Beaching in the Balkans

Community Highlights Europe Beaching in the Balkans

Well, we made it to Split!


Stepping out of the airport you see the Adriatic and the Dinaric alps and feel the salty breezes. We knew we were back at a beach town. I'll admit our first impression was a bit of culture shock and a "what did we do?" feeling. As we traveled from the airport and found our apartment building, we were struck by the Soviet era high-rises that appeared to get their last maintenance about the same time they were built. Our apartment is in one of these high-rise buildings built in 1972, they heyday of the Croatian economy.

You can see some of them in these sunset photos from our balcony.

At the time, I'm sure they were very modern. Our place is very large but looks like someone's Grandmother owned it and it hasn't been refurnished or updated since she did. We are also about a mile and a half from the old city and there aren't many restaurants or other services around (although we do have a grocery store three blocks away). So we were a bit worried about how this would all turn out.

But...we have found that each new place that shocks your senses at first soon becomes familiar. The eyes and mind have a way of getting used to the "otherness" and making it normal. We found this in our first trips to Central America and many places since. It also helps to understand the culture. In this case, Croatia did rather well in the Soviet-era. They enjoyed a certain amount of freedom of travel and economic development. After the fall and the crash, they suffered along with everyone else and then came the war in the 90's. Their economy is still not back to where it was and there are issues of corruption and stagnation, as well as very fresh and bitter memories of the war. So maybe it's understandable it's been hard to maintain their housing stock as they would want to do.

The thing is, as you get used to the starkness and ugliness of the infrastructure, you start to see the beauty. The water is amazingly clear and blue, the mountains make a gorgeous backdrop, and the tall cedars and pines scent the air.

Most of the beaches are rocky.

While we prefer sand, there is an upside. No sandy beach towels dragging sand into the apartment, no sand in your electronics, no sand blowing around when the wind comes up. The water is warm and on some days calm as a lake. We got some beach pads like the locals to "soften" the rocks and beach chairs and we're all set!

The beaches are really well maintained with showers and concessions. And there is a two+ mile "malecon" along the water all the way into the old town harbor. It reminds us a bit of La Paz. large_IMG_1849.JPGlarge_IMG_1885.JPG

And, it's only a ten minute walk down the hill to the beach from our place! Of course it's all UP HILL coming back and it's a pretty good climb. But we're getting used to that, too.

Sunsets from the deck are beautiful and the breeze cools the apartment so no A/C needed. We're all settled in now and really happy.


The heart of Split is the old town within the walls of Diocletian's Palace. Built in the 4th century AD by the Roman ruler Diocletius, it forms about half of the old city. It' a fascinating place because the town has grown up over centuries within the walls. There is layer upon layer of history in the architecture that reflects the many different cultures that have prevailed in this area over the centuries. The Roman walls still exist with their gates into the city and there are places you can still see the Roman roads and curbs.

And the Roman temple to Jupiter still stands wedged in among the other buildings.

The entry to the palace, some of the chambers, and the underground "caverns" (for those GOT lovers, it's where the dragons were kept) still stand integrated into the rest of the town.

There are Venetian palaces...large_c2cbcb70-b760-11e9-9fb3-f5b72def6a1a.JPG

Renaissance towers...large_IMG_1873.JPGlarge_c30a5b10-b760-11e9-9fb3-f5b72def6a1a.JPG

And tiny passageways between buildings.large_c3628d30-b760-11e9-9fb3-f5b72def6a1a.JPG

And to top it all of there is probably the best market we have had yet. Fruits, vegetables, as well as butchers and prepared roasted meats!

The food here is really good, too. Great bread, a focus on grilled meats and veggies, and really fresh ingredients. More to come of this fascinating place. We're holding off on some it until Courtney arrives for her stay. So excited she will get to experience this amazingly different place with us.

So stay tuned! We also have all of the islands yet to explore. Don't forget to follow us @arrradventures on InstaGram.

This featured blog entry was written by mrb430 from the blog Arrr Adventures.
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By mrb430

Posted Mon, Aug 05, 2019 | Croatia | Comments