Escaping to Marjan Hill, the ‘Lungs of Split’ Croatia

Marjan Forest Park is often referred to as the “lungs of Split, Croatia.” The park’s pine forest exhales fresh oxygen into the nearby city — which is removed, but within walking distance. Marjan (or Marjan-Park Šuma, in Croatian) has been a popular recreation spot since at least the 3rd century. Back then, Roman Emperor Diocletian (who had his retirement palace built in Split) had sections of Marjan reserved as park space.

Shawn and I were drawn to the lush park for many reasons. First, it has magnificent views of the Adriatic Sea, as well as the neighboring islands of Brač, Šolta, and Čiovo. Part of Marjan is south-facing, meaning that the sunsets are extraordinary! (See Shawn’s video below for a peek.)

Marjan also has extensive jogging, cycling, and walking trails, as well as picturesque stone churches. Many of the peninsula’s tiny chapels were built centuries ago.

And if you’re lucky, you might even bump into some of Marjan’s resident donkeys.

Whenever we felt the need to escape our home away from home in Split’s bustling Old Town within Diocletian’s Palace walls, we made a pilgrimage to Marjan. On a few occasions we did a bit of foraging for wild asparagus. Other times, we enjoyed a picnic among the agave plants. Most afternoons, we’d see residents walking their beloved dogs or biking. We’d also spot ferries bound for the islands of Hvar, Brač, Šolta, and Vis. And sometimes we’d even glimpse a string of tiny sailboats being piloted by sailing students out on the twinkling Adriatic Sea. The latter two sightings tempted us to embark on an island escape ourselves.

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Strolling Through Šibenik, Croatia

 

A bit of a diamond in the rough, Šibenik is a city that quietly invited us to stroll in a pleasantly-aimless fashion. Situated near Croatia’s stunning Dalmatian Coast and Krka National Park, we didn’t find an abundance of things to do in Šibenik, but that just added to its charm. Instead, our afternoon was filled mingling with locals and a friendly feline, and people-watching moments from the window of a cozy café. Children skipped by with a red balloon in hand, or played on the centuries-old lions that guard the town’s famous cathedral which acted as the backdrop for the action. Šibenik is the oldest Croatian town on the eastern side of the Adriatic Sea, whereas other cities along the coast were founded by the Romans, Greeks and Illyrians.

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A Day Trip from Split, Croatia: Hiking Mosor

 

If you spend enough time in Split, eventually the surrounding mountains will start calling you to explore, and rightfully so…

Two weeks into our stay in the stunning seaside town, we met up with our local friend, Srđan, eager to retreat to the rugged mountains that so dramatically frame the metropolitan area around Croatia’s second-largest city.

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A Farewell to Trogir, Croatia

 

“Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.”

-Henry David Thoreau

Our time in Trogir, Croatia is rapidly ticking down, and we are getting sentimental about leaving this special corner of the world that we have called home for the past seven weeks. Today, we will be heading to Dubrovnik, the so called ‘pearl of the Adriatic,’ by bus. It is a bittersweet morning. Continue reading “A Farewell to Trogir, Croatia”

Shades of Vertigo: Climbing the Bell Tower in Trogir, Croatia

Sometimes, fear can get the best of you, and here in Trogir, Croatia, I must confess that it did.

Whenever I explore a new city, I like getting high above it, and despite an aversion to heights, I’ve climbed some of Europe’s most iconic church towers: Notre Dame de Paris, Germany’s Ulm Cathedral and the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. On a recent spring morning, however, I couldn’t muster up the courage to conquer the bell tower of the Saint Lawrence Cathedral, Trogir’s most famous monument.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have done my research in advance. One reader had dubbed the structure the ‘tower of terror’ and many Trip Advisor reviews warned the faint of heart of the unnerving climb. So, I prepared myself for the ascent, leaving anything at our apartment that might be a candidate for rappelling down the infamous stairwell’s cavern. My rings stayed at home, and so did my purse.

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Sailing the Adriatic: A Day Trip from Trogir, Croatia

As our new friend’s sailboat, Jonathan III, powered itself away from the marina, I watched as the city of Trogir faded off into the distance, blending in with the sparkling blue horizon of the Adriatic. With each second, the 2,300 year-old town looked more and more like a tiny, medieval Lego land.

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The Blue Skies of Trogir, Croatia

We’ve hit a bit of a wet patch of weather this week in Trogir, with rain dancing down onto the rooftops by day and by night. It’s the kind of weather that finds us making our own sunshine. Though I’m longing to explore more of this charming town on the Adriatic, as well as more of nearby Split (where we went wine tasting last week), the daily sprinkles offer the perfect excuse to catch up on work indoors and reminisce about our home-away-from-home’s marvelous blue sky scenes.

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The Hunt for the ‘Original Zin’: A Wine Tasting Tour of Croatia

“From wine what sudden friendship springs!” – John Gay

We started the day in the seaside city of Trogir, Croatia on a quest to find Zinfandel’s ancestral home. By the day’s end, we’d not only savored many splendid glasses of wine, we’d also acquired a greater appreciation of Croatian culture while broadening our circle of international friends. Our wine tasting tour in Split and Kaštela was brilliantly crafted by Alan Mandic at Secret Dalmatia, whose personal network of friends passionate about Croatia made it all possible.

We instantly clicked with our guide, Srdjan, who picked us up in his white Lada 4×4, that he’d playfully introduced as ‘the vineyard car.’ Events later in the day would vindicate the car’s namesake.

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