From Zadar to Splitsville

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

(post by Janel)

Wake up, mill around, pack bags, find breakfast. Google suggests the nearby Tinel Restaurant, so off we go.


Many of the small streets in Zadar are lined with tables laden with coffees.


As it turns out, Tinel is one of them. Lovely!

Breakfast is lattes, OJ, salami, ham, cheese, bread, scrambled eggs. What more do you want?

Over eggs, I talk enthusiastically about how well my delegated projects are going in my absence.


We hop in the car and take the slow coastal road. The view is consistently postcard.


Our midway stop is Trogir (which I keep wanting to call Trogdor, the Burninator) – another one of those old beautiful spaghetti towns. Can’t get enough of ’em.


The old part is closed to cars, so we park just across the bridge. There’s a lively market outside, where we spy ajvar (the red pepper + eggplant sauce we had with our meats last night), lots of honey and olive oil, and cherries galore. We window shop.


Trogir is a popular day tripper spot (from Split), and an excess of souvenir shops clogs the first few streets. We zoom past them to find a sitting spot by the water, where we have small beers and watch inexpert maneuvering of a rental yacht.

We move on to Split, a quick 40 minutes’ drive away. It’s a bit of a shock to plunge back into a big city (to be fair, we did manage to enter through the industrial zone).

Our Airbnb is near the center, just across the railroad tracks. Parking is GNARLY. We arrive a few minutes earlier than our host has expected, so we need to wait a few minutes on a two-way street that’s one-way width and already lined with parked cars. And it’s a dead-end. Let’s hope we can maneuver the car better than that guy did with his rental yacht this morning.


After much beeping and backing up, our host arrives and motions us over to her parking space in the back. It’s in a teeny dirt lot overflowing with vehicles. A convergence of further cars entering and exiting with impeccably inconvenient timing gives the neighbors their daily entertainment.


We finally get up and into the apartment – perfect. Dad and I take a load off.

It’s already nearing on the evening, though, so we get ourselves up and out a little quicker than we might have liked to. We cross the railroad tracks on foot (“the local shortcut”) and head into old town Split.


It’s pretty overwhelmingly touristy at first. This is a cruise ship stop, and it shows. It reminds me of La Rambla in Barcelona: congested with sunhats, selfie sticks, and tchotchkes for sale.

We duck off the main drag as soon as possible and find thankfully smaller, quieter streets. We take a quick peek at our restaurant destination (which doesn’t take reservations), but it’s beer o’clock. I find a spot promising Croatian craft beer on tap.


Leopold’s Craft Beer Bar is just enough off the beaten path to be selfie-stick-free. MP and I get IPAs and Dad an APA. Dad’s feeling a little low – we haven’t really eaten much today – so we inquire about munchies. Alas, they no longer offer anything edible (“It distracts from the beer”). We ask if we can bring something back to the table and are told to knock ourselves out.

I feel a daughterly duty to find my poor dad some olives. I sniff around for a grocery or convenience store – gotta be one around here somewhere. On a side street, I find a Tommy (a small grocery store that has been advertised constantly on the roads we’ve been driving). Sweet.

I ask the girl inside if she has olives, but she doesn’t speak English – so I pull up a picture on my phone. She nods and points me towards the potatoes. What? It requires calling the other girl over to consult before they figure out what olives are. Hmm.


I pick up a jar and proudly port them back to Dad. They are briney.


We head over to Villa Spiza around 19:30. It is teeny, and there are chairs for the line of people awaiting a table. Just tell the head waiter that you’re here, then get him to bring you some wine. This no reservations thing isn’t so bad.


He ushers us inside after maybe 20 minutes – no big deal. We get a seat at literally the ONLY table in the place (the rest are bar seats). A Texan couple celebrating their 5 year anniversary joins us on the other side, and the waiter implores us to make friends. We do; they’re nice. Not folks I would probably cross paths with in any other context, so it’s interesting to find shared ground in a teeny Croatian table.


The place is BUSTLING. The menu changes daily, and things get alarmingly crossed out as people order them.


We want to ask for everything, but restrain ourselves to pâté and anchovies to start, then veal liver (MP), fried mackerel (Dad), and fish + beans (me). And a bottle of white, of course.

It’s all glorious. Even better, each of us is convinced that ours is the best thing.

After dinner, MP’s feeling a touch of something sweet, so I Google “Split best gelato.” A visit to Luka’s Cakes and Ice Cream nets us a few cones and cups of the good stuff. We enjoy it outside in a plaza with plants and cats.


We navigate back to the waterfront and observe the hubbub that is Split harbor by night.

When we get home, MP tussles with the A/C. Then it’s lights out. Good night, sweet prince.


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