It’s the First Day of the Best of the Balkans Contiki tour. I took this trip with my husband Andrew. We were one of two married couples on this tour. The rest of the trip was a group of 35 people with the majority between the ages of 25-35. We had flown into Split, Croatia the night before, so that we could get a good night sleep and be awake when we met the group at 6pm for dinner and drinks. Or Contiki set up a meet up group so we knew that two other girls on our trip did the same thing. So we made sure to meet up with them, to see if they wanted to join us to explore Croatia, before the trip started.
We met Canadians Sara and Katie for breakfast at the Hotel at 9:30 am. We were happy to meet the Australian Hannah at our table that morning as well. She had arrived the night before and had been introducing herself to everyone at the hotel who looked to be about out age, asking if they were on Contiki. Through her asking we met our fourth tour mate, the Canadian Kelsey.
Before arriving on the trip, Andrew had done some research on what we could do in Split. We were torn, because we wanted to explore and do things, but we also did not want to duplicate what we would see on our walking tour the following day. To be on the safe side we decided to check out the UNESCO world heritage site, the city of Trogir.
To get to Trogir, we needed to catch a direct bus from downtown Split to Trogir. The Bus station is right on the water across from the ferry station and where the cruise ships dock. The bus station was a 30 min walk from our hotel. The bus cost us about $4 CAN and had air conditioning and WIFI. It was about 30 mins drive. Amazing.
Trogir is the best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic complex in all of Central Europe. Trogir’s medieval core, surrounded by walls, comprises a preserved castle and tower and a series of dwellings and palaces. So in simple terms it is really pretty. Its on a little island, that you can walk around and explore. But small enough hat you cannot get lost.
The water surrounding Trogir, is the first thing we noticed. It was so clear and blue. The water seemed unreal. The boats almost appeared to float on water. We put our toes in the water when we found some steps. The water was warm, but the city is surrounded by 2 harbours, so not really the best for a beach spot. We saw a few locals laying on concrete to sunbath, and a few jump in then climb out to dry off. We also saw a lot of cute little lizards, catching some sun.
The city itself was so pretty. Like walking through a castle, and much to our delight there was gelato everywhere! Also it was cheap at 1 Kuna a scoop.
Ok, lets put this into prospective. Croatia is a country with 4.2 million people. They have 56,594 km2 (so close to the size of southern Ontario). Their religion is mainly Roman Catholic. Their currency is Kuna, which is approximately 1 Kuna to 0.19 Canadian Dollar.
After walking the city, we decided to find ourselves a restaurant on the waterfront and get some lunch. The restaurant we choose had a fantastic DJ who kept music coming, and a good view of the bike race sign up. We found out from sitting on the patio that Trogir was going to have large bike race that day. So people were arriving with with bikes, signing up at a tent across from our table and then getting their bikes lifted onto a yacht. We were entertained by the biker who locked up his bike by our table, as he signed up for the race, then proceeded to spend a long time in his VERY tight bike shorts to “prepare” his bike for the race.
After our lunch, we walked the city a little more (realizing that the police on motorcycles that patrolled the city were gorgeous) then we decided to catch our bus back to Split. We found out that in Croatia, you need to ask exact questions and multiple directions to make sure you find the right bus. The lady working the Trogir bus station gave us correct information, like take the bus on platform 9 to the city, but gave us the wrong information. Like that was the city bus, not the express bus. It took us an hour to find the right bus to take. Also in Croatia, like the rest of Eastern Europe, you need to pay to use the washroom, so we were frustrated with our hour wait for the bus.
At 6pm we gathered in the lobby of our hotel to meet our tour guide Carly and driver Marko as well as our tour mates. We learned that this was the first tour, and that there would probably be a few bumps along the way. After that we headed into the hotel dining room for dinner. My best advice for this is to know that this is a multi-course meal. We were all really hungry and scarfed down our risotto not knowing that we had salad, chicken and dessert to come. This is where we met Griffin. He joined our Trogir crew for dinner.
After dinner, we had half an hour to get ready before we were supposed to meet downstairs to get a bus ride into the city for some drinks. Andrew felt sick at the last minuet, so we missed the bus. But, Griffin and Kelly missed the bus too, so we drank in the room and played cards all night.