Pond Jumpers: Spain

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Goodbye Split, Croatia

Posted on July 5, 2010 at 9:39pm Madrid / 3:39pm Cincinnati by Kelly Larbes

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As I write this I am sitting in Milan’s airport waiting to board our plane to Madrid. One flight down and one to go. I’m too tired to really know how I feel about leaving Split and making Madrid our new home. Right now I am just worried about making it on the plane with our slightly over-sized and overweight carry-ons without anyone stopping us to make us check them instead.

I accidentally (and stupidly) packed my beloved Cutco scissors in my carry-on and thus lost them to the bag screener in Split. I told him they were wonderful and would give him a lifetime of great use. I was sad to see them go, but if the rest of our luggage makes it to Madrid without any hiccups, I will feel very blessed.

Our last few days in Split have been bitter sweet. We’ve grown to love so much about the city, but we are excited for our new adventure. Its easy to know what we will miss most: the people we’ve met. We’ve had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world with fascinating perspectives. I’ve learned a lot and made some wonderful friendships. We had a going away soiree a few nights before we left and were joined by friends from eleven different countries. It amazes me we all got along so well with such different backgrounds.

Besides the fun people we’ve met and great conversations we’ve had, there is a lot more we will miss too:

The Adriatic Sea
I can’t really explain why, but like many people, I feel drawn to the water. Especially in Croatia, the sea feels so peaceful and relaxing to me. I’ll miss its beautiful colors and amazing clarity. I’ll miss being able to take walks along its coast, sitting and listening to its small waves hit the rocks and tumble them together, and taking a swim in its refreshing turquoise water.

The islands
Croatia is one of the best places in the world for island lovers, boasting over 1200 islands (60 are inhabited). There were four larger islands near Split that we could easily get to in less than an hour and a half: Šolta, Brac, Hvar, and Vis. I’m going to miss being able to say, “Oh, we’re just going to an island this weekend,” like it was no big deal (because it wasn’t a big deal when we lived in Split). Šolta and Brac were great for day trips: just a 15 minute walk to the ferry and a quick 50 minute ferry ride. The islands boast the clearest, most beautiful sea water I’ve ever seen.

Marjan Hill Park and my beautiful running path
I never really enjoyed running, and I still don’t consider myself a runner, but thanks to Split’s beautiful running paths and lack of women’s recreational sports, I am running more now than ever. Marjan Hill is a large pine-forested park on a hill overlooking Split. I’d often run around the base of the park on a path above the sea. I’ll miss always having such a beautiful view while I run: the ragged coast line, the sea, the islands, the children swimming, and the slanted trees whipped by the wind rounding the edge of Split’s peninsula.

Long Spring and Autumn seasons
Spring and Autumn are my favorite seasons and they lasted so long in Split. I’ll miss the perfect mid-70°s F and sunny weather that lasted for months. It was perfect for running and hiking and picnics at the beach.

Narrow alleys and Roman ruins
Split’s old town and old neighboring suburbs were always fun to walk in. I’ll miss all of the narrow little streets and old worn stone buildings. I’ll miss the random little altars and patches of purple flowers seen in the sides of the stone walls in our neighborhood, Varoš. I’ll miss walking through ancient Roman ruins full of modern day life. The street were always romantic at night and lively during the day.

Small town feel
Even though Split is Croatia’s second largest city, it had a small town feel to me, and there was a lot I will miss about that. I’ll miss being able to walk almost everywhere so easily. My work, friends’ homes, groceries, restaurants, and recreation were just minutes away. I’ll miss randomly running into someone I knew on almost every outing into town. It was easy to see friends and make plans on a moment’s notice.

Quarter-loafs of fresh bread
I’ll miss that in Split I could buy a quarter-loaf of the most wonderfully fresh bread for just 35¢. We’d buy fresh bread almost everyday for lunch sandwiches. A quarter loaf was just enough for two sandwiches, so there were never leftovers and it was perfectly fresh and so tasty every meal.

Smooth sweet ice cream
Split had the best ice cream I’ve ever had. It was so creamy and smooth. I loved that I could get half and half: two flavors in one scoop, and that it cost less than a dollar. My favorite ice cream shop was called Hajduk (named after the local soccer team). I’d always get half vanilla and half strawberry or half chocolate chip and half white chocolate. And they’d dip it in chocolate for free. Delicious.

Croatia will always have a special place in our hearts. We’ll sing its praises to everyone we know to head there for a vacation. And we’ll cheer for them loudly in all sporting events (after the USA, of course.) We’ll still be talking about our Croatian adventures when we’re old and gray.

12 Reader Comments to “Goodbye Split, Croatia”

  1. Jay Larbes on July 5, 2010 at 9:56pm Split / 3:56pm Cincinnati

    Of course, I will also miss most the people we have met and friends we have made. I really believe that one of the most important keys to happiness (for me anyway) is friendship and community. Life is just better and more fun when you have people to share in it with – on your own is boring and lonely! We have been very lucky to make some great friends in our time in Split. I hope to see all of you again (soon!) down the road.

    And I will also miss many of the same things as Kelly. I think that Split and Dalmatia will always feel like a ‘home’ to me, with its charming old towns and stunning beaches and islands. I have definitely fallen in love with the beauty of Dalmatia. Also, we are already missing our less-than-$1 ice cream – we got a scoop of ice cream last night, and it was about $2.70! And the scoop was smaller! At least it was good.

    I do have a few things to add to Kelly’s list. Off the top of my head:

    – Playing football (soccer) with the group of international guys. Even though I was regularly the worst player on the field, I always had a great time playing. Hopefully I wasn’t getting in the way too much! And it was always awesome to watch the better players move with the ball. Hopefully, I got a little better by way of osmosis!

