As always, Mike and I think that we can do more in a day than we actually can. We recently visited the island of Brač. It is a 50-minute ferry ride from Split. I had mapped out a route that took us to both ends of the island and over to the main tourist town of Bol on the other side of the island. If you zoom in on our map you will see that we didn’t get to either end and we didn’t actually see Bol either, but we did drive through it. As I mentioned in my previous article Brač is known for its white stone that was used to build local palaces and cathedrals but was also shipped around the world and used in the building of the White House in Washington and Mike’s favourite building, the Parliament in Budapest. The stone masonry school in Pučišća on Brač, has been active for more than a century.
Mike and I wandered through some small, very old towns on the island. We spent some time in the historical centre of the island, the village of Škrip. To give you an idea of the age of Škrip, it was occupied by Illyrians prior to Roman occupation. The castle in Škrip is from the 16th century and largely in ruins. We walked into the inner courtyard of the castle and the first thing we saw was a laundry line for drying clothes. It looked very out of place, but it is nice to know that these historical buildings are still being put to good use. One little old lady with no English managed to communicate that two families lived in this castle. She pointed out her area and then the other family’s area. She wanted to sell us olive oil. We felt bad saying no. Almost everything in the centre of the island is built completely from stone including stone roofs (not clay tile but flat limestone), which looked quite unusual to us.
We wanted to visit two towns while we were on the island: Bol, the main tourist town and Supetar the largest town on the island and the town where the ferry arrives. Well none of this worked. We did drive into Bol. It was one of the most gorgeous drives we have been on. It wouldn’t be a good drive for anyone who gets car sick. We were driving up and down the mountain with views of the sea appearing and disappearing. It was just lovely. We had a ferry to catch back in Supetar and ended up not even getting out of the car in Bol. We probably spent well over an hour just getting to and leaving Bol without actually seeing the town, but we wouldn’t have missed it for anything. When we got to Supetar we went straight to the ferry docks and never saw that town either. So much for our plans.
We found out that our GPS tells us to “please leave the ferry” as it pulls into the dock to continue our routing. Just think, without technology we might still be stuck on the ferry.
It really surprises me how impressive I find these mountains made of rock. Given how much I love trees and the water I am surprised at how captivated I am with these barren, rocky mountains everywhere.
On a different day we visited a fortress in Klis, not far from Split. I am not sure why we found it quite so fascinating, it wasn’t large enough to have contained a full town within the fortress walls. It was built 2,000 years ago. Obviously, most of the remnants aren’t from that period. Some of the towers that used to be quite tall are now only one story high with the top stories have long since fallen down. For those of you who watch “Game of Thrones”, Klis appears in that show as the town of Meereen.
Mike and I had planned to bike from Split to visit the town of Trogir, but we chickened out. In so many places here the hills or mountains run right down into the sea. In 2015 National Geographic declared Trogir the most beautiful city-island in the world. Trogir is called a “museum city” with about 2,000 inhabitants in old Trogir. Trogir is set within medieval walls on a tiny island, linked by bridges to both the mainland and to the larger Čiovo Island. The island itself is about 500 metres or 1700 feet long and covers about 1.3 square kilometres ½ a square mile. The old town has retained many intact and beautiful buildings from its age of glory between the 13th and 15th centuries.
Trogir was founded by Greek colonists and tradesmen in the 3rd century BC. Stone weapons have been found from as far back as 45,000 BC i.e. The Old Stone Age. Our audio tour app said that the city square is dominated by the Cathedral of St. Lawrence, or St. John as it is called by the citizens. Unless there is some tie-in between St. Lawrence and St. John we have no idea why the Cathedral would have one name and be known by something else.
There was a sports field that was quite interesting. The football/soccer net at one end backed right on to a fort from the 1400s. The goal at the other end back on to a small defensive tower. I guess you find flat land wherever you can!
My apologies if you are you getting tired of me calling places “gorgeous or fascinating” but there just aren’t enough words in the English language to tell you how much this part of the world intrigues Mike and me.
The secondary roads here are sometimes very narrow and then just end in someone’s driveway. At one point driving home from Trogir, Mike seriously asked “are we still on the road?”. As a passenger that isn’t the most comforting thing to hear.
As we drive and walk around Croatia, we see many sights that we find interesting, even if they aren’t unique. Outside restaurants we often see what look like very small huts. They are really pig roasting barbeques built from brick complete with a roof. The other day we saw one outside an apartment building. The building that Mike and I live in has barbeques on the roof for residents to use to barbeque burgers and steaks. This one had a barbeque so that the residents could roast their own pigs. We often see men playing chess in the parks or outside cafés. Just like on television, it is only men, no women. I wonder why not.
The other day I was looking at some rocky mountains with a really sharp outline against a blue sky. There was not a single cloud and the sky was a solid deep blue. It reminded me of my mother saying that you couldn’t paint some scenes as they would just not look real even if they were. If I had photographed that mountain and blue sky it would have looked like I had made the blue deeper and smoother than reality. An hour later everything looked normal again with a few clouds and the sky a paler blue with shadings to lighter colours.
Our audio tour app took us to some more Roman ruins. The ancient Roman city of Salona was a very large town that had been the capitol of the Roman province of Dalmatia. Salona was first mentioned as an Illyrian town in 119 BC. It is fun wandering around some of these ruins in the sun, but I must admit that I prefer the old towns that are still standing and in use. It did feel special walking through the gates into the 2nd-century amphitheatre where the gladiators entered to fight. By the 5th century gladiators where banned from fighting each other in the stadium but they still fought animals in front of the crowds. The amphitheatre was destroyed in the 17th century by the Venetians to prevent it from being used as a refuge by Turkish raiders.
In our travels and tours, the start of Christianity is sometimes referenced. I found the information below quite interesting although I am sure that not everyone will agree. From the beginning, the Roman religion had many gods and spirits. They added to this group and included both Greek gods and a number adopted from foreign cults. As their empire expanded, the Romans refrained from imposing their own religious beliefs upon those they conquered. You might ask why Christianity then became such as target. To many, Christians offended the pax deorum or “peace of the gods”. Christians were the first group to insist that there was only on god and everyone had to worship their god. As history would have it, it was this attitude that caused the Romans to start attacking the Christians. The Roman Emperor Diocletian even had a Christian wife and allowed her to raise their daughter as a Christian. His reign did target and kill many Christians who thought that no-one should be worshipping false idols or the Roman gods.
I am writing this in our camper in the middle of another rain storm. This is our fourth day in a row of rain. We walked outside one evening in our rain coats into town for supper. We also spent a little time in a shopping mall nearby. Today is the opening day of the Croatia Boat Show in Split. We stayed here an extra day hoping to see this show. The forecast says that just before supper this evening, there might be a couple of hours where the chance of rain goes down to 30%. I don’t mind wandering in drizzle but pouring rain is a bit much. If the boats are open for touring, I can’t see getting in and out of shoes in the rain. If we get to the boat show, I will add an extra paragraph below. If this is the end you will know that we gave up. We leave tomorrow and plan to take our camper on a ferry to one of the many Croatian islands.