Trip Report: Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia,
Part 1, Split, Croatia
This is the first of several trip report postings on my recent solo trip to Croatia, Bosnia, and Slovenia. I am deeply grateful for all of the wisdom and info that I have gleaned from this forum over the last several years, so hope that I can give back a bit with this series of trip reports from the Balkans. I am a single 60ish woman, and planned this solo 2-week trip over a number of months, relying heavily on "Rick Steves Croatia/Slovenia" (includes Mostar, Bosnia), tripadvisor, Rough Guides, booking.com, and this forum. My nights were: 2 nights Split; 3 nights Dubrovnik; 2 nights Mostar; 2 nights Sarajevo; 3 nights Ljubljana; 2 nights Venice. I flew into Split, Croatia, using United points and home out of Venice using Delta points. My flight from New Orleans called on flight changes in Chicago and then in London. I arrived at Heathrow and had 5 hours to transfer to a flight to Split on Croatia Airlines out of Gatwick. This turned out to be a much more arduous transfer than I had anticipated; the walk through Heathrow with baggage (carry on only, the entire trip) felt to be well over a mile, and I needed the full five hours to find the Heathrow bus station, take the direct bus (booked ahead of time online, so had ticket in hand and didn't need to find a ticket line), and then deal with multiple security lines in Gatwick.
Once in Split, I had planned to take the bus from the airport to the central bus station along the waterfront in Split (as per RS's advice in the book), and had chosen a room in the Old City/Diocletian's Palace - within walking distance of the waterfront main bus station. However, nice folks on my flight offered me a ride in their pre-booked private shuttle to within walking distance of the Old City. I had booked at Toni Palace, and was given instructions about how to walk to the cathedral, from which I was to call them. However, the plane was late; it was now well past 10:00 pm; the gate into the Old City that I was to take had been locked, so I called Toni Palace, told them where I was, and a guy came to find me and escort me through the convoluted back alleyways, staircases and twisty turny streets that led to the hotel. Helpful hint: be SURE to have a phone that works in Croatia (I was on Verizon international plan). I am very good with maps, GPS, and directions, and studying "google maps street view" ahead of time, but the Diocletian Palace area is a whole different level of way finding.
Toni Palace was lovely. There are only 3 rooms, each with sofa, small fridge, desk, and well stocked, roomy bathrooms. The reception and breakfast area are on the ground floor, with the 3 rooms each on their own floor. The location is great; heavy windows kept out street noise; good AC; breakfast was good; comfy bed; I was right in the thick of Diocletian's Palace.
My one full day in Split was used to just wander and explore this amazing structure and city that has survived some 1,800 years of habitation. I joined the "City of Split Walking Tour" that I had pre-booked through Viator for $26 ("blue umbrella, outside Golden Gate") in order to get some understanding of where I was. The tour was well done, albeit with some 24 people in my group. The guide was smart, sensitive, and spoke English well and clearly. She was a graduate in archeology and focused on the Diocletian's Palace area, and also for a few minutes along the Riva (for bathroom and water break). I especially enjoyed the "klapa" music group singing in the Peristyle. I had an excellent lunch at Trattoria Bajamont (it's in the RS book) sitting in the breezy shaded area outside the restaurant. Fish "brodetto" is a local dish of two kinds of fish and polenta in a tasty thick red broth with herbs.