AirBnB: Split, Croatia; “Apartment Fonte Split”

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Apartment Fonte Split

Our apartment wish list in Split presented some challenges: We needed parking, but we wanted to be near the pedestrian old town. As always, I wanted value for our money (plus wi-fi, a washing machine, charm, a quiet place to sleep, a good host…). We really lucked out on all fronts in Split and ended up with one of our favorite AirBnB apartments to date…with a tiny caveat I’ll get to below.

Our host Vlatko was very responsive from the moment we booked. As promised, he was waiting in the street for us with his little boy when we arrived from Dubrovnik to “hold a parking place for us.” This was the first inkling that the billed guaranteed parking might not be so guaranteed; that caveat I mentioned. The parking turns out to be sort of a first-come–first-served affair at the end of the dead-end street on which the apartment sits.  David did his usual awesome job of maneuvering our bigger-than-expected rent car into the snug parking. Vlatko explained that there was “usually” parking and, if we happened to come back and there wasn’t any parking, we could just park in the paid lot next door and then look down from the apartment window until a free space opened up and move the car. Hmm. Not how I wanted to spend my time in Split. Despite this potential hitch, we actually didn’t have a problem getting free parking on our return from our one daytrip to Krka, Trogir and Solin.

The apartment itself is brand, spanking new and charmingly decorated. The building is old and has been in Vlatko’s family for generations, but it has been entirely remodeled with high-end appliances and fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom and good linens on the bed. A full-size washing machine was only a week old, still sported a sticker and required a quick turn of a spigot to get the water flowing for the first time. There’s a small restaurant across the street, but otherwise this is primarily a short, residential street and all was quiet at night save for one persistent bird.

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A pretty little park lies across the street that intersects the opening to the apartment street. The walls of the old city abut the park. The walk into the old city is no more than a few minutes.

On the last day during breakfast, I looked out to see a vehicle wedging itself into the deadend parking area of our street. Two couples had been inside, but now one man drove and the other directed him into an ever-more-stuck position. Their wives circled the vehicle, the wife of the driver finally wrapping her scarf around a short pole so that her husband could literally bump it as he reversed then move an inch or so forward as he tried to maneuver his way out. From my vantage point, it was clear that the man giving directions was directing the exact opposite of what should be done. I called David over to the window to witness the show and after watching a few minutes, he couldn’t resist calling down. It turned out the people below were from Canada so “hooray!” English would work. David took over directions and soon got them out of their dilemma, being proclaimed a hero by the ladies below. I couldn’t resist snapping a photo, so here’s a clear shot of, not only their  predicament, but also the free parking situation (ours is the black car to the far left) and the paid parking just up the steps:

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At $86/night, all taxes and fees included, the apartment fit my definition of value, taking into account typical rates for Split.

You can check out this apartment at: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/7261473?sug=50

If you’re new to AirBnB and want to give it a try on this or any other apartment, you can use my referral link which should get both of us $30 in AirBnB travel credit: http://www.airbnb.com/c/tcuthrell Let me know if you have any questions.

 

Split, Croatia: Old Town, Diocletian’s palace & Marjan Park

 

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Split had been a favorite of my boys and mine on that first visit to Croatia 13 years ago, and I was excited to return with David. It’s a fascinating place: a medieval city built into and incorporating the ruins of Roman emperor Diocletian’s palace. Happily, Split proved to be one of those places that’s just as good the second time around.

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Narodni Trg (National Square) in Split

As with Dubrovnik, tourism has boomed in Split in recent years and cruise ships periodically dump large crowds on the city, but Split managed to retain the charm I remembered in spite of it all. It’s popular with Croatians from surrounding areas as well and the cafés were filled on sunny weekend days. We ran into our young guide from the Winery Miloš with a girlfriend one evening and caught up with the status of the wine competition in the US. There’s always a kick to actually recognizing a familiar face in a foreign city.

Simply wandering the streets or the waterfront, enjoying a drink or a meal in one of the many cafés or restaurants constitute some of the greatest pleasures of Split. There aren’t a lot of paid must-see destinations in the old city. It’s more a matter of taking in the atmosphere and the most beautiful sights are free. The peristyle of Diocletian’s palace is magnificent and there for anyone to see, and you can wander for free among the vendor’s counters in the dark, cool cellar of the old palace. Likewise, the harbor front is open to everyone. There’s a fee to get into the church and crypt by the peristyle, but I was honestly underwhelmed. There’s a separate 20 Kuna charge to climb the bell tower and a fee to view some of the preserved ruins inside the cellar, neither of which tempted us.

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Diocletian’s peristyle
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Street entertainers by the peristyle
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Shopping in the cellar of the old palace

Another free outing, open to anyone who likes a hike is Marjan Park (“MAR-yan”) which occupies a large hill on a peninsula west of the city. The steps to access the park from the city begin off Marasovica ulica. There’s also an old Jewish cemetery in the park, old churches built into the hill and a zoo (not free). David and I spent hours walking the many steps to the top of the hill where a large cross perches high above the city then wandering footpaths down the other side. The terrace there offers spectacular views of water on three sides and the city. Continuing on small paths through the pine forest on the far side of the hill, we explore an old stone hut where I nearly stepped on a snake. Finally making it to the foot of the far side of the hill, we walked back to our left (west and then south) along the water. Unfortunately, the map we’d brought from our apartment didn’t show topography, so the restaurants we’d hope to stop at for lunch were on a beach far below the road we found ourselves on. It was a long hike back to Split proper and, while we enjoyed it, we were tired and very hungry by the time we made it back. (There were a bus stop or two, but none seemed to be running.)

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View back over Split from the overlook at the top of the first flight of stairs to Marjan Park
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Steps up to the topmost terrace with Croatian flag (and large cross beyond)
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Marjan Park main terrace
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Large cross just beyond main terrace of Marjan Park
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Smaller cross heading down mountain on the far side from Split
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Marjan Park: abandoned hut
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Snake near Marjan Park hut; I nearly stepped on this one

April 15-17, 2016