Day trip to Sibenik, Krka National Park and Skladin with Pelican Tours – a long, but very fun day!!
Another early morning – we are up at 5:30am, and in the lobby by 6:15am. The night security fellow very kindly retrieved our ‘pack breakfast’ and allowed us to have a quick coffee before our taxi arrived to take us to Split.
We were very keen to see Krka National Park and booked a Viator booking on Pelican Tours well in advance. We didn’t realize that Martin & Mary would also organize a tour to the park, a shame as it would have been great to go with the group. Six of us booked in advance and I think the clincher was that we ended up the day with wine tasting.
We arrived in Split in very good time and had half an hour to relax and have a coffee from Bobis which also served incredible pastries. Most of the ladies had a beverage only and started on the pack breakfast which consisted of a very LARGE ham and cheese sandwich – 1/2 a loaf of bread to be exact! It was ginormous and we all laughed when we pulled them out. Apparently we won’t need to buy lunch!
At 8:15am or so Tonko, our Pelican Tours tour guide, greeted us and once all 16 were accounted for, we clambered into two lovely vans and set off. Enroute we discover Tonko owns the company and him and I commiserated on running a small operation. His English is fabulous and he has a fantastic sense of humour!
First stop is Sibenek – the oldest ‘Croatian’ built city, 950 years old. There are countless older cities, however they were built by Turks, Venetians or Romans and not by the Croatians.
The St. James Cathedral is the only church in the world completely made from stone – no mortar between the stones, and is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. It was designed by Jurjai or George the Dalmatian who was an expert stone cutter (mason). He began construction in 1431 and as it took 105 years to complete. See here for full history https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Šibenik_Cathedral
George wanted to build the church in Venice however the Venetians said “no Georgio you can’t build it here, the stone may fall on to the parishioners. Go ahead and build it in Croatia (and Tonko’s added comment “where it doesn’t matter if it falls in on Croatians!”.
In early times, the town was divided into north and south sections. The south section, closer to the water, was for nobility and the north was where the common people lived.
On the corners of the buildings, Grecian Columns indicate nobility living there. The taller the column, the more noble or rich. From the year 1066, the town suffered 3 fires, several wars with the Venetian empire and then a period of tranquillity and prosperity. The population at that time was over 12,000 people. Misfortune struck again and following not one plague, but 18 plagues, 90% of the population was wiped out, many of them nobles. They needed more nobles, so some commoners were ‘chosen’ to become nobility.
Several of the buildings have little reminders of the war between Serbia & Croatia. Tonko calls these “architectural elements compliments of the Yugoslavian army”.
The town is beautiful and we have 45 minutes to explore on our own! Gathered once again, we are enroute to Krka Falls. Not without a struggle with our seat belts, mind you.
For some reason the seat belts in the vans & buses are challenging to do up. Some are seat belts only, some are over the right shoulder and others over the left shoulder, and the one for the person on the seat closest to the van door is the most challenging. It becomes a laughing joke each time we get in and all involved struggle with the seat belts. Lois & I were having a particularly challenging day and adding to the challenge was our early morning. At one point we just stopped and laughed and laughed as were we’re just like the 3 stooges. A voice from the back seat says “how many Lois’ does it take to do up a seatbelt”. This brought even more laughter and we both said, apparently more than two as we just aren’t getting it! That little voice, of course, belonged to Doris! It’s not even noon and we are giddy. 😂😂
Within an hour we are at the entrance to Krka Falls National Park and the sun has come out. With its seven waterfalls and a total drop in altitude of 242 m, the River Krka is a natural and karst phenomenon. The travertine waterfalls of the Krka River are the fundamental phenomenon of this river.
Tonko gives us a guided tour through the park and then leaves us to enjoy it on our own for a couple of hours. The sun has gone behind more clouds and following taking the requisite photos, we stop for a bite to eat. We decided to board the boat that will take us down the Krka River earlier so that we can enjoy the town of Skladin.
It was a lovely 20 minute float along the river with the exception of the seats. When you sat in them they were like folding chairs and I said if we weren’t careful we’ll end up in a perfect Pilates ‘V’ position! The town of Skladin is very cute, although very small.
Tonko picks us up here and we beetle off to the Sladic Winery for our wine tasting. The winery is small but very classy. They have given us beautiful Croatian bread, cheese and olive oil to clean our palate between tastings. The wine was extremely good and most of us purchased a bottle of their limited production red. The brandy and sweet wine was popular as well. As always, with this group, we had a lot of laughs and were very happy we had chosen the tour.
We arrived back in Split a little early and our taxi driver was there within 5 minutes – perfect timing. I have noticed that the Croatians are very punctual and efficient! Now for the hour ride along the coast back to Baska Voda. And what a lovely ride it was. The sun was just setting and a full autumn moon came over the horizon. I had an instant déjà vu, as 39 years ago when Gail & I first took the bus from Zagreb to Dubrovnik, we rode this very highway watching the full moon glisten off the Sea. Wow, what a great memory!!
When we arrived back at the hotel, the balance of the group were already seated for dinner as tonight is a boat cruise to Makarska. The six of us decide not to go as we are tired from the early start and long day. A shame as a ride on the Sea with a full moon would have been lovely!