Ports Part 3 –The Roman Empire Strikes Back

Split

Split is Croatia and very pleasant. This is NOT in the EU. I repeat NOT in the EU. Many places accept Euros, but likewise many do NOT. Even if they run a business that relies entirely on tourists (fridge magnets/ postcards/ etc). You need the Kuna here.

Weather: gorgeous.

Disabled access: pretty good. Dipped kerbs, smooth cobbles/flagstones.

Virtually the whole of Split is built in, on, through or over Diocletian’s retirement palace. It’s spectacular and very beautiful. The vaulted ceilings were held up by arches made of typically thin Roman bricks and tiles, but with no keystones, which left me and Dad scratching our heads somewhat.

This is a very touristy destination. And tourists are, apparently, noisy so-and-sos. The din was deafening. We hid down some back streets to get away from them, and accidentally found an excellent cafe with a proprietor who spoke perfect English and treated us like royalty. Can’t imagine what his prices were like (we don’t really care, as long as the food is good and the loo is clean), because we were his only customers, whilst the cafe next door was about one third full. Their loss. We had a lovely meal.

We then pootled back to the drop-off point, which was on the end of the waterfront (Riva) in the bus and taxi station, and tried to get a taxi. This is where the only problem arose. Those who take Euros will mostly convert reasonably, but the taxi drivers (as with much of the rest of the planet) will gouge you blind, and make you feel like they’re doing you a favour. The first one we asked quoted £7 for a taxi ride – when asked in Kuna. Translated into Euros, it was suddenly £18. Seriously, watch your maths here! We took our business elsewhere! We ended up with a lovely driver called Tony, who took us to the shopping mall I had researched, and we visited shoe shops and clothes shops and C&A and had a very productive time. Tony went to the local football club’s shop in the mall, and queued for tickets for tonight’s game, while he waited for us, and then he drove us back to the ship, with all our purchases. (Unfortunately, they lost, but he expected a punch-up to ensue either way).

Corfu

Greece on a Sunday. Not the wisest of moves, but can’t be helped. The touristy stuff was open, at least (although not the synagogue! That’s only open Monday to Saturday!). The weather was glorious and Corfu is a lovely old town to wander through. Not many vehicles to bother us, because they don’t fit down most of the streets, but a couple of stroppy mopeds passed by, just to keep our feet on the ground, expectations-wise, and remind us how quiet life is at sea.

We pootled and shopped and stopped for a bit to eat near the New Fortress (as opposed to the Old Fortress), at the New Fortress Taverna. I DON’T recommend it. I had lamb cutlets, which were 75% fat and bone, and Mum and Dad had completely inedible pizzas. They were so overcooked that the bases were like biscuits. Mum had some taramasalata by way of replacement, but Dad wasn’t hungry. The owner figured we weren’t coming back, either to Corfu, or in any event, to his restaurant, so he decided to charge for the uneaten pizzas. That’s fine. We can’t tip you if you’ve already taken all our money (not that we were going to anyway)! If that’s how you want to operate, that’s fine, but we won’t be sending anyone to your place any time soon! DO NOT EAT THERE. EVER. Send only your worst enemies. The toilets are fine, but the food is DIRE.

Then we pootled some more down the lovely cobbled side streets, past the closed synagogue and through the Jewish ghetto (which Hitler relieved of over 2000 Jews), back towards the bus stop. There were several signs and road names that mentioned Albert Cohen. Apparently, he was born here on the island, although he is probably best known for editing the Jewish Review in Europe, which published the likes of Einstein and Freud. A lady stopped to tell us that he lived here til he was five. Everyone seems very friendly (except the cafe owners and waiters!).

The faded charm was everywhere. I suppose if you’re an outdoor society, it doesn’t really matter if the plaster is coming off your house. As long as it keeps the rain and wind out while you sleep, that’s all it’s there for. It’s only in countries further north, where we spend more time indoors, that I suppose indoor comfort becomes important.

We stopped at another cafe – called Safran. Lovely toilets. Up a very shiny flight of stairs. Do NOT eat there. The waiter was so unpleasant, we spent the rest of the walk back trying to think of adjectives for him. We got as far as sullen, sulky, vicious and spiteful. He thought he was being spiteful, anyway, because he gave me my change in cents. Little did he know that we had been trying to GET smaller notes and coins for DAYS! So we had a laugh at his expense.  And he probably thought he was having a good laugh at us.

I like Corfu. It is definitely going on the list of Places I Would Like To Return To. But not to EITHER of the food purveyors we encountered on this visit.

EDIT: Tripadvisor reviews done. Should have read them before we chose our lunch venue. It has the worst reviews I’ve ever seen!

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