The water below is swollen and restless. It’s photogenic, but it’s not adaptable, much like the road slinking along its edge – hairpin turns, steep drops and a mischievous wind. Mum used to hate driving through tunnels, but now I think she welcomes it because it’s a chance to regroup before we come out on the other end.
It’s gorgeous and terrifying on the other end. Split is still out of reach while the mountainous Adriatic coastline is just an arm’s length away.
Mum has just undertaken the world’s most scenic advanced driving course. I’ve already failed at reading the road atlas stuffed into the glove box so I’ve resigned myself to anxious-passenger-doing-her-best-to-not-appear-anxious. Phew, it’s hard doing nothing!
The Adriatic coast is stunning, and what a gift it is to see it from a car window. Mum, of course, doesn’t get a chance to appreciate it as I do until I show her the photos afterwards. However, the fact that someone who doesn’t really like driving is taking on a feat like this is even cooler than the cliffs.
Mum’s determined to zoom way outside of her comfort zone on this trip. What a warrior!
En route, we stop in the town of Šibenik, which is lovely, and a murder to get to by car. Nonetheless, it’s the perfect place to recharge with some lemonade and views, courtesy of the town’s famous castle. If you ever find yourself in the area, you’d be crazy not to check it out!!
We arrive in Split around 8pm, which is when Mum’s true talent takes center stage.
When it comes to any other aspect of life, Mum hates procrastination. She’s a big believer in now vs. later.
However, traveling is the exception for her. Overseas, she abandons itineraries, worries about returning from an excursion only after we have arrived and generally books accommodation last minute.
When we booked our accommodation for Split just before leaving Zadar around 11am, I had my doubts. But mum, the magician that she is, found a gorgeous luxury hotel at a crazy discounted price. The advantage of booking last minute is you can get a hotel room that usually goes for $500/night at just over $100.
For that steal of a deal, we spend the night in an ocean front room with a rooftop pool (it’s quite nippy outside but Mum’s British so she dives straight in), hot tub (I’m only half British so this is where I go), saunas, breakfast (the love of my life) and the world’s biggest bathtub. Pure bliss! Major props to you, Mum!
We hit Old Town after dark on a Friday and though mum falls in love with fritule, Croatia’s specialty of fried dough balls coated in chocolate (aka the dewdrops of heaven), her feeling towards nightlife is not exactly the amorous kind.
Nevertheless, she’s game. First, we walk along the main promenade. It’s quite crowded, but we hang around for a while after a group of folk dancers take to the stage. They give a lovely performance, so full of energy and high kicks.
Soon after, we cut through the heart of Diocletian’s Palace, which I loved exploring last time I was here. As it’s a Friday night, it’s a bit boozy and stag-partyish throughout Old Town, but we return the next morning for a fresh take on the place I was infatuated with two years ago.
In daylight, Old Town is bustling and bright, much more suited to our preferences. We walk down all narrow alleys, buy some lavender soap and scrumptious chocolate, and rub the toe of the statue on the other end (it’s meant to give you good luck).
We happen upon choirs,
climb up to the gorgeous park where I sat and read A Hundred Years of Solitude last time I was here,
and Mum even buys me this gorgeous hat (doesn’t quite match my outfit but who cares).
Mum and I saunter along the water’s edge for a little longer before hailing a cab. The driver is kind and chatty, which seems to be the theme here. Croatia is the land of compassion and cliffs, I suppose 🙂
Next stop – King’s Landing
Now, it’s time to head to Dubrovnik, which lies one the other side of the Bosnian border. Apparently, Slovak rental cars aren’t usually allowed to cross due to lingering conflicts with the former republic of Yugoslavia. Several recommended taking the ferry, but by the time we reach the dock, we’re told the next one leaves in three hours.
So, obviously, this quietly defiant mother-daughter duo is heading towards not-so-thrilled-about-Slovak-rental-cars Bosnia and Herzegovina…