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PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 7:36 pm
by Charlie
Among the worst things that can happen to a seaboard city in peacetime is to be invaded by cruise ships, a fate that has befallen Dubrovnic in southern Croatia. As menacing as any battleship, these disproportionately huge vessels come slowly into view, dwarfing everything around them, and disgorging hordes of tourists who barely know where they are or why they have come. No doubt Dubrovnic is inherently a pretty little walled city with an interesting history, but I could not recommend a visit.

Split, on the other hand, is a totally different story. Half way up (or down, depending which way you are travelling) the coast, it centres on a Third century building constructed by Diocletian, a Roman Emperor who built himself a retirement home the size of a large British ministry headquarters. Amazingly, the building has been incorporated into the life of the current population, with people living upstairs and hanging their washing out, while along the seafront edge small shops and bars act as if there is nothing unusual in having the rear of their premises made out of Third Century stone walls. Inside is a rotunda, a circular space with a hole in the roof, providing the perfect acoustic space for local singers to gather to sing Klapa music - usually five to ten men, with a full range from baritone to high tenor, for whom singing is as natural and enjoyable as kicking a football or playing basketball. Who knew that doo wop is alive and well in Croatia?

Within a thirty minute walk in either direction from the sea front, you can reach stony beaches for a swim in water that still feels comfortably warm in October. In the background, an impressive mountain range forms a backdrop to rival those in Cape Town and Vancouver.

Definitely a place to go back to, with the best plan being to take a boat to a nearby island.