffee at the lift landing, which was quite frustrating since I have less one cup of coffee and also a little embarrassing.

Breakfast from bakery

Baby K woke by the time I returned. We would be visiting Dubrovnik old town to take the cable car in the morning. To save ourselves some time, mommy went to buy bus tickets from the kiosks while baby K and I went to the supermarket to get some banana (for baby K who was always constipated). There weren’t any fresh bananas stocked and the existing ones didn’t look edible we so didn’t buy any and proceeded to bus stop.

Bus schedule

Bus number 4 came and brought us to the same stop of at the old town but instead of going through the walls to the old town, we climbed the many flights of stairs to cable car street level. It was difficult with my extra 10kg on my hip seat but thankfully my frequent runs helped built the muscles for this.

Steps to cable car street level

A 5mins walk from the flight of steps brought us the Dubrovnik cable car station, the location obvious to spot as cable cars travel above the roofs of the houses below could be seen from the street. We got our return tickets for 120kunas per adult from the ticket counter just within the station’s confines. We got into front of the queue as the last one just left. We were glad that the cable car frequency was about 15 mins and with a limit in number of passengers per trip, there was comfortable space while in the cable car.

Dubrovnik cable car 1
Cable car tickets
Dubrovnik cable car

The cable car brought us upwards above the orange roofs, offering views of the old town and the coast line, all the way till the top station. The top station had various viewing decks where we took photos, a souvenir shop where we bought a tee and a restaurant. After we had our fill of the sights, we took the cable car back to ground station.

View from cable car station
Panoramic view of Dubrovnik from the cable car station
Goats on hill

Entered the old town through north entrance where we had a taste of the narrow cobbled alleys and many flights of stairs (in our minds we were glad we didn’t stay inside the old towns, this would be hell with our heavy luggage!). We got back out to bus stop where bus arrived just in time. After disembarking at Lapad, we took a short detour to check out the beach nearby, Lapad beach. This was a rocky beach, rather than a sandy one but the waters looked calm enough to swim in. We didn’t have time though.

Dubrovnik old town street
Lapad beach

Upon returning to the apartment, we completed our final packing and I brought the car seat and luggage down to the car in advance. Informed owner time of departure and owner got someone to come help with the check out whom also offered to help carry our barang barang but it was already not required. She escorted us right till we loaded up into the car and opened the private car park gate for us and we left.

The way to Split was the same route that we took in the opposite direction the previous day, coming back from Mostar. As it was going to be a long drive to Split, we split (pun intended) the journey into two, the first half being to Neum for a lunch break and the second half to Split itself. En-route to Neum was a town called Ston that could be worth visiting if we had more time. We arrived at the crossing pretty quickly and the officers at crossings waved us by just as quickly too. The gas at Bosnia was cheaper so I stopped by the gas station as soon as we were in Bosnia. I didn’t have any Marks with me and paid in kuna, a bad move as it resulted in the gas being more expensive. By right if I had pumped in Croatia, the rate was 1.8sgd/L while the rate in Bosnia was 1.45sgd/L. However the rate changed to 1.9/l when I paid in Kunas. I should have just paid in euros instead.

From the gas station it was just a short drive to Neum center. It was a quiet town and as it was the only Bosnian coastal town, I thought it would have been a little more touristy. We drove around trying to search for a restaurant that had parking and we did find one which had a terrace overlooking the bay. Parked by the roadside next to this restaurant Bonaca with a terrace and sat in. We were thinking that this location should offer great tasting seafood and ordered fish. I was asked to choose from a ice filled counter the fish that I wanted which was a first time for me. We also ordered a tuna steak and a tasty mushroom soup. The restaurant offered some starters, on the house, which was delicious. The fresh fish that I chose came after spending some time on the grill. As it was served on a tray, it was first deboned at the table next to ours before finally served to us. The sides were potatoes, vegs and fries. As it turned out, it was a pretty filling lunch and a nice lunch experience overall.

