Europe 2.0 – Day 18 14 June

Today we caught a 9:30am ferry (Bura Line) from Split to Trogir – I suggested this because I wanted to try something besides bus so that we can fully appreciate being in the midst of the great blue sea. The ferry left shortly after we arrived and there was a queue to board so we barely managed to get a seat on the deck, which has tables. (I was eating fruits and drinking my half full/empty bottle of coke while enjoying the scenery.) I love how the winds create waves, which give rise to beautiful patterns in the sea. The day was sunny was usual but today there were more clouds so as the boat moved ahead, there were moments of shades and then very glaring brightness.

An hour later we arrived. Trogir was much, much smaller than I expected. (Should have done proper research beforehand besides the only knowledge that ‘it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site’, to which Ben informed me that Dubrovnik and Split are also under the UNESCO, and so are many places around the world lol). Nonetheless, the old town in Trogir didn’t disappoint – it is the best for me so far. I feel the Dubrovnik’s is too centred around its Stradun and crowded with people, whereas Split’s is not well preserved and more famous for its beautiful promenade. Trogir has a less touristy, more authentic old town and also a fantastic riverfront.

Walking through Trogir feels like walking around Venice but minus the canals and characteristic architecture. The similarity lies in the small alleys and relative peacefulness. Most structures are built out of large, white stones(?)/bricks and the ground as well (except they’re well polished after being walked on for many years). The main centre is based on a square consisting of the St Lawrence Cathedral and the town Loggia+clock tower. Besides this and the riverfront, which has many restaurants, other parts are pretty quaint and are dotted by a few souvenir shops maybe every few 100m.

We first visited the cathedral, which boasts a famous portal that is made by a famous Italian sculptor when Trogir was under the Republic of Venice. The bell tower was super scary to climb up;  unlike the one in Split, which was scary because its windows are huge and one mistake might just send you toppling to the ground floor, Trogir’s has very steep steps nearing its top. And the gaps are so huge that I was worried about toppling through them.

Later we had lunch by the river front – we shared a marinated chicken set that comes with soup and dessert, as well as a green risotto. Like all meals that we had in Croatia, they were super tasty and we were filled afterwards.

With energy to spare, we walked to the Kamerlengo Castle but it was not well preserved/super impressive and required an entrance fee so we gave it a miss. I suggested that we go to Okrug beach (more for me because I was ready to swim) but it would be 5km by foot or 4sgd by boat for one way – too inconvenient/expensive.

So we had a leisurely stroll around Trogir, where I discovered its pristine, rustic charm. I bought lavender gifts for the 3rd consecutive day haha and we headed back to Split by bus (instead of ferry). The return trip was about 3sgd cheaper and 10min faster. We were asleep for most of the journey.

As it was a public bus, it parked at an unfamiliar terminal so we walked back to the hostel and I came out again to visit Bacvice Beach (AGAIN) because I’m just so sentimental and caught up about the value of ‘last time’ (for most people, they’d treasure their firsts more, I guess). I found a shorter route to get there this time (heh) but unfortunately I was kinda self-conscious about my one-piece to fully enjoy myself. There were more people (many local teenagers playing ball) plus the waves were more choppy, so I didn’t stay for long. We bathed and went out for dinner nearby, which we both felt was a hidden gem because it doesn’t have any outdoors seats and is barely noticeable save for a menu outside the shop. Plus the prices were so reasonable and the variety was great – they had pasta, pizza, risotto, meat, fish, soup…everything. It wasn’t crowded and we even ordered beer to share while making plans for tomorrow. YAY 😀

 

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Europe 2.0 – Day 17 13 June

Today I was super reluctant to wake up because of a late night talking to 2 Korean guys who stay at our hostel! They’re really friendly and funny haha! We talked about many things, like travels, our age (both of them looked so much younger than their real age), Korean fashion and the incident of how their ‘waterproof’ pouches gave up on them just when they decided to bring it to the sea. All the best to them on fixing it!

The hostel is so good – besides everything being twin, there’s air con and also both the bed and blankets are thick . The pillow is non existent but everything else were perfect for such a low cost room.

I dragged myself outta bed at 8am and we headed to green market, which is really small but I expected it to be huge (and same expectations were applied for Croatia attractions so far, so I feel that I overbooked our time here… Oh Wells.) And most vendors were selling the same thing – cherries (a lot), other fruits, veggies, meat… Not a lot of variety or uniqueness unlike Asian markets imo.

We bought some strawberries and tried Burek, a local bread which is kinda like oily puff pastry w cheese inside. I really liked it a lot cuz the inside is chewy. ^^

Later we headed to the wet market, which was even smaller lol. Nothing much to see. We bought a goggles for me, went back and out again to Bacvice Beach. It wasn’t as crowded as I imagined! At least there was space on the sandy part to suntan/rest and in the ocean to swim about without bumping into others. The waters were super clear as I waded into it, and I could see beautiful patterns on the sand underneath me. So perfect.
YS ate her fruits while watching me swim. It’s my first time swimming in a beach/swim, not just waddling or playing. And it feels good because one moment I’m swimming in warm waters, and the next it’s very cooling. Super enjoyable. I was the only few in a one piece though oops.

Later we walked to Firule beach, which is 10mins by foot along the coast. It’s smaller and more sparse but for a reason – trees lining the pavement lie quite closely to it and so there’s many dead leaves in the sea… Not to my liking so we decided to head back before I even spent much time in the waters.

