Here is my first update from Split, Croatia!
I’ve rented a one-bedroom apartment in the heart of Old Town that will be my home base for the next few weeks.
Getting here, though, was a bit more challenging than I expected. My flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt was delayed two hours, so I missed my connecting flight to Split. Luckily, United found me a flight from Frankfurt to Munich, and then Munich to Split – still arriving the same day, but a very long day.
Then, finally arriving in Split, I hired a taxi to take me to my apartment. But, not having done my homework, I didn’t realize that Old Town is pedestrian-only. The taxi driver could only drop me at the edge of Old Town, forcing me to walk the rest of the way. I didn't have a detailed map or functioning GPS on my iPhone. I only had a high-level screenshot I took from hotels.com. Any of you who have been to Split will understand the difficulty I faced. The maze of narrow, unmarked streets is quite difficult to navigate at first, even if you have a map!
As I lumbered through the streets with my bags (remember, I have an additional third bag this trip full of sailing gear), I asked a few people for help. I never like to be "that guy" - the obviously lost tourist stumbling around with his bags. But I was, this time.
A young woman named Darin was the most helpful. She left her position at a retail shop to walk around town with me until we finally found the apartment building. I repaid her that evening with a drink at the heavy metal bar “Splash” that she hangs out at. Meeting a few locals at a cool bar was a great way to end my long day of travel, even if I forgot to pack my Septicflesh or Deathstar concert T-shirts.
Over the weekend, I spent the afternoons walking along coastline around Old Town. The main beach is Bacvice Beach, to the south of Old Town. As the only sandy beach in the area, it is jam-packed with sun-worshippers. The shallow water extends for a couple hundred yards, which makes it the perfect spot for wading or playing with a small soccer ball or handball, while showing off your perfectly tan, fit body. I resisted the urge to do the same, and instead sat in the shade with a hat, a sandwich, and a cold beer-flavored water.
In the evening, the bars lining this beach pump out music and cocktails until dawn. I may or may not know that first hand.
To the north (and in other parts to the south) of Old Town, the coastline is pretty rocky with cliffs 1 to 4 meters high. But that doesn’t stop the beachgoers. The rocks are lined with people sun-bathing and testing their wits jumping off their perch into the swirling water below.
In the evenings, I have enjoyed meandering the streets of Old Town - this time getting lost on purpose. I walk back along the waterfront, watching the boats return to port and admiring the glow of the setting sun reflecting off the stone walls of this historic town.
As night sets in, people don their fancy evening wear and stroll the streets to strut their stuff along the waterfront boardwalk called the Riva, short for Riviera. I sit at a corner cafe and watch the show while pretending to be important and really busy on my laptop.
I have not just been exploring the beaches and Old Town. I’ve also been exploring volunteering and sailing opportunities.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had much luck yet.
I found one volunteering gig, which involved helping restore a sailboat, while staying on the sailboat. It sounded perfect until the host admitted there was no shower available. I decided that was a deal breaker even though the host suggested I just take a swim or use the beach shower. Thanks, but I’ll pass.
As for sailing, I talked to the local marina and they were basically of no help. I’ve also been scouring websites like www.findacrew.net and www.crewbay.com. A lot of the skippers online are looking for “female crew only.” Hmm, I’m not sure I’d want to be on that boat even if I was a woman.
I’m discouraged a bit, but Split is such an interesting place I might just stay here and enjoy myself while researching how to launch a kickstarter or gofundme campaign :-)
With the apartment as home base, I hope to take some day trips out to the surrounding small towns in the country or along the coast. I’ll save the island adventures for when I pick up the sailboat in a few weeks. The apartment rent will be week-to-week so If I find that volunteering or sailing opportunity, I can still revert back to my original plan. Time will tell, and I have plenty of it....
P.S. Going forward, I’ll be posting regular weekly updates early Monday morning, California time.