Thursday, 13 August 2009

Croatia - Day 8, Trogir

It was an excellent morning with a clear sky and an impossibly blue horizon where the sea and the sky seemed to meet in a seamless union with only the silhouettes of the islands to show where the join should be. There was breakfast on the terrace of course before we packed our bags and left the Pink Inn for our final day in Croatia and a drive north along the coast back to Zadar.

The weather was perfect and I was in a relaxed mood as we drove around the side of Split – perhaps too relaxed because while looking for fuel I had a misunderstanding about which lane I had the right to be in and nearly removed the side of my car and someone else’s as well as I pulled across into a filling station. That would have certainly incurred additional car rental charges when I took it back later today. The close shave reminded me to take care and when we rejoined the highway I adopted my normal Mary Poppins driving mode that I reserve for driving in foreign countries. We passed by Salona, which was a substantial ancient town that was once the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia and although we didn’t stop off for a visit it was possible to see some of the extensive ruins running along the side of the road. It looked interesting but it wasn’t exactly Pompeii.

We were heading for the town of Trogir, which is about twenty kilometres west of Split and which is the best preserved Romanesque-Gothic complex, not only in the Adriatic, but in all of Central Europe and inevitably therefore a Unesco World heritage site. It was mid morning when we arrived and the town was already very busy. The old city is built on a little island, only separated from the mainland by a few metres and with access to it over a small bridge. Trogir is a very popular visitor attraction and parking is inevitably at a premium and at fifteen Kuna an hour easily the most expensive of the week.

There was a busy street market just outside the old city walls so we walked through the busy stalls and prodded and admired the vegetables. The stallholders were eager to sell but they didn’t seem to understand that we were flying home today and if we bought a bag of vegetables we would have to pay a fortune on Ryanair in the baggage charge scam to get them back home.

It was hot now so we were glad to walk into the shade of the old town and disappear into a labyrinth of alleyways and crooked streets that all led to the central main square. Trogir has a fabulously preserved medieval core that is surrounded by high walls and comprises a preserved castle and tower and a series of churches, houses and palaces from the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods. We wandered straight through the narrow medieval streets and out of a town gate on the waterside that looks out over the water to the larger island of ─îiovo, which is joined by another bridge and is the industrial bit of Trogir where there is a busy shipyard that turns out about six large ships or ferries every year.

We walked along the quayside as far as the old medieval castle that stands guard (or at least used to stand guard) at one end of the island and as it was open and we hadn’t climbed anything for at least forty-eight hours we went in and went to the top of the highest tower for a good view over the town. One thing we wouldn’t be climbing today was the bell tower of the thirteenth century church of St. Lawrence that we tackled the previous year and which turned out to be one of the most nerve jangling and heart stopping climbs ever. The iron was rusting away, the wood was decaying and holding all of it up was a series of concrete plinths that looked as though they were in imminent danger of collapse. No, we definitely wouldn’t be doing that again today and we satisfied ourselves instead with a much safer external examination of the building.

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