Ferries through Rijeka, Krka, and Split
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I officially started my Croatian adventure by crossing into the port town of Rijeka via train from Ljubljana, Slovenia. From Rijeka, it is possible to hop onto one of the Jadrolinja ferries that runs the length of the spectacular Dalmatian Coast. Jadrolinja provides services to a large amount of Croatian islands, Italy, as well as all of the major cities along the Croatian coast. It is by far the most efficient form of transportation in the region.
Prior to stepping on to the ferry south though I had a couple of hours to kill around town in Rijeka. Mainly just a port town, Rijeka actually offers a fairly bustling main thoroughfare through the downtown section, leading to the southern part of the city and the Trsat district. One of Rijeka’s most famous zones, the Trsat district features the Trsat Castle and the leg-burning 538 step Petar Kruszic Stairway. A once famous Christian pilgrimage, the area now offers a fantastic view of the city and the shimmering Adriatic beyond.
Arriving a few hours later in the town of Sibenik, the real reason for the stop was not for the town of Sibenik itself (though it does have the UNESCO World Heritage Site Cathedral of St. James featuring sculptures of human heads), but more so as a jumping off point for the regionally famous Krka National Park. Setback along the Krka River, the heart of the park features a series of cascading waterfalls that in early June still offer chilly water, yet are refreshing nonetheless. The boat ride along the river is scenic enough, and it is actually possible to walk back along a dirt road hugging the shoreline and save on the ferry fee. The system of waterfalls extends far back into the park, where a series of boardwalks will direct you amongst the cascading river and into the heart of the watery wonderland. Wll worth the trip up from town.
In town at the bus station things kind of hit the fan. The language barrier really became a problem and I missed the bus down to Split, forcing me to spend another couple of hours around Sibenik town. While a little peeved, it gave me the opportunity to shop around for a while at a thriving little farmer’s market happening in a central square, where the produce was incredibly fresh and I was the only foreigner around.
Finally arriving in Split near dark, I found a cheap sobe, or room for the evening, and set out to explore Diocletian’s Palace and find myself some tall pints of beer. Set right on a palm-lined waterfront, Split is one of the most picturesque promenades I have ever encountered. Very similar to Palma in Mallorca, only with 1700 year old Palaces setright on the waterfront. Built by the Roman emperor Diocletian at the turn of the 4th century, this UNESCO world heritage site is like a walled city within a city. The fact that you can still walk around in a place that has existed for this long is simply unfathomable, much less have it be teeming with vendors and shops as if it is still in its heyday. After a few pints of beer and getting horribly lost in a residential neighborhood in the pitch black dark, I rested my weary Dalmatian-saturated eyes and rested up for more Croatian adventures.