Cold dish
Mushroom soup
Deboning the fish
Tuna steak and fish
Bonaca restaurant

We left the restaurant and parked at Konzum supermarket for some grocery shopping. We bought bottled water and some milk and groceries, taking them back to Croatia and also taking advantage of the cheaper price in Bosnia.

Then the 2nd section began and we got on to A1 tolled highway. This road was fast at 130km/hr (and people go above that) and our trip to Split took about 1.5hrs ( GPS didn’t recommend that route but thankfully Google did). The toll ticket was dispensed at the station and returned to the cashier at the exit of the toll road form payment.

Toll tickets

The drive down to Split was mostly a nice easy drive until somewhere in the mountains where we met an ice storm and I didn’t know how to react. I continued on at a lower speed which was also too high (the width of the road gave the perception that I was slower already but still 90km/hr) and also realizing a little too late that pounding of the roof was not from liquid rain but solid ice pelts, the next thing I knew, the wiper wasn’t able to wipe off some frosty gash on windscreen. Eventually I lowered the speed further to a 50km/hr (or less, I couldn’t remember) crawl until we passed the area of storm. Then I realized why some cars chose to hide under the overpass. Paid the toll of 48kuna at the exit, expecting more to pay for the windscreen when I returned the car.

Gash on the windscreen

We arrived at 530pm into the city of Split. Common to European cities, there were narrow lanes and many cars, making driving a little difficult. On our first arrival, I missed the entry totally and had to circle around. The second time I arrived, I realized that the road was so narrow (and I was not confident) that I had to drive past it again. Found a place to stop and called Airbnb owner for help, she told us that we were on the correct road and asked us to wait for her on the road. We then stopped just before the small road trying to keep to the sides as much as possible in order not to obstruct traffic and within minutes, the owner drove by and signaled for us to follow. She then turned into the small lane. Gathering my courage, I followed slowly, trying my best to avoid hitting the car against the wall. The owner showed us on foot to the small car park lot next to the apartment and I had to maneuver a few times to get the whole car into the parallel lot with a kerb. As I drove head first into the lot, and with the owner’s guidance, I still stepped too heavily on the gas and slightly hit the front bumper of big car. The lady owner even offered to park for us initially but she couldn’t drive an automatic.

After sweating over parking, the host then showed us the apartment, which was a room that was split from the main building, and therefore much smaller than the one in Dubrovnik. It was beautifully decorated though. The host also brought over some home baked pastries made by her mother, which was irresistibly tasty.

Sitting area with TV
Toilet and shower
Tasty treats

Mommy cooked for baby K in the kitchenette separated by a curtain, while I entertained the little one. Then I went out to buy groceries from Tommy supermarket right across 2 streets, not too far away. Managed to get fish, banana, fresh milk and bread. After that, I went out a second time to get dinner, this time further away, from Split’s old town. The old town illuminated by modern street lighting, was beautiful at night, having the effect of the medieval town night lighted by fire without the flickering. There were still lots of people around, presumably the same objective as me, to get dinner and experienced history while at it. There were many restaurants, so I just chose one, named Konoba Fortuna, that was found in a narrow corridor and ordered spaghetti and chicken fillet for takeaways.

Tommy supermarket
Split old town gate
Bell tower
Peristyle at night
Square with restaurants
Konoba Fortuna

As I was done collecting the food, the drizzle that followed us from Dubrovnik began to drip from the clouds above and I picked up the pace to get back and avoided being drenched. I gave the little one a bath in the similarly (as in Dubrovnik) small bathing area. Here there was a stool that helped as I could sit and bath the toddler at the same time.

For dinner, mommy had the chicken fillet and felt that it was too salty while I had the spaghetti. As usual, I brought out the thrash to throw in the central bins just near the driveway and had my bath. Baby K went to bed by 945 since he missed the afternoon nap. His parents followed suit soon after as we needed to wake up early for tomorrow’s boat trip to Hvar.

Chicken fillet