The Dalmatian Coast

Trip Start Mar 31, 2011
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29
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Trip End Jul 05, 2011


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Flag of Croatia  ,
Monday, May 16, 2011

The night train from Zagreb to Split was an unbelievable experience. First of all, we didn't need to get seat reservations for the train... this is very unusual. All night trains make you pay a supplementary fee to the Eurail pass in order to be able to sleep on the train overnight. We probably should have realized what we were signing up for when we didn't need to reserve space. We were told by the lady at the ticket counter that you could reserve a private compartment with two beds in it if you wanted, or you could march on and snag a seat that "reclines all the way." The bitch lied-- the seats did not recline in the slightest. In fact, the compartments were the same as the compartments we had commandeered earlier on the way to Zagreb-- two three-seat benches with a glass door and zero leg room. 

We figured it would be ideal to have a compartment to ourselves again, so we began scheming. We scattered our bags everywhere again, closed the curtains, and hoped for the best. A few different sets of people opened the door and tried to come in, but we scowled at them and they left. After a certain point, we decided that this tactic would not be effective for much longer, so we tried to barricade the door. Jenna and I took turns holding it shut with our entire body weight, in the effort to fool people into thinking it was broken/locked/whatever. This was massively successful! Other train passengers clearly had similar ideas about the compartments but used different tactics. The boys from Indiana that were next to us simply screamed "Jesus" and "penis" every few seconds to detour people from joining their party. More annoying, but probably equally as effective. Our plan worked really well, so we got ready for bed and sprawled across our three seats each. We also locked our bags to the luggage racks and seats with bike locks and shoved mace down our pants like crazy people-- just in case.
Then everything hit the fan. The conductor had come by earlier to check our tickets and apparently remembered that we had conquered an entire compartment. After we had been asleep for about an hour, we must have stopped and picked up more passengers because we were loudly and abruptly dethroned by the very cranky conductor. He deposited a Russian couple into our space, so we were forced to forfeit one seat each. At least the Russian people were clean... They made themselves right at home and quickly started invading our space with their feet and butts. When the smoke cleared, we were each sharing a seat and a half with Russian strangers. Once again, at least they were clean. Good thing we locked up our bags. Definitely learned our lesson about this train-- we will definitely be taking the day train back from Split to Zagreb, even if it means spending another 15 Euros each on a hostel bed. 
We arrived in Split at 7 AM on Monday (5-16) and tried to go to the hostel. Unfortunately, there was no one there except a nice man from Sweden who was also coming from the night train and trying to deposit his bags with no luck. The three of us went to a coffee shop next door to wait a little while for the hostel staff to wake up and let us in. After about an hour, we finally got a hold of someone and were able to put down our stuff and settle in. The hostel was really big and pretty empty, so Jenna and I got an entire dorm room to ourselves! We proceeded to once again spread our stuff around! Horray! Because we had not eaten since 6PM the night before, we were starving! Once of the other guests at the hostel recommended a little pastry shop, so we cruised over there and ordered a bunch of little puff pastries full of assorted goodies-- vanilla custard, chocolate, spinach goo, cheese, pizza, apricot jam, so on... Delicious! We took a little nap then bundled up to walk around Split. 
We had read that May was low season in Croatia but we ignored it because it was high season everywhere else... clearly this is because of the freezing cold wetness all over the country. Oh well, it was still really beautiful. At least it wasn't actively raining like in Zagreb-- just cold and humid. The area is surrounded by beautiful mountains and is right on the Adriatic sea. Most of Split is inside of ruined Roman walls called Diocletian's Palace, which is a huge rectangular fortress with beautiful old towers on the corners of the walls. Beautiful!
 After walking around the ruins for a while, we decided to go to lunch at the restaurant recommended by the hostel (called Fife). We were told to eat fish in Split, so we ordered the grilled fish plate since it was really only thing we could figure out on the menu. We nearly died when the plate arrived-- it was covered in chunks of mystery seafood and a few small fish, bones/head/tail intact. We asked the waiter what kind of fish it was, to which he replied "dead fish." How very helpful! He then told us that the chunks of dark fatty substance were "pork cutlets," then proceeded to laugh raucously.   After further investigation, we deduced that the fish were fish... and the chunks of seafood were from various bottom-feeding sharks. Needless to say, most of the meal was spent laughing hysterically and trying to wash down fish/shark bones with Croatian beer/mashed potatoes. The meal definitely served it's purpose-- we got to try Croatian seafood and it thoroughly destroyed our appetites, so we were no longer hungry for the rest of the day! Success! 
During our delicious meal, we did some research on the rest of Split and decided that since the weather was bad, we should leave the next day instead of the day after. With this new plan, we ran around in a mad rush to try and see the beaches and overlook before dark. Trying to find the beaches was yet another side-splitting hilarious experience. The lady at the hostel told us that there were sandy and stone beaches and that they were really fabulous. Stupidly, we believed her and set out in search of these great beaches. We had a really good map, so we found the sandy beaches without problems. Turns out that the fabulous beach was actually a plot of cement, thinly covered with sand and trash. We found this hilarious, then moved on to the stone beaches. TURNS OUT that the stone beaches are simply plots of cement WITHOUT sand. At least the water was really beautiful and turquoise blue. To make up for the experience, we ate a bunch of really delicious ice cream.
After the beach fiasco, we booked it up a large hill to reach the scenic overlook of the city. This excursion was definitely worth it-- Split is so beautiful from above! We sat on a bench and watched the sun start to set, then ran back down the hill before dark to shower and pack up for tomorrow. Most importantly, we spend a few hours catching up on more missed episodes of Glee. It took a really long time to find a website that lets you watch American TV from abroad, but now that we have found it, we can't get enough! 
We went to bed with the intention of waking up early to see the sunrise from the scenic overlook. When we woke up at 5 AM, it was cloudy and drizzling, so we decided to just go back to sleep. Apparently I set the alarm wrong the second time and it didn't go off, so we woke up again at 7:50, packed and dressed in a big rush, and ran to the train station to catch the 8:50 train to Zagreb. We got there with plenty of time, which ended up being really important because the conductor would not let us on the train because we didn't have seat reservations... Can't figure out why you would need reservations on the day train and not the night train... Regardless, we had to run back to the station with our packs, get reservations in a mad rush, then run back to board the train. But we succeeded and are on our way back to Zagreb! We were planning on going straight from Split to Ljubljana with only a three-hour connection in Zagreb, but since the weather was so bad during our first visit, we've decided to give Zagreb another shot. Plus, the idea of taking a 7 hour train from Split to Zagreb then getting on a 4 hours train to Ljubljana after a 3 hour layover sound mildly horrifying. Will post again from Zagreb and Slovenia tomorrow. Do viđenja!
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Comments

Mom on

Trying to find private accommodations on a public train without paying the extra fee sounds like it's not working. Sleeping on a train at all must be difficult.

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