All good things must come to an end and so it was time to wrap up our time sailing in Croatia. As I mentioned before, the penultimate stop we’ve made was in Brac, where we got our fill of swimming and relaxing and where some of us tried snorkeling for the very first time.
Thinking of all the napping done over the course of the previous 5 days, I wanted to ensure I have something to show for the 5 days spent on a sailing boat (since any form of tan is not really an option for this Snow White). So I asked our skipper Geoff to shows us some basic knots and he obliged with enthusiasm. According to him, we were pretty good. Although he did confuse me by trying the well-known “the rabbit hops out of the hole…” technique on sailing lines. I must say, I could barely comprehend how that works on shoe laces, so it went entirely over my head when done on massive ropes. But with Geoff’s encouragement, I felt like I’ve learnt something new and was quite content with my accomplishments. Before we knew it, we were approaching the Split marina.
One excruciatingly cold shower later, we were all set to hit the road of Split and Geoff arranged for our taxi, picking the most delightful young gentleman from a whole gaggle of taxis waiting around the marina. A short ride later, we were at the entrance to the Diocletian’s Palace. I have been to Rome numerous times, always appreciating the ancient ruins on display and was quite impressed with the medieval architecture of Korcula, from our earlier stop, but nothing prepared me for what awaits you inside this historical landmark.
Diocletian’s Palace is a complex of Roman ruins, build in 4 A.D. and intended for the emperor’s retirement. The term ‘palace’ is misleading because it is best described as a neighborhood, where some structures were intended for the emperor’s residence and the rest were earmarked for housing of troops and his entourage. From the size of what remains now, he obviously rolled with a crew that could make up a population of a small city. No wonder the site was used in the filming of Game of Thrones TV series.
The first unique thing about Diocletian’s Palace is that the entire structure is actually in use today. This is not the Roman Forum or Colosseum, which you enter to admire remains of the Eternal City’s glorious past. This is a functioning inhabited structure, where every nook and cranny is used to house shops, restaurants and bars.
The other unusual aspect of this attraction is that entrance is free, in stark contrast to what you are used to in other large European cities. We entered from the seaside promenade, by ducking into a nondescript small doorway and after a short walk down the semi-underground corridor, lined with jewelry vendors’ stalls, ascended into the beautiful courtyard, named the Peristyle.
And the Peristyle is truly the highlight of Split for me in its own right, totally unlike anything else I have ever experienced.
Once again, the square is in use on a daily basis and is lined with stands/stairs that actually serve as seating areas, complete with cushions and low-standing tables. Here the patrons can order drinks from the bar that provides bottle service and enjoy people-watching, taking in the details of the facade of Cathedral of Saint Domnius and the acting out of the Roman guard change that takes place on a daily basis.
However, none of the above is what made this place truly magical for me. The best and most vivid memory of my sailing vacation will always be the few hours we have spent, perched on the plush cushions and fragrant Croatian wine in hand, listening to the live music by a local band. Classic ballads soothe your mind, as they flow between the ancient arches of the palace that provide excellent acoustics for the best in pop, rock and country music. Passers-by can’t help themselves but take the center stage to dance, swaying in pairs to the electrifying tunes of salsa. This music lover was in heaven. I absolutely could not help myself but sway and sing along to the tunes of the band and ended up purchasing the album to try and recall that feeling of bliss long after the holiday is over.
When the band’s time was over, we took to the streets to hunt down some delicious gelato and having sated our sweet tooth cravings, went back to the marina to enjoy our very last night of the adventure that was sailing in Croatia.
If you want to make your own unforgettable memories sailing in Croatia, look no further than Med Sailing Holidays.