Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Archbishop of Split Doesn't Like Dogs

We leave Zadar after lunch and spend the rest of the afternoon cruising the Croatian Inside Passage towards Split. I never knew Croatia had an Inside Passage. I never knew Croatia was made up of over 1000 islands. True confessions, before the Bosnian War I'd never even heard of Croatia. How many Shih Tzus have visited Croatia? People have dogs here, of course. This is the Dalmatia Coast, famous for --you guessed it -- Dalmatians. We just haven't seen one, yet.
Split is old, too. Half of it is walled, the so-called Old City. In 295 CE the Roman Emperor Diocletian decided to retire here and built a palace for himself, where he lived until 313. Subsequent Roman rulers also used it as a summer home until Rome fell. The palace was abandoned for a while, and then the locals moved in. Some of their descendants are still there, living in apartments purchased by their ancestors. Can you imagine living in Diocletian's palace?
Diocletian's mausoleum is inside what is now the Cathedral of St. Duje, one of the oldest in the world. Xingxing and I aren't allowed in. Arrangements have been made in advance, but that doesn't matter. Our guide -- a sturdy, dour woman wearing incongruous red patent leather shoes -- is not helpful. The Archbishop of Split doesn't like dogs, she snaps. So what are we supposed to do? I ask her. Go back to the ship, she says. I don't want to do that. So we wait outside until the group emerges. She's not pleased to see we're still here, but she clearly isn't game to stop us from rejoining the tour.

We finish our tour at the 100 year old Ostarija Tavern, where the walls are covered with old artifacts and photographs of historic interest, none of which are explained by our guide, who is already stuffing her face with local prosciutto, cheese and apple strudel. 

We cruise on to Hvar, where we have an AzAmazing evening. This involves a long walk and a number of shallow, poorly lit steps to a venue where we are seated so far back we can hardly see the stage, which  turns out to be a blessing. It was supposed to be a cello concert. In fact, it is a horrible, awful racket. Streaming videos, throbbing heavy metal and the cellist -- Ana Rucner -- bashing hell out of a cello beneath flashing colored lights. People close enough to see what was going on called it musical pornography. When things are good, I say so. This isn't  good. This isn't even bad. This is bloody dreadful. We're both glad when it's over and we can make our careful way back to the ship.

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