The boat arrived on schedule at 7 in Split, and then it took close to an hour to disembark (one small elevator) and get through customs. No difficult questions, and changing our Euros to Kuna, getting fresh money out of an ATM, and storing our luggage at the bus station was all painless. Then we hit the town, just taking it all in quietly.

I had never heard of Split, but the town has one claim to fame at least: the oldest continuously inhabited Roman palace. Built by Diocletian in 400 something, it was quickly adapted to other purposes, for instance private apartments. Even though we are now in a new country, and not even in western Europe any more, many things look similar since the Adriatic coast used to be part of the Venetian empire. The food in Croatia (pasta, lots of olive oil, fish dishes), and the general climate are also very similar, but the language is entirely different. We can often guess at the meaning of Italian phrases, but for Croatian that is not the case. (It feels like it’s another language rot13’ed.)

Diocletian's palace was quickly co-opted for other uses. It's kinda amazing to see how later centuries built stuff almost through the original Roman part. See in the second photo the right wal intersecting the Roman arch at a completely arbitrary place.

Split is a charming town. We walk around, taking it all in, and we have a very nice lunch at a small cafe. I’m drinking way too much coffee, because it’s all so good. The food is good too, and reasonably priced.

And we continue our random walking. Trudging up some stairs we are accosted by a woman asking us if we’re looking for the “stairs up the mountain”. We weren’t but maybe we should be? We follow her directions, and go up an endless stair case that first goes past a number of houses with nice gardens, and then comes out at a cafe with a terrace that has a good view of the city, and another slope later a 15th century church. And still we see steps going up….

First the steps bring us to a little zoo that is closed for renovation.

And then there is a sign that seems to say something about another 300 steps ahead of us. When we finally make it that high, we find an almost 360 degree view of Split, from something like 200 meters high. This is totally fantastic, and was not in our guidebook. Somewhat surprisingly we see many of the same plants we know from Texas, such as enormous century plants. There are also many butterflies, including ones that in the Netherlands I only knew from books.