croatia: split

Real Life Great Expectations?

Without a doubt, I’d say that the old town in Dubrovnik has been the most impressive one that I’ve seen so far but for some odd reason there’s a feel to the one in Split that makes it stick out in my head.  I can’t quite put my finger on it but for some reason strolling around the old town in Split reminded me of the final scene in Great Expectations when Finn decides to visit Ms. Dinsmoor’s house after she’s passed and finds Estella there with her daughter.  It’s a rather strange association but since I couldn’t seem to shake it, I felt that there was nothing else I could do other than share a few photos to see if I was the only one who felt this way.

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I Rented A Boat Bitch!

The first order of business when we woke up was to check the weather.  Our hearts beat anxiously as we threw the curtains open but we had nothing to fear as there wasn’t a single cloud blocking any of that gorgeous blue sky.  PHEW!  And just like that, we got dressed in a flash and were off to meet our boat, the crew, and the lovely Korean girls who helped us make this all possible.  Turns out My Aussie Mate and I were slightly under prepared for a day long journey on a speedboat.  We had picked up bottles of water to help combat the heat but didn’t think about the necessities such as snacks and booze but thankfully, the Korean girls decided to cover us in that department as a thank you for shelling out a little extra for the boat.

Couldn't resist getting myself the Hello Kitty water!

Couldn’t resist getting myself the Hello Kitty water!

As this trip was actually happening, we decided that there was no time like the present to exchange names and get to know each other just a little.  The crew laughed as we told them the story that had brought the 4 of us girls together and how we were fortunate enough to have bumped into each other when we thought all hope was lost.  We laughed off the misery of the day before as the music began pumping and before I knew it, Split was nothing but a teeny tiny little dot behind us.  The first stop of the day was going to be the blue caves and after that, we were going to go to see the green caves, have lunch on Island of Vis, and a lengthy break on Hvar before heading back to Split as the sun was setting.

My Group at the end of a very long day of boating.

My Group hamming it up for the camera.

Random Blue Cave Photo from my iPhone - one of many that I show other travelers.

Random Blue Cave Photo from my iPhone – one of many that I show other travelers.

Getting to the blue caves was not some small ordeal as it felt like the boat was on full throttle for a few hours before we could make out the island where we would transfer boats.  Turns out, the tour takes you to a local boat operator who then takes you out to the caves.  If the weather was warmer, there would be the option to swim into the caves but our skipper didn’t recommend it as the sea was still unseasonable cold.  As this was the case, the 4 of us waited our turn to get into one of the local boats headed for the caves.  Once we hit the entrance, confusion also hit me as it didn’t look big enough to fit our dingy but before I could finish that thought, the guy told us to mind our heads and shoved right on in.  It was at this moment that everyone stopped talking and gasped at the beauty before us.  There are no words that can describe how awesome the caves were in the morning light.  All I knew at that moment was that it didn’t matter what we did for the rest of the day as this moment made paying that extra moolah well worth it.

Random stop the skipper made to show us a beach he likes

Random stop the skipper made to show us a beach he likes

The day coming to an end.

The day coming to an end.

Luckily, the rest of the day wasn’t crap at all and turned out to be just as great as the cave experience itself.  My Aussie Mate and I were on a boat with 5 strangers who quickly felt like old friends a few hours into the journey.  Our skipper was keen on exploring and would constantly ask if we were okay to stray off course cause he knew of a cool spot here or there.  On top of this we were got a few extras on the way such as a random police check (and photos of annoyed policemen on sea) and towing a boat full of male tourists who ran out of gas.  All in all, I couldn’t have been happier that Split Excursions had cancelled the original tour that we booked as I couldn’t have imagined a better day out exploring the islands that surrounded Split.

 

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When Life Gives You Lemons…

It was images like the above that sold me on this excursion in the first place!

It was images like the above that sold me on this excursion in the first place!

Due to lack of wi-fi, time, and a never-ending battle with illness after injury (more on that later), I’ve essentially stopped entries altogether during my travels this summer.  Fortunately, after several grueling weeks, I’m back and decided to pick up exactly where I left off – in Croatia.  A little over a month ago, I started Croatia on my own but was quickly joined by my Aussie Mate so we could speedboat ourselves over to the blue caves near the Island of Vis.  As this was going to be the highlight to our pit-stop in Split and possibly even Croatia, the trip was booked well before my parting with Dublin became common knowledge.  Unfortunately, we made the dire mistake of booking online with Split Excursions (aka Portal Agency).

The story begins the day before we were supposed to sail out to the blue caves.  Just to make sure all our T’s were crossed and I’s were dotted, we rocked up to Portal to find out exactly where to meet the boat and settle the final payment before grabbing dinner.  Instead of the easy errand we expected, we were hit with the headline that our excursion had been cancelled.  Supposedly they had sent out an email earlier but turns out that neither one of us had received it just yet – SURPRISE!  The reason we were being given was bad weather even though the day in question was being forecast as the best of the week with clear blue skies and sunshine.  Despite presenting them with the weather facts our hostel laid upon us, they said the tour was cancelled and attempted to sell us the Plitvice Lake excursion instead.  REALLY?  Because bad weather in a national park would be better?  Disappointment  isn’t a strong enough word to describe our reaction.  The two of us sat in silence as we tried to figure out how the hell to get ourselves out the blue caves.  Another tour?  Ferry?  Ferry to an island and then some other way to the caves?  We planned and plotted every single possibility before finally admitting defeat as the sun began to set.  Depressed at the events that had transpired, we sulked and strolled through Split’s old town in hopes that something magical would happen in order to get us on a boat to the blue caves.

And just like that we found ourselves directly in front of an open tour office as we were weaving our way through the streets of the old town.  Yes, there was a queue and we were pretty damn sure that the agent probably wanted to go home already but hell, what difference would 2 more girls make right?  So as quickly and quietly as possible, we joined the queue in hopes that no one else would notice the addition of two extra bodies in the room.  As luck would have it, we were queued right behind a Korean trio inquiring about the blue caves.  The agent told them that unfortunately the tour wasn’t going ahead as there wasn’t enough people for the boat.  And by some eavesdropping miracle, my Aussie Mate jumped into the conversation saying we were looking at the same tour too before spinning all the Korean she had hidden under her sleeve in order to befriend the other blue cave tour seekers.

The agent quickly informed us that they needed 7 people to set sail but that just translated to haggling in my Aussie Mate’s mind.  First thing first – there was only 3 of us looking to get over to the blue caves but a few carefully placed YOLO statements was all it took for us to force another member onto team blue cave.  After that, it was trying to convince the agent to quote us on a boat rental instead of selling us a tour package that required a minimum of 7 people.  After some skillful negotiation and a hellish amount of nagging, a phone call was placed to the skipper and he agreed to a lower rate for the overall boat for the day.  After all was said and done, my Aussie Mate and I decided to make up the difference if we couldn’t find anyone at our hostel to dragged along with us at the last-minute and charged the Korean girls the going rate for the tour.  And that was all it took to fix our little problem.  We rented a boat with a crew and forced a few Korean girls to join us for what we were saying was going to be the time of our lives!  All that was left to do was withdrawn a healthy sum of money to make our blue caves tour dreams come true – hopefully the bad weather thing was just a cover for not selling enough seats like most of the locals kept telling us.  At the end of the day, there was nothing we could do other than get a good night’s sleep and keep our fingers crossed that everyone else was right and we weren’t just about to flush a decent amount of cash down the drain to get the fright of our lives due to rough seas.

Categories: CROATIA, croatia: split | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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