Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Trogir & Split

I have planned three days at the coastal town of Trogir based on one sentence in the guide book: "Trogir is the stuff of fairy tales and one of the most enchanting towns on the Adriatic coast." You would think with that sort of build-up and my sometimes-sarcastic tone, that I would beg to differ, but in fact it does not disappoint for even a second. We return our rental car and take a taxi to Trogir's Old Town, where we are staying. By the time we have walked through the gate and down the first few steps of the first little stone alleyway, we are hopelessly in love with this town.


Old Town is a labyrinth of narrow alleyways, charmingly cobblestoned, with marble walls sometimes resplendent with vines and flowers.


When I say labyrinth, I'm not exaggerating, as it really feels like being in a maze, albeit with several entrances/exits. Anthony has this incredible sense of direction, and when we want to get to our hotel on the first night, we call him our homing pigeon. This soon morphs into a game of "turning Daddy's GPS on, or off", depending on whether we want to get from point A to point B, or simply enjoy wandering the alleyways. This is the only time I feel sorry for Anthony and his innate sense of direction, because he will never experience the joy I feel at being lost in this town. The one time I go off on my own, I end up exiting at the exact opposite end of town from where I think I am heading. The girls run through the alleyways playing hide-and-seek, or simply hide-and-jump-out-and-say-boo, and we eat pasta and fish in outdoor courtyards in perfect/hot summer weather. It's glorious, I tell you, and no trip to Croatia should be without time spent in Trogir.


The town claims its founding in the 3rd centure BC, but some of the buildings/churches/towers/ palazios we see are from as "late" as the 7th-14th centuries.  Basically, it's shockingly old.  The stones are not just worn smooth, they are perfectly polished and gleaming and velvety.  Inside an old fortress, the girls get shoot with a real bow and arrows.

The bell towers we climb are literally dizzying -- around and around tiny stairways, ducking our heads to go up and down levels (yes, even me....), and constantly having to back up or flatten against a wall in order to let foot-traffic flow the other way. Nowhere is this more true than in the neighboring town of Split (to which we miss the ferry and unwittingly take an $80 -- US$, that is -- taxi ride.  Live and learn).  Diocletian's palace includes 12th/13th century Romanesque churches, medieval fortifications, 15th century Gothic palaces, and Renaissance and Baroque architecture, all in a walled area built from (and also on top of) ruins from the 3rd/4th century A.D.  The tower is so high and vertigo-inducing, that my first thought is that my mother would have never be able to climb it.  My second thought is, "I really picked the wrong day to wear a mini-skirt."

My third thought is that we should walk up and down really, really slowly, and one of the adults should always be standing under a child.  I'm sure that should be my first thought, but it isn't.  P, who is normally fearless, actually exhibits a little sense of self-preservation here, which is nice to see for once.  G runs up and down like a gazelle, giving me minor heart palpitations.

These guys dressed up as ancient Romans are the only people in Croatia wearing gladiator sandals that I don't pity.  Or mock.

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