Today started like most others so far on the cruise, with a call to maintenance to say our toilet was broken. This honestly happens nearly every day.
Hardy woke earlier than I would have liked but after some breakfast, some time in kids club (it’s back on the acceptable menu), and a swim and some lunch, we went downstairs to meet our tuk tuk driver. Yes, tuk tuk. The appeal of seeing Split via tuk tuk was obvious based on our track record.
We didn’t actually have anything booked so I frantically tried to call Viator when my online booking wouldn’t process this morning. They seemed very surprised when I wanted to book a same day tour. But because we were still cruising my reception kept cutting out. So I used the ship wifi to google tuk tuk tours in Split. And the first page said to contact them via WhatsApp, so I did. We agreed on a time, a price and length of tour. So easy!
The tuk tuk was more of the Indian style we have seen emerge in recent years in Cambodia as opposed to the motorcycle-led tuk tuks which are more traditional. But, it had seatbelts! They are still a novelty here which was noticeable because we got a lot of attention driving around, which I mostly put down to the fact he kept driving on what I assumed were pedestrian-only avenues, such as the main promenade.
Split is beautiful. A weird mish-mash of like Eastern Europe-style buildings with ancient Rome and Venetian influences. It has been occupied by many a kingdoms so that makes sense. It’s jewel is the Diocletian Palace, built by the Romans and manned by lovely art school students wearing traditional Roman/gladiator garb! We asked for one photo but they kept saying ‘ok now we pose like this’ ‘and like this’ and even let Hardy hold a ‘sword.’
We didn’t venture too far in because Hardy was approaching his midday mood. When we got back our tuk tuk driver, Draga, said ‘did you see such and such? How beautiful is it!’ ‘Ahh. Yeah Draga.. it’s very beautiful!’ Awks.
As a typical proud local tour guide he wanted to show us everything. Including the local rugby club (didn’t know they played but how good) and their “stadium”. He really was disappointed when the guards wouldn’t let us in because it was game day. But I was not. It was built in 1982 and you could tell. It looks as if they tried to build some kind of complex for a summer Olympics or something with a swimming and diving complex also onsite, but the glory never came. He basically showed me the Sleeman Centre.
The other major attraction in the area is their huge park. Not Krkka, but Suma Marjan which takes up a huge portion of headland. We went to the top-ish which had beautiful views over Split and the bay. I didn’t realise there were thousands of islands in this area, some of them inhabited but most of them not.
We continued our drive with Hardy hanging off every one of Draga’s words.
He politely tried to show me a few more sites but without me willing to get out of the tuk tuk without Hardy, we pressed on. One of the highlights was an absolutely beautiful crescent-shaped beach (Jezinac) which being a Sunday and very hot, was packed. The water was crystal clear and varying in aqua and blue tones. And with more sand than other European beaches, I don’t understand how Croatia isn’t more popular. I’d much prefer to holiday here with its chilled and unpretentious vibe that Nice or Amalfi any day. Ok maybe not Amalfi but still.
After a few more hit and miss locations Draga dropped us at another beach which was walking distance to the cruise port which was perfect. Hulk made waves amongst the locals as always. It was great – had actual sand and heaps of public space so you didn’t have to pay. It had about 50 metres of shallow water before it got even remotely deep, so it was perfect for Hardy. We played Hulk and smashed what little waves did eventually come our way.
Back on board I had finally realised our sea pass (like your on board ID card) had a dining time and table on it for a dining room we’d never been to. I can be a little slow off the mark I know.
We got there a bit early and a three-piece jazz band was playing in the “centrum”. Hardy said to me, ‘I like this kind of music did you know?’ ‘Do you want to go and watch them?’ ‘Ok!’ We sat on a lounge to the side and he genuinely seemed fixated. He put his arm around me and put mine around him and smiled up at me. Honestly, this kid. He kills me with his sweetness!
After a few minutes we went in to the dining room which had opened. Hardy in his cute button up shirt (Mitch and Noch it’s the one you got him with the flamingoes!) and we were shown to a large dining table. Naturally I panicked. I have to dine.. WITH OTHER PEOPLE?! No wonder my natural instinct had steered me away from reading fine print. It was also a three course meal but there were no prices on the menu and I thought surely this isn’t real??? How much will this cost me!?
But, fortunately two lovely couples joined us – one from US and Mexico, and the other from New Zealand. They were very lovely and the food was a thousand times’ better than the buffet. They were very interested to learn there was a kids menu which included a banana split (hence the name of this post) with one lady even asking if she could order it instead of the adult’s dessert (and she could!) I dare say we’ll be back.