Written 28th April
...in nearly more ways than one
In the bright glare of the morning, when you have found somewhere to park and walked down the hill, lugging your mammoth bag which contains almost your entire wardrobe which all somehow now seems to need washing - I could so not be an actual backpacker these days! - you jostle your way through the crowded market stalls and round the corner and literally have to stop, and blink, and adjust your eyes to the dazzle of the white marble Riva (and adjust your bag, which is quite uncomfortably heavy by this point... :) )
Which, incidentally, are built out of the same Brac stone and the White House, as in Washington DC - so there you go, that' how white it is!
Over the subsequent centuries, Split expanded beyond the old palace walls and was ruled by the Byzantine Empire and then the Croats, before the Venetians added their mark in their inexorable conquest down the eastern seaboard of the Adriatic, en route to Greece and finally the Austrians arrived in 1797 and stayed until 1918.
Instead, it is a warren of streets and courtyards and tiny passageways, full of bars and cafes, houses and holiday appartments, tat shops and craft boutiques, packed inside the old walls.
Washing sorted, we headed into the old town, by way of the bustling fishmarket,
and then plunged into the palace by way of the so-called Iron Gate and set off on the walking tour, set out by the town fathers, in the form of well nicely done information boards at all significant points.
The palace is relatively small, only 215m by 181m, and has four original gates into the walls at the cardinal points, each named after metals; gold, silver, bronze and iron, and dedicated to protective saints.
and a completely unexpected interior, including a fantastic monstrance, held up by carved angels.
and the statue of Gregorius of Nin, a 10th century croatian bishop who campaigned for the use of the Croatian language in liturgical services
And it is a lovely, buzzing and vibrant place to be on a bright, sunny day, with the warm air caressing our shoulders like water of the perfect temperature in a deep relaxing bath.
The next morning, we were about to head out on foot and up the hill for a view down over the town, when we were stopped in our tracks for a very different reason. The central locking wouldn't work and it turned out that the car battery was so flat it couldn't even put a light on to tell us it was flat... Bit of a problem.
With no lights left on and no other instantly obvious cause, some rapid diagnostics ensued, and the problem was eventually traced to the old lamda sensor - still currently in place and unoperative - which Will had hardwired in to test and then forgotten about - a 2amp drain on the battery since saturday! That would do it... The search also turned up a damaged connector on the battery negative terminal - a possibly inconvenient/dangerous disaster waiting to happen en route somewhere!
So battery strap in hand, we set off on foot towards where we hoped we might find marinas and boat shops or industrial estates and car parts shops. No luck, the one garage we found said they could fix it for us no problem - 20mins work, 100kn (£12)... ummm no, the 'snip, clamp' work required is not 20mins work, nor should the bit cost more than a couple of quid...
So we headed on in the burning sun, stopping for a coffee in the shadow of the football stadium, where they recommended a little place not far away on Dubrovacka... Yep, MetaliaAuto, where we were vaguely heading anyway. So three visits in three days and, helpful as before, they had the connector we needed for only 8kn (£1) - that's more like it!
So, battery strap fixed, the next problem was getting started. Fortunately parked on a hill, but facing up it, in a slight ditch off the side of the road and with not enough battery to power the fuel injectors...
Fortunately Will is extremely resourceful in times of crisis so had soon rewired the engine bay so all the ancillaries were powered off the leisure battery and put the front wheels on chocs of wood - good old burning box, it is so lucky that we haven't found anywhere we can set up the bbq recently! - to give us enough rolling momentum from one push to get us back on the road. From their it was an easy matter of a bump start in reverse and then hooking the battery up correctly again - easy! And yes, if it had all gone horribly wrong, we know a good forum we could have found help from :)
So back on the road, heading south, wind behind us, sun beside us. Life is good!