Along the way, we passed by a jumping board about 1m above the sea surface and I was tempted to make the leap because I saw other younger (and BRAVER) boys doing it – seems fun and it is something new to me. What happened next is something so embarrassing that I will not forget for the rest of my life.

YS found a shady spot to rest while I walked towards the platform with gusto. It was not a difficult feat, I thought. But when I looked down, I felt SO SCARED HAHAHA! Perhaps because I haven’t done this before, the uncertainty of whether I would crash into some rocks and to my death was overwhelming. The distance between me and the sea surface was unnerving even though it is, only 1m. So I walked forward, stopped, walked back, stopped, contemplated, shouted some stuff to YS about how scared I was, squatted down and considered to jump from a sitting position. I did this for about 5 minutes and decided that I had to consult YS for advice and some encouragement.

She gave me a lot of practical info – such as how the younger boys (maybe age only 7-8 years old) survived and how she and her friends jumped from higher heights (30m/60m) in Boracay beach and also survived. Ready, I went again but did the same routine of being terrified.

Just then, a little boy came close to the platform and just as I hoped, he wanted to jump as well. I gave way to him and within a few seconds, he was in the sea! BRAVO! Using this optimism, I also quickly followed suit before I chickened out again.

SPLASH! All the salt water went into my nose and the impact wasn’t too pleasant, but THERE I DID IT! 1m jumping * insert moon face *

We walked back to Bacvice again so I could swim again in the sweet, clear, salty blue sea. ^^ Suntanning myself dry, we walked back to the hostel to wash up. Evening’s programme was to visit Marjan Hill Park by bicycle.

The rental was crazy expensive and the vendors weren’t friendly at all… 😡 To make it worse, the ride up to the park was extremely unenjoyable. We had to cycle alongside cars on roads that aren’t super wide. Drivers in Croatia, as far as I knew, aren’t the kindest people on the roads. (The pavements? They are not wide enough either and there were many passers-by. Also not smooth at all, with cracks, holes and what have you.) The curbs do not slope off at their edges and sometimes, only one side of the road has pavement to walk/ride on, so we had to switch sides several times. I was frustrated and worried to no ends to enjoy the scenery, so I gave up and parked it somewhere to retrieve later.

The irony is that in the park itself, cars are prohibited so they were safe to ride on. But by then, I had given up on cycling so walking was the way to go. I didn’t mind, since I could stop easily to take photos whenever I wanted, and fully soak in the environment. After an hour or so, we arrived at the panoramic viewpoint, where we could see the land that both Trogir and the Slatine beach are located. So needless to say, we also had a fantastic view of the sea and sky – very wide and unobstructed.I was reminded of our hike in Riomaggorie, where we admired the beautiful Adriatic sea as well.

It was relaxing to look at the waves, observe the gradient of the sky and watch boats go in and out of our view. I closed my eyes and could hear children playing at the beach, the gentle splashing of the waves, the soft hum of the boat engine, occasional people speaking and bicycles whirring past. We stopped here for around 15-20 minutes and began to make our descent.

Dinner (around 9pm-ish) was at a burger bar, where we shared a pulled pork burger and ‘Toto burger’, a specialty of the shop. Then we walked by the promenade watched the lights of boats and nearby restaurants. It was very romantic. 😉 Along the way we bought some gifts and headed back for a good night’s rest.

Europe 2.0 – Day 16 12 June

Oh no… We are almost halfway through our trip! T^T Despite the small booboo, Yue Shan and I are still enjoying Europe very much.

Today we woke up at 6AM (SO EARLY) to catch our 7:15am bus to Split. Unlike our previous drivers, we had someone who had a sense of urgency and arrived 20mins than planned! (The bus driver had to specially come to let us know that we have reached our destination. I was still drowsy and half awake when we collected our backpacks and walked to our hostel.)

I LOVE OUR HOSTEL! We have a twin bedroom this time, and everything is SEPARATE. I love YS but sharing a double bed was sometimes frustrating because we are also fighting over one blanket or for space on the bed. This time, even the wardrobe is divided so yay, also no fighting for the hangers!

After checking in, we went to a bistro near our place, where YS and I shared a Lasos wrap (smoked salmon and cheese) and meatballs+mashed potatoes. It was cheap and really filling and off we went to the old town. We entered the Diocletian’s Palace without even knowing because most parts of the old town was already in ruins and made up of the palace. First we visited the St Dominius Cathedral, which is really small and had only 16 chairs in the main octagonal section (and other benches at the peripheries of the church). It is said to be the oldest and most well maintained Roman church in the entire Europe.

Then we headed to the bell tower, which is said to have the best views of the city and certainly it didn’t disappoint because we could admire the beautiful promenade from a bird’s eye view (perfect), the old town (perfect) and the surrounding neighbourhood (perfect). We also visited the crypt (dedicated to St Lucy), treasury and baptistery (same thing as the temple of Jupiter), which were all included in our ticket.

The surrounding area made up the rest of the palace but was in ruins. There’s also a small community of people living there. For dinner, we went to Kantun Paulina (recommended by one of the staff in our hostel) and had delicious and affordable Cevapi, a traditional local dish that is grilled skinless mutton, served with chilli (as in blended bell peppers), sour cream and onions. Perfect! We then wandered around aimlessly because this area had many shops like ice cream shacks, bars, supermarkets and travel agencies. By 10pm we were already back in our hostel, ready to rest…ahhh~