    – Along the same lines: Hajduk, Split’s soccer team. Hajduk has definitely captured my heart – I think its fans, known as Torcida, have a lot to do with that. They sing and chant and cheer throughout the entire game, and smuggle flares and firecrackers to light off after scored goals. I realize that here in Madrid, I have an opportunity to watch top level soccer with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, but I am happy that my first live (i.e. in person, not on TV) exposure to professional soccer was Hajduk — I had lots of fun attending the matches!

    – Split’s pizza. I love Split’s pizzas: Kelly and I could share a big pizza for 35 kune ($6), topped with full slices of deli ham. Mmmmmm. And along the same lines, my favorite dessert: Krempitas (vanilla cream pudding cakes)

  2. Elisa_Croatia on July 6, 2010 at 1:11am Split / 7:11pm Cincinnati

    Creo que es muy facil enamorarse de Split y el pais entero. Es muy cierto, para nosotros es muy normal decir hoy voy a ir a una isla para reunirme con unos amigos o para la hora de comer pero para los demas parece parte de una pelicula. Mucha suerte en Madrid y no dudo que van a tener la misma suerte en conocer muy buenas amistades. TIenen una buena actitud..

    Saludos y espero verlos pronto! aqui en Europa o en los USA

  3. MOM Klocke on July 6, 2010 at 1:54am Split / 7:54pm Cincinnati

    Bitter sweet decribes it so well. I could feel your sadness in the description of each thing, place, or person you will miss. As you move onto the next phase of your lives I am now getting to realize how much this adventure into Croatia and other countries are shaping you lives. You definitely have been very smart to experience the World while you are young and childless. The great thing is I was able to experience it with you at times which made it so much sweeter. I hope you can continue having great experiences the rest of your lives. Maybe I will be able to experience it with you at times some more.

  4. DAD Klocke on July 6, 2010 at 4:53am Split / 10:53pm Cincinnati

    I have a saddness that you are leaving Split but I think you will enjoy living in Spain. Also, it is another place that mon amd I can visit. You and Jay are so lucky for experiencing such unique places and people at such a young age. Keep on writing about your experiences.

  5. Jon on July 6, 2010 at 5:08am Split / 11:08pm Cincinnati

    I was so glad to read that you guys loved the Hajduk ice cream shop as much as I do. My wife introduced me to it when we were living there. You guys were so fortunate to live in Split, as I felt as well. I am going back for a visit on July 12-31 and will make sure to go to Galija for a pizza and Hajduk for dessert. I’ve connected to Kelly through Facebook and was lookng forward to meeting you guys…looks like I just missed you. Best of luck in Madrid!

  6. Jenny Garrett on July 7, 2010 at 3:56am Split / 9:56pm Cincinnati

    It may be a bittersweet departure, but I for one, am excited for the continuing adventure. I hope this trend continues, as I am living out my travel fantasies vicariously through your blog. Miss ya bunches and best of luck!


  7. Kelly Larbes on July 11, 2010 at 2:11pm Split / 8:11am Cincinnati

    Jay – I’ll miss Hajduk too! – but mostly I’ll just miss watching the crazy Torcida fans – Of course, the Spain fans are making things pretty exciting here in Madrid.

    Elisa – Gracias por sus palabras amables. Estoy practicando mi español mucho. Pienso que voy a mejorar un poquito cada día.

    Mom and Dad – I hope you can come visit us in the coming months!

    Jon – I already miss Hajduk ice cream. We got some ice cream here in Madrid last week, and it cost $3 for a smaller scoop! Jay thought it tasted just as good, but I sure didn’t.

    Jenny – I miss you too. I’m glad you are enjoying the blog.

  8. Dad L. on July 13, 2010 at 12:27am Split / 6:27pm Cincinnati

    Jay & Kelly, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m really going to miss your Croatian blogs and all the beautiful pictures you provided us with of your adventures while you were there. The only thing I will miss more is being able to experience some of those breath-taking seascapes and cultural events first hand with our own personal tour guides. Who knows, maybe that may happen some other time and place. Keep blogging and may your time in Madrid be just as memorable!
    Love, Dad L.

  9. jen i. on July 16, 2010 at 8:32pm Split / 2:32pm Cincinnati

    Good post, Kelly! You have definitely inspired me to visit Split. :) hope to see you and Jay at some point, maybe you will roam over to london one of these days!! Best of luck in your new digs. xx

  10. Kelly Larbes on July 16, 2010 at 9:46pm Split / 3:46pm Cincinnati

    Dad L. – I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the blogs and the photos. We’ll keep more coming from Madrid.

    Jen I. – I hope you get the chance to make it to Croatia sometime while you are in Europe. EasyJet has cheap flights from London. You really would love it.

  11. Morten on August 29, 2010 at 1:33pm Split / 7:33am Cincinnati

    Kelly and Jay

    I wish you all the best for your new adventure in Madrid

    @Jay, I hope for you that temperature is bit higher Madrid, so you can play soccer more then the 8 weeks, which you defined as the season :). Anyway we will keep on playing so if you should visiting Split on a day with +30 degrees, you are welcome to join the game again!

    Greetings, from Split


  12. Jay Larbes on August 31, 2010 at 9:25pm Split / 3:25pm Cincinnati

    Hi Morten,

    Thanks for stopping by. The temperature here in Madrid is plenty warm :) And I think you misspoke, I would play for 8 months, not 8 weeks — as long as it’s not raining! :). I do miss the football matches a great deal, I have not yet found a group to play with here yet. Hope everything is going well for you in Split!