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In Croatia

By kanannie

Split: What We Did in a Roman Emperor’s Summer Home

On 24, Oct 2013 | One Comment | In Croatia, Food, Travel | By kanannie

The harbor at night.

The harbor at night.

We had our foodie friend with us from New York, and we were missing out on some serious eating in Croatia. With Zagreb being disappointing food-wise and the Plitvice Lakes area offerings being not that much better, the three of us made our way to the coastal town of Split for fresh seafood. This being the Dalmatian coast, we arrived in the city and immediately spotted a Japanese tour group cross the street in front of us and cruise ships docked in the distance. Palm trees lined the main promenade, and people sat outside sipping coffees and cocktails. How did we end up in Miami?

Main boardwalk in Split.

Main boardwalk in Split.

Being the hungry hippos that we are, we dropped off our bags at the apartment and immediately made our way to our first traditional Croatian tavern experience at Konoba Hvaranin. We’ve long stopped trusting any reviews on Tripadvisor, and instead found a review on Foodie International of a konoba recommended by locals so we put our faith in this girl. We were glad we did. After taking sufficient food porn photos, we dug into fresh pasta with clams, grilled shrimp and grilled baby squid with ink sacs inside.

Food paparazzi.

Food paparazzi.

Fresh spinach pasta with clams.

Simple but oh so good.

Baby squid with ink inside.

Grilled baby squid with ink inside. The potato chard mush is awesome.

Grilled shrimp.

Grilled shrimp.

After dinner, we took a walk around the Old Town to digest and more importantly, to have a nightcap. Split used to be Emperor Diocletian’s summer palace. I don’t know anything about him, except that he was the only Roman Emperor to retire and he hated Christians. We walked through the narrow, maze-like streets and finally found Ghetto Club, which was the only gay-friendly bar in Split I was able to find on the internet. Unlike what you would probably imagine from the unfortunate name, it’s a nice, spacious place. We had the whole place to ourselves, but I can imagine this place must be pretty busy in the summer months.

Old town at night.

The empty old town at night.

Fountain at night.

N and Ching-I jumping in front of the fountain.

Ghetto Bar.

We had the entire club to ourselves.

Ghetto Bar.

Interesting interior decor.

Ghetto Bar.

Another empty room in the bar.

We got tired of watching the bartender make out with his girlfriend and went on a hunt for a nicer view. After wandering around the dark alleyways and completely scaring the shit out of our neurotic New Yorker friend (who thought she was going to get mugged), we were spit out onto the main square by the Golden Gate. We sat on the steps in front of the bell tower at Luxor and had wine like the classy ladies we are. It was nice sitting in the quiet square, now empty of the big cruise ship tour groups. It is a bit surreal to think that we were sleeping within the walls of Diocletian’s summer home.

Golden Gate.

Sitting on the steps of Diocletian’s palace.

The next day, I forced myself to wake up earlier than usual (we are not morning people) and tagged along with Ching-I to the morning fish market next to Marmontova Street. By the time we got there around 8:30, the place was bustling with locals hawking their fresh catch. We checked out the offerings (a lot of squid, shrimp, bonito and clams) and I entrusted Ching-I with picking out the seafood. Did I mention she’s an amazing chef?

Morning fish market.

Busy fish market. I don’t understand morning people.

Morning fish market.

Clams, cockles and mussels.

Morning fish market.

Octopus, cuttlefish and squid.

Morning fish market.

The miscellaneous bin.

Morning fish market.

Small bonito.

After breakfast and a sufficient dose of espresso (they don’t know what an Americano is), the three of us explored the bell tower and looked out on the town below.

Bell tower.

The bell tower.

View from the bell tower.

View of the harbor from the bell tower.

View from the bell tower.

Stairwell in the bell tower. Not for people who are scared of heights.

View from the bell tower.

Archways in the bell tower.

The highlight of my time in Split was being able to hang out with one of my favorite Tokyo girls and former coworker, Aya, for the day. She was visiting a town nearby with her Croatian boyfriend, and they drove up to meet us for lunch. They brought along his sister and her Scottish boyfriend, and the seven of us went to another konoba called Konoba Fife, which was just OK. This was my first taste of pasticada, which is a beef marinated in red wine and stewed. It’s awesome.

A special reunion!

Hanging with Aya!

Croatian pasticada.

Croatian pasticada with a side of gnocchi.

After lunch, Aya hung out with us while her boyfriend and his sister ran errands in a nearby town. We went to Creme de la Creme for what turned out to be the best cake we had in Croatia. It was surreal to be spending time with Aya, who often visited us in the New York office from the Tokyo office, but in the middle of Croatia?! We met up with Aya’s boyfriend and company in the evening for a drink at a bar near the Figa Food Bar.

Old sphinx.

3500 year-old granite sphinx.


Delicious chocolate cake at Creme de la Creme.


It’s Gandalf!

As expected, dinner was delicious. Ching-I had managed to whip up a nice meal with the few condiment options we had. The steamed clams were succulent and briny, the branzino was refreshingly light and the baked shrimp was soft and tasty. It was the perfect end to a perfect day on the Dalmatian coast.

Steamed clams.

Steamed clams. Mmm.

Baked branzino.

Baked branzino.

Grilled shrimp for dinner.

Grilled shrimp.

For more photos of our days and nights in Split, check out our Flickr album.

Three Jaded New Yorkers at Plitvice Lakes National Park
Dubrovnik: The Jewel of Croatia

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